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"It Was A Very Good Year" received 2011's "Towering Song Award" for a song that has become part of American culture - watch the video:



Ervin Drake, author of "Good Morning Heartache," "It Was A Very Good Year," "I Believe (for every drop of rain that falls)" "I'm A Card-Carrying Bleeding Heart Liberal," and so many other wonderful songs, turned 92nd on April 3.  On April 4th many of us gathered at Birdland for Jim Caruso's weekly "Cast Party" to help Ervin celebrate.  

As part of if I had all these birthday messages printed out and bound for him.  He loved every single one of these.  So thanks to all of you who took the time to wish him well!  When I printed them out each one was printed large, in a different typeface.  Here, they all look the same -- but in real life they didn't!


Ervin...........your talent, intelligence and mastery of songwriting is only surpassed by your "smarts" to have married Edith.....HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Michael Kerker

THERE once was a writer named Drake
Who never rhymed just for rhyme’s sake
He’d never rhymed “sure”
With something like “more”
Like David or Robin or Jake . . . would
Happy Birthday Ervin!
David Buskin
Robin Batteau
and Jake Holmes

Happy Birthday and thanks for all the wonderful songs!
From Pam Reardon
in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

"Happy birthday Ervin, and many more!"
-- Terry Gabis, NYC

My birthday greeting to Ervin Drake:

I don't know if songwriters ever truly understand how many lives they touch with their music.  For your 92nd birthday I'd like you to have just a tiny glimpse of this by receiving a message from someone you have never heard of and will never likely meet, but who knows you and has grown up with your music in her background.  

When I was six I remember my mother shushing me during breakfast because the morning radio began playing Frank Sinatra singing "It Was a Very Good Year";  I decided right then and there it was a beautiful song because my mother thought so.  When I a teenager and nearly ready to graduate from high school, the D.J. played "It Was a Very Good Year" at my prom, and it was a beautiful song because my first love danced with me while it played.  When I was in my early thirties I heard it again at a party for a friend's parents' anniversary celebration, and it was a beautiful song because I had to choke back tears while I watched two people in love dancing alone on the floor to it while we all watched.  Two years ago I requested "It Was a Very Good Year" from the piano player at the restaurant where a friend and I were celebrating her milestone birthday, and it was a beautiful song because that last verse was making way too much sense.

And that is just one of many songs you've written, all of which have the capacity to make me smile, wistful or just long for something better (sometimes all three simultaneously).

Thank your for your gifts to me, and in return please accept my wishes for nothing but more very good years.

SallyAnne Erickson

"Happy Birthday Brilliant, Witty, Wonderful Songwriter. You are the greatest gift of all."  -- Julie Gold, NYC

John Ellis from North Carolina writes: "Happy Birthday Ervin, you phone call with Christine during her Asheville show was a great treat!"

“Dear Ervin, When I was a boy I heard “I Believe" on my transistor radio in the middle of the night. It was unforgettable, and i still get goosebumps when i hear it today. I love your other songs too (although I'm glad the “Hey Nonny Nonny" part didn't make it into Sinatra's version of  “It Was a Very Good Year.") Happy Birthday and many thanks."  -- Chip Mergott, PA

John V. Hedtke : "Happy birthday!! May the Volga Birthdaymen appear on your doorstep and sing you the traditional "Song of the Happy!" just like een Old Country. :) Best wishes for a great birthday and dozens more at least as happy from John Hedtke
in Eugene, Oregon!"

Dear Ervin,

Happy Birthday!  Looking forward to many more verses of "It Was a Very Good Year."  It has been my privilege to record such a legend on Christine's projects over the years.  
All the best,
Brian Bauers
New York City

"Happy, Happy Birthday Ervin. May this be the most very good year ever!!
Kate in Ann Arbor, MI"

To Ervin,  
Who always makes me feel like a small immigrant boy - which I am. Happy Birthday.
Your friend,
Oscar Brand

Dear Mr. Drake,
Here's to many more "very good years" for you good sir.  May your special day bring you all good things you love and may they follow you throughout the coming year as well.
Thanks for so much wonderful music.
Robin Frost
Havertown Pa USA

All the best for your 92nd birthday Ervin!
Michelle Matthews way up here in Canada

Paul Dugan wrote: "Happy Birthday Ervin! From Antrim NH -- 35 miles from anyplace you want to be!"

