In A Nutshell
Despite his association with Valentine’s Day, Al Capone isn’t known as a particularly romantic guy. However, the gangster actually had a secret passion: playing music and writing love songs. When Scarface ended up on the Rock, he actually composed a sappy little ditty about a guy who’s head over heels in love.
The Whole Bushel
When Al Capone wasn’t playing baseball with other people’s heads, he was busy playing music. As it turns out, the King of the Chicago Mob was quite the musical aficionado. Capone loved going to the opera, and he was such a big fan of jazz that in 1926, he had legendary pianist Fats Waller tickle the ivories at his three-day-long birthday party. Of course, Fats was abducted at gun point and actually forced to play for Capone’s pleasure, but he left the party several thousand dollars richer.
It’s too bad Waller and Capone never played a duet because Scarface was actually quite the skilled musician. However, Capone’s instruments of choice were the banjo and mandola, and when he was finally shipped up to Alcatraz in 1934, Al spent his days strumming the strings behind bars. He even wound up in the prison band, the Rock Islanders, which played for the other inmates every Sunday. But Capone didn’t just play songs. As it turns out, he actually wrote his own.
The story goes that Capone was good friends with a Jesuit in training named Vincent Casey. Casey regularly visited the prisoners on Alcatraz and held regular meetings with the notorious ex-gangster. Every Saturday for two years, Casey and Capone chatted about life and spiritual matters, until one Christmas, the mobster gave the young novice a strange present. It was a piece of sheet music, and the dedication read, “To my good friend Father Vin Casey with the best in all the world for a Merry Christmas always for you. Alphonse Capone.” The piece was titled “Madonna Mia,” and it was a love song that went like this:
You’re the bloom of the roses,
You’re the charm that reposes,
In the heart of a song.
With your true love to guide me,
Let whatever betide me,
I will never go wrong.
There’s only one moon above,
One golden sun,
There’s only one that I love,
You are the one.
So who was this mysterious Madonna Mia? Perhaps it was the Virgin Mary, or maybe it was Capone’s wife, Mae. Either way, the song survived through the years and was actually recorded in 2009 by members of an Al Capone fan club. As for the sheet music itself, it was to be sold for $65,000. It’s weird to think that in another life, Scarface might’ve been writing pop songs for romantic crooners.