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All MIDI file contents and Wave/MP3 Audio recordings are Copyright ©1998 through under the 1998 Electronic Copyright Laws by Bill Edwards and Siggnal Sounds. All Sheet Music and Album Cover images here have been restored or enhanced by Bill Edwards, and only the original sources are in the Public Domain (except where noted). Unauthorized duplication or distribution of these proprietary files or associated digital recordings is a violation of copyright and patent law. They are for personal use and enjoyment of individuals only, and may be used on other sites only upon request for permission to do so. This site has been optimized for HTML5/CSS3 browsers released in 2012 or later with a recommended minimum 1024x768 and optimal 1280x900 monitor resolution or better.
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Old-Time Song Instrumentals up to 1909
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mp3 fileAuld Lang Syne
Traditional tune with lyrics by Robert Burns - 1711/1798
lyrics
Auld Lang Syne Ever since noted band leader Guy Lombardo started the tradition in 1929 in the famed Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, we have aimlessly sung this old Scottish drinking song every New Years Eve out of a sense of familiarity, but not exactly one of comprehension. The American English translation of "Auld Lang Syne" is "Old Long Since", which is taken to mean "days gone by". Apply this and the song makes more sense. The five verses that Scottish Poet Robert Burns wrote in the late 1780s and published posthumously in 1798, were applied to a melody of unknown origin that had first appeared around 1711. The singer has several opportunities to become undeniably inebriated while waxing nostalgic about the past and taking a swig between choruses. This sentiment and the thought of such gatherings helps to explain the tie-in to New Years Eve. Then again, the melody of the United States National Anthem is also based on a drinking song, providing numerous possibilities for toasts at sports events. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this non-traditional treatment that progresses from the original take to something a bit raggier.
mp3 fileDer Deitcher's Dog
Septimus Winner - 1864
lyrics
Der Deitcher's Dog In the days before "Weird Al" Yankovic, the ever-toxi-funny Tom Lehrer, and even Gilbert and Sullivan, you could count on Septimus Winner for the most paradoxical of strange songs, or at least in this case. This Civil War gem written in Germ-english precedes the well-known hot dog by a few decades, but may have been predicting some of the ingredients in advance of the venerable red-hot sausage, perhaps even subliminally contributing to the name. Perhaps it is the ebullient tra-la-la chorus following this revelation that brings the chills. This Philadelphia native was known for a wide variety of famous and venerable American songs, including Listen to the Mocking Bird (later the Three Stooge's theme), Whispering Hope, and who can forget Ten Little Indians (I have tried, but to no avail). Winner wrote a number of funny songs of topical humor that were all authentic "winners" by definition. Der Deitcher is a deviation of Der Deutscher, loosely translated as The German Man. This comic song, albeit in altered form, has become the children's favorite known as Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone, but it does not have the same ick factor as the original version does. Reality songwriting, that's what it is. The smallest dog is not always the weakest link! So if this does for hot dogs what Jaws did for the beach, mission accomplished. (Oh!, and cover your child's ears when this is playing.)
mp3 fileShenandoah/It Is Well With My Soul
It Is Well with My Soul lyrics
Shenandoah lyrics

Traditional 19th Century Shanty/Philip Paul Bliss (M - Ville de Havre) and Horatio Gates Spafford (L) - c.1820/1876
shenandoah  Common Christian Hymnal I live just over the Blue Ridge from the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia and have spent many pleasant days there in a wonderfully preserved area rife with American heritage. However, that hsa nothing to do with the famous tune. The origin of this song is all but lost, but the melody was known as a rowing or loading shanty sung by either Irish or French Canadian river men and sea voyagers, possibly written by an Oneida Iroquois. There are also some African-American harmonic elements and metric ideas that contribute to the makeup of the piece. The Shenandoah it was named after was a Native American chief who lived originally in New York, but had trade at times on the Missouri river. The melody very possibly dates back even further than the generally accepted 1820s, making it among the oldest of American folk songs. The wistfully poetic harmonic line of the song certainly evokes a time when the lands from Ohio to the Missouri were wide open and the simple things were of great beauty.
On my Patriot's Dream's CD I felt I wanted to include a spiritual number somewhere, and It Is Well With My Soul, one of my favorite hymns, fit in both stylistically and lyrically with the river theme. Horatio Spafford lost the majority of his business and personal assets in the catastrophic Chicago fire of 1871. Within the year, he also lost all four of his daughters as they were crossing the Atlantic with their mother and were involved in a collision with another ship. When Spafford later sailed to the spot where his daughters meet their fate, he was inspired to find peace within himself by penning the poem that makes up this tranquil hymn. Three years later, Philip Bliss set the poem to a melody he titled Ville de Havre, named after the ship on which the Spafford daughters died. It has since been used to provide comfort for trying times in the lives of individuals and losses felt by groups. At the beginning of the 21st century the message put forward by this piece is more important than ever to people of America and throughout the world. While the style presented within does not conform to the ragtime music present elsewhere throughout this site, please consider this medley a gift of tranquility and hope from me to you when such things are sometimes hard to find.
mp3 fileI've Been Workin' on the Railroad (The Levee Song)
Traditional - c.1880's
lyrics
I've Been Workin' on the Railroad Everybody knows the modern day accepted version of I've Been Workin' on the Railroad, except for a few select Texans who can't seem to get the words right. :-) However, it did not start out life as a train song. There is no clear indication as to who, if anybody, wrote this piece. It is likely a developed folk song that sprang out of the Antebellum reconstruction of the southern United States, and somebody finally wrote it down for publication. There are indications that it was first popular with workers on the Louisville, New Orleans, and Texas rail line, built along the Mississippi in 1883/1884. Some believe that it may also have come from some of the railroad work gangs in the Midwest who had immigrated from Ireland, where historians have ascertained that the melody may have originated. In any case, the first known publication was in 1894, where it appeared titled as the Levee Song. The verse, now excised, was indeed about working on the levee. Dinah may well have been the name of the cook, and the horn blowing signifies meal time. What surprises most people is that this was a ballad before it became a popular folk/pop song. The tune for the Dinah verses that now follow the initial chorus were derived from an even older song called Somebody in the House with Dinah, which itself appears to be adapted from Goodnight Ladies, Farewell Ladies by Minstrel show composer E.P. Christy. However, they made their appearance in print from unknown sources sometime in the 1940's. They have been traced as part of a separate song from the 1850s, so the association that brought them together is unclear at best. The power of radio and recording helped to disseminate this variation, no doubt. The cover is from a 1938 edition of the song, which was published with the addition of the "Dinah" lyrics in guitar chord format only, and with the original verses. They are presented here intact in the lyrics complete with the original ethnic dialect.
