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The Gift Of Music, A Tribute to the Home Musician, Page 2

 

This is a continuation of Our December, 2003 Issue of songs from a collection of music donated to us in the name of Sylvia English and a tribute to the home musician. If you missed page one, check the link at the end of this page or use this link.

 

 




The Land Of Make Believe

1919

 


Music by: Harold B. Freeman
Lyrics by: Freeman
Cover artist: RS

Harold Freeman's songs may not have become lasting classics but they certainly all were adorned by some of the most stunning covers of their time. Almost all of his works (except the war song mentioned below) had fabulous artwork and were all female subjects. Of course, this work is no exception. This year, 1919 was marked by a plethora of similar artistic covers and we'll see several now in this article. This song is a nice waltz tune, pleasant but unremarkable in that it sounds like many of the songs of the time. Written with only one verse, it becomes unusual in that regard for few popular songs of the day were written in a through composed fashion, most were strophic with at least two verses and some with more as in We Never Did That Before, found on the first page of this issue. The chorus, which does repeat, is written as a duet with nice harmonies. Yet another song that Sylvia and her sisters could have sung with the family.

 

Harold B. Freeman, the songwriter who brought us this excellent work has fared less well than the music. I've been unable to find very little information about him in my references or on the web. However, we do know of some other works in addition to The Land Of Make Believe by him, all of which also have fabulous covers. Among them are; Girl of Mine (MIDI) (1919), Just a Girl Like You (MIDI) (1919), Day Dreams of You (1928), It's a Long Way From Berlin to Broadway (1917) and Virginia Moonlight (1920). Freeman formed his own publishing house probably in 1919 as the title Girl Of Mine was published by A.J. Stasny yet all other 1919 works and those beyond were published by Freeman's house. Given Freeman's reasonably large output and the fact that he had a major publishing house, I find it quite odd that little else is said about him in numerous books about Tin Pan Alley.

 

Listen to and see this beautiful old song Printable! (Scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

BONUS! Printable PDF sheet music, our gift to you.

 



Buddy

1919


Music by: W. C. Polla
Lyrics by: Jean Le Favre
Cover artist: C. Warde Traver


Here we have the second of four 1919 beautiful songs and covers, this one by a relatively unknown cover artist. Regardless, his work is beautiful as is his subject. W.C. Polla is another composer who seemed to gravitate towards covers with beautiful women on them. Among his works is one with a cover that is among the most stunning of them all, and one of my favorites, Dear Heart (Scorch format). That work also was in collaboration with LeFavre This song is a wonderful "heart" ballad about a "buddy," but also lover who is missed and loved. Musically at this point the nature of America's songs have changed. The melody is more upbeat and the harmonies are somewhat different from those of the prior 20 years. You can hear the difference and can see that music is moving into the "jazz" age from the period where Victorian ideals reigned supreme.

 

Such songs would have been a regular part of the home repertoire, especially in the English family whose recollections of Sylvia's playing always included friends and family. "Buddies" were inevitably an important part of family gatherings and as her sister said; "It was a real joy to gather around the piano and sing with the family and friends. It was an event for all seasons and became a life long pleasure and tradition." In addition, this song may have held some special meaning for Mrs. English. According to her daughter; "There was a rather pleasant surprise for me when I saw the song called Buddy. That was Dad's nickname! Mom always called him Buddy. He was known to everyone as "Buddy" It makes me wonder if mom had a special affection for this particular song. I think it is very appropriate and touching that it is included in this feature!"

