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Songs About U.S. States; Pennsylvania to Wyoming, Page 2 (VT - WY)

 

This is a continuation of Our November, 2003 Issue of songs about states or with state names, if you missed page one, check the link at the end of this page or use this link.

 

 




'Neath The Pines Of Vermont

1904

 


Music by: Horace Strouse
Lyrics by: Strouse
Cover artist: Unknown

 

Until statehood, Vermont had been a region claimed by both New York and New Hampshire, however on March 4, 1791 she became the 14th state of the Union, the first after the original 13. Known as the "Green Mountain State" Vermont is probably the first state to come to mind for many people when New England is mentioned. Birthplace of Presidents Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge, she is also home of many famous Americans including Orson Bean, John Deere, Brigham Young and Stephen A. Douglas. Her state motto is the simple and elegant "Freedom and Unity". The state flower is the Red Clover and state bird is the Hermit Thrush. Vermont gained her name and nickname when French explorers first sighted her mountains and called them simply "verts monts," French for green mountains. Her official state song is These Green Mountains, with words and music by Diane Martin. . For more information, visit the Vermont web site at http://vermont.gov/ .

 

This song is about a homecoming to the beloved pines of a soldier's Vermont home. The sadness to that story is that he comes home to die and be buried beneath those beloved pines. A real tearjerker from the beginning, the stage is set for a heartrending story:

Among the pines of dear Vermont you'll find a lonely grave,
A mound that's marked with marble white, he died a hero brave.
He went to war for those he loved (etc, see the full lyrics in the link below)

The music that accompanies the story is march-like and reflects the story's main character, a soldier. The verse is somewhat subdued but the chorus is quite upbeat given the subject. The song overall is pretty good but unfortunately, due to it's limited subject matter and interest, it's been relegated to obscurity..till now of course.

 

Horace Strouse, the songwriter who brought us this excellent work has fared less well than the music. I've been unable to find any information about him in my references or on the web.

 

Listen to and see this emotional song Printable sheet music (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 



Carry Me Back To Old Virginny

1906 originally 1878


Music by: James A. Bland
Lyrics by: Bland
Cover artist: Unsigned


A state that has always figured prominently in America's history from the earliest settlements to the Civil War and to today, Virginia was named for England's "Virgin Queen," Elizabeth I. "Known as the “Old Dominion State” Charles II of England placed the arms of Virginia on his shield in 1663, thus adding Virginia to his dominions of France, Ireland and Scotland. Virginia is also called the “Mother State” because it was the first state to be colonized." ( Source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols by Benjamin F. Shearer, Barbara S. Shearer) Virginia is also the birthplace of no less than eight US Presidents including four of the first five. The 10th of the original 13 colonies, Virginia achieved statehood as the 10th state on June 25, 1788. Her state motto, Sic "Semper Tyrannis" translated as "Thus Always to Tyrants" is a bit enigmatic. The Dogwood is her state flower and the state bird is the Cardinal. The official state song for Virginia adopted in 1940 is oddly enough, Carry Me Back to Old Virginny Written by James Bland, the song we are featuring here. For more information about Virginia, see their attractive official state web site at http://www.ncgov.com/ .

 

This song is rooted in the early days of America and the Southern agrarian society, well before the war between the states that abolished slavery and that southern society. In one respect, I'm impressed that Virginia has not sullied the song by sanitizing the lyrics which are clearly based in a period that some would sooner have expunged from our history. That it still survives as an official state song is encouraging. Musically, this song is probably one of America's "greatest hits" in that it has been carried down to us as a living "folk" song that has been heard and known for well over a century and one half. The melody is simple yet memorable and eminently singable, which all contribute to its staying power. The origins of this song are rather interesting. Originally, a song was published in 1847 under the title, De Floating Scow and written by Charles T. White. That song was sub titled, Carry Me Back To Ole Virginny and was performed far and wide by a number of minstrel groups. In 1878, James Bland took the title, added a different set of lyrics and music and published it as Carry Me Back To Old Virginny. Though the two songs share the same (almost) title, musically they are quite different. This version includes a very nice chorus in four part harmony which we've published in our Sibelius score. You can see it if you've installed the scorch player. If you've not installed it, we hope you will for your enjoyment of the music will be much improved over just listening to the midi. The player works with Macs as well as PCs.