mp3 fileThe Fountain in the Park
Ed Haley - 1884
lyrics
The Fountain in the Park This is another one of those familiar pieces that has managed to remain well known, although not as originally written. Known more commonly as While Strolling Through The Park One Day, both the lyrical and melodic content of this ditty have been altered through public performance in the century-plus span since it was first published. Intended as a stage piece, it even includes a schottische after the verse specifically written for a dance. This performance combines elements of the original composition with the more familiar take on it. The first iteration of the song is mostly as composed. Note how the ending of the first section and the bridge are entirely different than the popularized version. Then after the bridge it shifts briefly into waltz time, followed by the final cadence of the verse. The middle portion of the dance has been expanded to fill out the content. The bridge melody that is more widely known today was derived from this dance. Then the piece is completed using the popularized melody.
mp3 fileDaddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow
Joseph Tabrar - 1892
lyrics
Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow  Bow-Wow Cartoon Born out of the old English music halls (Tabrar was a prolific English writer in that vein), this song had caused confusion, controversy, smiles and gasps for over a century, and has been open to as much interpretation and speculation as many of the Beatles' later songs were. I don't plan to clear up any of that mess here, but will provide you with a little history and other comments. For starters, it was composed very quickly. The story is that Tabrar was in an agent's office where another singer, unnamed to this day, was overheard by the composer to have been looking for a "really good song" for her act. Tabrar immediately got to work over in the corner of the office while the singer and an agent browsed through some pieces. He came over in minutes with the newly composed song, which the woman summarily (and unwisely) rejected because it could not possibly be any good if it were written on the spot. (Many great songs have come about in this very manner, in fact.) It soon found its way to comic singer Vesta Victoria who debuted it in the South London Palace complete with a basket of flowers hiding a kitten. It quickly became a hit, in part because of her innocently suggestive interpretation and the easily memorized melody. Within a year its fame had also spread to the U.S., and even an 1893 cartoon in that era's Life periodical showed a child singing the ditty. Early cylinders of the piece sung by both Victoria and Silas Leachman were soon circulating, and even artist Toulouse-Lautrec got into the act, painting singer May Belfort allegedly performing the piece.
The controversy has been in the perception or interpretation of the seemingly innocuous and child-like lyrics. Is it a children's song? The question should first be asked, did children attend the bawdy vaudevilles in London music theater? Likely not all that often. Then who was it written for? (Parents - cover the kiddies eyes for a moment!) The references to kitties and some of their particular characteristics could as easily be correlated with female anatomy as could the euphemistic bow-wow terminology to that of a male. Taking that a step further, it has been a long held postulation that the song was about the choice of turning to a lesbian lifestyle when the standard issue society-endorsed one did not work out, or because of daddy's interference. In any case, the more innocently an adult woman vocalist performs the song, the more salacious it seems to become, except perhaps in the case of Victoria's American rival, Eva Tanguay. Then again, if Shirley Temple had performed it when she was six or seven years old it would have been a perfectly innocent song about a repressive father who didn't want a dog in the house, reinforcing the true duality of the lyrics. The cylinder performance by Miss Vesta in her rich Cockney accent certainly could be construed as titillating, but we may never know the true intention of the composer. The performance here was rendered by my stepdaughter, Miss Kelsey Pederson, recorded when she was just 17, so take what you may from that. By the way, I am truly a cat person, and there is no ambiguity in that statement. Right?
mp3 fileThe Cat Came Back
Harry S. Miller - 1893
lyrics
The Cat Came Back It's that same old story. No matter how hard you try that good-for-nothing mooching varmint who pays little mind to you unless he needs feeding simply won't disappear. He keeps coming back in spite of the evidence to the contrary that he should. That, of course, is the premise for this still-performed song that just barely predates the ragtime era. The versions we hear today at campfires or in recorded form (my favorite is by Garrison Keillor on his Cat CD) are quite different from the original, which was really an early "coon" song in thin disguise. The illustration on the cover is priceless, of course, if a bit frightening to small children. Even though all of the many original verses are included in the posted lyrics, there are hundreds more that have sprung up since then, since in 1893 there were no cars, semi-trucks, gas chambers, chainsaws, sewage plants, assault rifles, nuclear devices, or other WMDs and PETA nightmares that would be an equal match to a crafty cat. Some minor alterations have been done to the melody here simply because the original was a poor fit to the lyrics. Also note that the original lyrics have ten verses, and that the cat finally dies after the first nine. Even though I have often suggestively sung this to my poor cats (as included on my It's Ragging Cats and Dogs CD so you can do the same), they somehow keep coming back anyhow just to torture me.
mp3 fileThe Sidewalks of New York
Charles B. Lawlor (M) and James W. Blake (L) - 1894
lyrics
The Sidewalks of New York Long before Frank Sinatra's big hit (and Liza Minelli's as well), before Leonard Bernstein, before there was even jazz or ragtime, there was this simple anthem about a complex city. The story about the inception of this song is a little like the plot of some early stage shows or even show-biz movies, but is plausible given where it came from. Lawlor was a vaudeville singer who had done some solo and duo work on the circuit in the 1880s and 1890s. Whether he knew Blake beforehand or not is sketchy, but he likely had some acquaintance with him. Blake was working in a hat store (a very important commodity in that era) when Lawlor supposedly walked in humming what he thought was a catchy tune. He challenged Blake to write some lyrics about their fair city on the spot, which he did in the midst of his "topical" work. Lawlor then took the collaborative effort to Howley, Haviland & Co. Publishers who, again allegedly, bought it outright on the spot. However they obtained it, it was a near-instant hit that has been stuck in the psyche of the city ever since. The spread of the piece can be credited to famed vaudeville siren Lottie Gilson, who featured the piece in her nightly show on the Bowery for some time. Part of the charm is in the simplicity. The words of the chorus fit the music particularly well, and while they don't tell a terribly coherent story, it does evoke some of the atmosphere of the Village on the Hudson in a way that will long be remembered wistfully by many.
mp3 fileThe Streets of Cairo (or The Poor Little Country Maid)
James Thornton, Original tune Composer unknown - 1895
lyrics
The Streets of Cairo (or The Poor Little Country Maid) A familiar piece with a storied history, the verse is mostly commonly known as The Snake Charmer Song, even though its questionable origins are far removed from that. The verse melody may go back as far as the sixteenth century, but is more likely Asian in origin than Middle Eastern. It reportedly surfaced in some French folk music of that time, and was then thought to possibly be Algerian. However, the first direct association of it with the Middle East occurred in 1893 at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. Entrepreneur and publisher Sol Bloom was involved with the shocking exhibition of exotic Oriental dancers, including the legendary Little Egypt, and according to his autobiography and contemporary newspaper reports, he came up with the melody on the spot at a press conference to introduce his harem, and it immediately caught on. It was used often during the fair, and became quickly associated with what many called "Belly Dancing" and was even more commonly referred to as the "Hutchy Kutchy," carrying a dubious connotation at best. The strain was soon ubiquitous and showed up in many compositions over the next decade, none of which credited Bloom, who himself may likely have heard it from one of the dancers or their handlers. The most famous of these songs was Thornton's Streets of Cairo, of which the intent of the lyrics is a bit nebulous. It is clearly about a "poor little country maid" who turns to ruin, and takes a young man or two with her in the process with some tongue planted in cheek. However, when and where this happens is uncertain, so its association with the fair is sketchy at best. Note how the chorus of the song resembles to some degree Ravel's Anvil Chorus.
