September, 2000 Edition
In Search of American Popular Song;
What's Going On Back There? or, The Flip Side, Page 2
Star Three Step
Music by: F.H. Losey
Cover artist: W.J. Dittmar
This is a great march type tune that I personally have enjoyed listening
to. Musically, it makes use of some attractive pianistic techniques
that make it even more interesting. The reverse carries the "try
this on your piano" idea way too far though. Rather than one, two,
or even four examples, this one crams no fewer than twelve excerpts
on the page! The caption above them says "Try These Samples Carefully".
Carefully is an understatement. Even at full size the type is almost
impossible to read. The notes and staves are so small you can barely
read the music. I am NOT going to even try creating the midi for this
one! I guess the publisher felt that more was better.
The composer of this work, Frank Hoyt Losey was born in Rochester,
NY in 1872 and died in Erie, PA in 1931. Known as a composer arranger
and teacher, his primary instruments were brass. He composed and arranged
for Fischer publishing as well as Vandersloot. In 1914, he founded Losey's
Military Band School in Erie. He became most famous for his marches,
many of which are still played by marching bands. His most famous march,
is Gloria. Losey made more than 2500 band arrangements some of
which were for Edison Phonograph Co. and Henry Ford's personal orchestra.
He wrote over 400 original compositions. If you have the patience for
an MP3 download, you can get an MP3 copy of Gloria as well as
Losey's The Magnet at: March
Music Online The USAF Heritage of America Band site. If you have
a 56k connection, the download will take 12 - 15 minutes. It might be
easier to go buy the CD!
Music by: Fred. Fisher
Lyrics by: Joe McCarthy
Cover artist: Rose
Most of the songs we have featured this month have had
so-so cover art, this one is one of the best. By the great cover artist,
Rose, we have a colorful thematic Norwegian themed cover. The reverse
is also attractive. Although there are two inset samples, the primary
focus on this reverse side ad is the referrals and reviews contained
in the text. First, they trade on the fine name of The Saturday Evening
Post, one of the most respected magazines to ever be published in America
and then include a comment that though uncredited, is implied to have
been made by the Post. The ad copy is an early example of the kind of
hype, hyperbole, that ad people are so good at. "More fun never
was crowded into a song", "a glorious song that will live",
"better than Moonlight Bay", and on and on. The layout is
excellent and it is overall, an effective advertisement.
The song really is a nice one, with a nice tune and
the lyrics are pretty cute too. You will be able to read (and sing if
you are so inclined) the song through our incredible new SCORCH viewer
so be sure to get it, otherwise you will miss a great experience.
Fred Fisher was born in Cologne, Germany of American
parents. Fisher ran away from home at age 13 and enlisted in the German
Navy and later, the French Foreign Legion before coming to the US in
1900. He began composing in 1904 and also wrote the words to many of
this songs. His first hit was If The Man In The Moon Were A Coon
(1905). In 1907, he started his own publishing company with the
lyricist of this song (Norway) as a partner for a short time. In the
20's Fisher mover to Hollywood and wrote music for silent movies and
early sound musicals. Though early in his career he made his name through
ethnic songs, later he made something out of geographic topics such
as Norway, Siam (1915)and Chicago (1922). Fisher's music
endured well into the forties and one of his songs, Peg O'My Heart
(1913) has become a continuing classic. Known as a contentious, eccentric
and excitable person, one of his songs was involved in copyright litigation
that continued from 1919 to the 1960's, more than 20 years after his
death in NY in 1942. His music is best known for his musical comedic
gifts and his ability to make quirky rhythms to highlight creative lyrics.
Music by: G. De Kerveguen
Lyrics by: Gustave Nadaud
Cover artist: Chambaud
Even our friends in Europe were catching the "advertise on the
back" fever. This French work, from the early 1890's has an extensive
listing of the composer's works which includes works for choir, organ,
dramatic scenes as well as popular songs.
This song is a very brief one, but rather pleasant. A folk song-like
work, it includes seven different verses sung to the same 14 unvarying
bars of music. By the way, this form is called strophic, which is the
form for almost all popular songs. A strophic song is considered to
be the simplest form of song where, usually after an introductory section,
each verse of a poem is sung to the same music. The alternative is a
song that is "through composed", where the music develops
continuously through the progress of the words.
There's A Little Spark Of Love Still Burning
Music by: Fred Fischer
Lyrics by: Joe McCarthy
Cover artist: Rose
Here we have a wonderful old love song by a different Fred Fischer,
(Norway was by Fisher, no C.), or is it? Actually, this is the very
same Fred Fisher but here he spelled his name with a C. Actually, "Fisher"
was born "Fischer" but later dropped the c from his name.
