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In Praise of The Children

Songs About Children, Page 2

This is a continuation of Our July, 2003 Issue of songs about children, if you missed page one, check the link at the end of this page or use this link.




Huckleberry Finn

1917

 


Music by: Sam. M. Lewis, Joe Young, Cliff Hess
Lyrics by: Lewis, Young & Hess
Cover artist: Barbelle

 

Thanks to America's great writer Samuel Clemmons (Mark Twain) and his 1884 story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we are left with the stereotypical image of the unruly American boy. Huck Finn showed us that being a boy meant adventure, danger, fun and a little bit of pain mixed in. Huck Finn started life as a character in Twain's 1876 book, The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer. Huck proved to be such a popular and captivating individual that Twain wrote his Huckleberry Finn book a few years later. His antics and attitude would be the envy of every kid from 1884 till today (or whenever kids stopped reading anything but trash) and he's always been an American icon and his adventures spawned movies, other books, comics and songs too.

 

This song takes on the Huck Finn, independent and rebellious image and puts it to a fun melody with comic lyrics. A novelty work, this song enjoyed great popularity and was published in huge quantity and was introduced in vaudeville then recorded to great success. The whimsical cover of the barefoot smilin' fisherkid fits well with the image of the great Huck Finn. The music is wonderful as are the lyrics. The song tells of a somewhat dumb kid nicknamed Huckleberry Finn who is a ne'er do well and how the writer wishes he could be just like him; fishin' and wishin' there was no such thing as school. The song expresses what many of us have always wished, that we too could be like Huckleberry Finn.

 

Sam M. Lewis (b. 1885, New York, NY, d. 1959, New York, NY ) As with many songwriters, Lewis was a performer first and he sang gigs in nightclubs in New York before song writing took over his life. Lewis was actively writing from 1912 through the 1930's. From 1916 into the 1930's, his principal collaborator was Joe Young, but he did write with some other well known composers including Walter Donaldson, Ted Fiorito and Harry Warren. Sam Lewis and Joe Young were a powerhouse Tin Pan Alley combination. They collaborated only on lyrics but the list of lasting hits for them is astounding. Among their many hits are; Rockabye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody (Scorch format) 1918 , music by Jean Schwartz sung by Al Jolson in the Broadway play 'Sinbad'; Dinah, with music by Harry Akst, from the Broadway show Sinbad starring Al Jolson later, also in Plantation Revue starring Ethel Waters; Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, music by Ray Henderson and I'm Sitting on Top of the World, again with Ray Henderson's music (1926). Sam Lewis is a deserved inductee into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

 

Joe Young (b. 1889, New York, N. Y., d. 1939, New York, N. Y. )
Joe Young was most active from 1911 through the late 1930's. Joe began his career working as a singer-songplugger for various music publishers. During WW1, he entertained the U.S. Troops. Starting in 1916, he and co-lyricist Sam M. Lewis worked as a team up until 1930. Among his earliest lyrics (without Lewis) included: Don't Blame It All On Broadway; When The Angelus Was Ringing; Yaaka Hula, Hickey Dula, (MIDI) written with Pete Wendling & Ray Goetz and the great novelty song Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday on Saturday Night? (MIDI) an Al Jolson favorite. In 1930, Young and Lewis collaborated with composer Harry Warren on an early talking motion picture Spring is Here. It was one of the Young and Lewis team's last projects together. From 1930 on, Young mostly wrote lyrics by himself and continued writing nearly to his death with his last known songs published around 1935. Joe Young is a member of the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

 

Cliff Hess wrote a number of popular works including When Alexander Takes His Ragtime Band to France (1918), Heart Breaking Baby Doll (1919) and of course Huckleberry Finn (Scorch format) in 1917. A pianist by trade, he also recorded a number of works on acoustic recordings in the same period as his song writing efforts. Aside from that, I've been unable to find much more information about him.

 

Listen to and see this 1917 novelty (Scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 


 


Bring Back My Daddy To Me

1917


Music by: George W. Meyer
Lyrics by: William Tracey, Howard Johnson
Cover artist: "Rose Symbol"


Of course, during war years, children are always affected in ways we can only imagine. The fear of losing a parent, the uncertainty, the fact that a loved one is away all conspire to make our little ones hurt. Of course, they find ways to cope and use their imagination to deal with the situation. We've seen that in many of the songs we've featured over the years such as Hello Central, Get Me No Man's Land (Scorch format) where a child sneaks downstairs at night to call "no man's land" to help her mamma deal with the absence of daddy.