mp3 fileA Hot Time in the Old Town
Theodore A. Metz (M) and Joseph Hayden (L) - 1896
lyrics
A Hot Time in the Old Town - Instrumental  A Hot Time in the Old Town - Song The supposed origin of this piece came from an offhand remark suggesting the title. The German-born composer, Theodore Metz, was touring with the McIntyre and Heath minstrel company in the mid-1890s as their violinist and arranger/conductor. They had a train stop at a place known as "Old Town." Metz reportedly saw a group of children starting a fire near the track. One of his colleagues quipped "there'll be a hot time in Old Town tonight." Metz liked the comment and wrote it down on a scrap of paper, allegedly composing the march based on that title the next day. In spite of the suggestive title that called for lyrics, it was initially used as an entrance march for the minstrel company, and published as a three section instrumental march. The words by Hayden were added and published even before the march was in print, and were written in a Negro dialect as a sort of "coon" song. Although this piece was long associated with the 1871 Chicago fire that all but destroyed the city, the original lyrics actually focus about black people "painting the town," and in some incarnations of verses beyond those written by Hayden, going down to a much hotter place for their efforts. It became an unofficial anthem of the American forces during the Spanish-American War of 1898, and again, sometimes in altered form, during World War I. The march song was used liberally during minstrel shows of the early 20th century, and in cartoons from the 1920s to 1950s. So get your matches ready for this performance of the song version which includes my then 17-year-old son Alex on the drums.
mp3 fileSweet Rosie O'Grady
Maude Nugent (?) - 1896
lyrics
Sweet Rosie O'Grady Maude Nugent was a fairly well respected stage performer in the 1890s and 1900s. Among other things she was known for being proper in manner and dress, with less emphasis on the bawdier aspects of stage performance. Maude was married to songwriter, later publisher, William Jerome and on occasion helped to make his works popular through her performances. Whether she was a composer in her own right is a matter of speculation, having few songs her credit. This one may well have been composed by Jerome. However, it was a hard sell under either name to most publishers. It wasn't until Nugent scored with the tune on stage that Joseph W. Stern bought it for publication. It falls into the second genre of Irish songs, whereas it is not specifically about Ireland, but rather about somebody who most likely had immigrated from there. Not unusual for that time was the 4/4 verse preceding the waltz chorus. This limits dancing possibilities if both are used in a performance, but helped to accent the graceful hook of the song.
mp3 fileAsleep in the Deep
H. W. Petrie (M) and Arthur J. Lamb (L) - 1897
lyrics
Asleep in the Deep This is one of the great popular baritone solos of all time, and a harbinger of some of the great shipwrecks yet to come, including... what was that big ship? Little information is available on Petrie, but Lamb was an active lyricist who worked with the Tin Pan Alley greats, and helped to pen the famous A Bird in a Gilded Cage three years after Asleep in the Deep. Although somewhat formulaic - true love survives far beyond the death of the lovers drowned during a fierce storm - the melody itself has its own merits, and is quite memorable. The tag is particularly fun, as it exercises the lowest end of most vocalist's range, and has an interesting change in the rhythmic emphasis of the Coda from a 12/8 four to a 6/8 two feel. I have often performed this as a piano solo with some success. The song is particularly effective for basses or contraltos. In this performance I show off - if that is even what is happening - my profundo under-the-counter baritono. I wonder... would they have performed this tune on the first (last) voyage of the Titanic?
mp3 fileMy Wild Irish Rose
Chauncy Olcott - 1899
lyrics
My Wild Irish Rose When Irish songs are sung, everybody in the room suddenly becomes Irish. Actually, it's a feeling that comes over many when the songs are heard, given their allegiance to that magical isle. The master at writing or presenting these was Chauncy Olcott. From the late 1890's to the 1910's, he wrote several stage shows with Irish themes, and at least one or two of the numbers from each show was somewhat memorable. The chorus of this song is instantly recognizable, although it takes on a different tone when accompanied by the verse and sung without the benefit of alcohol. M. Witmark & Sons managed publications for several composers of musical shows, including those of Olcott. I have even been lured by this song, which is on Volume 2 of Perfessor Bill Edwards Sings, the performance that is presented here.
mp3 fileHello, Ma Baby
Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson - 1899
lyrics
Hello, Ma Baby  Hello, Ma Baby The telephone was still considered to be somewhat of a superfluous gadget in the 1890s, but its use was growing in popularity, and the next decade would see an explosion in the number of households that would deem a connection to a phone line an absolute necessity. This song plays along with the novelty aspect of telephony, by hooking up a gentleman with a lady that he has never seen, but only talked to by happenstance. Those who are familiar with Internet dating may find this to be a familiar scenario. Joe Howard met Ida Emerson while performing in vaudeville, and she became the second of his nine wives. She helped to popularize this song as well as the follow-up in 1904, Goodbye, My Lady Love. The cover is one of many of the period that depicts blacks in a stereotypical fashion, and a stereotype named reference (coon) is included in one of the original verses (altered here). The performance featured here, and which was designed for vocal accompaniment, makes use of one of the more popular methods of presenting this song. It starts out in a moderate 4/4 rhythm (as written), then finishes in a fast 2/4. Do you hear ringing in your ears? I also perform a full production of this number, complete with a telephone chorus, as also included on Volume 3 of Perfessor Bill Edwards Sings.
mp3 fileHiawatha - A Summer Idyl
Charles N. Daniels
[as Neil Moret] (M) and James O'Dea (L) - 1902/1903
lyrics
Hiawatha - A Summer Idyl  Hiawatha - Song This is the great-granddaddy of the Native America-themed intermezzo, the predecessor of all the Indian Idyls and tone poems to follow, and... well, it wasn't even intended as such. The story behind this song is not that it was derived by some deep inspiration from the famed poem/novel by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, now so much a part of American culture that it was even featured in a comic moment in Meredith Willson's The Music Man. In reality, Daniels, a Kansas City resident for much of his life, was on a train trip to the town of Hiawatha, Kansas in 1901. He was inspired by the relentless rhythm of the wheels against the rail joints, and came up with a melody that he named after the town once he arrived. But the association with the legendary Indian fable of Hiawatha and Minnehaha was inevitable - if for no other reason than as a good marketing strategy by the publisher. What followed this best-seller was a tide of pieces that took Daniel's sound to represent Native American ballads, and many imitated the form and function of his piece, including Joseph Lamb, Percy Wenrich, Charles L. Johnson, and others. Daniels followed this with other train/Indian pieces (the distinction was sometimes hard to make) under his Moret pen name, but never quite repeated the success of the original. Just the same, his friend James O'Dea added lyrics in 1903, and the song became even more famous, eclipsed only by Kerry Mill's Red Wing in later years. I try to keep to the basic feel implied by Daniels' notation at least through the first iteration of the trio, and as it was conveyed to me by his proud and helpful ragtime-performing great niece, my late friend Nan Bostick. Then I infuse a little rag and a bit more "traditional" Native American rhythm. An Idyl, by the way, is loosely defined as a poem or sometimes a tone poem that captures more of a feeling than a story.