 

James A. Bland (b. 1854, Queens NY, d. 1911, Philadelphia) was one of America's earliest and more famous Black composers. He was a performer and member of the "all Negro" minstrel group headed by Billy Kersandis. Bland was at one time, the highest paid minstrel man in America, earning over $10,000 in 1880, a huge salary at that time. He became popular in Europe as well and toured Europe and lived in London for twenty years. It is said he lived a lavish life and in spite of his incredible earnings, in 1901, he returned from Europe, penniless and broke, and went back to Washington, DC. Several of his other songs have also been carried down through history as lasting hits including, Oh, Dem Golden Slippers (1879), Hand Me Down My Walking Cane (1880) and De Golden Wedding (1880). In addition to these songs, he wrote well over 700 other songs. Bland was well educated, attending night classes at Howard University and ultimately receiving his law degree from there. He was the first Black man to be appointed examiner in the United States Patent Office. Bland died of tuberculosis on May 6,1911. He was buried in Merion Cemetery near Philadelphia and in spite of his fame and accomplishments there was not even a death notice in the newspaper to mark his passing.

 


Hear and see this famous Virginia song Printable sheet music (scorch format only)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 


 

The Washington Waddle

1911



Music by: Theodore Morse
Lyrics by: Jack Mahoney
Cover artist: unknown


With the great state of Washington we've met our Waterloo, one of many it seems. Here we've failed to find any song about the state in particular so as a result, we've had to fall back on a song that mentions the name but is actually about the District of Columbia. However, the song is about a dance that could just as well be named after Washington DC so we've exercised our literary license to encompass and salute the State of Washington with this song. We also are giving a nod to DC for though not a state, is certainly an important part of the Union.

 

This song is really cute and clever, not a surprise given the song writing team; two of the greatest from Tin Pan Alley. The opening and verse melody makes good use of a simple theme and the staccato action adds to the whimsy. The introduction gets us going and we swing into the verse which tells us about the dance we are going to do, the Washington Waddle. I think that there are some hidden meanings, especially the part about going to DC and waddling around till you weigh a ton. Perhaps that is symbolic of feeding off the public trough as has been traditionally done by politicians. Regardless, we then move on to the chorus where we hear a more fluid melody. Though not exactly ragtime, it is in the stride manner and the two are related. In fact, stride is a derivative of ragtime and has it's origins in 1920-20's Harlem. Overall, the tune is a jazzy one that is fun to sing and listen to.

 

Washington was part of Pacific Northwest and Washington Territory before she was admitted to the Union on Nov. 11, 1889 as the 42nd State. It is the only state named for a president. Washington was nicknamed "The Evergreen State" by C.T. Conover, pioneer Seattle Realtor and historian, for its abundant evergreen forests. Her state motto, "Al-ki" or "Alki" is an Indian word meaning Bye and Bye Her state bird is the American Goldfinch and the state flower the Coast Rhododendron. Washington's economy is driven by diversity in both agriculture: seafood, dairy products, apples, cattle, wheat, potatoes and industry: Aerospace, software development, food processing, paper products, lumber and wood products, chemical products and tourism. She has a rich heritage of Native American culture and is one of America's greatest salmon fishing grounds. The state song, Washington, My Home, was written by Helen Davis, arranged by Stuart Churchill, and became the official state song in 1959. They also have a state folk song, Roll On, Columbia, Roll On. For lots more interesting stuff about Washington, visit the official state site at http://access.wa.gov/ .

 

Jack Mahoney was the pen name for Ruben Kusnitt, born in Buffalo New York in 1882 and died in New York City in 1945. Mahoney's greatest lyrics hit was When You Wore A Tulip, (Scorch format) with Percy Wenrich but as one of the early 20th century's more popular lyricists, he also wrote a number of other popular (at that time) works including, Kentucky Days (1912, MIDI), A Ring On The Finger Is Worth Two On The Phone (1911), On A Monkey Honeymoon (1909 scorch format) and While Others Are Building Castles In The Air in 1919, The Girl I Left Behind Before, with Bob Miller (1937), The Statue of Liberty Is Smiling, with Halsey K. Mohr, (1918), Good bye Betty Brown, with Theodore Morse (1910), and The Ghost of The Terrible Blues, with Harry Von Tilzer in 1916.

