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ParlorSongs Anniversary Edition, Page 2


This is a continuation of the October, 2002 Feature, if you missed page one, check the link at the end of this page or use this link.


Happy Birthday to us! In part one of this issue, we looked at several of our earlier popular issues. In celebration of our five year anniversary, this issue continues with a survey of our favorite and most popular issues from 2001 to today..

Coon Songs, Racial Stereotypes in Music

April, 2001


Selected Song: All Coons Look Alike To Me (1896)
Music by: Ernest Hogan
Lyrics by: Hogan
Cover artist: unknown


In April of 2001 we published our most visited and linked to "in search of "article to date, In Search of Coon Songs,
Racial Stereotypes in American Popular Song.
This article, though based on an ugly chapter in American popular song has received acclaim from a number of academic sources as a "scholarly work" that approaches the subject squarely but with sensitivity and honesty. We are very proud of the interest this article has generated and count it as one of our best articles. Granted, the subject matter can be offensive and titles like the selected song can be shocking, but visit the article and read our comments and perhaps you might see why we felt it was necessary to publish the article. This essay was preceded in August, 1999 with our feature about Racism in music that addressed a number of racial stereotypes in music including African-America, Native Americans and Asians. If you are interested in the subject, visit that feature too.


Our selected song from this article is one that is most exemplar of the stereotype and offensive nature of coon songs. The song also holds an important place in the emergence of Ragtime as it is often cited as the first known publication (1896) of a rag time work for piano. If you listen to the song, stay with it till the end as the ragtime chorus comes at the very end. What is often surprising to many who see this shocking cover and song is that it was written by an African-American composer.


Listen to and see this 1896 song(scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version




Anna Priscilla Risher
An American Treasure Rediscovered

May, 2001

Selected Song: The Song Of The Brown Thrush (1922)
Music by: Anna Priscilla Risher
Lyrics by: Risher
Cover artist: none

In May of 2001, we published a feature about music magazines, such as the famous and long running Etude magazine from Theodore Presser, one of America's pioneering music publishing companies. Among the treasures to be found in many of these magazines were works by emerging and already famous American songwriters and composers. One of Etude's most published composers was Anna Priscilla Risher. Risher's music caught my eye and ear many years ago and I searched far and wide to try to find other examples. In early 2001, serendipity stuck us in the form of an e-mail from one of Risher's descendants who graciously provided us with biographical information, photos and music which allowed us to write one of my favorite articles. Our biography of Risher has continued to be a favorite and one that has allowed us to preserve the work and story of one of America's best female composers. Risher also was an accomplished painter and was instrumental in the establishment of Women's symphony orchestras on the West coast during the 1930's. Visit our biography of Anna Priscilla Risher to learn more about this fascinating woman.


Risher wrote many expressive and lyrical works that deserve more notice than they have received. Among my personal favorites is The Song Of The Brown Thrush. This song was also one of Risher's own favorites so it seems appropriate to present it as exemplar of her best work.


Hear and see this song(SCORCH format)

listen to MIDI version




The ParlorSongs.com Guide to Collecting Sheet Music

February, 2001

Selected Song: Leslie Polka (1865)
Music by: J.E. Hartel
Lyrics by: None, piano solo
Cover artist: unknown


Over the course of the years, we have received many, many inquiries from fans about various aspects of collecting sheet music and the value of "found" sheet music. Collectibles have always been popular but sheet music stayed pretty much in the background. Over the last few years, sheet music collecting has been a growth "industry" and we've seen sheet music sales and on-line trading grow tremendously. In some respects, I wrote this article to help people searching for answers and to cut back some on the number of inquiries we were having to respond to with repetitive answers. I had also seen that there was virtually no practical help available on the net and wanted to provide yet another resource for people. The article has been a much visited one and I know from the response we've received that it has been helpful to many budding collectors. The article was written with the editorial help of sheet music authority and mega collector Sandy Marrone of New Jersey. Sandy is the author of numerous articles and books on sheet music and has been a much appreciated "editor" and supporter of our enterprise. If you have basic questions about collecting sheet music, check out our article on collecting sheet music.


