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ParlorSongs; Anniversary Edition

Starting Our Sixth Year On The Net

 

It is with a great deal of admitted self-serving pleasure that we celebrate the beginning of our sixth year as the first and number one pioneering Sheet Music Cover - MIDI site on the Internet. From very humble beginnings in 1997 to today's acclaimed and much imitated site, we have weathered over five years in an environment where much has come and gone. We've never missed an issue, never been late with an issue and have published nearly 1,000 sheet music covers with accompanying music. Almost two million visitors have seen our work and each month, the number increases.

We've established a number of firsts in our five years;

  • We were the first site to accompany sheet music covers with MIDI music.
  • We were the first site to include composer biographies and historic information about individual songs along with the images and music.
  • We were the first site to establish a monthly magazine format.
  • We were the first site to provide a score view (Sibelius Scorch) of our music (and still the only).
  • We were the first site to include essays on relevant subjects related to American popular music and sheet music.
  • We are the most comprehensive and still offer the largest selection of songs of any site that has followed us.

In addition, our innovative site has spawned a multitude of imitator sites that humble us with that sincerest form of complement. Our site has been linked to by a number of academic institutions, the Library of Congress and some of the major academic sheet music archive sites on the net. We are proud to have been cited as an academic resource and to have some of our essays mentioned as scholarly work. Several of our issues and essays are included in College and University curricula related to music and American popular music. This recognition is perhaps our greatest satisfaction as we set out to rise above the clutter of the amateur midi sites and to establish a higher benchmark for American popular music related sites.

 

Yes, we're bragging and yes, we are quite proud of our accomplishments. Our objective has always been to expand the knowledge base on the net for American popular music and to provide information as well as entertainment. To celebrate our five year anniversary and the beginning of our sixth year, this month we offer you a retrospective of some of our most popular issues and some of our own personal favorites. For this issue we have updated most of the music and added lyrics and scorch versions for the songs that predated that format. We hope you enjoy this little celebration and we hope for some of you, it helps you discover areas of ParlorSongs you have not yet seen.

 

Come with us now in celebration of some of our most popular issues. If you are new to ParlorSongs, we hope you find something to interest you. For our loyal and long time fans, thank you for making us successful and we hope this issue refreshes your memories of issues past.






Our First Surviving Issue

October, 1997

 

Selected Song: Dear Heart (1919)
Music by: W.C. Polla & Willard Goldsmith
Lyrics by: Jean LeFavre
Cover artist: unknown

 

Though not really one of our more popular issues, not even one of our favorites, we must include our first surviving issue in this special edition. In fact, this is not really the first edition. The first edition was published in June of 1997 as a "hobby" page on Rick's personal website. He continued to publish monthly pages till Robert joined him and we moved the site to its own domain and server. With Robert adding much improved design and layout, (a process he has continued over the last three years) the site was established as "ParlorSongs.com" in 1998. Unfortunately, in the conversion process, the files for the real first issues, from June - September were lost so we begin our documented history and "birthday" with this issue.

 

If you visit this issue, you can see just how far ParlorSongs has progressed over the years. From a pretty amateurish and naive site, I've learned and together we have progressed to what we are today. On that "first" issue I introduced only five new songs (now we add 10-15 songs per month) and included what was a regular feature till 2000, the "gallery," an un-narrated list of songs from prior months or with related themes. The first few issues were not well developed as far as research or commentary but early on I established the idea of "themes" for each issue to focus on the unique aspects of American popular music. In some respects, we're a little embarrassed by the rather humble beginnings of the early issues but still retain them as an important part of the continuum of our development and the information they bring to our overall site.

 

The November, 1997 issue introduced the song Dear Heart as well as 1892's Romping Galop, Blue Jeans from 1920, Carolina Mammy from 1922 and Under The Moon, a 1927 novelty song. Eight songs from the prior issues (lost) were included in the gallery. (All links are MIDI versions, the 1927 song has been deleted due to copyright concerns). This song sheet cover is in my opinion one of the most striking portraits of a woman to be found anywhere, much less on music. The colors are incredible and her eyes and face just captivate me. It has always been my favorite and one that I believe epitomizes the artistry of sheet music.

 

Hear this work from our first surviving issue(scorch format)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 


 


A Salute To Irving Berlin

November, 1998

 

Selected Song: Alexander's Ragtime Band (1911)
Music by: Irving Berlin
Lyrics by: Berlin
Cover artist: unknown


Of course Irving Berlin was one of America's greatest songwriters and an icon of American popular music. Little did we know that in November of 1998 that our short and actually rather superficial biography and feature on Berlin would become one of our most linked to and viewed features of all time. Since it has become so popular, I've often intended to go back and rewrite it, expand it and bring it up to current standards but the pressure of monthly publishing continues to relegate the issue to my "round tuit" list.