 

W. C. Polla (dates unknown) Composer, lyricist and arranger. Arranged a number of W.C. Handy tunes for band and orchestra. Polla was a prolific composer writing a large number of popular songs and several ragtime works as well as some orchestral works. Most of his rags were written under the pseudonym "W.C. Powell." One wonders why, unless he somehow felt that he did not want to mix his classical and heart songs side with what may have been viewed as a rather coarse and wild ragtime persona. Many of his works were graced with beautiful woman covers, several by the now famous "pinup" artist, Rolf Armstrong whose early 20th century portraits are among the best female portraits ever. As with many successful composers, Polla also owned his own publishing house, the W.C. Polla Company, for a few years. Among his works are; Gondolier, The (1903), Missouri Rag (as W.C. Powell 1907), Johnny Jump Up (as W.C. Powell 1910), Dope Rag (as W. C. Powell 1909), Dancing Tambourine (1927), Night In June (1927), You Know (1919), Mama's Gone Goodbye (1924), Funny Folks (as W. C. Powell), Dear Heart (1919 ), Drifting (1920), My Castles in the Air are Tumbling Down (1919), My Sunshine Rose (1920)

 

Jean LeFavre (dates unknown) LeFavre seems to have been exclusively the lyricist for works by W.C. Polla as all references to works by LeFavre are also composed by Polla with Dear Heart (1919 Scorch format), Buddy (1919) and My Sunshine Rose (1920) topping all lists. Few if any other works by LeFavre can be found.

 


Hear and see this fabulous song Printable! (Scorch format only)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

BONUS! Printable PDF sheet music, our gift to you.


 

Evening (Brings Love Dreams Of You)

1919



Music by: Earl Burtnett
Lyrics by: Haven Gillespie
Cover artist: unknown


The cover on this sheet is amazing and like many great artworks on sheet music, the artist's name has not been preserved and there is no signature I can find to identify him/her. Regardless, the song is by a song writing pair that is one of America's best (see the biographies below). The music is a tender ballad that is not unlike the prior song. Again we see the change in musical style that took place after the war and see and hear more sophisticated melodies and harmonies than what have passed before us in the prior decades. This song too would have been one that many home musicians lovingly brought to their friends and families. It is perhaps more somber than many and probably would not have been a group sing as much as a beautifully entertaining work for reflection and enjoyment by the listeners.

 

Earl Burtnett (b. 1896, Harrisburg, IL - d. 1936, Chicago) Perhaps best known as a popular band leader in the 20s and 30s, Burtnett also was a pianist in jazz bands, arranged music for Art Hickman and wrote many very popular works, several of which are well known today. Educated at Pennsylvania State College, he arranged music for Art Hickman and his band till 1929 when he took over the band. Their good ensemble sound assured them of play in some of the leading ballrooms in the Midwest including the Drake Hotel in Chicago. His many songs include; Canadian Capers (1915), Down Honolulu Way (1916, ) Do You Ever Think Of Me? (1920), Leave Me With a Smile (1921), Mandalay (1924) and 'Leven Thirty Saturday Night (1930). Unfortunately, Burtnett's career was cut short by his untimely death at only age 39.

 

Haven Gillespie (b. 1888, Covington, KY - d. 1975, Los Angeles) Gillespie was active as a songwriter, primarily a lyricist, during the 20's to the early 50s. Before becoming active in music, he was a journeyman printer with several newspapers, including the New York Times. He began composing in the mid twenties and collaborated with several composers/lyricists including Richard Whiting, Egbert Van Alstyne and Seymour Simons. His output included several hundred songs, many of which were recorded by some of America's greatest singers including; Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Louie Armstrong, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole. Gillespie was awarded the Freedoms Foundation award in 1950 for his song God's Country. His most famous song is without doubt, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, written in 1934. He earned well over one million dollars in royalties from that one song. Among his other famous works are; Breezin' Along With The Breeze (1926), Honey (1929), You Go To My Head (1938), That Lucky Old Sun (1949) and Drifting and Dreaming (1925). There is a book by William E. First titled Drifting and Dreaming, The Story Of Songwriter Haven Gillespie that was published in 1997 and is still available.

 


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

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

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Broken Blossoms

1919



Music by: A. Robert King
Lyrics by: Ballard MacDonald
Cover artist: unknown photo.