 

Theodore F. Morse (b. 1873, Washington, D.C., d. 1924, New York, N.Y.) was one of the most important composers of the period before and up to the First World War. He wrote many, many popular songs as well as the scores to several popular stage shows. His wife, Theodora Morse was also an accomplished composer and performer who often composed under the name of Dorothy Terriss. Theodore Morse was a privately tutored student of piano and violin and began his education at the Maryland Military Academy. At age 14 (1887), he ran away from the Academy and went to New York where he became a clerk in a music store. His first song was sold when be was only 15 and by age 24 he had his own publishing house, The Morse Music Co, which was in existence from 1898 to 1900. Morse is well represented on ParlorSongs and has a long list of popular hits to his credit. Among his most famous works are, Blue Bell (1904), M-O-T-H-E-R (1915), Down In Jungle Town (1908) and Hail, Hail, The Gang's All Here (1917). In 1903, Morse wrote Hurray For Baffin Bay for a new stage show that would become the basis for a blockbuster movie, The Wizard of Oz.

 


Hear this great old song

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 



Hail West Virginia

1915



Music by: Earl Miller, Ed. Mc Whorter
Lyrics by: Fred B. Deem
Cover artist: Not applicable (see text)

 

I though all was lost when it came to West Virginia and like Washington, I was coming up empty and then I remembered a song in my "scrap heap," one that had no cover, was so badly damaged that I'd not cataloged it. However, like most good pack rats, I could not bring myself to discard it. It's a good thing! This work is an example of the need to capture and preserve the music of the past. It seems there are very few copies of the original to be found. The cover you see displayed is one I created. Albeit, with some pretty ugly contrasting colors but I did try to use West Virginia University's colors in it. The song is currently West Virginia University's fight song, and has been for almost a century.

 

Written in 1915, the song is a terrific and stirring march. The writers of the song were students and even the publisher's address is listed as the YMCA at Morgantown, W.Va., site of the University's main campus. The song, like many fight songs is through composed rather than strophic. The melody is one of the best out there for a song of this style. Given the quality of this work, I'm surprised we've not seen other works by the composers. Perhaps it was just one of those college activities left behind as they passed into "normal" life. I doubt they had any idea that this work would survive for so long. The writer of the lyrics, Fred B. Deem, went on to become a Lawyer, practicing law in Clarksburg for an unknown period of time. The other collaborators have faded into the sunset.

 

A state that is often maligned and misunderstood, West Virginia is one of the most beautiful states in the East and is an outdoorsman's paradise. West Virginia was a part of Virginia until she became a state on June 20, 1863, the 35th . Blessed with tremendous natural beauty and wildlife, West Virginia's state symbols reflect her natural heritage. The state flower is the beautiful Rhododendron, her state bird is the ubiquitous Cardinal and the state tree is the Sugar Maple. Known as the Mountain state, West Virginia is hilly to mountainous with several mountains over 4,000 feet including America's 24th highest point, Spruce knob at 4,863 feet. Beautiful scenery abounds but there is certainly much more to West Virginia. Her economy is vibrant and well balanced with both agriculture & industry playing important parts in her success. Her agricultural bounty includes, cattle, dairy products, poultry, apples and her industrial output is equally diverse with chemical products, mining, primary metals, stone, clay, and glass products and tourism. The West Virginia site make no mention of an official state song, however, 50states.com lists three; West Virginia My Home,
The West Virginia Hills, and This Is My West Virginia. . The official West Virginia web site is at: http://www.wv.gov/ .

 


Listen to and see this great W.Va. song (Scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 


Hello Wisconsin (Won't You Find My Yonnie Yonson?)

1917



Music by: Harry Ruby
Lyrics by: Bert Kalmar, Edgar Leslie
Cover artist: Barbelle

 

Aside from being the home of the famed Green Bay "cheeseheads," Wisconsin was an area of the country where a large number of Swedish and other Scandinavian emigrants settled when coming to America. Perhaps it is the similarity in climates (brrrr!) or as with many areas, one pioneer came and wrote home and everyone followed. My home town in Ohio was the settling spot for thousands of Finns. Regardless, this novelty song makes light of the Swedish accent and has some fun with words as well as the story of a Swedish immigrant coming to America in the early 20th century. A nice melody and fun lyrics make this a great song from the heydays of Tin Pan Alley. The nice Barbelle cover is adorned with a photo of Anna Chandler who has a rather serious expression for such a happy song. Chandler was a popular vaudeville performer of the era and also starred in at least two Broadway shows; Mendel, Inc. in 1929 and Jumping Jupiter in 1911. Unlike many performers of the period, Chandler went on to perform in a number of films, her last as late as 1949. Her film credits include; Master Minds (1949), Redhead (1941) Madame Racketeer (1932) and The Big Broadcast (1932).


