A Blast From The Past;

October 1997, First Issue Updated.

 

With a bleak and dated masthead, the Parlor Songs Academy had it's humble beginnings in 1997 as a addendum to my personal site about our Caribbean travels and life on St. Thomas U.S.V.I. By the way, for more about our origins, see our "about us" page.

 

If you are new to us, to enjoy the full musical experience, we recommend that you get the Scorch plug in from our friends at Sibelius software. The Scorch player allows you to not only listen to the music but to view the sheet music as the music plays and see the lyrics as well. Each month we also allow printing of some of the sheet music featured so for those of you who play the piano (or other instruments) you'll be able to play the music yourself. It's a complete musical experience! Get the Sibelius Scorch player now.

 

Richard A. Reublin, August, 2006. This article published August, 2006 and is Copyright © 2006 by Richard A. Reublin and The Parlor Songs Academy, Inc. Text, images or music may not be reproduced in part or in total without express written permission of the author

 


Romping Galop

1892


Music by: W. P. Fenimore
Cover artist: Unknown

 

Our original publication simply said very little about this song; "This beautiful cover is a lithograph with hand painted highlights. The cover is from a selection of six children's pieces. As you will see (or hear), the piece is rather simple but a pleasant tune." How's that for an in depth view of a wonderful historic tune. When I originally saw the cover for this piece, it did appear to be hand tinted. On closer examination (ten years later) it appears to simply be a poorly inked and slightly off register color lithograph. For a "plain text" cover, it is very artistic and the colors are very pleasing to the eye. I've always liked this cover and find it charmingly dated and artistic.

 

The music is part of a set titled School Days and as you should be able to see on the cover, the various pieces have titles that are more or less related to school activities and mates. We said it is a simple piece and was undoubtedly a teaching piece for probably grade one or two pianists. In 2/4 time and C major, the work presents few challenges but has a really nice melody and construction. Though running only 64 measures, each section repeats and we are taken back to the beginning at the last measure via a D.C. al Fine which when all combined makes for a relatively lengthy piece. The accompaniment is again, simple but effective if not a little tiring by the end. We've made this one printable (via the Scorch plug-in) for you so that you or the little ones in your musical family can enjoy it.

 

Unfortunately, W. P. Fenimore has faded into obscurity. He is not listed in any of our resources and a web search finds him overshadowed by James P. Fenimore. A search of other music libraries finds no other works by him except for this one set.

 

Hear this simple children's piece. ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this work)

 



Dear Heart

1920


Music by: W. C. Polla
Lyrics by: Jean La Favre
Cover artist: Rolf Armstrong


In our original issue I said; "This cover is one that to me epitomizes the incredibly beautiful art of sheet music covers. The hauntingly beautiful face of this unknown woman stays with you. The colors are vibrant and the face so realistic you swear she is alive. Though the artist is not specifically identified on the sheet music, we know this work is by Rolf Armstrong. Armstrong was one of the most popular artists of his generation, Armstrong worked exclusively in pastels from live models. Listed in the Sheet Music Reference and Price Guide as valued at $10, I wouldn't take anything for it." I still feel the same about this cover today. Armstrong (1899 - 1960) was best known as a "pinup" artist whose works reached their peak popularity in the 40's. His works are regarded by many as the definitive pinup art in America. They are absolutely stunning and this early work of his clearly illustrates his tremendous talent. For an excellent look at his biography and some of his later art, see The Pinup files website article on Armstrong.

 

The cover art on this work has unfairly diverted attention from the music within which is every bit the equal of the cover, of course in a different way. It's a wonderful "waltz" ballad. After an introduction of the primary chorus theme, we move to a verse with a wonderful melody and sentiment. Then to the chorus that is again, very melodic and with soaring emphasis in spots, especially at some strategically placed fermatas. I'm sure the song was very popular at the time, certainly it should have been. This work continues to be one of my all time favorites from our collection, both musically and artistically.

