You might say the notorious gangster Al Capone had a split personality when it came to the Irish.
On the one hand, it was 80 years ago when Capone launched one of the most infamous hits in gangland history.
It was Valentine’s Day. Chicago. 1929. Capone was sick and tired of competing with the North Side Irish gangsters led by George “Bugs’ Moran.
So in a run down garage, seven men close to Moran were executed, though Moran actually escaped.
It came to be called the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. It was said to be organized by Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn, who was born with the fine Irish name Vincenzo Antonio Gibaldi.
Less well-known, however, is that every night, Capone went home to his wife, Mary “Mae” Coughlin, the daughter of Irish immigrants from Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Also, one of Capone’s closest friends in prison was an Irish priest.
Now comes word that a new recording of an Al Capone love song written by Scarface himself will be released.
Though the title of the song is the heavily religious (not to mention Italian) “Madonna Mia,” some Capone watchers -- and believe me, there are many of them still out there -- believe the tune was inspired by Capone’s Irish wife.
You can judge for yourself when the CD is released next month. Singers have been hired to perform the song that Capone wrote.
The sheet music may fetch as much as $65,000 if it is sold. Who says the economy is hurting and has everybody feeling gloomy?
This is as goofy a story as you will ever hear -- at least when it comes to stories which involve cold-blooded killers.
The story of the lost Al Capone love song begins not with his Irish wife but with an Irish priest, a Jesuit by the name of Vincent Casey.
Casey, as part of his training, spent time at Alcatraz in the 1930s, the prison where Capone ended up when he was arrested not for gangland killings but for tax evasion.
Casey, apparently, took a liking to Capone, who was said to be a deeply religious man. In fact, when Capone formed a prison band and ultimately wrote the sheet music to “Madonna Mia,” he presented it to Casey – just in time for the holidays.
"To my good friend Father Vin Casey with the best in all the world for a Merry Christmas always for you. Alphonse Capone,” the gangster wrote.
As for the song itself, sure, it’s a fair guess to believe Capone had the Holy Mother on his mind when he wrote it.
Sample lyrics which have appeared in newspapers include, "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."
However, Capone also might have had a more earthly love in mind.
One of those Capone experts, who toils at the web site alcaponefanclub.com, actually believes the gangster had his Irish wife in mind when he wrote this song.
And if you think about it, it makes some sense.
After all, Mae Coughlin stuck with Capone through all the assassination attempts and investigations and even imprisonment.
The unlikely duo were married in 1918. Mae was two years older than her husband. She grew up with her immigrant parents, Michael and Bridget, in what has been described as a middle class home in Brooklyn.
She lived with Capone in Chicago, later moving out to Long Island. After Capone was arrested, it’s easy to believe he would have pined for his loyal wife and even written a love song to her.
Capone died at the young age of 48, while in prison. He was buried in Chicago.
Mae, on the other hand, eventually moved to Florida. She lived another 40 years, until 1986, when she died on April 16, at the Hollywood Hills retirement home.
Then again, if some of our Al Capone experts are to be believed, Mary “Mae” Coughlin Capone will live once again next month, when a recording of her notorious husband’s love song, “Madonna Mia,” is released.
You can’t make this stuff up.
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