 

The selected feature song, Alexander's Ragtime Band was one of Berlin's earliest and was the one song that propelled him to fame and fortune. It's popularity was huge and it has remained popular ever since. It is amazing that a song can endure for 100 years and still have relevance. Many of Berlin's songs have remained in the public consciousness for decades and that may well be why he ranks near the top (some the the very top) of the American composer list. Revisit our Berlin feature page to read a little more about him and experience a few other of his songs. Of course we have featured scores of songs by Berlin over the years and there will be more to come; he wrote hundreds.

 


Enjoy this early Berlin hit (SCORCH format)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics



 

A Salute To Hawaii

December, 1999


Selected Song: My Own Iona (1916)
Music by: Anatol Friedland & Carey Morgan
Lyrics by: L. Wolfe Gilbert
Cover artist: unknown

 

This issue is not necessarily one of your favorites, but is one of Robert's and mine. We actually offered up two Hawaiian issues; one in December, 1998 and the one that included Iona in December, 1999. Robert has a great affinity for Hawaiian music, particularly the Hawaiian guitar and ukulele. He has studied it's origins and has studied its influence on and links to popular music, jazz and guitar playing technique. Regardless, back in '98, I was searching for a theme for December (trying to avoid the obvious and ennui inducing "Christmas" theme) and Robert suggested Hawaiian music as Hawaii is a traditional destination for travelers in December trying to escape both the weather and the rush of that month. Voila, a salute to Hawaii. Though the '98 issue was pretty OK, Robert came back the next year to write us a great issue that explored the aspects of Hawaiian themed music to a greater extent.

 

Both of our Hawaiian issues have been quite popular and are linked to by a number of Hawaiian guitar and music sites. This song happens to be one of Robert's favorite "Hawaiian" songs, in his own words from that issue:

Now we come to my favorite song of the group. My Own Iona (moi - one - ione) Billed on the cover as Hawaii's favorite love song. Whether or not it was ever heard in Hawaii is up to conjecture but it is a beautiful piece of music that evokes much of what we expect to hear in Hawaiian music. I drove Rick crazy with this one. The way I play it on the guitar, it sounds very vintage Hawaiian. The way it is written sounds more like a march. Rick sequenced it as written, which is our general procedure, I hated it. He did it again, I hated it. He revoiced it, changed the tempo, transposed the melody by an octave, finally he basically rewrote the entire piece. It sounds really good, not what I hear when I read the sheet but good. This of course is part of the big question about Hawaiian music. What is it really, do these songs sound Hawaiian because they reflect the real music of Hawaii. Or did Hawaiian music of the period evolve to meet the expectations of the West. And is Hawaiian music the true progenitor of Modern Country Western music, the Delta Blues and hence Rock and Roll?


Listen to and see this Hawaiian rarity New feature! Print this sheet music (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics


The Dead Zone of American Music

January, 2000


Selected Song: The Vagrants (1876)
Music by: Frank Van Duzer
Cover artist: unknown

 

By 2000, we had developed our format so that it was easier to navigate, more pleasing visually and by then we also had much more to say. At the same time, the "gallery" idea seemed to really add nothing except more midi files and had seemed to have outlived its usefulness and relevance. Given our objective of educating while entertaining, we dropped the gallery as a feature and started to add what we called essays that were somehow associated with the feature of the month. Our first feature-essay issue in January of 2000 was an immediate success and as Robert said in a follow-on addendum to the essay:

This months issue of Parlor Songs has already generated more in depth reader feedback than any of our previous publications. At first this surprised me considering that it is about one of the more boring periods in American Popular Music and features some of our plainest covers. But then I recalled that my initial response to Rick when he mentioned the “Dead Zone” was to fire off a two thousand word stream of conscious essay. Imagine my surprise when he included it as part of this issue (mercifully removed before publication). However this months theme has sparked such a strong chord with both us here at Parlor Songs and with our visitors that we have decided to expand it into an ongoing feature.

 

The feature for January 2000 marked a major change on our direction and offered some really interesting music from the early history of American popular music before Tin Pan Alley (another popular essay that is used in many academic settings as a resource). This issue introduced our "In search of" series of special articles that have since grown into an acclaimed resource for many Universities and Colleges. This song, The Vagrants was one of the more popular ones from the feature and continues to be one of my personal favorites.

