Information About Grand Old Flag
Most Americans enjoy patriotic songs and children love them with a marching beat. "You're a Grand Old Flag" is one of those songs. Written by George M. Cohan and performed in his musical, George Washington, Jr. the song became an overnight American hit.
The original lyrics and title were, "You're a Grand Old Rag,' after an encounter Cohan had with a Civil War veteran who had fought at Gettysburg holding a tattered, yet carefully folded flag. Some historical references indicate that the man actually said to Cohan, "She is a grand old rag. ' But, the song lyrics and title were later changed to the more appealing words.
With the beginning of World War I, America experienced a renewed feeling for patriotism, which lead to even more popularization of the song and it sold more sheet music than any previous Broadway song. It was the first ever to sell more than one million copies.
The song is probably most widely known through the musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy, as performed by James Cagney. The film was a tribute and depiction of Cohan's life.