mp3 fileUnder the Bamboo Tree
Bob Cole - 1902
lyrics
Under the Bamboo Tree It was not unusual for black composers, such as Cole, to write caricature songs about their own race, albeit many of them were the unfortunate genre of the "coon" song. This one is a little different, and actually quite respectful of black heritage. Many reincarnations of Under the Bamboo Tree over the years, most consisting of just the chorus, have misrepresented the gentle nature it is intended to portray. It is the story of a Zulu man in Africa, and his attempts to woo a young maid into marriage. The narrative verses are in Standard English, but the well-known chorus is in a partially ethnic dialect, allegedly one derived from Africana. This is not quite a ragtime song as is often thought. Actually, it uses the non-syncopated habanera rhythm throughout, a few years before that rhythm and the associated tango dance became widely popular. To emphasize my sense of how this piece may have been interpreted, I chose a string quartet for accompaniment to the piano. My lovely wife, Pamela, provided the female voice for this recording. Do you lak-a-this lak I lak-a-this?
mp3 fileBill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home
Hughie Cannon
- 1902
lyrics
Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home What ragtime party gathering is complete without this most popular and well known song? It's just one of those songs on which the composer struck gold, as it was a hit when it came out, and is a hit still in many circles. Unfortunately for Cannon, he lived a hard life of alcoholism and drug abuse, so whatever gains he made from such a song, usually sold outright, were quickly wiped out by these vices. This tune is the second in a series of many songs that mention the erstwhile Mr. Bailey, the first being Ain't That A Shame, a song that describes the circumstances under which Bill was ejected by the missus to begin with. There were several more Bill Bailey songs composed throughout the Ragtime era, including one in which he was buried for good (He Done Me Wrong), but this one has lasted the longest. The best actual candidate for the real character was white Michigan actor Willard Bailey, who found himself in a similar pickle one evening in Detroit. In a fun salute to various genres of performance of this song, I start with a simple piano arrangement plus vocal and work my way up to a full blazing Dixieland Ensemble.
mp3 filePlease Let Me Sleep
James Tim Brymn (M) and
Richard C. McPherson
(L) - 1902
lyrics
Please Let Me Sleep Although meant to be part of the "coon song" genre, in spite of having been composed by black songwriters, this humorous piece could apply to pretty much any narcoleptic or sleep lover. It also has a somewhat memorable melody, and this performance (included on "Perfessor" Bill Edwards Sings, Volume 2), is also quite fun, replete with yawning, although it usually puts the audience... to... *yawn*... um, where was I? Actually the story of how this song is introduced is both humorous and innovative. In an unsigned article written by publisher
Harry Von Tilzer
in Metropolitan Magazine in 1902, Harry told of how he promoted this song one evening at a roof garden dinner theatre. In cooperation with the management, he posed as an audience member who kept falling asleep and snoring at a disruptive level. His wife, unaware of the ploy, kept kicking him under the table, and audience members all around were complaining to the management. Finally, a policeman was brought to the table by a waiter, and as they started to drag him off he sang "Please go 'way and let me sleep...". When they had dragged him to the elevator, the female singer on the stage started singing the song with the orchestra. It went over very well with the audience, who laughed incessantly at the prank, and, more importantly, bought many copies of it the next day, if not, amazingly enough, in the lobby as they left the theatre.* Hope you can stay awake *yawn* throughout the entire sssonnng... *snore*...
*Source: Tin Pan Alley by Dave Jasen, ©1988. This is a great reference book that all old-time enthusiasts should possess.
mp3 fileIn the Good Old Summer Time
George Evans (M) and Ren Shields (L) - 1902
lyrics
In the Good Old Summer Time There are some themes that are universal, particularly in song writing. Remembering the days of one's youth is certainly one of those common themes, and something that most people can relate to. What is particularly effective about this lilting waltz is that it reflects both the past and the present joys of leisure in the summer, hopefully an idea that is not yet past its prime. While it is not syncopated, as many songs in 1902 were starting that trend, the shifting rhythms between measures give it a sense that it is, adding to the appeal of a well-written melody. It was often a challenge for a composer to effectively match the rhythm of a melody with the words of the lyricist in a way that did not detract from expected speech patterns while maintaining continuity between phrases. The mastery in which this has been accomplished is most evident in the verse where the end of each of the first three phrases contains progressively more notes, adding variety and interest. Note the use of the endearing "tootsey wootsey" which would appear in a number of later compositions and spawn some parodies about baby talk as well. Miss Kelsey Pederson gives a bright and cheer performance here.
mp3 fileHannah Won't You Open the Door
Andrew B. Sterling and
Harry Von Tilzer
- 1904
lyrics
Hannah Won't You Open the Door One of the recurring themes in ragtime song right from the beginning was the "comic" plight of poor black people, unfortunately referred to as "coons" in many cases. This theme exists even in the most popular of the early ragtime songs, Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home and Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown. Hannah also plays on a domestic dispute where she has locked her no-good significant other outside in the cold. In spite of itself, this is an engaging comic tune that is a tangible precursor to the Blues which were yet to evolve. The taps at the end of each chorus are representative of the male's frantic knocking at the door. Von Tilzer was better known as a publisher, but he was often involved in the song creation process. Sterling was a staple of early ragtime song, and was experienced with the genre. I first learned this from my friend, the great ragtime player/singer Darryl Ott, who recorded it with the help of Trebor Tichenor in 1976.
mp3 fileStrolling 'long the Pike
Harry Bennett (M) and Felix F. Feist (L) - 1904
lyrics
Strolling 'long the Pike Of the memories that many had of their visit to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition in St. Louis, most seem to recall the waterways and the mile-long pike. This is where the amusements were located, including some very elaborate ones that reflected the summarily obvious necessity of the use of electricity to make the fair a success. One multi-media exhibit, utilizing mechanically reproduced sounds and tinted slides, took the audience through a night of horror as the town of Galveston, Texas was wiped out by flooding. Another Pike exhibit was a working incubator center where many babies were saved from certain demise through the miracles of 24 hour nursing and an electrically warmed environment. The Pike is also where most of the restaurants and musical entertainment were featured, with the exception of the big concerts held in the enormous Festival Hall. This song briefly extols the virtue of a walk along this international thoroughfare. The lyricist was a brother to famed publisher Leo Feist.
