October, 2000 Edition
In Search of American Popular Song;

Sunday Newspaper Supplements, Page 2
& Digital Reconstruction/Preservation

America Up-To-Date
Music by: J.S. Duss
Lyrics by: Duss
Cover artist: H.B. Eddy

This item was in somewhat worse shape and required a little more in the way of reconstruction and repair to present it. The paper of this one, like many, is so brittle that pieces fall off with every handling.

The song is a wonderful march with some added lyrics stuck in the middle. The cover proudly states; "A Patriotic March - Written Specially For The Hearst Newspapers."

John S. Duss (b Zoar, Ohio 22 Feb. 1860; d Economy, PA, 1951) was a popular cornetist, bandmaster and composer. Largely self taught, he successfully pursued a career and teacher and bandmaster. In 1902, he conducted several concerts at the Metropolitan Opera and St. Nicholas Rink in NY. In 1903, he toured the US and gave a number of concerts at Madison Square Garden with the Metropolitan orchestra. His programs are described as eclectic with operatic excerpts, overtures and marches. He formed a number of bands during the 1906 and 1907 seasons and gave numerous concerts at popular parks and resorts in the East, Midwest and Canada. In 1907 he retired to Economy to devote himself to composing religious music and the writing of an autobiography. He enjoyed a 44 year retirement before dying at 91 in 1951.

Hear this great Duss march song. (Scorch)

MIDI version

The American Soldier
ca. 1890
Music by: Richard C. Dillmore
Lyrics by: Dillmore
Cover artist: H.B. Eddy

This piece presented the greatest reconstruction challenge of all the works presented this month. As you can see from the original (mouse over the cover), a large area of this cover had rotted away. In addition, there were some terrible stains that nearly obliterated some areas. Sometimes though, you get lucky. Notice that the last "R" was destroyed and the "IE" before it were also in bad shape. By copying the other "I, E and R" in the title and pasting them in place, I was able to reconstruct the area. Then, by careful painting and color replacement, I was able to reconstruct the rest. Finally, some color replacement and adjustment of colors, brightness and contrast, I was able to end up with a presentable cover. Whew! A close look at the person on the horse on the cover shows a striking resemblance to Teddy Roosevelt.

The song is rather simple but is interesting from a lyrics point of view. It is intended as a heartfelt honor to the American soldier, and does make a good case for that point. However, some of the lyrics are rather sad and even a little macabre. When you see the part about the baby dying, you may see what I mean.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any information about the composer.

Hear this great old tune (scorch)

MIDI version

Jack O' Lantern,
The Will -o-Wisp Song

Music by: Mae Anwerda Sloane
Lyrics by: Harry B. Smith
Cover artist: unknown

This is another cover that has suffered the ravages of the years and high acid paper. As you can see from the original, a great deal of body has been lost and the colors have faded substantially. In addition, there are quite a few stains and mildew damage. However, in spite of that, reconstruction was a relatively easy task.

The song is from a play titled Liberty Belles that was apparently running around that time (1901). This particular song states: "as sung by Etta Butler". Etta Butler was a vaudevillian and singer who enjoyed some fame during the early 20th century. Mae Sloane, the composer is yet another casualty of time for I cannot find any reference to her in our library. As always, I would love for any of our visitors who can provide information about any of our "unknown" composers or performers to please let us know.

This song is a really cute song (good for October, Halloween) and the words are precious. The cover gives the title as "The Will-o-Wisp song but the actual song title listed inside is as stated above (and as shown on the Scorch score page)

Hear this great old spooky song(scorch)

MIDI version

The Girl From Mars
Music by: Frederick V. Bowers
Lyrics by: Charles Horwitz
Cover artist: unknown

At last, the truth comes out! Unlike the recent book Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, we can see that as early as 1902, women had been identified as the ones who really are from Mars! OK, who cares, it is clear that men and women are from different planets. So what? ( A typical male response, right?) Vive la difference!

This song is from another stage show, King High Ball by an otherwise unidentified "Rice". This one, though almost 100 years old, is another that has come down to us in better shape than many others. Though the paper is brittle and handling results in loss, it is largely intact and only required a little work to restore.The song is a pleasant one and I think you will enjoy it. As most of these are, it is a rare and this represents the first hearing of the music in nearly a century.

Hear this great stage song(scorch)

MIDI version

True Love Is Not For A Day
Music by: Reginald de Koven
Lyrics by: Harry B. Smith
Cover artist: unknown

Our last featured song this month is another one by from a stage work of the early 20th century. Listed on the cover as an opera, this song is a duet from Maid Marion. Reginald de Koven (b. 1859, Middletown, CT, d. 1920, New York) was a prominent composer and with Harry B. Smith (b. 1860, Buffalo, NY, d. 1936, Atlantic City, NJ) as librettist, wrote this operetta as well as a large number of others including Don Quixote in 1889, Robin Hood, 1890, Rob Roy, 1894 and The Highwaymen, 1897. His most famous song is Oh Promise Me from Robin Hood. De Koven was also the conductor of the Washington, DC Philharmonic orchestra from 1902 -05. Smith also was librettist for the great Victor Herbert and collaborated with a number of other songwriters of the period. He was responsible for a number of hits including the novelty song, A Woman Is Only A Woman, But A Good Cigar Is A Smoke. I'll bet he made a lot of female friends with that winner!

This song is perhaps the most musically refined of all the songs presented this month. Given De Koven's background it rises to a higher level of musicianship than most of the other songs and is, in my opinion, a cut above the rest. The operatic style is clear and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Hear this great old operetta duet(scorch)

MIDI version

Now that you have seen our featured songs, be sure to read our Essay On Digital Reconstruction and Preservation. Learn about how we preserve these historic manuscripts and hear some more music too.

We hope you have enjoyed this month's feature and we appreciate your interest in our efforts to bring you the best American popular music history site on the web. Be sure to tell your friends and family about us. If you have suggestions for themes or issues you would like to see in the future, please contact us. We will see you back next month for the beginning of a huge three part issue about the American Music from World war One, you won't want to miss the series so stay tuned! Have a great month.

We hope you are enjoying this month's feature. For more great songs and stories about the "Sunday Supplements" go back to part A.

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