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The whole world is singing 'Happy Birthday' all wrong

A Solana Beach doctor offers a peppier version that doesn't sound like a "death march."

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. — The 'Happy Birthday' song that we all love to sing was created in 1912, but that doesn't mean improvements can't be made. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Solana Beach for what felt like a repeat performance. 

Eighteen years ago, I rang the doorbell at a Solana Beach house, I was recently asked to ring the same doorbell wearing the same outfit I wore in 2004. "Oh my, Jeff Zevely!" said Dr. Ed Siegel. In 2004, Dr. Ed Siegel invited me to sit down at his piano where he can play any song by ear. I put him to the test and he played theme songs to Sesame Street and the TV show MASH on demand. 

Now in 2022, he invited me back for what felt like Deja vu.

Credit: Dr. Ed Siegel

"You're wearing the same suit that you wore in 2004," I said. Dr. Siegel responded, "Yes, same shoes, same tie." But he invited me back to his home the explore a brand-new idea. 

"I have always had a complaint when people sing Happy Birthday because to me it sounds it sounds terrible, it sounds like a funeral march," said Dr. Siegel who then played a sad version of the Happy Birthday song.

Credit: Dr. Ed Siegel

Back in 2004, Dr. Siegel was upset with another well-known song. He was trying to convince America to change the way they sing the national anthem.

We sat at his piano and sang the song together. "Would you like to sing it with me? That would be so great," asked Dr. Siegel. We then belted out "And the rockets' red glare."  

Dr. Siegel says if you sing the song in a lower key everyone can hit the notes but when you don't. "And the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air, that's too high," said Dr, Siegel with his voice shrieking. The doctor never won that battle, so he's starting a new war.

Credit: Dr. Ed Siegel

He likes to take on the big songs. This time he wants to retrain the world how to sing the 'Happy Birthday' song. First, he sang the song the way we know it. "Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you. That sounds terrible," said Dr, Siegel. 

When Ed turns 83 on December 16th, he hopes the world will be singing his new version. "And this just came out of my fingers, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you," said Dr. Siegel with his upbeat rhythm. "I mean it's fun, it makes sense and everybody I do it for likes it."

I asked him, "Are you happy with the wheel?" He responded, "What do you mean?" I then said, "I am wondering if you are going to reinvent that too?"

Credit: Dr. Ed Siegel

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After a big laugh, Dr, Siegel launched into his new 'Happy Birthday' song which we sang together. "Isn't that peppy? Isn't that happy?," asked Dr. Siegel. When Dr. Siegel tried to change the National Anthem in 2004, his story made the front page of the New York Times.  By the way, he shares a birthday on December 16th with Beethoven.

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