Dear Mr. Drake,
Happy Birthday!  Thank you so much for the musical gifts that you have given us.
Best regards,
Coco Wilde
First Acoustics Concert Series
Pierrepont Street at Monroe Place
Brooklyn NY  11201

Dear Ervin,
I'm writing this after arising in the afternoon -- which I do every day to avoid Heartache's morning visit --
All the best,
Lisa Lambert

"in SE Michigan wishes Ervin Drake the happiest of birthdays and a year ahead filled with love and laughter." – Mary Sahs

Ari  Kreis writes: "Happy Birthday, Ervin! From West Bloomfield, MI!"

"Jim from Clarkston, MI says HB2U, ED!”

"Hippo, Birdie, 2 Ewes, Ervin! From Tom Hodges ear Pickens, SC..."

Your 92nd Birthday?
We should celebrate!
"How 'Bout We Take Our Pants Off
And Relax?"
Jeff Daniels
Los Angeles, CA

"Happy birthday, Ervin, from Lansing & Marshall, Michigan. It IS a very good year!"
– Tamara Hick-Syron

"Happy Birthday Ervin! Wishing you a very good year!" – Larry Murante, Seattle WA

"happy birthday ervin, and happy EVERYTHING! from hell's kitchen, nyc."  -- Rick Hinkson

"Happy Birthday from sunny Tucson, Arizona. Keep on believing and it will continue to be a very good year . . ." – Nikki Chayet

Give three cheers for Ervin Drake!
He's 92, so bake that cake!
He loves to laugh, he thrills at parties
And if he's lost, well . . . check at Sardi's!

His lyrics stand the test of time
(He knows his way around a rhyme!)
His life is one big work of art -
And all the world knows Erv by heart!

When one day Ervin's here no more
His notes will still be sure to score
A long list of hits will St. Peter readeth
But for him, heaven on earth is life with Edith

Yes, we're so glad that Ervin's here!
'Cause when he is, it's a VERY GOOD YEAR!!
Much love and many many happy returns!!

- Colleen McHugh

"Happy Birthday, Ervin! I'm from Stockton,Ca and I've enjoyed your gift for many years. Thank you."
-- Sandy Richardson

"Happy Birthday! I hope this is a very good year! From Riva in Manhattan. PS enjoyed hearing you perform at Knitty City last summer!"
                   --- Riva Atlas

"I remember my habitual rush to the record store to pick up the newest Kingston Trio album, and how I immediately fell in love with "It Was A Very Good Year." Thank you, Mr. Drake, for the joy you have added to my life and the Happiest of Birthdays to you from Tucson AZ!"
– Don Armstrong

"Happy Birthday Ervin! From Alexandria, VA" – Alice Cave

"A very happy birthday from Narrowsburg, NY! "
– Jill Behling Padua

"Happy Birthday, Ervin! from Los Angeles, CA" – Raun MacKinnon Burnham

Dear Ervin—
LIE to me, you handsome man!
Francesca Blumenthal

"Happy birthday!
Enjoy your day!
from Okemos, MI"
-- Kate Williams

"Ervin, you make my heart sing! From Lexington, MA" – Marilyn Rea Beyer

Happy Birthday, Ervin.  From Frankie Laine to Bob Shane and beyond, I have enjoyed hearing people sing your songs.  Many Many More!
Steve Aaronson
Bethlehem, PA

"Sending our best wishes for a happy birthday - from Blair Larsen in Logan, UT."

"Happy B-day Ervin from all of us in Arlington Heights, IL"  
-- Gary Colabuano

"Happy Birthday, Ervin! From WAY downtown NYC (TriBeCa)." – Phillip Klum

"Happy Birthday, Ervin, from Rochester, NY!"  -- Patricia Carey

Love from Jenny Reed
in Manassas, VA."