 

The state of Wisconsin was carved out of the Wisconsin Territory and was granted statehood on May 29, 1848 as the 30th state. The state was smaller than the territory and the leftover area continued to be called the Territory of Wisconsin until March 3, 1849. A state of vast openness and scenic wilderness, Wisconsin borders Lake Superior and topographically is mostly plains with three large limestone ridges in the south east. With a diverse economy that is balanced between agriculture and industry, she is much more than most Americans unfamiliar with her would think. Though cheese is her primary agricultural product, Wisconsin also is home to manufacturing of machinery, food processing, paper products and electric equipment. Her state bird is the Robin and state flower the wood violet. Known as the Badger State, her motto is "Forward." According to the state site, the motto reflects "Wisconsin's continuous drive to be a national leader." The state adopted "Forward" as the official state motto in 1851. Wisconsin's state song is another famous fight song, On Wisconsin (50states.com site) words by J. S. Hubbard and Charles D. Rosa, music by William T. Purdy. To learn more about Wisconsin, visit the official state site at: http://www.wisconsin.gov/.

 

Harry Ruby (1895 - 1959) 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 and Gus Edwards. He performed as a part of a vaudeville act called Edwards & Ruby. His primary lyricist partner throughout his career was Burt Kalmar (1884 -1947) however he also often teamed with Edgar Leslie. In addition to writing hundreds of popular songs with Kalmar, 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.

 

Some of Ruby's greatest hits are; Timbuctoo, My Sunny Tennessee, (MIDI) I Wanna be Loved By You and Hooray for Captain Spaulding. What? You say you never heard of Hooray For Captain Spaulding? I'll bet you heard it many times if you were born before 1960. That song was the theme song of Groucho Marx for many years. Jean Schwartz (b. 1878 Budapest - d. 1956, Los Angeles)came to America in 1891 with his family. He started his musical career as a song plugger and pianist for Shapiro Bernsten. His first song composition was Don't Put Me Off At Buffalo He wrote quite a few popular songs over many, many years, teaming up with most of the great lyricists of the times. Perhaps his greatest known work was Rock-a-bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody (Scorch format) in 1927. Ruby died in 1959 in the city of his birth, New York City.

 

Bert Kalmar (b. 1884, NYC - d. 1947, Los Angeles)Kalmar was one of Tin Pan Alley's more prolific and successful lyricists. Though he primarily collaborated with Harry Ruby, he also collaborated with many of the other great songwriters of the period such as Ted Snyder, Oscar Hammerstein II, Con Conrad and Pete Wendling. Kalmar ran away from home at age ten and worked in a traveling tent show as a magician. He performed in vaudeville primarily as a comedian and began writing material for his own and other performers. He was quite unsuccessful at writing songs till he met Ruby and they began working together. Some of his best known hits include, Oh! What A Pal Was Mary (MIDI), Who's Sorry Now?, I Wanna Be Loved By You and Three Little Words. Kalmar's success as a lyricist also brought him into the Broadway show business and he wrote the scores for a number of very successful shows including Helen Of Troy New York (1923) and Animal Crackers (1928). He also wrote scores for movies, his most memorable being Check and Double Check starring Amos and Andy. One song from that film, Three Little Words, is considered by most to be his greatest hit. His last song, A Kiss To Build A Dream On became popular four years after his death after it appeared in the 1951 film, The Strip. (Basic facts from Kunkle, V.2, p.p. 1217-18 and Claghorn, p. 247)

 

Edgar Leslie ( b. Dec. 31, 1885 Stamford, CT., d. 1976)
Leslie was educated at Cooper Union in New York and published his first song, Lonesome in 1909. Among his many hit songs are; He'd Have to Get Out - Get Out and Get Under, (scorch format) co-lyricists were Grant Clarke and Maurice Abrahams; the great hit For Me and My Gal, (scorch) music by Ray Goetz and Geo. W. Meyer; Oh What a Pal Was Mary, (MIDI) with Pete Wendling. In 1927, Leslie traveled to England. While there, he wrote some songs with composer Horatio Nicholls, a pseudonym for music publisher Lawrence Wright. Among their work was: Among My Souvenirs, the same song that became a Connie Francis hit in 1959; Mistakes, a Vera Lynn hit record and Shepherd of the Hills. Leslie continued writing hits well into the 30'a and beyond. His trademark style included many "place named songs such as Kansas City Kitty, Rose of the Rio Grande and of course, California and You (Scorch format) as well as the great America, I Love You (MIDI) and humorous titles such as When Ragtime Rosie Ragged the Rosary and Where Was Moses When The Lights Went Out? Among the many composers with whom Leslie worked, are: Harry Ruby; Fred Ahlert; Joe Burke; Jimmy Monaco, and Walter Donaldson. (Adapted from the Tunesmiths database, http://nfo.net/.CAL/index.html)