 

Here we have a beautiful song about a child who is about to experience another birthday but rather than conventional presents, she naively asks mother to bring daddy back home from the war for her birthday. The simplicity of a child's world comes through well in this tender ballad. If only it were so simple! The beautiful child on the cover is Madge Evans, "Famous Child Star - - World Pictures." Madge Evans was born in 1909 which would have made her all of eight years old when this song was published. She was one of the few child stars to not only transition to adult stardom but also from the silent to sound movies. Starring in no less than 85 movies from her first in 1914, Mildred in Shore Acres to her last Sinners In Paradise in 1938, Evans went on to also star in a number of Television shows into the 1950's. A gorgeous child, she was an even more gorgeous woman and should be counted among the pioneers of American cinema. Her last appearance seems to be her 1955 role in the Alcoa Hour production, The Girl in Chapter One. (Photo from http://silent-movies.com/Ladies/OSLEvans.html)
 

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? (Scorch format)

 

Howard Johnson (b. 1887, Waterbury, CT, d. 1941, New York,NY) (not the restaurant man) was also one of the greatest lyricists of the period, also with many hits to his credit. His name appears over and over in our collection in such famous works as M-O-T-H-E-R, When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain, Where Do We Go From Here ( Scorch format, featured in the first installment of our three part essay about World War I music) and Freckles.

 

William Tracey wrote or co-wrote a number of big hit songs, including , It's a Shame That We Have to Grow Old with Nat Vincent and Dave Berg in 1917, It's Too Late Now with Albert Von Tilzer in 1914, Naughty! Naughty! Naughty!, also with Nat Vincent and Joe Goodwin in 1916. His most lasting hit was Them There Eyes with Maceo Pinkard and Doris Tauber in 1930 a song made famous by Billie Holliday. In spite of what appears to be a healthy output and at least one huge hit, little else seems to have been documented about Mr. Tracey's life.

 


Hear and see this wartime plea (Scorch format only)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 


 

A Little Bit O' Honey

1917



Music by: Carrie Jacobs-Bond
Lyrics by: W.G. Wilson
Cover artist: Photo, Mrs. Luther Dewent

 

Carrie Jacobs-Bond dedicated this work to Lucille M. Showalter in 1917 and it is quite a different work from our page one coon song, Is Yo'? A work of tender beauty that has nothing but love within in spite of the use of the black dialect used in the lyrics. The cover of this work is one of Bond's finest and is probably one of the most beautiful black themed covers that was published during these years. The cover image, though it looks like a painting, is attributed as a photograph by Mrs. Luther Derwent. It is a wonderfully composed photograph that captures the love and joy of a mother with her child. As for who Lucille Showalter is, we have no clue, perhaps the lady in the photograph? Bond did dedicate many of her works to friends and those she cared for so the dedication is not unusual. The photographer has also eluded us and may have also been a friend rather than a professional studio.

 

As she often does, Bond uses a fairly simple and uncomplicated melody and builds on it with some exceptionally pleasant harmonies. The song, also as with many of hers, is relatively short and conveys the emotion of the moment as established by the lyrics with ease. The thoughts expressed by the lyrics are wonderful if somewhat flawed in their overuse of dialect, but only in the stark light of today's sensibilities. The author, W.G. Wilson is another lost soul from Tin Pan Alley.

 

See our biography on Carrie Jacobs-Bond for much more about her. We've updated the biography recently to include some new information, photos and a list of the songs we've published with links to all midi and scorch versions on our site.

 

Hear this tender and beautiful song (Scorch format)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 



Dear Little Boy Of Mine

1918



Music by: Ernest R. Ball
Lyrics by: J. Keirn Brennan
Cover artist: Unknown

 

Though published in 1918, this song strikes me as one firmly grounded in the tradition, style and harmonies of the 1890's. A quite sentimental ballad, by a song writing team that made their mark by writing sentimental ballads, it is almost anachronistic for the times. Yet, in spite of that, it is a magnificent and mature work from the team that brought us many of the best Irish ballads of the 20th century, many of which are widely known today.