mp3 fileMeet Me in St. Louis, Louis
Frederick Allen (Kerry) Mills
- 1904
lyrics
Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis This was the unofficial but singularly most popular anthem of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition in St. Louis (pronounced Louie in this context). The melody by the well-known Kerry Mills (a.k.a. publisher Frederick A. Mills) was easily memorable, as were Andrew Sterling's simple but effective lyrics in the chorus. And as the cover shows, there was no shortage of performers jumping on the fair bandwagon by singing this ditty. Little known to those who do not have the original music is that there were four additional verses and choruses that suggested an equal level of abandonment and eschewing of responsibility in order to attend the fair. The 1944 movie that derived its name from this piece is also a jewel. It chronicles the recollections of young Sally Benson whose family faced relocation to New York just prior to the fair. Unlike the movie, Sally's family did move from St. Louis before the exhibition opened, and her first virtual visit to the fair was when the movie opened. Still, the film is exceedingly authentic in appearance worth a fresh viewing. And watch for the scene where the mother plays the piano. You can see this sheet music propped up in front of her.
mp3 fileThe Yankee Doodle Boy
George M. Cohan - 1904
lyrics
The Yankee Doodle Boy Before Gaga, before Elvis, before Frank, and even before Al, there was George, known as one of the greatest showmen ever, and not afraid to admit it! A precocious member of a theatrical family, Cohan was born in the proverbial trunk. He had already composed several pieces and a couple of barely successful musicals when he wrote the stage show Little Johnny Jones. It was this effort that made him famous, and yielded at least two hits, the other one being Give My Regards to Broadway. This piece, better known as Yankee Doodle Dandy, stirred up mixed reactions from many critics and theatregoers. In spite of recent successes in the Spanish American War, the people were not used to this blatantly ostentatious display of unbounded patriotism. Many came initially just to see what all the fuss was about. By the end of The Great War some fourteen years later, this song along with Grand Old Flag saw a fervent revival, as did Cohan's career. My version here is orchestrated for sing-along with a brass band.
mp3 fileGive My Regards to Broadway
George M. Cohan - 1904
lyrics
Give My Regards to Broadway While The Yankee Doodle Boy from his stage show Little Johnny Jones was a lasting hit for Cohan, this song about the "Great White Way," has endured just as well, even though it is not blatantly intended as a flag-waving patriotic number and mentions only one facet of the United States. Still, think about the significance of New York in the global economy, not just now but as far back as 300 years and certainly in 1900. Hollywood would not be established as the "entertainment capitol" for at least another two decades. So the gravitational center of stage entertainment, music publishing, sound recording and general port of entry for the U.S. at that time was New York City, and more specifically, Manhattan Island. Just as the mention of Hollywood would conjure up images of a sunny paradise in the 1920s, New York represented the glitz and glamour of the new century. Cohan's point for this number, which was and remains a true show stopper, is that the mention of Broadway and 42nd street in many parts of the world was significant enough to garner attention, and made those Americans who were abroad wistful for home. The lyrics were even revamped during World War I in conjunction with the release of Over There to reflect a soldier's point of view. A century later, some of those same Cohan-based musicals and many written in the ensuing century still play in the theaters of Broadway. Now if only it were a little easier to get decent tickets on short notice! Oh Concierge...
mp3 fileI Don't Care
Harry O. Sutton (M) and Jean Lenox (L) - 1904/1905
lyrics
I Don't Care Here is one of those pieces that has a strong association with a single entertainer, in this case the vibrant vaudeville and (briefly) silent film star Eva Tanguay, who actually became known as the "I Don't Care Girl." Tanguay actually seems more like she should have been a product of the liberated 1960s, and the song also reflects a hippie-like attitude. Born in Quebec but brought to the U.S. very early on by her parents, Tanguay started on stage at eight, and progressed to the level of vaudeville star through her teens. Often scantily dressed (for that era) in provocative and unusual costumes, plus singing suggestive pieces with an even more suggestive attitude, Tanguay embodied some of the qualities of what would be known in the 1920s and later as the "It Girl." Consider some of the blatantly sexual songs she sang, such as Go As Far As You Like or Its All Been Done Before But Never the Way I Do It, and you might understand how far ahead of her time she was, plus the scandalous buzz that constantly surrounded her. In reality, this song is simply a prescription for how to live a stress-free life, not really caring about being shunned or about things you have no control over. But Tanguay's frivolous and dynamic performance hardly suggested the Serenity Prayer version of that ideal. While the team who created the song had few others that even came close, the lasting power of I Don't Care in conjunction with Tanguay can be documented by its inclusion in a number of other ragtime era and later pieces, including My Wife's Gone to the Country by Irving Berlin and even Naughty but Nice from Belle of New York by Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren. It was also the only song that Miss Tanguay ever recorded, doing so in 1922. Some of the extra verses, referring to both the Russo-Japanese war and some Presidential election particulars, suggest that it was written in late 1904, and thus likely debuted by Tanguay before the copyrighted publication date. Miss Kelsey Pederson offered this mildly flippant performance at the age of 17. So if you don't like it all that much, well... guess what?
mp3 fileIn My Merry Oldsmobile (Vocal)
   
mp3 file(Instrumental)
Gus Edwards (M) and Vincent Bryan (L) - 1905
lyrics
In My Merry Oldsmobile  1902 Oldsmobile Runabout This was some of the best possible advertising that an auto manufacturer could have hoped for in the pre-Model T days. Automobiles were still novelties, and trying to shake the "horseless carriage" stigma. Mr. Edwards (no known relation) was responsible for the music of a great many popular songs of the era, and Mr. Bryan was well versed in the double entendre (conscious or not) in the few songs he helped pen. The verses to this song contain mild innuendoes such as: "she says she knows why his engine goes, his sparker is awfully strong," as well as the usual spooning references. I play the verses as if they were being sung, which adds to the personality of the song. Also listen for variety in the chord progressions, and the shift at the end from 3/4 to 2/4. The accompanying photo is of an actual 1902 Oldsmobile runabout, similar to the one portrayed on the cover. When new, this car cost $725, and boasted of 4 horsepower for it 95.4 cubic inch engine. This Oldsmobile was considered to be the first mass-produced automobile, some eight years before Henry Ford opened his first assembly line for the Tin Lizzie. The vocal performance includes a fun patter chorus near the end. The instrumental is partially the same, but had portions intended for piano competitions as well.
