Life and work
Born the son of a cabinet maker and boxer, Morris "Cockney" Cohen, and an Irish mother, he was brought up in Dublin where his father opened a restaurant. In his teens, he ran away to sea, and eventually became a journalist in the USA. Under the name of Michael Carr, he played a number of small roles in Hollywood films.
In 1934 he settled in London where he worked for a music company. He wrote and co-wrote several songs for such performers as Gracie Fields. One of his best-known songs, written with lyricist Jimmy Kennedy, was "We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line" (1939). During World War II he served in the army. In 1942 he composed "Freedom Concerto".
Among Carr's other compositions were "Lonely Ballerina" (1954) for the Mantovani Orchestra, and two instrumental pieces which were hits for The Shadows: "Man of Mystery" (UK #5 hit in December 1960) and "Kon-Tiki" (UK #1 hit in October 1961). His "Man of Mystery" was the theme music for the early 1960s film series "Edgar Wallace Mysteries" based on the prodigious output of the writer Edgar Wallace known as the "man of mystery". In recent years this instrumental rock tune has featured in the repertoire of the British alternative rock band Muse.
With Ben Nisbet, Carr co-wrote the theme song to the popular 1960s children's TV series "The White Horses". The song was released as the single "White Horses" sung by "Jacky" (Jackie Lee) which became a UK #10 hit in April 1968. In 2003 it was named in The Penguin Television Companion as the greatest theme song in television history. Carr and Nisbet collaborated again for another song for Jacky, "Off and Running".
Among many other songs, Carr also wrote/co-wrote:
- Ol' Faithful" (1934) (with Kennedy)
- "Dinner for One, Please James" (1935)
- "The General's Fast Asleep" (1935) (with Kennedy)
- "Getting Around and About" (1935) (with Lewis Ilda)
- "Old Timer" (1935) (with Lewis Ilda)
- "Girl with the Dreamy Eyes" (1935) (with Eddie Pola)
- "Orchids to My Lady" (1935)
- "Misty Islands of the Highlands" (1935) (with Kennedy)
- "The Wheel of the Wagon Is Broken" (1935) (with Elton Box & Desmond Cox)
- "Did Your Mother Come from Ireland" (1936) (with Kennedy)
- "The Sunset Trail" (1936) (with Kennedy)
- "Why Did She Fall for the Leader of the Band?" (1936) (with Kennedy)
- "Cowboy" (1937)
- "Home Town" (1937) (with Kennedy)
- "The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot" (1937) (with Tommie Connor & Jimmy Leach)
- "Cinderella, Stay in My Arms" (1938)
- South of the Border) (1939) (with Kennedy)
- "On the Outside Looking in" (1939)
- "Somewhere in France with You" (1939)
- "(We're Gonna Hang out the) Washing on the Siegfried Line" (1939) (with Kennedy)
- "A Handsome Territorial" (1939) (with Kennedy)
- "The First Lullaby" (1941) (with Popplewell)
- "A Pair Of Silver Wings" (1941) (with Eric Maschwitz)
- "I Love To Sing" (1943) (with Paul Misrake & Tommie Connor)
- "When You Talk About Old Ireland" (1951) (with Tommie Connor)
Carr also composed "Ole Faithful", which became the Hull Rugby League Football Club's supporter's anthem.
He collaborated with many other British songwriters such as Jack Popplewell (also from Leeds), Jack Strachey and Eric Maschwitz and with Norrie Paramor for another Shadows' tune "The Miracle".
He died in London.