 

William C. Polla (1876 - 1939) Composer, lyricist and arranger. Arranged a number of W.C. Handy tunes for band and orchestra. Polla was a prolific composer writing a large number of popular songs and several ragtime works as well as some orchestral works. Most of his rags were written under the pseudonym "W.C. Powell." One wonders why, unless he somehow felt that he did not want to mix his classical and heart songs side with a rather coarse and wild ragtime persona. Many of his works were graced with beautiful woman covers, several by the now famous "pinup" artist, Rolf Armstrong whose early 20th century portraits are among the best female portraits ever. As with many successful composers, Polla also owned his own publishing house, the W.C. Polla Company, for a few years. Among his works are; Gondolier, The (1903), Missouri Rag (as W.C. Powell 1907), Johnny Jump Up (as W. C. Powell 1910), Dope Rag (as W. C. Powell 1909), Dancing Tambourine (1927), Night In June (1927), You Know (1919), Mama's Gone Goodbye (1924), Funny Folks (as W. C. Powell), Dear Heart (1919 ), Drifting (1920), My Castles in the Air are Tumbling Down (1919), My Sunshine Rose (1920)

 

Jean LeFavre (dates unknown) LeFavre seems to have been exclusively the lyricist for works by W.C. Polla as all references to works by LeFavre are also composed by Polla with Dear Heart (1919 Scorch format), Buddy (1919) and My Sunshine Rose (1920) topping all lists. Few if any other works by LeFavre can be found.

 

Enjoy this wonderful old waltz song (Scorch plug-in version)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics


 


Blue Jeans

1920

 


Music by: Lou Traveller
Words by: Harry D. Kerr
Cover artist: C. H. Trotter

 

We had some seriously incisive and deep thoughts about this piece in our first issue; "This is a song from a period when music was changing from a "sweet" style to the more raucous fox-trot style of the Roaring 20s. The cover is a nice piece of art, valued at around $10. I have heard better songs from the collection, but this one is pretty ok for the period." (We're being sarcastic.) It is true that this piece as well as others this month were from a transitional period in American music. The War had destroyed the innocence of the times and America was moving forward into the jazz age. The cover on this work is by an obscure cover artist but is another excellent depiction, nearly in the "pinup" style. Of course the vision of American women was changing very radically from the staid and formal woman in lace to the more playful, wild and daring woman. The cover depicts a tomboy type with a rather playful, even flirtatious look.

 

The music within is pleasant and with a set of lyrics that tell a cute story. After an introduction of the principal chorus theme, we encounter the commonly used "Vamp" before the verse starts. The "Vamp" was a repeated phrase (usually the first phrase of the verse) that allowed the singer to "get ready." Vamps were also often labeled "Till Ready." The Vamp was repeated until such time as the singer finished whatever they needed to do; comment, clear their throat or make a joke before singing. Of course you've probably noticed vamps in about 90% of the songs we've posted. The practice of writing them out in songs seemed to disappear by the 30's and 40's. The verse is a pleasant tune, upbeat and harmonious. It's not very long and after a fermataed bridge we move to a joyous chorus in the fox trot mode. Surely this was a great tune to dance to!

 

The composer of this work, Lou Traveller seems to have only written this one song and I've found no other information about him.

 

Harry D. Kerr has not fared much better regarding biographical information but we do know of several other songs for which he wrote lyrics. Among them are; Get on the Raft With Taft (1908), We're Ready For Teddy Again (Scorch format) (1912), I'm an American, That's All (1915), Neapolitan Nights (Oh, Nights of Splendor) (1925), Do You Ever Think of Me? (1920) and Lull Me To Sleep, That Slumber Melody (1914). These works were done in collaboration with a number of different composers including Abe Holzmann and Alfred Solman.


