Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Musical Names

Have you ever come across a name that sort of sings when you say it? I consider those to be musical names. My real name is very gutteral and dull sounding so I have great appreciation for musical names.

For instance when we were quite young my brother had a friend with a musical name. It was only musical if you said his whole name so that is what we called him. Logan Cole Kennison, Jr. We never used just his first name. His entire name was just too much fun to say.

In a book my grandmother discovered two names that she loved. They were the names of Indian maidens. One was Nalinlee and the other was Ondelea. Both very musical. One is now my sister's name and the other is the name of a cousin.

My mother loved lyrical names. Her favorite was (now you must say the entire thing) Haile Selassi of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She also liked the names of two baseball players. They were Felipe Alou and Jesus Alou. Their poor brother was only Manny Alou; not quite as lyrical.

The legendary late night show host Johnny Carson enjoyed introducing a guest who had a musical name. It was Gunther Gebel-Williams the famous lion tamer from Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Over the years I have appreciated names that belong in a song. Even though I realize that a name is simply something that distinguishes me from the person standing next to me I can feel the beauty of a great name. Here are a few I have "collected".

It may sound a bit like a sneeze but that is part of the charm of Nikita Khrushchev.

American Actress Barbara Bel Geddes

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Country music singer and songwriter David Allan Coe

Many of the United States presidents have musical names. My favorite is William Henry Harrison

Oliver Wendell Holmes of the United States Supreme Court

Pollyanna Whittier is the little girl from the book Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. Sequels were written by several authors and a movie by Disney (starring another musical name, Hayley Mills) are all favorites. Pollyanna was the girl who found something to be glad about in every situation.

Most of us think of Maya Angelou as a poet. But she was also an actress, author, dancer, and singer.

Ethel Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore were part of the family that is often considered American theater royalty. These two are the ones with the musical names.

Mata Hari was executed in France as a spy for the Germans during World War I. Her real name, Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" Zelle MacLeod is almost as musical.

Rip Van Winkle was a man who shirked all work. One day on a foray into the Catskill Mountains he meets a group of friendly men playing nine-pins and drinking moonshine. He fell asleep and returned to his village to find that twenty years had passed. Perhaps the melody of his name helped him sleep so long.

His  full name is William Somerset Maugham but drop the William (which he did) and his name is so musical. He was a British playwright and author.

Henry David Thoreau is best known for being a leader of the Transcendental movement. He was an author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, and on and many ons.

Carrie Ann Inaba is best known as a judge on Dancing With The Stars. She is a dancer and choreographer with a name she can dance to.

These are only a few of my collection. I am constantly collecting new names. Maybe you know one I would like.


  1. When you have a name like "Kay", you always notice musical names!
    By the way, did you know that it was really David Henry Thoreau and he changed it to Henry David Thoreau? Looks like he understood about musical names too!

    1. I did not know about the name change. Thank you for new information. It is nice to know that other people appreciate musical names.

  2. You have compiled quite an interesting list, Emma, and I don't have a contribution that comes readily to mind.

    1. Contributions are not required. But I will bet you notcie the next time you hear a name that has a rhythm and music to it.