Remember, his biographer said he was eccentric. Actually, if we notice
the one year difference in this song and the next, by 1915 the First
World War was underway and Germanic names were not at all Popular. I
suspect Fischer dropped the c in 1915 to anglicize his name, a common
practice during both wars.
The advertising on the back of this one is excellent. Once again, we
have a publisher trading off the Saturday Evening Post that includes
implied reviews by the Post. In addition, they added photos of two very
popular performers of the period, Emma Carus and Dolly Connelly. Carus
was a popular vaudeville performer, discovered by the man who coined
the name "Tin Pan Alley", Monroe Rosenfeld. Billed as a "coon
shouter" Carus was described as "ample" and always began
her show by saying; "I'm not pretty, but I'm good to my folks."
She is the singer who introduced "Alexander's Ragtime Band"
in 1911. Connelly (actually Connolly) was another very popular vaudevillian
who also was the wife of the great composer, Percy Wenrich. Wenrich
wrote many songs for Dolly to showcase including the great Red Rose
Rag which George Burns continued to sing till his death and the
great Moonlight Bay.
On the back of this sheet is one of the two greatest back page ad lines
of musical history; "You can't go wrong with a Feist song".
The other line of course is; "Try this over on your piano."
Last Night Was The End Of The World
Music by: Harry Von Tilzer
Lyrics by: Andrew B. Sterling
Cover artist: Gene Buck
The reverse of this cover is an earlier one that has not included examples
for play but does provide a list of songs from the Von Tilzer livery.
Harry Von Tilzer was one of the most popular songwriters of the early
20th century. He was also one of the most prolific, producing over TWO
THOUSAND! His many hits include, A Bird In A Gilded Cage (1900),
I want A Girl Just Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad (1911),
When My Baby Smiles At Me (1920) and Wait Till The Sun Shines
Nellie (1905). His phenomenal success as a songwriter was compounded
by his establishment of of the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Company.
Von Tilzer's name recognition alone was enough incentive for most people
to buy a Von Tilzer song sound unheard.
Born Harold Gumm in 1872, Gumm took his mother's maiden name and added
Von to it to create a professional pseudonym. When his siblings saw
his success later in life, they also changed their names to Von Tilzer.
His brothers Albert and Will were also successful composers and lyricists
and his sister Julie was a manager at Remick's. The Von Tilzer musical
dynasty lasted well into the 1920's and Von Tilzer was often called,
"The man who launched a thousand hits". One journalist even
credited him with the creation of the "Tin Pan Alley" name,
in conflict with the most accepted story that it was the popular journalist
Musically this is a wonderfully touching ballad that shows the talent
and musicianship of Von Tilzer. The lyrics by the great Andrew Sterling,
match the song perfectly. The time signature of 12/8 is a little unusual,
especially for a popular song. Most folks find counting to two, three
or four much easier.
For The Two Of Us
Music by: Harry Ruby
Lyrics by: Edgar Leslie
Cover artist: Barbelle
Our last featured song this month is one by another musical powerhouse
from the early 20th century, Harry Ruby. The reverse ad is another sample,
and one that is easy to read and gives a good idea of the music. It
is interesting to me that the main song featured on the back, Wedding
Bells, fits with the theme of the cover song. In addition to the
sample, we also have a plug for another song, that is billed with the
line; "Don't miss it!! You'll have 1,000 laughs!!! Nothing like
it on the market!!!!" (note the increasing number of exclamations
at each statement).
Harry Ruby was born in New York in 1895. He began his career as a pianist
in cafes and vaudeville and worked as a song plugger for several publishers,
including Von Tilzer. His primary lyricist partner throughout his career
was Burt Kalmar (1884 -1947) . In addition to writing hundreds of popular
songs together, they also collaborated on several stage works and film
scores. Their most notable film scores included the Marx Brother's hit
Duck Soup in 1933. They also wrote the music for the Marx brothers'
stage production of Animal Crackers in 1928.
For The Two of Us is an upbeat and happy love song that is perfectly
representative of the happy novelty songs from the period.
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 our feature
on newspaper supplement music and digital preservation. Have a great month.
The Parlor Songs Academy is an educational website, designated by the "ac" (academic) domain
If you would like to submit an article about America's music for us to publish, go to our submissions page for information about writing articles for us. We also welcome suggestions for subjects for future articles.
Please Help Us Continue our Efforts with a donation. The Parlor Songs Academy. is a Tennessee unincorporated association. Donations go towards the aquisition of additional music, preservation of music, equipment and educational efforts. If you like what we do, please help us out. Donation funds are used entirely for the operating expenses of Parlor Songs and/or aquisition of additional music or equipment.