Enduring American Popular Song Hits,
Music by: Fred Fischer
Irish songs and songs about Ireland have always been an important part of American popular music (we will be featuring Irish songs next month, March, 2002) and many of them have reached hit status and many have become enduring hits. This song struck a chord with the Irish American crowd and the general population as well as it sold millions of copies on its debut in 1916. Interestingly, the composer was from Germany and neither McCarthy nor Johnson were from Ireland. This demonstrates the incredible versatility of many of the songwriters of the period, especially Fischer. He was able to write in almost any vernacular and was able to quickly incorporate any musical style or theme into his own repertoire and write a hit song based on popular trends.
This great song is a typical loving Irish style ballad that yearns for Ireland and of course praises mother, the bastion of any good Irish home. Nineteen Sixteen was a year where Irish songs surged in popularity and there were several other Irish themed songs that were hits among the many other great hits from this year. Some of the other great hits from 1916 are; Arrah Go On, I'm Gonna Go Back To Oregon (midi); Baby Shoes (midi); Beale Street (Blues) (midi); Oh How She Could Yacki, Hacki, Wicki, Wacki, Woo (midi); Pretty Baby (midi) and What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For? (midi). For more details on each of the song titles that are linked to music in this issue, look them up in our catalog and locate the parlorsongs issue that they were originally featured in
Fred Fischer (1875 - 1942) 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. Fischer wrote it after seeing Laurette Taylor in the Broadway play of the same name (Peg O' My Heart) and he dedicated it to Taylor. Though a very successful song when published in 1913, it was even more successful when it was recorded in 1947 by the Harmonicats and also by Peggy Lee. 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.
Enjoy this famous song now (SCORCH format)
Music by: George W. Meyer
Though by 1917 America and the world were consumed by the World War and songs about the war abounded for the next three years (see our special three part series on songs of W.W.I ), American music still was producing the kind of songs that made American popular music so wonderful. Songs about love, life and the pursuit of happiness. One of the greatest is For Me And My Gal. First recorded by the popular vaudeville team of Van and Schenck, the song was an immediate smash hit. Other performers jumped on the bandwagon, including the great Fanny Brice, shown in the cover photo on our copy. Besides Brice, the performers who sang this song on vaudeville were Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Sophie Tucker, Belle Baker and Al Jolson; quite a cast! A huge sheet music seller in 1917, it became an even bigger hit after Gene Kelley and Judy Garland sang it in the 1942 film, For Me And My Gal,. In 1943, the song was on Your Hit Parade for seven weeks.
Nineteen Seventeen also saw the publication of these other hit songs; The Darktown Strutter's Ball; Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France! (scorch); I Don't Want To Get Well (scorch); Macnamara's Band (coming in March, 2002); My Mother's Lullaby (midi); Over There (scorch); and 'Till The Clouds Roll By (midi).
George W. Meyer (b. 1884 Boston, Mass.- d. 1959 New York, NY) was one of the more prolific composers of the period with many, many hits to his credit that spanned many years. Meyer's biggest hit was probably For Me and My Gal in 1917 but he also wrote many favorites that have lasted such as; My Song Of The Nile, Lonesome, My Mother's Rosary and the great novelty song Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday on Saturday Night?
Hear this great 1917 hit song (scorch format)
1918Music by: Turner Layton
Lyrics by: Harry Creamer
Cover artist: unknown
Featured by two of the greatest singers ever heard, Al Jolson and Sophie Tucker, this song is one of the greatest of the enduring hits of the twentieth century. Though not seemingly in his style, it was the first song recorded by Benny Goodman and was later featured by his quartet in the 1946 film, Make Mine Music. In 1942 For Me And My Gal, starring Judy Garland also featured the song. Jolson sang it in Jolson Sings Again in 1949, Louis Armstrong performed it in The Five Pennies (1959) and it was sung by Leland Palmer in the Fosse film, All That Jazz in 1979. A sultry ballad, it is timeless in its melodic style and lyrical construct. This is the kind of song that could have been written yesterday rather than almost a century ago.
John Turner Layton was born in 1894 in Washington DC. One of the few successful Black composers of the period, he was teamed with the lyricist of After You've Gone, Harry Creamer in a vaudeville act. Both Creamer and Layton left the United States (due largely to constraints on them due to race) and settled in England where both enjoyed very successful careers. With Creamer he also wrote another enduring hit, Way Down Yonder In New Orleans in 1922 and Dear Old Southland in 1921. Layton died in 1978.
