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September, 2000 Edition
In Search of American Popular Song;

What's Going On Back There?
or, The Flip Side, Page 2




Morning Star Three Step
1912
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!

Enjoy this great Losey work (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version

 

Norway
1915
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.

Hear this great Fisher song. (Scorch)

MIDI version

 

Margot
ca. 1890
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.

Hear this great old French tune (scorch)

MIDI version





There's A Little Spark Of Love Still Burning
1914
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."

Hear this great old love song(scorch)

MIDI version





Last Night Was The End Of The World
1912
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 Monroe Rosenfeld

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.

Hear this great old Von Tilzer hit(scorch)

MIDI version





For The Two Of Us
1918
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.

Hear this great old Ruby song(scorch)

MIDI version


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