 


Hear this great old song
Printable! (Scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 




Wyoming ( Go To Sleep My Baby)

1920



Music by: Gene Williams
Lyrics by: Williams
Cover artist: Unknown


At last you say, we've finally reached the end of this year long odyssey into "state name" songs. I suspect we've put many of you to sleep and so it seems quite fitting that the final song, for the final state should be a lullaby. And a fine one it is. The song began it's life as an instrumental waltz titled Wyoming. Soon after its introduction, the composer published it as a song. The song was mildly popular but enjoyed its greatest popularity when resurrected by Bing Crosby in the 1940's. The music and song have survived as a standard to today, more though as a lullaby than a song about Wyoming. First recorded in 1920 by Charles Hart & Elliott Shaw on the Brunswick label, then again in 1921 by Nora Bayes on Columbia, the song lay fallow till 1946. Judging from the cover statement "The Sensational European Success," it seems that early on, the song may have had more success in Europe than America. Enjoy this beautiful waltz-lullaby best using the scorch player.

 

The Wyoming state web site says Wyoming is "Like No Place On Earth," and I suppose that is true. Home to some of America's most awesome scenery and National park land, Wyoming is also a center of prehistoric Native American culture with evidence of occupation going back over 12,000 years. Among the groups occupying the territory were the Clovis, 12,000 years ago, Folsom, 10,000 years ago, and Eden Valley, 8,000 years ago. Wyoming is also known as the "Equality State" because of the rights women have traditionally enjoyed here. Wyoming women were the first in the nation to vote, serve on juries and hold public office. One of the earliest explorers of Wyoming was John Colter in 1807. While exploring the Rocky Mountains, he discovered a region of steaming geysers and towering water falls so unusual that his written reports nicknamed the area "Colter's Hell." The same area, in 1872, was set aside forever as a place to be enjoyed by everyone. It became known as Yellowstone, America's first National Park. Originally The Wyoming Territory, Wyoming became the 44th state on July 10, 1890. With awesome topography, beautiful wilderness and an incredible array of some of America's most exotic and beautiful wildlife, Wyoming is a nature lover's dream. In spite of that, her economy is one of the most diverse that includes agricultural elements in cattle, sugar beets, sheep, hay and wheat. The industrial side of the equation includes mining, chemical products, lumber and wood products, printing and publishing, machinery and of course, tourism. . Her state bird is the Western Meadowlark and state flower the Indian Paintbrush. Her motto is "Equal Rights," a proud statement of her pioneer status in that regard. Her state song is Wyoming (50states.com) music by G.E. Knapp and words by C.E. Winter. For more information, visit the official Wyoming state web site at: http://www.state.wy.us/.

 

Perhaps it is appropriate that the writer of the last song in this series is another of our "lost" composers. That seems to be the case more so with these state songs than with other styles we have featured. Perhaps because many of the songs have only regional attraction, perhaps because the writers were "one hit wonders" who were driven by local patriotism to write a song and then move on. We'll never know for sure but we continue to be dismayed by how much of our musical heritage is being lost day by day. It is our mission to try our best to find and preserve these songs in ways that will assure future generations will continue to enjoy them. Thanks Gene Williams and all of the other unsung heroes of America's music. And thanks to all of you who visit and support us in our efforts, especially those of you who manage to read every last word of every feature.

 



Enjoy this great Wyoming song Printable sheet music (scorch format only)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 


That completes our final installment of songs with state names or about US States. Be sure to come back next month for a new and different feature article or just come back anytime to browse our extensive archive of issues and special articles.


Most of the state facts featured this month were taken from each of the state web sites cited for each featured song and the excellent US state reference site 50states.com. See our resources page for a complete bibliography of other resources used to research this and other articles in our series or visit our composer biographies page to browse over 200 Tin Pan Alley songwriter biographical sketches. In text citations in this issue refer to works in the bibliography except where otherwise noted.

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



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