Listen to this great old favorite (scorch format only)
Music by: Harry Carroll
Knute Rockne was appointed the head coach of the University of Notre Dame in 1918 and the musical comedy "Oh Look! opened at the La Salle Theater in Chicago. Not only was Rockne a winner but at least one of the songs from that production proved to be an enduring hit; I'm Always Chasing Rainbows. A lovely and sentimental ballad introduced by Harry Fox, this song is one of the greatest American songs ever written. Perhaps lesser known to most casual listeners is the fact that the composer took the melody from Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu in C Sharp minor (midi 4:50). Take the time to listen to the Chopin work, it is absolutely beautiful. Both the Chopin work and this song show a lot of emotion and the words are a beautiful addition to one of the worlds most beautiful classical melodies. This song has been used in many films over the years including one in 1945 about the Dolly Sisters who appeared in the first production of Oh Look! Of course, like just about every great hit from this period it was sung by Judy Garland in 1941. It was revived by Perry Como in 1946. Originally the song sold over a million copies in 1918.
Harry Carroll was born born Nov. 28, 1892, Atlantic City, New Jersey and died 1962, Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. Self taught, Harry was playing piano in movie houses even while he was still in grade school. He graduated high school and went to New York City, where, during the day, he found work as an arranger in Tin Pan Alley, and, during the night, playing in the Garden Cafe on 7th Avenue and 50th Street. In 1912, the Schuberts hired him to supply songs for some of their shows. He collaborated with Arthur Fields on his first hit On the Mississippi, with lyrics by Ballard MacDonald (for the show The Whirl of Society). Among Carroll and MacDonald's best known compositions, are 1913's There's a Girl in the Heart of Maryland (midi), and The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (midi), and It Takes a Little Rain With the Sunshine to Make the World Go Round.
In 1914, he wrote By the Beautiful Sea, with lyric by Harold Atteridge. In 1918, Carroll produced his own Broadway musical Oh, Look!, and the classic I'm Always Chasing Rainbows, was written with the lyric by Joseph McCarthy. Harry married Anna Wheaton, and the two starred in vaudeville for many years. After the decline of vaudeville, Harry was a 'single' act in various cafes, where he sang his own songs. From 1914 through 1917, Harry was the director of ASCAP. Carroll is a Songwriters' Hall of Fame member.
Hear this great musical comedy hit (scorch)
Music by: Bob Carleton
Another lasting hit from 1918 was one written by a Naval Reservist who donated all of the proceeds from the song to benefit the Naval Relief Society. A generous act, it is possible that Carleton gave away his greatest song, JA-DA for precious few other songs by him are remembered today. JA-DA became a famous novelty song and of course can still be heard today, most often in a Jazz setting. The sparkling melody and infectious rhythm lends itself well to improvisation and it is probably for that reason the song has endured. As a bonus, I'm including a midi improvisation on JA-DA for your entertainment. Certainly the lyrics are not particularly great. As with many of the lasting hits, this one was also featured in some movies including Babes In Arms (1939), Rose Of Washington Square (1939) and The Great American Broadcast in 1941. The song was introduced by Beatrice Lillie in the stage musical Bran Pie and was popularized by Arthur Fields.
Other great songs that were published in 1918 include; Beautiful
Ohio (midi); Hello
Central! Give Me No Man's Land (scorch); K-K-K-Katy
(midi); Rock-a-bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody; Till
We Meet Again (scorch) and When
You Look Into The Heart Of A Rose.
Bob Carleton (1896 - 1956) did publish at least three other songs during his career, Struttin' Jim in 1923, Teasin' in 1922 which enjoyed a popularity similar to JA-DA as a jazz work and was regularly played and recorded by a number of bands of the jazz age, and a late life hit, Where The Blues Were Born In New Orleans in 1947. The latter was introduced by Louis Armstrong and his band in the film New Orleans and also on record. Phil Harris also featured a version on record and radio. I've been unable to find much more on Carleton.
1920Music by: Jerome Kern
Lyrics by: Edward Royce
Cover artist: unknown
By 1920, the world was changing, the Jazz Age was coming, the political landscape was changing and the innocence of the early decades was ending. Traditional values were challenged and music too was changing but what makes an enduring hit was the same as always. Once again, Jerome Kern hit the jackpot with a winning song that has been with us now for 82 years. Interestingly, I've heard the song many times but never heard the verses and noticed the dish washing scene that went with it. Taken from the Ziegfeld production of Sally, the song was introduced by Leon Errol and Marilyn Miller (shown on the cover). The show premiered in December of 1920 and was a huge hit the following year. Marilyn Miller returned to perform the song in he 1929 film version of Sally with Alexander Grey. And, guess who, Judy Garland sang it in the Kern film biography Till The Clouds Roll By in 1946. Miller's film biography, Look For The Silver Lining featured the song sung by June Haver and Gordon MacRae in 1949.
(See page one of this feature for the Kern biography information)
Enjoy this wonderful song (scorch)
The years from 1910 - 1920 produced many other hits that have endured.
Many of them we have previously published here at parlorsongs. See our
catalog for a complete listing of the over 700 songs thus far published
at ParlorSongs.com. Visit us for the largest selection of all "cover
& midi" sites on the net. We were the first, and are the best.
That's it for this month's feature, as always, we hope you have enjoyed the music and learned something from it. Next month we will revisit Irish songs for our Irish friends who celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
If you would like to return to part A of this month's issue, click here.
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