‘Back in Hackensack, New Jersey,’ Benson Orchestra of Chicago

The sheet music for "Back in Hackensack, New Jersey."

The sheet music for “Back in Hackensack, New Jersey.”

It’s got a great tongue-twister of an opening line: “I wanna go back to a black little shack, back in Hackensack, New Jersey.” But how the cute novelty song “Back in Hackensack, New Jersey” ended up being recorded by the Benson Orchestra of Chicago (with Frank Sullivano on vocals) in 1924 remains a mystery.

The song was written by Dan A. Russo and Art. L. Beiner. I couldn’t find much on them, either. Maybe they were New Jerseyans stranded in Chicago, and nostalgic for home? Or maybe they just came across the city name in an encyclopedia, and decided to try to work it into a song?

Fun trivia fact: The song was later reworked as “My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii.” To listen to that, look under the video of the original Hackensack version, below.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.


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