Listen to and see this wonderful song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics


Carolina Mammy

1922



Words and Music by: Billy James
Cover artist: "JVR"

 

Not only did we publish this work in our first issue but reprised it later in our series featuring songs with state names. In 1997 we said: "This is one of those timeless pieces made famous by the great Al Jolson. This song was written for Jolson and was premiered by him in the stage production "Bombo". This period saw a great deal of "blackface music". Much of the music is excellent but in light of today's society. Much of it shows embarrassing stereotyping through the lyrics. The photo is of the great "Aunt Jemima". In our later issue, part four of our "state" name series we said: "The happy woman on the cover is none other than the fabulous advertising icon, Aunt Jemima. Born into slavery in 1834, the woman who would become known to millions as Aunt Jemima was really named Nancy Green. She was a warm, friendly woman who also happened to be an excellent cook. For a fascinating biography of this woman and how she happened to become associated with pancakes, see the article at the "Scoop" collectors site about how she became an advertising icon."

 

The song is a stereotypical "Dixie Mammy" song and one that was among several performed by Al Jolson. This one came from Jolson's hit show "Bombo" which premiered October 6, 1921 and closed in 1922 after 218 performances. It is interesting to note that the show credits do not list Billy James as composer of any of the music for the show. Sigmund Romberg and Harold Atteridge are credited but no mention is made of James. Nonetheless, the song is a wonderful one that continued to be associated with Jolson long after the show closed. It is a syrupy sort of ballad that suited Jolson's style. Upbeat in 2/4 time, the verse is a plaintive melody that is expressive of the lyrics telling of a man missing his mammy. The chorus is a terrific melody, memorable and one can easily see why this song was a hit for quite some time.

 

Billy James' biography seems to be temporarily lost to us along with many other composers whose work we have featured over the years. A search of my library as well as the Internet returns a few other songs by him including; Cut Yourself a Piece of Cake And Make Yourself At Home.(1923), Rosette (1922), Lindbergh March (1927), When birds of a feather get together (1928) and another "Carolina" song, Carolina Sweetheart in 1925.

 

Hear this original "Mammy" song (Scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics




Angel Child

1922



Words and Music by: George Price, Abner Silver and Benny Davis
Cover artist: Starmer


This work was shown in our 1997 feature but we included absolutely no information. All that was displayed was the cover, the title and publication date. We did include a link to a midi but that was it. In our earliest days, we often just displayed covers with midi files and offered no other information. For a period of about two years we included a number of songs in this format and called it our gallery. I guess looking back, it was an easy (lazy?) way to present more music. Of course as time went by we expanded our features and included much more information and researched our songs more extensively. This piece has a cute cover and is another of the popular "fox-trot songs" from this era.

 

As with most songs of this style, the verse is very upbeat and shows a lot of joy, the chorus is in the same manner. The song tells of a love that has no bounds and the music just helps shout out how crazy the singer is for this lovely "angel child." It falls into the category of unremarkable but well done. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

 

Benny Davis (1895 - 1979) Davis was primarily a lyricist having written some of Tin Pan Alley's greatest hits. His earliest start in the music business was at age 14 touring with Benny Fields' Tours as an accompanist to Blossom Seeley. He later focused almost entirely on writing lyrics after writing the smash hit Margie in 1920 with Con Conrad. He collaborated with some of the greatest composers of the era including Milton Ager, J. Russel Robinson, Billy Baskette and Harry Akst. He wrote the lyrics for several Broadway productions including Artists and Models of 1927, Sons o’ Guns and three editions of Cotton Club revues. Davis' output was prodigious and resulted in one of the largest catalogs of credits from that era. Many of Davis' songs were performed in motion pictures and his film credits include older as well as some very recent films including The Cotton Club, The Lady In Red and Son of Mask. His hit songs include; Goodbye Broadway, Hello France (Scorch version) (1917), Margie (Scorch) (1920), Angel Child (1922), Baby Face (1926), I Still Get A Thrill (1930), Chasing Shadows (1935), All I Need Is You (1942) and his last, Follow The Boys (1963). Davis was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.