 

Our last work from 1919 in this feature is one that retains a bit more of the days gone by than the previous three, especially in the photo on the cover which seems to have a bit more of the earlier times in its look. Musically, the song also clings more closely to the models of the 00s and teens as well. The harmony is more traditional and the melody in the tradition of many of the waltz time love ballads of the earlier days. The year 1919 was a watershed, a transition period where the music of America was moving into the jazz age and chaotic social times. As with many such periods, the music of the time was also in a state of flux and transition. There is always a market for "old" style music and like with every change, not everyone wants to move into new areas so the traditional sound and styles of music were still important to maintain.

 

The traditions of the past are always fun to explore, without such interest there would be no ParlorSongs.com. The same interest in the past was a part of the English family's experience too. As were were told by a family member:

"One year Mom & Dad came out west to Oregon and we toured some museums and towns of the Oregon Trail. One museum had an old organ..it had been brought west to the first town in Oregon. The tour guide asked if anyone could play the organ and Dad talked mom into playing. She played an old parlor song and used the organ to its fullest capacity. It was a gift that she shared with the group, not because it brought special recognition to her, but because all of us were privileged to hear an antique organ play as clearly and beautifully as it must have in the old days of Oregon."

 

A. Robert King is unfortunately another casualty of time. However, there was a Robert A. King who wrote songs during this period and I'm thinking that it is quite possible there was an error in the printing of the composer's name. The style of this song is very similar to Robert King's works which include Beautiful Ohio. If anyone can provide information on A. Robert King, please help us out and send us what you know.

 

Ballard MacDonald (1882 - 1935) was born in Portland Oregon. He was educated at Princeton and became best known as a lyricist who collaborated with some of the greatest Tin Pan Alley composers of the period. His best known works are The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine, (MIDI) written in 1913 with Harry Carrol and Back Home Again In Indiana with James M. Hanley, 1917. He also wrote Play that Barber Shop Chord in 1910 which resulted in an interesting court case. In 1910, publisher/composer Fred Helf published Play That Barbershop Chord, by Lewis Muir and William Tracey, or at least that is how Helf published it. Songwriter Ballard MacDonald had begun work on the song and had written dummy lyrics before leaving the song behind. The piece was finished by Lewis Muir and William Tracey, and MacDonald was incensed that Helf left his name off the sheet music. He sued Helf successfully, and the award of $37,500 forced Helf into bankruptcy thus ending his foray into publishing. MacDonald died in Forest Hills, New York in 1935.

 


Listen to and see this great song Printable! (Scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

BONUS! Printable PDF sheet music, our gift to you.


Oogie Oogie Wa WA

1922



Music by: Archie Gottler
Lyrics by: Grant Clarke & Edgar Leslie
Cover artist: RS

 

From the transition years we move on to the jazz age of the roaring twenties. A period when social change was mind boggling. More openness about sex, feminine liberation and wild and crazy ways were blossoming and our music reflected it. Novelty songs became more raucous and where before, sexual innuendoes were quite veiled, music became more explicit. Mind you, it is a relative thing. Compared to today's music, which has no innuendo and goes straight to the explicit, it was still mild, but for the times; oooo-la-la. Here we have one of the many fun novelty songs that were very popular in the 20's.

 

As America's horizons widened, so too did the subject matter for songs. No group or area was exempt from being poked at and this year it was the Eskimo's turn. Polar exploration was a top of mind topic, the race to poles just having been completed recently so songs about Eskimos and the pole were sure bets for sales. This cute song plays on the idea of lovemaking in the cold north and word plays on language and their meaning. Of course, the language phrase is completely made up but it makes for a cute song. Like many of Gottler's songs, the melody is terrific and the song really is a joy. It is interesting to note that Gottler uses some harmonics and bass lines that are reflective of the stereotypes of Native American music composers employed during these days. Obviously, Gottler (nor anyone else at the time) had no idea of the real attributes of Eskimo music so he just applied the well used "Indian" ideas. In spite of that, it is a wonderful song.