"Happy Birthday Ervin! from Courtenay, BC Canada"  -- Sue Pyper

"Happy Birthday, Ervin . . . 92 years young . . . from East Lansing, MI" – Karen Jennings

"Happy Birthday and MANY MORE! Love, Corlie Brecht in Colorado"

Ervin, 92 is a very good age . . . Have a very happy birthday!
Wendy Schatz, Bethesda, Maryland

"Happy Birthday, Ervin, many more to come! From North Reading MA"
- Eileen Verney

"Happy Birthday from a big fan." --- Julie Silver

"Oh happy birthday Ervin! Thank you so much for the joy your music brings. :-) Wishing you the best from Westminster, CO" –
Val Patricia Ann Miller

"Happy Birthday Ervin from the Upper East Side of Manhattan!!! (tho I'm originally from
Los Angeles)"
– Natalie Douglas

"Thank you from "I Believe!" to I Wuv a Wabbit - Woburn (Woobin) MA" – Be Blackburn

Have a very happy birthday. I hope it is a very good year.
Kathy and George Offerman

"Happy Birthday Ervin!!!! (Austin, Texas)" – Stephanie Copeland Foreman

"Happy, happy birthday from New Hope PA!!"  -- Susan White

Have a HOPPIN' good birthday, Ervin - keep up the amazing life you are living!
Hugs and good wishes,
Betsy Franco Feeney, illustrator of Christine's "Amoeba Hop"
p.s. thanks for adding yours and Edith’s voice to our new project “Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea”

Congrats, Ervin, I know every year is a very good year as long as you're with us.
You may have "one foot in heaven," but keep the other down here for a while longer!
John Platt
Dir. of Communications & Special Projects
"Sunday Breakfast" host
WFUV Radio

"Wishing you another "very good year" from Boiling Spring Lakes, NC. Thanks for the music!"
-- Jim Goodman

Happy Birthday, Ervin!
-- Gordon Nash, Queens

"Happy Birthday Ervin from Hamilton, IL"  -- Dave Cornelius

Now that you're 92
It is a very good year
It is a very good year for minstrels who wrote
  1. . . For Ella and Frank

We gather to thank
For songs we've still yet to hear --
This is your very best year

(Happy Birthday from Brooklyn, Borough of the Stars!) –
-- Michael David Quinn

Many wishes for a very happy and wonderful birthday!  ---  Melissa

"Happy Birthday, Ervin. Thanks for the songs, and many happy returns!
Bob Franke, Peabody, MA"

"Happy Birthday !!
( Pensacola, FL )" – Mari Green

"Happy Birthday, Ervin! I was in Christine's class last July when she called you on the phone and had the class ask questions about songwriting. Many happy returns to you! From York PA" – Speedo DeMonde McFadden

How cool is it to have brought so much joy to the world!!!  Happy birthday!  
-- Brenda Cotter

"Happy Birthday, Ervin!"
– Emily Bindiger
The Accidentals

"Ervin, happy birthday from the city of broad shoulders, Chicago!! thank you for your inspiration. peace and happiness to you, Ingrid Graudins"

"Hombly boorgig to yube! Hombly boorgig to yube! Hombly boorgig dear Spoggles! Hombly boorgig to yube! The highlight is when Spoggles licks out the candles!! THAT is Happy Birthday sung in Dragon!! Ervin Have a Happy and MANY MORE from a fellow songwriter of modest talent, but passionate voice from the World's Rock'n'Roll Capitol, Cleveland OHIO."  -- KellyAnn Booth

"Happy birthday, Ervin, from Seattle"
– Steve Wacker

"Thanks for all the wonderful music, Mr. Drake!!! Many More!!!"
-- Mick Lumpp

Jon Pickow writes: "Happy Birthday Ervin, from one of the many "Strangers" that love you. Port Washington, NY"

"Happy Birthday Ervin from Vestal NY" – Kevin Swart

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR DRAKE . . . I have been singing your songs my whole life long..hope you have many more musical years!
Linda Liddiard
Auburn New York
Humor . . . never leave home without it.

There once was a young man named Ervin
who developed great talent and nerve in...
writing songs with a skew
about me and you
and at 92 still gets his "oeuvre"  on!
Happy Birthday and Love
Sandi Bachom
New York City

"Happy Birthday. Christine Lavin sang your LIBERAL song at our wedding. Our 15 year old is still singing it five years later. You have touched many generations."
– Lori Lockshin Poloniecki

Dear Mr. Drake:

Fond birthday greetings from little Wakefield, New Hampshire – population 4,300 (on the border with Maine).