Our selected song, The Leslie Polka is a wonderfully vibrant solo piano work written to commemorate a high-wire walk across Niagara Falls by a Harry Leslie that took place on June 15, 1865. Leslie was the fourth person to high wire walk over the falls and of course many would follow. I believe, but have been unable to confirm, that Leslie was the first American to perform the stunt. Regardless, the sheet music is another of my most prized. With a hand colored lithograph and a photo of Leslie, it is one of the finest examples from the period and a very rare one at that. To put the icing on the cake, I love the music, it is a fabulous work.


Listen to and see this great work Printable! (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (None)




June, 2001

Selected Song: Slivers (1909)
Music by: Harry Cook
Lyrics by: None, piano solo
Cover artist: unknown

Who can resist the toe tapping tempos tied to tempestuous tintinnabulating rhythm that Ragtime music brings to the ears? Not many folks, that's for sure. Our first attempt at a ragtime theme way back in June of 1999 proved to be a very popular issue. After a couple of years, we had added a number of even better ragtime tunes to our collection and felt it was time for a reprise edition. That edition, issued two years later, in June of 2001, proved to be just as popular and maybe even more so. Ragtime is a popular genre and you can find a large number of fine ragtime only sites on the web. Some are spectacular, many are not. We accompanied our Ragtime edition with an expanded "In Search Of" article about the origins of ragtime, the style of music and some of the seminal composers. Be sure to visit that article too.


Our selection from that ragtime issue, Slivers is a rare and unique work based on a real persona, the circus clown Slivers. Slivers was a famous Barnum & Bailey circus clown portrayed by Frank Oakley. Oakley most often was known simply by the name "Slivers" Oakley. His most famous routine was one where he pantomimed a baseball game, portraying all the different players. It's a beautiful cover and a wonderful ragtime piece, be sure to take the time to hear it.


Hear this great old rag (scorch format)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (None)


The Music Of E.T. Paull

July, 2001

Selected Song: Silver Sleigh Bells (1906)
Music by: ET Paull
Lyrics by: None, piano solo
Cover artist: Starmer


If any composer can be associated with sheet music cover art as an art, it must be ET Paull. Paull is best known for a long running series of thundering marches and patriotic tunes that have been both praised for their originality and oddly enough, criticized for their sameness and lack of originality. Many piano students were tortured with learning some of Paull's works yet all who mastered his works fondly remember them and they have also been favorites from our reprint series. But, it is not the music that Paull is best remembered for, it is the incredible lithographed covers on his sheet music that has made his works the most sought after series in collecting sheet music. His covers, though not necessarily the most costly to collect, consistently are up there in the top of the range with prices of $50 to $100 commonplace for certain mint condition sheets. In July of 2001 we featured Paull's works and coupled that feature with an extensive biography of Paull. That combination has also generated many visitors, links and critical comments from many people around the world. Be sure to take the time to see all these fabulous covers in these two articles.


Our selected work from this coupling of articles is Silver Sleigh Bells, a 1906 Paull publication that has a wonderful cover and an innovative musical work inside. Titled as a "Novelette-Descriptive" the piece portrays a winter sleigh ride and race with descriptive text accompanying the music. The descriptive method was one that Paull used extensively with most of his works. To see the descriptive and the full music, be sure to select the scorch version.


Hear this great old song

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (None)


The Music of Percy Wenrich

September, 2001

Selected Song: The Smiler (1907)
Music by: Percy Wenrich
Lyrics by: None, piano only
Cover artist: unknown

Another of Tin Pan Alley's greatest composers was Percy Wenrich. Wenrich was one of the most versatile composers of the period, mastering many genres of music including Ragtime, ballads, novelty songs and more serious forms. Born in Joplin Missouri on January 23, 1887, Percy Wenrich was the son of the town postmaster. His mother was an accomplished amateur pianist who gave him his first introduction to and lessons on the piano and organ at an early age. In 1901 Joplin, Missouri, at the Lakeside pavilion you could hear the sparkling music of the keyboard wizards of the time and if you were lucky, you just might spot "The Joplin Kid" playing ragtime. Just beginning to gain notice, "The Joplin Kid", Percy Wenrich went on to become one of America's greatest popular song composers. The writer of hundreds of hit songs like When You Wore A Tulip And I Wore A Big Red Rose, Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet, Moonlight Bay and Silver Bell, Wenrich clearly deserves a place in the Tin Pan Alley Hall of Fame. Our feature on the music of Percy Wenrich and the accompanying in depth biography of Wenrich, combined to provide the best overview of Wenrich's life and work to be found on the net. We hope you'll visit these articles if you have not already.


