This article is about the barbershop song. For other uses, see Sweet Adeline.
Cover of 1903 sheet music, with inset photo of singer Pearl Redding
"(You're the Flower of My Heart,) Sweet Adeline" is a ballad best known as a barbershop standard. It was first published in 1903, with lyrics by Richard H. Gerard to music by Harry Armstrong, from a tune he had written in 1896 at the age of 18. According to a 1928 newspaper story, the lyrics were inspired "by a girl who worked at the music counter of a New York department store." After failing to find a publisher with the initial title, "You're the Flower of My Heart, Sweet Rosalie", according to a story the two decided a new title was in order and were inspired by a poster advertising the farewell tour of opera singer Adelina Patti. It did not become a hit until it was performed in 1904 by the group The Quaker City Four.
John F. Fitzgerald, who served as mayor of Boston, represented Massachusetts in Congress and was the maternal grandfather of President John F. Kennedy, made "Sweet Adeline" his theme song in 1909. Over the next four decades, he personally sang it at countless political and social events and on the radio.
The song was featured in a 1952 episode of the TV show I Love Lucy entitled "Lucy's Show Biz Swan Song", in which Ricky Ricardo's barbershop quartet performs the song at the Tropicana Club as part of a Gay Nineties revue.
The song was covered by jam band Phish in several live performances.
The Seekers used the song as a regular part of their live act in the 1960s; lead vocalist Judith Durham would sit out the song while Athol Guy, Keith Potger, and Bruce Woodley would perform the song as a barbershop trio. The song was included on their 1968 album, The Seekers Live at the Talk of the Town.
Country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers references "Sweet Adeline" in his song "My Old Pal".