mp3 fileThe Streets of New York
Victor Herbert (M) and Henry Blossom (L) - 1906
lyrics
The Streets of New York from The Red Mill By 1906 Herbert had been established as the foremost American composer of operettas, with previous successes including Babes in Toyland and Mllle. Modiste, the latter which would become a successful comic strip as well. The Red Mill was mildly dramatic, taking place largely in Holland, complete with a villain holding a young maiden against her will in the mill in question. It premiered in 1906 with no less than the famous team of Fred Stone and David Montgomery (famous for their roles in The Wizard of Oz) as the male leads. It was also one of the first stage musical productions, including Oz, that was archived in part on film, although without sound. While this song from The Red Mill never achieved the status of The Sidewalks of New York, it had considerable playing time for some years. Part of the reasoning for its lesser status is that the verse is difficult to sing as there is very little opportunity to breathe between syllables. Incidentally, I am often asked about the tremolo effect applied to many songs of the 1890s and early 1900s and whether that is a stylistic choice applied by modern pianists. As proof to the contrary, the repeat of the first chorus is actually a dance that is clearly written with the tremolo expressly indicated. Try this with some old footage of New York on the film and you'll likely experience the intended nostalgic feeling of "old New York."
mp3 fileYou're A Grand Old Flag
George M. Cohan - 1906
lyrics
You're A Grand Old Rag  You're A Grand Old Flag Cohan was already THE big name on Broadway when he cranked out his next hit musical, George Washington Junior. While still not a musical in the sense of what was later defined by Oklahoma, Cohan still went beyond simple interpolation of previously composed material to fit a plot. But the songs were more identified for their content than for the character that sang them, in this case being Cohan in the title role. By contemporary accounts he was well worth the price of admission just to watch his abundant patriotism shine forth from the stage. This particularly well known piece was actually born into controversy, since it was originally titled You're A Grand Old Rag (based on a quote from one of the survivors of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg), something that rankled the producers, members of the public, and political leaders. In retrospect, Cohan was showing full reverence to the flag in an offhanded way, but meant no harm. Still, the title was changed about a year after initial release, but the "rag" reference is still in the published lyrics. It is an interesting exercise to compare this with The Yankee Doodle Boy for their lyrical similarities. This arrangement is orchestrated for brass band, so get ready to march along!
mp3 fileHarrigan
George M. Cohan - 1907
lyrics
Harrigan Even before maudlin singers were spelling out M-O-T-H-E-R, Cohan had a large segment of the public hooked on this little musical spelling bee. This is the only song of note of the musical Fifty Miles from Boston, and it has endured well ever since its introduction, particularly in sing-along bars, and in Irish pubs. Actor James Cagney also did a fine rendition of it in Yankee Doodle Dandy, the 1942 biopic on the composer. As with many early songs of that era, the melody has been altered somewhat through generational meddling, even by the 1950s. However, it is still fairly intact, as a listen to the original included here will show. Although the piece is sparse, it demonstrates Cohan's ability to keep a melody hook simple enough that people would leave the theatre humming it. Note the use of a snippet of The Irish Washer Woman mid-way through the verse. So enjoy this old chestnut; sit a spell!!
mp3 fileSchool Days (When We Were a Couple of Kids)
Will D. Cobb & Gus Edwards - 1907
lyrics
School Days (When We Were a Couple of Kids) At one time the American Parents National Anthem come each late August or September (the "Perfessor's" parents being no exception), this tune owes its longevity more to good tune writing with a great hook than anything else. In general, it is a schmaltzy and sentimental waltz ballad about the painful perils of prevailing progress that one palpitates about when perusing their past. Still, it does get many people a little misty-eyed when they think about their *sniff* grand old times *sniff* in their school years. This dynamic songwriting duo was well-versed in tunes of this nature. This particular one just hit a memorable note that stuck. Something unacceptable a century later would be their paean to school with several key words in the lyrics deliberately misspelled, like readin', 'ritin', and, well, you know. The intent is to perform it as a sentimental number, not a fast sweeping waltz. However, not wanting to create an entirely sappy performance, I give the last chorus a little more kick for fun. Far as I'm concerned, I'm still a kid!
mp3 fileRed Wing (Intermezzo)
 
mp3 file(Song)
 
Frederick Allen (Kerry) Mills (M) and Thurland Chattaway (L) - 1907
lyrics
Red Wing (An Indian Intermezzo)  Red Wing (An Indian Fable)  Red Wing (Later Edition) Mills, who has been credited with writing the first compositions that set the standard format for published cakewalks, spent twenty years trying to keep up with current musical trends and fads. With this piece he was addressing a craze for Native American (Indian)-themed compositions established in 1902 by the publication of Hiawatha by Charles N. Daniels (as Neil Moret). So Mills composed a standard pop tune and titled it with a Native American name, supplying a cover to match the theme (with the squaw wearing authentic lipstick and rogue, of course, and sporting a male Indian headdress in American patriotic colors). In any case, one of the better kept secrets about Red Wing is that it was published in at least three different forms. The first was as an intermezzo, a popular three-sectioned piano composition format. This version of the piece features a rarely-heard trio which was excised when he commissioned Thurland Chattaway to retrofit lyrics representing an "Indian Fable" to go with the tune. The other two versions of the piece are represented by the song sans trio, and the song with a male "quartette" section tacked on to the chorus. Why this is such a little known fact is in part because the song versions outsold the intermezzo by an overwhelming margin (the song was reprinted in later years while the intermezzo was all but forgotten), and because of an odd decision (or non-decision) by Mills to use an identical cover for all versions regardless of the content. The cover itself has become a highly collectible piece of sheet music art, although in either of the song versions Red Wing it is much less of a rarity than many antique dealers would have the public believe (I see them virtually everywhere I hunt for antiques). Both the instrumental and the song are represented here, largely because they require varying interpretation to stay within their intended format. The Song is marked as Slower than march time except for the "quartette" section, and the Intermezzo is in a different key than the song. It should be noted that the year following Red Wing's publication (1908), a 24-year-old Native American girl from the Winnebago reservation started to break into films, eventually making some with the venerable D.W. Griffith. She was also a star in the first silent adaptation of the novel Ramona. Her name just happened to be Princess Redwing (one word). There is no definitive evidence either way as to any connection with the titling of Mills' composition, but the timing was, perhaps, fortuitous for both. It is not too likely that she openly endorsed the piece, as from the 1930s until her death at 91(?) in 1974, Princess Redwing was an advocate and spokesperson for Indian rights, and also fought against stereotypes of Native Americans. Nonetheless, the melody retains its appeal after nearly a century, and has been among the pieces most requested of the "Perfessor."