 

Enjoy this great love song (Scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics



Venetian Moon

1919



Music by: Phil Goldberg & Frank Magini
Words by: Gus Kahn
Cover artist: Frederic Manning

 

This piece was also a part of our "gallery" in the first issue. The lovely watercolor by Manning sets the Venetian mood for us. I've always enjoyed this song for it's somewhat mysterious verse and the definite tango feel.. You can hear an "Italian" style melody in the chorus but the verse is where I think the song excels. It has a mysterious, nighttime sound to it and a definite tango spirit in the music. The chorus still carries the tango feel with it but it is the melody that I believe has the Italian flavor to it.

 

Frank Magine History has not been kind to Magine for little can be found about him. Magine had two other hit songs besides Venetian Moon; the 1922 song Dreamy Melody, (Sibelius scorch format) and Save The Last Dance For Me in 1931. This is not the 1960 song by the Drifters.

 

Gus Kahn (1886 - 1941) is one of America's greatest lyricists. Born in Coblenz, Germany, his family came to the USA and settled in Chicago in 1891. He worked mostly in non-music related jobs but persisted in seeking outlets for his song lyrics. His first song was published in 1907 and after that, he concentrated on writing lyrics for vaudeville performers in Chicago first, then in New York in the 1920's. In 1933, he moved to California and focused on writing for movies. The many eminent composers he teamed with over his long career include, Isham Jones, Walter Donaldson (My Buddy) , Egbert Van Alstyne, George Gershwin and Ernie Erdman (Toot -Toot -Tootsie)(Scorch). Many of his songs have become standards with Pretty Baby (Scorch) (1916) being perhaps the most notable. Other standards by Kahn include, Carolina In The Morning (1922), Makin' Whoopee, 1928 and Liza (1928). His movie biography, I'll See You In My Dreams (1951) starring Danny Thomas and Doris Day is an engrossing story that is filled with many of his hits. Kahn died in Beverly Hills in 1941.

 

Listen to this great "Italian" piece ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics



Down In Tennessee

1903



Music by: Fred L. Ryder
Words by: M. E. Rourke
Cover artist: Unknown

 

This final work is also from the gallery section of that first issue. The cover is striking and the photo on the cover is of an unidentified, very attractive performer of the period. Presumably she was so popular as to be instantly recognizable with no caption required.

 

The music is rather short , simple and sweet but being from Tennessee, I think it is a great tune! The verse melody is really quite sublime and is marked "con espress." The lyrics tell of a sweetheart in the valley (I live on the flat Mississippi mud, the valleys are to the East) and of a longing for Tennessee and that sweetheart, Mary Lee. The music is really quite nice and the accompaniment in the verse adds a nice flowing feel to the music. The verse is written in common (4/4) time and the chorus is a flowing and melodic waltz tune. Written with and intended to played with a great deal of feeling, it is a lovely ballad that is in keeping with the style of the turn of the 20th century.

 

M. E. Rourke (1867 - 1933) Was a native of England, having been born in Manchester. He wrote most of his songs under the pseudonym of Herbert Reynolds. Under that name her wrote the lyrics for the great Jerome Kern composition, They Didn't Believe Me (scorch format) in 1914. With Kern he also wrote If I Find The Girl (1915) and collaborated with Sigmund Romberg on Auf Wiedersehn, also in 1915.

 

Listen to this great old Tennessee song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics


This article published August, 2006 and is Copyright © 2006 by Richard A. Reublin. Text, images or music may not be reproduced in part or in total without express written permission of the author. Though the songs published on this site are often in the Public Domain, MIDI renditions are protected by copyright as recorded performances.

Thanks for visiting us and be sure to come back again next month to see our new feature or to read some or all of our over 130 articles about America's music. See our resources page for a complete bibliography of our own library resources used to research this and other articles in our series.

 

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