I think your music is timeless and brilliant.  Thank you for sharing your passion and talent with the world.

Happy Happy Birthday!

Carol Lundgren
Wakefield, NH

Dear Ervin aka Birthday Boy:
May this and all your years be “very good years!”
Your fan and fellow songwriter
Sue Horowitz

"Happy Birthday Ervin, from Binghamton, NY" – Judy Valek

Dear Ervin,
Have a wonderful 92nd birthday! Thanks for all your songs.
--   Nancy Miller, North Reading MA

"Happy Birthday To YouHappy Birthday To YouHappy Birthday Dear Errrrrrrr-vinnnnnnnnnHappy Birthday To You!!!!!! And many more!!! "I Believe" is one of my favorite favorite songs ever! It is like a prayer to me, a philosophy of life, something to sing internally when times are tough. THANK YOU SO MUCH for writing it!!! Sally Caltrider, West Chesterfield, NH :)

Faith Spiegelberg writes: "Happy Birthday from Oberlin Ohio!"

Birthday greetings from a couple of Bleeding Heart Liberals in Toronto
George & Monica Auerbach

"Happy Birthday to you •*¨*•.¸¸  ¸¸.•*¨*• Happy Birthday to you •*¨*•.¸¸  ¸¸.•*¨*• Happy Birthday •*¨*•.¸¸  ¸¸.•*¨*• Dear Ervin  Happy Birthday to you •*¨*•.¸¸  ¸¸.•*¨*• and many more •*¨*•.¸¸  ¸¸.•*¨*••*¨*•.¸¸  ¸¸.•*¨*•   -- Jayne Toohey

"Happy Birthday from Illinois!"
-- Diana Whitney

"Nashville, TN sends so many birthday wishes to Erwin - who is fantastic!"

"Now that you're 92/ Wish'n' you a very good year . . . "  Ilene Weiss

"Happy, Happy Birthday Ervin - from Coral Springs, Florida!" – Judy Cangiolosi

How grateful I am that you were born 92 years ago!!!!!     You,  Ervin Drake have enriched my life with your beautiful songs!!!!  I was born 70 years ago so I've enjoyed your music for a very long time and look forward to more !!!!!  

Have a wonderful Birthday Celebration and eat lots of cake.  Wish I could celebrate with you at Cast Party.  I have to be in Boston for the day and I'll be singing your songs and thinking of you!!!

Best Wishes,
Judith Vogel from New York City

"Happy Birthday Ervin !!!!!"  -- William Forte

Dear Ervin:

From an early age, I was a heart-on-my-sleeve kinda gal with a highly developed sense of nostalgia (which brought endless amusement to my parents and their friends, as I was the youngest child in my family).  Thanks for your many songs that give dignity & celebration to strongly felt emotions and turn nostalgia into a higher art form.  When I first heard It Was a Very Good Year, I knew immediately that someone understood: nostalgia doesn’t have to mean regret, but a savoring of the high points of life.  And one is never too young to develop this ability, even as it may evoke the mirth of her elders.

I may have cut my teeth on the Beatles, the Who, and the Rolling Stones, and scorned much of the music my parents loved, as was the rite of passage of a sixties youth, but your music has been an important element of the soundtrack of my life, wafting through my brain at unexpected moments, coming forward to help me express my thoughts and feelings.  A friend once asked me, “Do you have a song for EVERYTHING?????”  Yeah, I kinda do!  And Ervin Drake is one of the people who has given them to me.

So, happy birthday, my friend I’ve never met!   I couldn’t sing my soundtrack without you!

Jan Fisher
Arlington, VA

Hey Ervin!  Happy happy Birthday to you from a fan in Australia!  Let's hope your next 92 years is every bit as good as your first 92 years and then some!