 

This work is dedicated "with the greatest respect to the noblest of all mothers, Mme. Schumann-Heink," definitely a heavy dedication. Ernestine Schumann-Heink was a singer who began singing at age 15 and whom music critics in Europe and the United States hailed as "the world's outstanding contralto." Often characterized as a doting mother (of eight!) she built a huge following and was quite the showperson. For an interesting biography of Mme. Schumann-Heink, see Richard Amero's article; Madame Schumann-Heink: A Legend In Her Time. This song is quite expansive with plenty of decorative features including liberal use of arpeggiated chords. The music is complex and harmonically dense and in keeping perhaps with the dedicatees style, more an art song than a popular song. It is a very emotional and nostalgic inducing song, quite good and certainly a cut above the average. I think you should enjoy it and certainly anyone who has had a child grow and leave the nest will be able to relate to it.

 

Ernest R. Ball (b. July 21, 1878 Cleveland, OH. d. May 3, 1927 Santa Ana, CA)
Ball was precocious in music from the start. He was given music instruction at the Cleveland Conservatory, and as early as age 13 began giving music lessons to others. Today he is noted mostly as one of America's best loved composers of Irish songs and is often called the American Tosti (Francesco Paolo Tosti, 1846-1916, a prolific and talented Italian song composer and teacher.) Though he was famed as a composer of Irish tunes, he wrote many other "mainstream" songs, actually, many more than his "Irish" output.

In 1905, Ball was already in New York City and working as a relief pianist at the Union Square Theater and later worked in Tin Pan Alley at the Whitmark publishing house as a song demonstrator. Ball remained a loyal employee of Whitmark for the rest of his life in spite of his fame. Ball's early attempts at composing were self described as "flops." In 1904 he wrote In The Shadow Of The Pyramids with Cecil Mack. Introduced by the dynamic and popular May Irwin, that song was also a "flop." In 1905 he was given a few verses written by the then state Senator, James J. Walker, who later became famous as Jimmy Walker, Mayor of New York City. He put one of the verse to music, and called it Will You Love Me In December as You Do In May?. It became a national hit. This song caused Ball to reassess his approach and in he later recounted that he realized this song had "come from the heart" where his earlier songs had been fabricated and structured. Ball said, "Then and there I determined I would write honestly and sincerely of the things I knew about and that folks generally knew about and were interested in."

 

From that beginning and from 1907 to 1910, Ball wrote a number of 'mainstream' songs that were moderately successful. But in 1910, a collaboration with Chaucey Olcott, changed his career. In that year, Ball wrote the Irish classic, Mother Machree. Two years later, in 1912 the lyricist of Mother Machree, Rida Johnson Young, joined him again to publish When Irish Eyes Are Smiling and his position as a writer of Irish ballads was cemented forever. He wrote hundreds of songs over his career, many Irish, many not and it is said his output amounted to over 25 million copies of sheet music sold. His last song published was appropriately, Irish, the 1927 hit Rose of Killarney with lyrics by William Davidson.

 

Ball also enjoyed a long career in vaudeville as a singer of his own ballads. During later appearances, he co-starred with his wife, Maude Lambert. In 1927, A few minutes after his act on a Santa Ana, CA vaudeville theater, he suffered a fatal heart attack and died, just 49 years old. Fittingly, he had just performed a medley of his greatest hits as a recap of his great musical accomplishments. On hearing of his death, the great Irish tenor John Mc Cormack said; "Ernie is not dead. He will live forever in his songs."

Ball was buried at Lake View Cemetery Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Ohio, USA.

 

J. Kiern Brennan ( b. 1873, San Francisco, d. 1948, Hollywood) began his musical career as a vaudevillian singer and turned to writing lyrics. His biggest hit was A Little Bit Of Heaven, Sure They Call It Ireland, written for the stage show The Heart Of Paddy Wack in 1914. The music for that song was by Ernest R. Ball and with that start, the two teamed for a long line of songs that were popular and lasting hits. Though Ball did write some songs on his own and a few with other lyricists, Brennan in generally considered to be Ball's chief lyricist. As a youth, Brennan worked as a cowboy and took part in the Klondike gold rush. He worked as a singer in a number of Chicago publishing houses and also wrote a number of stage show scores including White Lilacs (1928), Boom! Boom! (1929) and Luana (1929). In 1929, he focused his efforts on writing songs for Hollywood.

