Irwin Michnick, the Brooklyn-born son of a Jewish furrier from Ukraine, was a jazz musician who wrote radio commercials and advertising jingles for companies like L & M cigarettes and Ken-L Ration dog food.
Bob Levenson was a copywriter at Doyle Dane Bernbach who needed a tune to go with the words, “Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” Irwin Michnick got the call.
But it was a different call that led to Irwin Michnik winning a Tony Award and the Contemporary Classics Award from the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Placido Domingo, and more than 70 other superstars of music have recorded the song that Michnik wrote.
Josh Groban included it on his 2020 album, Harmony.
Aretha Franklin sang it at the funeral of civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
Senator Edward Kennedy asked that it be sung at his funeral, as well. And it was.
The song teaches us that passion does not create commitment, but that commitment creates passion. It is a song that teaches us that we cannot achieve the miraculous if we are not willing to attempt the ridiculous.
Do you remember the Ze Frank quote that I shared with you last week? The one where Ze talks about how the hero throws himself into battle against impossible odds, fiercely pushing, shoulders back, despite the knowledge that he can’t win, that he will die in the end?
Irwin Michnik wrote the music and Joe Darion wrote the words. It is the theme song of Wizard Academy, that school for entrepreneurs and ad writers and politicians and ministers and scientific researchers and every other agent of change who has become infected with impossible dream.
Do you remember the song now? Of course you do. It starts like this, “To dream, the impossible dream; to fight the unbeatable foe; to bear with unbearable sorrow; to run where the brave dare not go.”
You probably don’t remember Irwin Michnik because he was known professionally as Mitch. Mitch Leigh.
(I’ll bet you can guess what Indy Beagle has for you in the rabbit hole.)
In other news about impossible dreams, last week I bought an extremely old copy of the book Miguel de Cervantes wrote that inspired the song by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion.
I’ll tell you about it another day.
Ciao for Niao,
Roy H. Williams