 


Hear this old piano work New feature! Print this sheet music (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (None)

 


 



"Cowboys and Indians" & American Indian Music

April, 2000


Selected Song: Red Wing (1907)
Music by: Kerry Mills
Lyrics by: Thurland Chattaway
Cover artist: unsigned/unknown


By April of 2000, our feature and essay combination was going strong. At the same time, the size of our issues was growing and the work required to produce the monthly issues was almost becoming a full-time job. In April, 2000 we published an issue related to the stereotypes related to Native Americans and music and coupled it with an essay that explored the realities of Native American music. Again, we managed to find a combination of subject matter and music that resonated with our readers and it has become one of our most visited issue/essays. The following month, in May of 2000 we followed the essay up with one that explored the origins of "Cowboy music" and had yet another popular issue on our hands.

 

The song Red Wing is one of our most popular published songs and one we receive many comments on. The music is good, not great, but it is the story and the cover that really sell this song. Again, we have a cover that is absolutely stunning in it's use of color and subject. The song seems to have played a big part in many people's lives and memories and we still get many comments about it in our e-mail. Enjoy it again now in the scorch format and see the lyrics with the link below.

 

Enjoy this great American song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 



The Music of Carrie Jacobs-Bond

June, 2000


Selected Song: A Perfect Day (1910)
Music by: Carrie Jacobs-Bond
Lyrics by: Bond
Cover artist: unattributed, probably Bond

 

With our June, 2000 issue, we introduced a comprehensive composer biography along with a feature about the composer's music. For those of you who have followed ParlorSongs, you know that my (Rick) favorite composer of all time is Carrie Jacobs-Bond. As I've said time and again, her music and her spirit both speak to and captivate my soul. My wife dismisses her as "your dead girlfriend" but I can't dump her that easily. I've been consumed by her music and have collected a large number of her original works. We've published many of her works but our feature in June of 2000 and the accompanying in-depth biography of Carrie Jacobs-Bond proved that I was not the only one who loves her music. The issue continues to be one of the most visited and I continually get e-mail feedback about the issue and other people's love of her music. Her story is inspirational and her music is uplifting.

 

The selected song, A Perfect Day, was Bond's personal greatest hit. It sold millions and made Bond the first million selling female composer in America. It is our best selling score reprint and is a song that is firmly embedded in the mind of our elder generations. It is a beautiful yet simple song that shows Bond's mastery of music and her lyrics' ability to speak to the heart.

 

Listen to this number one Bond hit song (scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 



American Music In World War One

November, 2000


Selected Song: Over There (1918)
Music by: George M. Cohan
Lyrics by: Cohan
Cover artist: Norman Rockwell,

 

In November of 2000, we began our biggest project of features and essays with a three part series on Music in World War One that covered the periods before, during and after the war. The series extended from November, 2000 with "A Call To Arms, Going to War", then in December we presented part 2, "Over There, Death, Destruction & Ooo-La-La" and the series ended in January, 2001 with part 3, Coming Home.

 

Each month had an accompanying essay beginning with "World War One As Illustrated On Sheet Music" , moved on to "World War One As Illustrated On Sheet Music, Part Two" and culminated in the final essay with the original title, "World War One As Illustrated On Sheet Music, Part Three." If you are a fan of war music or are interested in reading about some of the musical aspects of the War, be sure to take the time to fully explore this series.

 

The selected song, Over There is one of the greatest wartime songs ever written and one of the most recognized. The recently aquired Rockwell cover is my most prized sheet music cover as Rockwell's work only graced a handful of sheets. As such it represents a rare find as well as true bit of American art and music combined. Of course the song was published with a number of different covers and you can see a second one in our collection when you "mouse over" the cover image above.

 

Listen to this great Cohan song (scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 



Songs Of The Sea

March, 2001

 


Selected Song: Blow Boys, Blow (ca. 1820)
Music by: Traditional
Lyrics by: Traditional
Cover artist: no cover available

 

The year 2000 was a busy one for us and one that resultd in a string of popular issues and "In Search Of" articles. Early in the year, in March, 2001 we published an issue that featured songs about boats and the sea and coupled it with an article about Sea Shanties (Chantys, Chanties, Shantys, take your pick, all seem to apply). While our main feature looked at songs related to boats and the sea, our "in search of" article looked into the distant past and the origins of work songs of the sea. The article has proved to be a long term popular one and we had fun researching the subject and creating the music.

 

Our selected song is one of the many traditional shanties from the late 18th century - early 19th century period when sea shanties were quite popular. It has a nice tune and humorous words, with was quite common for these work songs. Making light of the difficulties of life at sea helped cope with the privations and misery the tall ship sailors often faced daily.

 

Listen to this great old sea shanty (scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 



See our resources page for a complete bibliography of all resources used to research this and other articles in our series.

 


WAIT! There are many more Special Anniversary songs & issues, page 2 to see and hear. The second part of this issue features many more rare and different works.

More hit music and covers in this month's issue, go to part B.



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