Our selected work, Wenrich's early The Smiler represents Wenrich's versatility as well as his originality. Published in 1907, it was his first real hit and opened the door for him in the music business. Though not necessarily his best rag, it was his most popular.

Enjoy this rare old song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (None)


Tear Jerkers, Songs of Death, Pain and Misery

October, 2001

Selected Song: After The Ball (1892)
Music by: Charles K. Harris
Lyrics by: Harris
Cover artist: Unknown

The theme idea for this issue came from one of our loyal ParlorSongs fans, David Chase. David sent me a note suggesting the feature and even gave me a list of songs that would illustrate the theme. It was such a great theme idea, I implemented it as soon as I could fit it in the schedule and in October of 2001 we published our feature on "tear jerkers." Another successful feature, this issue illustrates the intense emotion and pathos that went into American popular music from the period 1892 to around 1910. The range of emotion and depth of depression these songs reached makes one wonder how anyone could consider them entertainment. However, when you look at entertainment forms, it seems making people cry is a long standing method for success. Just look at today's movies for a contemporary analog. Music was the main form of entertainment in those days so why not cover all the emotional bases? The composers of those days did so and did so in fine fashion. We followed up this issue the following month with another of our biographies where we explored the life of perhaps the greatest composer of sad songs, Charles K. Harris whom we termed," the king of the tear jerkers."


Our selected song, After The Ball is historically one of the most important popular songs in American song history. It was After The Ball that established the Tin Pan Alley phenomenon and became the first multi-million selling sheet music in history. It also was the song to trigger a flood of similar sad and depressing tear jerkers for several years afterwards.

Enjoy this vintage song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version



Enduring American Song Hits

January, 2002

Selected Song: School Days (1907)
Music by: Gus Edwards
Lyrics by: Will D. Cobb
Cover artist: unknown

And now you've come to the end of our celebration, but not near the end of the story. We started this year with another multi part series, a two part one that looked at some of the greatest hits from the golden age of American song. The first article covered the period of hits from 1890 to 1910 and the second article covered hits from 1910 - 1920. Both articles review some of the greatest hits f the years and are accompanied by a two part historical essay from 1910 about American popular music. These two features have also attracted a lot of attention and have proven to be two of your favorites for this year. Of course, we at ParlorSongs are interested in bringing you much more than just the hits. We want to bring you the flops too and all the wonderful music that will be forgotten unless we preserve and perform it. Your support of our enterprise helps us continue to bring this site to you and will result in a continued expansion of features and information as we move into our next few years. We've got more than enough songs to continue for a long time so stay tuned.


Our selected song from these issues is School Days, a song that has prevailed for almost 100 years and one that most kids learn early in life. What a wonderful song and what wonderful sentiments are expressed by this song that tugs at the heartstrings and takes us all back on a nostalgic trip to our own childhood.

Enjoy this vintage hit song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version



That completes our anniversary celebration feature. We hope you enjoyed this tour of some of our favorites and will go back to visit these and our other features. We hate to pick favorites, it's like having to pick a favorite kid. Though many of these we have featured this month are your favorites as established by page view counts, we like to think all of our features are of value and have something to offer. We thank you for your loyalty, we know some of you come visit us every month and we appreciate that. We also want to thank all of you who have suggested themes, offered corrections or suggestions and those of you who let us know that you appreciate our efforts. We hope you will continue to come see us each month and in between, just when you need a fix. We look forward to the years ahead as an opportunity to serve you, entertain you, educate you and to learn more ourselves about the fascinating world of American popular music during the Tin Pan Alley years.


As always, be sure to come back next month for a new feature or just come back anytime to browse our extensive archive of issues and special articles.

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

If you missed page one, or want to return to it, click here to go to page one

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