Cyrus "Cy" Coben (April 4, 1919 – May 26, 2006) was an American songwriter, whose hits were recorded by bandleaders, country singers, The Beatles, Tommy Cooper and Leonard Nimoy. Coben was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States, the youngest son of Harris ("Harry") Cohen and Nettie Brandt Cohen, and was originally named Seymour. His father was a cheese salesman in New York City. Coben learned to play the trumpet and studied at a local music academy. In 1942 he had his first charting song with "My Little Cousin", which Benny Goodman's orchestra and vocalist Peggy Lee took to #14. Coben spent the next several years in the Navy, serving in the South Pacific as a pharmacist's mate. On his return in 1946, he resumed his song writing career. He wrote "A Good Woman's Love" for his wife Shirley Nagel, whom he married in 1948.
In 1947, Coben wrote a novelty song called "(When You See) Those Flying Saucers" which was released as a single by the Buchanan Brothers; his co-author was Charles Randolph Grean, who was working for RCA/Victor. Grean was to become a long-time collaborator of Coben's. In 1949 Coben first visited Nashville and soon became a part of the music business there. In Nashville, Coben wrote for a variety of artists, but was especially associated with Eddy Arnold; he wrote "There's Been a Change in Me" and "I Wanna Play House With You," two #1 country hits for Arnold in 1951, and went on to write many other songs for him, often with Charles Grean, who was Arnold's manager - "Eddy's Song", a #1 country hit in 1953; "Free Home Demonstration" (#4 country) in 1954, and others. Coben and Grean also wrote songs for other artists, such as their version of "Sweet Violets", which charted for Dinah Shore and Jane Turzy in 1951.
Coben wrote "Nobody's Child" with Mel Foree; Hank Snow recorded it in 1949. Lonnie Donegan later brought it to the United Kingdom, and the Beatles recorded it during their early days playing in Hamburg, Germany.
Coben wrote many novelty songs; one of his biggest novelty hits was "The Old Piano Roll Blues" (1950). He also wrote for Homer and Jethro - "The Billboard Song" became a much-recorded favorite, and "Don't Jump Off the Roof, Dad" was later a hit for British comedian Tommy Cooper. Coben wrote "How to Catch a Man" for country comedienne Minnie Pearl and it became one of her standards. The New Riders of the Purple Sage recorded Coben's "Red Hot Women and Ice Cold Beer". His old collaborator Charles Grean was Leonard Nimoy's record producer, and Coben wrote several songs for him ("Alien", "The Difference Between Us").
Coben's humor and sentiment translated well to the European market. Bill Ramsey took Coben's "Souvenirs" to #1 in Germany in 1959, and Belgian star Will Tura recorded a number of Coben tunes ("Show Me the Man"/"Waar is de man"; "The Great El Tigre"/"El Bandido"). "Goethe War Gut" charted in Germany for Rudi Carrell in 1978.
Although comedian Sheb Wooley's 1968 song "Country Music Hall of Fame" (as Hee Haw regular "Ben Colder") envisioned Coben as an inductee, Coben was not elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame or the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Coben retired to Atherton, California and died on May 26, 2006. An obituary was published by the San Francisco Chronicle on June 12, 2006, and included an image of Coben in his later years.
~ original recording not released on vinyl
| Site Links | All Albums | All Songs | The Recording Sessions |
George Townsend HQV Selekt Group 3 Seaview Avenue Wolfville, Nova Scotia B4P 2G3 Canada Telephone: (902) 698-9848
Sunday, July 03, 2022