Kristina Olsen

Happy birthday Ervin Drake,
It's time again to slice the cake
Tony Orlando, Wayne Newton & you,
But only one is ninety-two!
We'll raise a glass with love and joy,
...Here in Champaign, Illinois
-- Jeff Mondak

Happy birthday from Bulgaria may the coming year bring you health and happiness.   – Jennifer Dow

"Ervin - celebrate in style - greetings from Huntington Beach, CA."
-- Peggy Flinn Glenn

Dear Card-Carrying Bleeding-Heart Liberal:

May your heart and your courage be strong for many more years!

Paul Stamler
St. Louis, MO

(who fell in love with "It Was a Very Good Year" back when the Kingston Trio sang it)

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -- Abraham Lincoln"
-- Abby Slamans

"Happiest Birthday Wishes to you, Mr Drake from Buffalo, NY! Thank you for making our lives richer with your unforgettable songs. Your are a TREASURE!!” – Liz Abbott

"Happy Birthday Ervin! Keep on keepin' on! – Judi Shulgold in Golden, Colorado

Dear Ervin,
Wishing you a very Happy Birthday. Hope this is your best year yet, with lots of love, light and laughter.
Sarah Rice

Dear Ervin Drake:
I hope it’s a VERY GOOD YEAR for a fellow CARD CARRYING bleeding heart liberal.  Enjoy!
From Lance Carlson in Atlanta GA

"Happy Birthday, Ervin - you are finally middle-aged!" – Bob Kelly

Dear Ervin,

Happy Birthday!!!
Thank you for writing so many great songs that are part of our lives.
I will be listening to some of them tonight in your honor, in particular my personal favorite, Elvis' version of "I Believe."
Thank you again and all the best!!

Jerry Carcione
Teaneck, New Jersey

Ervin Maurice, Most fabulous Aries from Queens!

From Woodrow Wilson to Obama,
God Blessed you with the gift,

From Duke to Gleason and Berle,
You knew them all,

1965 was a Very Good Year when Sinatra took your words worldwide,

Dr. Drake, now at the auspicious age of 92 it is finally time to tell us
About those Drake's Cakes!

Happy, Happy, Happy!

-- Ruth Eddy, Bridgeport, CT

Happy Birthday Ervin!

I think one of the only “Standards” you haven’t composed is “Happy Birthday” but you probably wrote a great “birthday” song yourself. So today is the day you get to introduce it to your friends so they can join in and sing it to YOU!

Remember, growing old is mandatory; FEELING old is optional!

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic” – covering music of all periods from Edison to Elvis
Philadelphia, PA

Dear Ervin:  

Happy Happy Happy Birthday!

Bob Mantin here; I sat next to you and your lovely wife at Christine's mini-performance and book signing at the Port Washington Library a few months ago.. and the night before that we shared the stage at Birdland as a couple of "Sensitive New Age Guys.”

I'm sorry I can't be here "in person" tonight to help you celebrate your birthday --

I wish you and your wife Health, Happiness, and long long lives, and I hope to see you very soon.

Bob Mantin

Good morning Heart  MAKE ! Mr. Drake - happiest returns of the day. Big love to you on your birthday!

Janet Kenworthy
Aberdeen, NC

Happy Birthday Ervin;
I believe (and wish) these coming years will be very good years for you.
George Stella, Bay Shore, NY

Happy Birthday, Ervin. Thank you for your body of work, and for being such an incredible inspiration.
Garry Novikoff

Dear Ervin --
Your melodies and lyrics are such celebrations of life! What a treat it is for us to celebrate your life -- at your Birdland party tonight!
Wishing you great health and joy on this birthday and every day!!
Your fans, Larry Robbins & Leslie Danoff
Washington, D.C.

"Shake shake shake! Erwin Drake! Bake bake bake! Birthday Cake! Happy Birthday from New York City See you tonight at Birdland!
Katie and Ruby Rakos"

"Happy 92nd Birthday Ervin Drake!
Lots of Love,
Ruby in Manhattan!"

Dear Ervin,

Here is wishing you a Happy Birthday and Congratulations on a life well lived and gifts well shared!  Thank you for your songs.  Countless heartbreaks have been soothed by "Good Morning Heartache,” including my own.   To sing that velvet song while in the throes of a broken heart was the most potent medicine I've found.  
Warm wishes to you and with much gratitude and love,

Kate Taylor

Dear Ervin:
You're a legend but more importantly, you're a mensch.  
I'm honored to know you.
With adoration of your melodies,
Aaron Weinstein

Dear Ervin:
It's been a thrill for me to have had the opportunity to meet you and your lovely wife, Edith these past few years.