mp3 fileShine On, Harvest Moon
Nora Bayes-Norworth (M) and Jack Norworth (L) - 1908
lyrics
Shine On, Harvest Moon This is definitely one of the most popular sing-alongs of all time, even though the verses are rarely performed. Shine On, Harvest Moon was written by vaudeville performer and composer Nora Bayes and her then husband, Jack Norworth, who had it featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908, making it an instant hit. This, and Take Me Out to the Ball Game from later the same year helped to establish Bayes growing reputation, and made her a headliner throughout her performing career. Musically, it was among the first of many songs to follow that would base the chorus on a pattern from the circle of fifths, or in this case, fourths. The chorus starts on sixth step of the tonic key, and works its way up to the second, the dominant (fifth) and the tonic, a pattern that would become quite popular in the twenties. Those who are familiar with the lyrics and read the ones attached will notice that the months are different in the original version. They are "April, January, June or July," rather than the more popular interpolation of "January, February, June or July." This is a hopefully pleasant vocal rendition of this number (with a bit of dancing), as included on Volume 2 of Perfessor Bill Edwards Sings.
mp3 fileThat Auto Ought to Go
Luella Lockwood Moore - 1908
lyrics
That Auto Ought to Go It was an inescapable truth that cars had less than moderate reliability in their earliest incarnations. While one may be amazed at how well they could ford a stream with their 24" wheels and a simple 30 horsepower engine, it is also amazing that something as simple as a radiator or crank shaft had a relatively short life in the time before mass production improved on their overall reliability and durability. This song makes that point very clear, complete with a very clever tag-line. The reference to Bloomingdale in the original chorus (altered here in subsequent repeats) is unclear as to whether it refers to the department store or one of many such-named towns around the country, such as Bloomingdale, New Jersey. However, the rest is clear to anybody who has ever been stranded on the side of the road in an inert motor vehicle. Moore was a talented Detroit, Michigan composer, and the daughter of a noted 19th century songwriter as well, so her musical talent came naturally, as documented by her output, including her highly popular Snowflakes.
mp3 fileI Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now
Joseph E. Howard (M), Will M. Hough and Frank R. Adams (L) - 1908
lyrics
I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now Not to be taken too seriously, this poignant song about the hazards of infidelity and pining for a former partner was part of a musical comedy of the era called The Prince Of Tonight. The main character is a typical egotistic male who has many lessons to learn, and one of them is contained in this beautiful comic song. The melody was written by Joe Howard, who was also known for such gems as Hello Ma Baby. The lyrics of this song are rarely heard in their entirety, as it is usually performed with the verses excised. As with many other songs of the era, the verses often give the listener a different perspective of the meaning of the otherwise generic chorus. Still, it's a gorgeous melody, and a delight to perform pianistically as well as vocally, as is done here, taken from Volume 3 of Perfessor Bill Edwards Sings, if you would like to also check that out.
mp3 fileTake Me Out to the Ball Game (Comic Vocal)
  
mp3 file(Instrumental)
Albert Von Tilzer
(M) and Jack Norworth (L) - 1908
lyrics
Take Me Out to the Ball Game This tune was almost a secondary national anthem for Americans, and it is still sung for the seventh inning stretch at virtually every major and minor league game played in the U.S. This is due more to happenstance than a conscious effort. While it has long been reported that Von Tilzer had never been to baseball game when he wrote the tune, and would not see one until twenty years after, consider that lyricist Jack Norworth was more than familiar with the sport. Von Tilzer reportedly got the idea from an advertising poster he saw in a New York subway, but he would not have been able to glean enough information from that source to create the concise lyrics that Norworth put down. By the late 1910s, this song was as much a part of the baseball experience as the future national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, was becoming. As with so many pieces kept alive through the years, the verses are often lost, and they do add to the context of the piece. Even so, a song that stands on its own without the verses, such as this one, is a testament to good writing, or at least writing of music the people want. The comedy vocal version ending dates back several decades. As for the instrumental version, after playing it the traditional way, I have added one last chorus in the style of Willie "The Lion" Smith for variety and fun. Play ball!
mp3 fileBy the Light of the Silvery Moon
Gus Edwards (M) and Edward Madden (L) - 1909
lyrics
By the Light of the Silvery Moon For some reason, moon songs became popular during the first decade of the 20th century, with this gem and Shine On Harvest Moon leading the pack, spurred on by its predecessor, Shine On, Harvest Moon. And by this time, Edwards (no relation) and Madden were popular both as composers and performers (Gus Edwards would appear in some of the early sound shorts of musical acts). Actually, any opportunity to use that titillating rhyming word "spoon" was readily embraced. In Vaudeville, this quickly became a great soft shoe number (essentially shuffling on a sandy stage). The chorus was unusual for its time because it had a lot of space between the words, a vacuum which has long since been relegated to a backup chorus echoing the lead singer. In his recording of it, also available on Volume 1 of Perfessor Bill Edwards Sings, I couldn't help but do a little tap-dancin' during one of the choruses.
mp3 fileI'd Rather Go Walking with the Man I Love Than to Ride in Your Automobile
L.E. Spencer - 1908
lyrics
I'd Rather Go Walking with the Man I Love Than to Ride in Your Automobile This charming number with the extra-long title is a little-known sequel to In My Merry Oldsmobile, in which Johnnie Steele's romance with Lucille has hit the road, in part because of his own romance with his now famous car. Somewhat mean-spirited in nature, yet paved with good intentions, this song makes clear the early correlation of cars with status and virility in certain men. It further indicates that which is more important to the fairer sex, long before the highways from Venus and Mars were in operation, which is personal attention to the simpler things. In essence, it's a song about romance that was hitching a ride on the growing popularity of automobile songs. While never a big hit, this piece sold a fair amount in sheet music form. Perhaps Miss Kelsey's witty vocal performance will help to revive this sour persimmon. The mildly expensive four-color cover for the piece commissioned by the composer, who was also the publisher, is particularly vivid for a Chicago publisher during this time period.
mp3 fileI'd Rather Have a Girlie Than an Automobile (Or Anything Else I Know)
William A. Dillon - 1908
lyrics
I'd Rather Have a Girlie Than an Automobile (Or Anything Else I Know) William A. Dillon was not a prolific composer, but he had a few minor hits in the 1900s and 1910s, including some written with his brother Lawrence, and was most famously the lyricist for the song I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad. This piece was among his earliest issues, and one of the more predictive entries of the time, not so much because of the attitude against automobiles, but that it is one of the earliest "girlie" songs, like the famous Take Your Girlie to the Movies if you Can't Make Love at Home. The main protagonist of this song is essentially viewed as a spoiled twenty-something, but in reality he perhaps has his priorities in order. Save for the original half-speed left hand line, it is also predictive of the style of songs that would appear within the next few years, leading into the wild tunes of the 1920s. I have rectified this by applying the one-step double time left hand starting on the second chorus. You can also hear hints of something else that I decided to add in, a quote from the Great Race March composed by Henry Mancini for the great vintage car film The Great Race.