 


Listen to and see this loving song Printable sheet music! (Scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 


He's Got Those Big Blue Eyes Like You Daddy Mine

1918



Music by: Lew Wilson & Al Dubin
Lyrics by: Wilson & Dubin
Cover artist: Unknown Photographer, Goldwyn Pictures

 

Mae Marsh, another star of the silver silent screen and an unknown baby grace this cover of another wartime song that tugs the heartstrings. The cover photo is provided by Goldwyn Pictures but the name of the film is not mentioned. You can see more pictures of Marsh at the same silent movies site at: http://silentladies.com/PMarsh.html. Marsh was born Mary Marsh in 1895 in New Mexico and was also a pioneer of silent movies. She starred in a number of seminal works including the 1915 D.W. Griffiths work, The Birth of A Nation and later in his masterpiece, Intolerance. Griffiths changed her name to Mae in 1912 after she starred in her first film, A Siren of Impulse, as he felt that another Mary (Mary Pickford was emerging as a star) would confuse fans. She continued to star in films until her final appearance in the 1961 John Ford film, Two Rode Together. Mae Marsh died at her home in Hermosa Beach, California, February 13, 1968. The cover photo of this cover could have been from any one of several films from 1917 or 1918. Perhaps a silent film expert can tell us.

 

The song is a typical ballad of the war era, in this case focused on the birth of a son while the soldier father is away in the trenches. The song speaks to his joy at learning of his son's birth via letter and of the contents of the letter. The title is derived from the opening line of the refrain; "He's got those big blue eyes like you, Dad-dy,
The kind of eyes that seem to speak." The refrain goes on to describe how the boy is named after the soldier and other attributes that remind the mother of dad, far away. Of course like most patriotic war songs of the times, the mother states she'd offer the boy up for service to Uncle Sam once he is grown, a common sentiment then but one which is less popular today. Musically the song is very nice, pleasant and melodic but not particularly remarkable, just a good old song.

 

Al Dubin (b. 1891 Zurich, d. 1945 New York, NY) Dubin is considered one of the most important lyricists of the Tin Pan Alley (and beyond) era. His output is described by Kinkle (V. 2, p.839) as astonishing. He collaborated with some of the greatest composers of the period and wrote an also astonishing number of lasting hits.

Dubin's family emigrated to the US in 1893 and settled in Pennsylvania. Dubin was educated at Perkiomen Seminary in Pennsburg, Montgomery County, Pa. Dubin worked as a staff writer for a number of New York publishers and served in World War I. His success is described as moderate till he teamed up with Harry Warren at which point his career skyrocketed. Though he wrote many songs before the 20's, it was after 1920 that he was most productive and successful. He wrote many songs for movies including one large score for the film Stage Door Canteen in 1943. Among his collaborations are Jimmy McHugh, J. Russel Robinson, Joe Burke and Jimmy Monaco. Dubin was a large man and was characterized by his own daughter as a glutton. At one point his weight exceeded 300 lbs. and was also a heavy drinker. It is likely his lifestyle contributed to his untimely death.

 

Some of his many greatest hits are; Tiptoe Through The Tulips With Me, 42nd Street, Shuffle Off To Buffalo, I Only Have Eyes For You, Lullaby of Broadway and Indian Summer. Dubin continued to write songs up to his death at age 53 of pneumonia.

 

Lew Wilson, his partner in this venture has been treated less kindly by history, I'm unable to locate any information about him at this time.

 


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

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 




Lullaby Land

1919



Music by: M. Prival
Lyrics by: Frank Davis
Cover artist: Unsigned, Knapp Lithography

 

Hopefully this month's issue has not put you to sleep, if so, this final song is appropriate as you are in lullaby land. If not, it is still appropriate as the one song that is most associated with children is the ubiquitous lullaby. This particular song is not necessarily a lullaby in and of itself but sings the praises of childhood and is a very beautiful waltz that reminisces of the times when mother held you and sang lullabies to you and the comfort and joy of "lullaby land."

 

The cover of this work is gorgeous and it is a shame that the artists name has not been preserved. Exceptionally colorful and vivid as the lithographed covers were, it stands as one of the best sheet music covers in our collection. The music is terrific too. Written as a duet or solo, the harmonies are pleasant and the melody is simple, smooth and even elegant. The song comes across as a lullaby and the lyrics, coupled with the music truly do take you back to gentler and simpler times. Ah, nostalgia, how painful and lovely it can be at once.

 

Unfortunately, the team of M. Prival and Frank Davis seem to have faded into lullaby land also. I've been unable to locate any information about either of them.

 



Enjoy this great old lullaby song Printable sheet music! (Scorch format only.)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 


That completes our issue of songs about children. Come back next month (August, 2003) for our third installment of songs about or with US State names..

 

A number of sources are used each month to research our features. In most cases websites used and other sources not in our library will be noted and linked to. In text citations refer to resources within our library, see our resources page for a complete bibliography of our own library 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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