When I was a little girl in Detroit, Michigan, I heard your song "I Believe."  I must have found it inspiring and comforting because I purchased the sheet music and learned the song.  The first time I ever sang the song in public was for you and Edith a few years ago at Cast Party.  What an honor for me!  I will never forgot that night.  Thank you for writing such a beautiful song.  Best wishes for an outstanding birthday celebration with many more to come.

With love and admiration,
Jenny Lynn Stewart

Dear Mr. Drake:

Writers love prizes.   I got my favorite one in 2009.   Here's how it was engraved:  

Attractive Stupid People © 2009 Christine Lavin, Ervin Drake, and Gene Weingarten, (ASCAP)

Maybe some day I'll let you collaborate with me on another one of my famous songs.
– Gene Weingarten, Washington, D.C.

Ervin, you are a treasure and I hope you have another 92 birthdays. Love to you and your beautiful Edith!
from Christine Lavin's publicist pal
Gail Parenteau

Hi Ervin, Greetings from the foothills of the Catskills.   I want to wish you a very happy birthday.  It's folks like you who make this world a better place by bringing us joy and music. Congratulations!
Sonny Ochs

"Happy Birthday Mr. Drake! We so enjoy singing and playing your beautiful songs on our upright at home!"
Love, Brian & Ashley
from Scotch Plains, NJ

Dear Ervin,
You are truly a living National treasure. I consider myself privileged to have sung some of your songs over the years, to have been moved by many others. I also feel lucky to know you and consider you and Edith friends. Happy Birthday! I wish I could be there tonight to celebrate with you but I am working in Florida.
Much Love
Joan Crowe
Seize the day

  1. . . but go out at night

Dear Ervin,

My wonderful cousin Christine has an ageless timeless quality to her work and perhaps even to her homage to others. She has a special reverence and love for those who have lived a long creatively expressive life full of all the nuances and complexities of those years. Someone like YOU! So with that as a backdrop, may you have a wonderful celebration on your 92nd birthday and may you continue to share you music. Your lyrics are food for the soul!

Happy Birthday!
Maureen Bennett

Dearest Ervin,
Happy Birthday to a remarkable and brilliant songwriter!  Thank you for showing us how to keep the class and elegance in the art form of music writing, as the times and our ages change.
From the desk of the Four Bitchin' Babes, we send you our love, respect, and glorious wishes for a happy and healthy long life.

Mazel Tov bubbelah!
Sally Fingerett
Columbus Ohio

Thanks for being an un- apologetic bleeding heart Liberal who is willing to write songs that "comfort the disturbed" . . . and some that "disturb the comfortable.”
Happy Birthday Ervin
- David Ippolito

Happy 92nd Birthday to you Mr. Ervin Drake!! I hope you have a lovely time celebrating with your friends and family. Thank you for your wonderful music. :)
Wishing you all the best,
Annie Govekar
Chambersburg, PA

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ERVIN!  You seem to so enjoy the passage of time and to so gracefully turn your own calendar pages. You set a great example for the rest of us. Thank you!
John Forster, songwriter
South Nyack, New York  

Dearest Darling and oh so Sexy Ervin,

Thoughts of you get my italian heart and various other body parts to pulsing, tingling and undulating . . . talent, longevity and good taste do that to me.  

A big firm warm Italian embrace from me to you on your Birthday!

Christine Pedi

ps:  oh, I suppose I should say hello to that broad you married . . .  Hello e-DITH (to be spoken thru gritted teeth and clenched jaw so as to mask my JEALOUSY)

Happy birthday, Ervin!!!!
You are the most remarkable card carrying liberal I know!!! And the year you were born was not only a very good was the very Best year!!!!
Happy Birthday, you amazing man!

Love, Karen Mason and Paul Rolnick

Dear Ervin:
I gathered these between 3 PM April 3 and 3 PM April 4th.  Twenty-four hours of Happy Birthday Ervin wishes.  Welcome to your 93rd year!
Christine L.