mp3 fileMeet Me To-night in Dreamland
Leo Friedman (M) and Beth Slater Whitson (L) - 1909
lyrics
Meet Me To-night in DreamlandThis charming waltz is actually the parent of one of the most popular songs of the ragtime era, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, written the following year. Friedman was an independent publisher of his own works and some assorted vanity runs. When he and Whitson put this song out in Chicago it quickly caught on, and soon caught the attention of Will Rossiter, possibly Chicago's largest publisher at that time. Rossiter bought the song outright, perhaps with little mention of his plans for marketing it much less how well he thought of it. It seems the original Friedman cover featured a largely unknown performer on it, but Rossiter put singer Reine Davies, a popular Chicago vaudeville singer, on his cover, prompting sales of over two million copies in short order. Only problem was that the composers saw nothing more than the direct proceeds of their sale to Rossiter, never sharing in the royalties. So when their follow up Sweetheart song started making the rounds, they chose to sell it again to a Rossiter, except that it was Will's brother Harold this time who had started his own publishing house. Aware of their previous success and dealings with Will, Harold gave the composers a royalty, which after six million copies in just a few years came out to quite a nice bounty, and a taste of victory as well. The verse of Dreamland is very poignant and lyrical providing a nice lead in to the memorable chorus. The popularity of the song might be underscored by a warning at the top of the first page that there were many "imitation Dreamland songs with very similar titles," but that this was the original "AND WE CAN PROVE IT." Touchy, hmm? Dream on. Miss Kelsey Pederson gives a lovely wistful performance here.
mp3 fileMy Pony Boy
Charley O'Donnell (M) and Bobby Heath (L) - 1909
lyrics
My Pony Boy With the advent of the movies, or "flickers", which were not yet firmly established in Hollywood, one genre was clearly gaining in popularity. That, of course, was the Western. Florenz Ziegfeld knew what sold, even as early as his third year of stage production, and had this song interpolated into one of his famous shows. The verse is just short of a tongue twister, but the chorus is so deftly simple that it quickly became a children's favorite as well. It has also been used along with tunes like Cheyenne and Wild West in countless cartoons, many scored for Warner Brothers by Carl Stalling. Beyond even the cartoons, this song goes all the way back for me, as it is the first thing I ever remember with any consistency because my maternal grandfather loved to bounce me on his knee to this. Imagine my astonishment twenty years later to actually see it in print. For the purists out there, I push the "Giddy-ups" up a beat for a bigger effect on the "Whoa," so if you have an issue with... Whoa!
mp3 fileMoonlight in Jungleland
James E. Dempsey and Johann C. Schmid - 1909
lyrics
Moonlight in Jungleland While many "jungle" songs of the ragtime era were actually thinly veiled tomes about the ethnic background of African Americans, this lovely piece is a standout both musically and lyrically as it is actually true to its title. Moonlight is a love song about and of the jungle creatures, of which monkeys in particular were in favor at that time. The verse sets a mystical mood that would be emulated many times in the 1920s and 1930s in other jungle-oriented pieces, and even forecasts the style of music that would be used in 1967 in Disney's The Jungle Book. The chorus is not out of character for that time, but the addition of a little dance Schottische suggests this was originally intended for stage performance. The character of the tune in conjunction with the lyrics suggests that there may have originally been a different romantic intention for the melody, and it was retrofitted to capitalize on the monkeys in the jungle fad, although oddly not on the sanguine cover. Information on Schmid was hard to locate. However, according to Dempsey's granddaughter, James and his brother Louis had been in Vaudeville at the end of the 19th century, and he spent many years after that as a professional gambler in addition to running clubs and composing lyrics. This life in the jungle was evidently finally put to an end by his wife, and he traded in the pen for "real" job. For this performance, I tried to keep the tune as intact as possible without monkeying around with it too much.
mp3 filePut On Your Old Grey Bonnet
Percy Wenrich
(M) and Stanley Murphy (L) - 1909
lyrics
Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet Sometimes less is more and simple is most appealing. This is one of those cases. It is a very simple premise - a couple remembering their fiftieth wedding anniversary by taking a ride back over the fields of their youth. The chorus of this nostalgic work by the talented Mr. Wenrich and his partner of the time is well-known by many even in the 21st century. However, when I perform this song with the verses intact, I have made several older members of my audience well up with tears, which also happens to me. The story is sometimes buried within those magic verses. Wenrich clearly had a way with melodies, and this was one of his finest. The beautiful cover rendered by prolific artist
Andre Chevalier De Takacs
also compliments the song nicely. Note that the spelling of "grey" used here is noted in the dictionary as a "variation of gray", so either is correct.
mp3 fileI Want to Go to the Ball Game
Al. W. Brown (M) and C.P. McDonald (L) - 1909
lyrics
I Want to Go to the Ball Game The relatively quick success of Take Me Out to the Ball Game spurred on many Tin Pan Alley firms who immediately set their composers to work on comparable tunes. Few were up to the task, and many missed the point of the ball game experience. This ditty has a verse that is not too far removed from the more famous hit, but verses that are obviously contrived for the sake of rhyme. Still, harmonic and melodic content of the chorus make for a fairly pleasant little waltz. Note that right around the time this piece came out, new words were entering the English lexicon as a result of baseball. Home runs had only been included as an official part of the game for a little more than a decade, where they previously were worth two bases by some rules. Cracker Jack (named when a friend of the inventor exclaimed "That's a real cracker jack!") was introduced at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, but caught on at the ball games of the early 1900s. The Hot Dog got its name in 1906 as part of a cartoon caption when the author couldn't spell dachshund. And the words soda and pop were just starting to see separate regional use from each other, as demonstrated in the second verse. Even the names of varying pitches were used in everyday language. But that does not excuse some of the contrived rhyming used in the verses of this song. Enjoy it for the piece of history it is, and hopefully for the performance turned in here.




Ragtime Webring-Dedicated To Scott Joplin

The Ragtime Webring-Dedicated to Scott Joplin and the music of the Ragtime Era, this ring is an invaluable resource for jazz music lovers, musicians and historians. Sheet music, midi files, afro-american history, record collectors...

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Max Morath Dick Hyman Dick Zimmerman
Paul Lingle Wally Rose Lu Watters
James P. Johnson Tony Caramia Squirrel Nut Zippers
Marcus Roberts Butch Thompson Jelly Roll Morton
Glenn Jenks Sue Keller Fats Waller
The Good Time Jazz Catalog and Bill's personal favorites, The Firehouse Five+2!


And don't miss these movies which include some ragtime music:
The Jazz Singer The Sting
Alexander's Ragtime Band Scott Joplin
The Legend of 1900 Ragtime
For Me and My Gal Meet Me In St. Louis
In the Good Old Summertime Take Me Out to the Ball Game
The Jolson Story Jolson Sings Again
Cheaper by the Dozen San Francisco
Somewhere in Time Titanic (1953)
The Other Pretty Baby
42nd Street Reds
The Son of Kong Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
Cheyenne Social Club The Shootist
How To Dance Through Time - Dances of the Ragtime Era

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