The Chicago Syndicate: Al Capone Love Song

Magee 1866 Heritage Month

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Al Capone Love Song

A softer side of famed Chicago mobster Al Capone is on display this week as a Boston archives dealer attempts to sell an inscribed copy of an original song penned by the gangster for $65,000.

Capone apparently wrote "Madonna Mia" while serving time for income tax evasion in Alcatraz in the 1930s. After obtaining a copy of the lyrics last year, a suburban Chicago man has been working with musicians to record the love song and plans to release it Monday on his Web site. "It's a very touching Italian love ballad," said Rich Larsen of Prospect Heights, who runs "I think it shows that Capone actually had a softness in his heart and a gentle way about him in certain ways."

When he wasn't ruling Chicago's criminal underworld, Capone was a music fan. He loved opera and featured the hottest jazz musicians of the day in his clubs. Capone read music and could play the banjo and the mandola, which is similar to the mandolin. Larsen claimed Capone persuaded Alcatraz wardens to allow inmates to form a band, and Capone, for a time, made music behind bars.

"Madonna Mia," believed to be an ode to his wife, Mae, was the only song Capone is known to have written. The lyrics read, in part, "Madonna Mia, you're the bloom of the roses, you're the charm that reposes, in the heart of a song/Madonna Mia, with your true love to guide me, let whatever be-tide me, I will never go wrong."

The lyrics are signed by Capone in pencil and inscribed to a Jesuit priest who befriended the mobster in his final years. Capone died in 1947.

Thanks to Joel Hood

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