 

Archie Gottler (1896 - 1959) is perhaps most famous for his fabulous patriotic song America I Love You, (MIDI see our March, 1998 feature) introduced by Eva Tanguay in 1915. He wrote a number of classic American songs including two in collaboration with Maceo Pinkard; Don't Be Like That and Lila, which Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians later recorded on a best selling disc. His songs are marked by wonderful melodies and patriotic fervor. In one case, he showed his good humor with the novelty War song, Would You Rather Be A Colonel With An Eagle On Your Shoulder Or A Private With A Chicken On Your Knee?. Gottler also wrote a number of Broadway show scores as well as early sound movie scores. Gottler wrote several very popular songs and several Broadway musicals including the Broadway Brevities starring Eddie Cantor which opened at Winter Garden Theater, September 29,1920 and ran for 105 performances. He attended CCNY and Long Island Business College. He was a pianist in silent movie theaters early in his career. Gottler also served in the Signal Corps during W.W.II as a producer of training films. Among his other Broadway scores was the Zeigfeld Follies of 1918 and Good Boy in 1928.Gottler was also a pioneer composer for early silent films composing scores for The Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 and the film, Happy Days in 1930. During his career he collaborated with a number of the big name lyricists of the period and even brought his son, Jerome, into the business as a lyricist to his music. Among his other successful songs are In The Gold Fields Of Nevada (1915, Scorch format), Nobody Else But Elsie (date unkn.), That's How I Feel About You (1928), Roamin' Through The Roses (1933), and Mammy's Chocolate Soldier (1918). Gottler died in California.

 

Grant Clarke ( b. 1891, Akron, OH - d. 1931, California) who was also a major hit lyricist from the period. Clarke wrote material for such greats as Bert Williams and Fanny Brice. He was a publisher and also a staff writer for several NY music publishers. His hits include a number of classics including Am I Blue? and Second Hand Rose.

 

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 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 fun novelty song
Printable! (Scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

BONUS! Printable PDF sheet music, our gift to you.




Runnin' Wild

1922



Music by: A. Harrington Gibbs
Lyrics by: Joe Grey & Leo Woods
Cover artist: JVR


As Sylvia English's musical skills matured, her last musical challenge was learning jazz piano and this song could have been one that she "noodled" ( an informal slang term used by musicians to indicate just playing around and experimenting with various musical ideas and phrases) with to hone her skills. As we enter the jazz age, a number of songs emerged that were based on the growth of the African American contribution to music and the looser, more abstract and improvisational nature of jazz. This song, as written is one of the many songs that emerged to become staples of the jazz musician and improvisational playing. The subtitle acknowledges the black heritage of the music; "An ebony jazz tune." As written, it is not particularly impressive but it was in the hands of arrangers and performers such as Art Tatum that this song really became something special. After you listen to the music as written, come back to this point and listen to this improvisation on the song a midi file I made several years ago based on an Art Tatum improvisation. I think you'll hear a huge difference and will see why the song is such a great jazz piece.

 

And so ends our tribute to Sylvia English and the thousands of home musicians who have brightened and enriched so many lives over the decades. As with most of these musical heroes, Sylvia "passed on her love of music to her children the same way she passed it on to her siblings, by showing and doing." As her sister went on to tell us; "I would have hated country music and cowboy songs if I hadn't heard them day after day and year after year in a kind of forced music appreciation. As a result, I love all types of music. What a wonderful legacy and gift for all of us to receive.

 


A. Harrington Gibbs Despite the success of this song and the clear mastery of music and jazz it shows, Gibbs seems to have been largely forgotten. Searches of my library and the net have not found any other works by him or any biographical information. Hopefully some well informed visitor can help us out by providing some additional information. The same fate seems to have befallen his collaborators on this piece.

 


Enjoy this great "jazz" song Printable! (Scorch format only)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

BONUS! Printable PDF sheet music, our gift to you.


That completes this months special feature. We hope you enjoyed this month's feature and music. 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.


See our resources page for a complete bibliography of other resources used to research this and other articles in our series. In text citations in this issue refer to works in the bibliography except where otherwise noted.

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