This month is our third installment of songs about US States or with US state names. Our first installment in March 2003, covered Alabama through Idaho and the second installment in May 2003 presented songs from Illinois to Mississippi. As in those issues, this issue and the final issue to be published later this year, there is a wide variety of songs about states or with state names. You'll also see that some states had many songs written about them and some had very few. In some cases, we've had to stretch the point a little when we could not find a specific song in our collection or obtain a new one that specifically named the state in the title. This month's stretch was for North Dakota. We were unable to find a song about that fine state so I had to settle for one that represents the "wild west," a great march titled Let 'er Go. Our apologies to Dakotans in advance. If any of you have a better song, send it to me and I'll add it later.
We also want to say again that this series is not about official state songs. Though you may find one or two among all 50, our intent is not to provide a survey of state songs. Rather, we want to use the theme of states to show the variety and style of songs written about states and simply add some enjoyment and fun to our regular features.
Finally, I want to restate that if we've left out your favorite song about your state, we're sorry; that's also not our intent . We also don't want to offend any of you wonderful people with a song that you might not think is representative of your state. It is important that you know that the songs we have selected are not purported to be representative of any attribute, feature or people within the state. Remember, all of these songs were written in some cases over 100 years ago and as such, represent political and social thinking far different from today. So don't get your dander up if you don't like the song we've used for your state, this is entertainment, not social commentary. Again, our intent is not to represent each state, just show the many songs written about states. If any of you have songs you'd like presented, we'd be happy to publish a "listener" feedback" feature on state songs with any rebuttals you care to make. The "rules" for submissions can be found here, we'd love to have submissions by any of our readers, anytime and would enjoy having a "reader submission" or "favorites" feature from time to time. Heck, get involved, help us out and write a feature for us!
Come with us now as we revisit the wonderful music of America's states. As always, this issue is on two separate pages so don't miss page two of this issue.
Music by: Alfred Solman
Lyrics by: Will D. Cobb
Cover artist: Unknown
A number of songs about Missouri seem to use the state's "show me" theme as a basis for their lyrics. In 2000, we published the 1902 song I'm From Missouri (And You Gotter Show Me) (MIDI) and now, this song that has a young lady just waiting to be shown. Shown what? Well, shown that a certain boy loves her and will end his "rover days" of course! Billed as "The Great Show-Me Ballad", this song has a beautifully melodic verse section that leads into a completely different march style chorus. Most of the music from this era has little to no guidance and markings related to dynamics and I found this work to be uncharacteristically prolific in that regard. The composer obviously was trying to use dynamics to emphasize the song's lyrical points and uses plenty of markings to do so. They even used an anvil effect at the end of the chorus to illustrate the letter writer's vocation. This is a quite good song from a pair of talented writers.
The Missouri territory was much larger than the state that was admitted to the Union in 1821. Known as the "Show Me" state, the term is said to have originated in 1899 when Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver stated, "I'm from Missouri and you've got to show me." The state animal is a mule which seems to go well with the "show me" theme. A state of contrasts between wilderness and cosmopolitan sophistication, Missouri offers a great deal of variety to her residents and visitors. Her largest city St. Louis; is also called, "The Gateway to the West" and "Home of the Blues" although those of us from Memphis would argue the blues issue vigorously. Her state bird is the Bluebird and the state tree, the beautiful flowering dogwood. The state song is the beautiful Missouri Waltz (Scorch format) The state website can be found at: http://www.state.mo.us/
Alfred Solman (1868 - 1937) Was one of Tin Pan Alley's more prolific lyricists who collaborated with a number of composers. In spite of his output, little biographical information is available for him. His most successful work is probably his 1916 song, There's a Quaker Down in Quaker Town. Other works from his pen include; The Bird On Nellie's Hat, 1906; Why Did You Make Me Care, 1912; In the Sweet Long Ago, 1916; The Heart You Lost in Maryland, You'll Find in Tennessee, 1907; My Lonely Lola Lo (In Hawaii), 1916 and In the Valley of the Moon, 1913.
Will D. Cobb (1876 - 1930) Cobb, a Philadelphia native was educated at Girard College there. He was a department store salesman who wrote song lyrics on the side. One of his earliest works was Goodbye Dolly Gray with Paul Barnes in 1897. His career really took flight when he met Gus Edwards and they began collaborating on songs. Their greatest hit is probably School Days (scorch format) in 1906 but they had many other hit songs as a team. Cobb also collaborated with other important composers of the period. Cobb died in New York City in 1930.
Hear this great Missouri song Printable sheet music (scorch format only)
Admitted to the Union as the 41 st state on Nov. 8, 1889, Montana is known as "The Big Sky" country, no doubt due to the vastness and unpopulated nature of the state. Montana's four largest industries are agriculture, which includes both crops and livestock; travel and tourism; timber, and mining. Her leading agricultural commodities are cattle and calves, wheat, barley, dairy products, sugar beets, hay, hogs, sheep and lambs. The mining industry includes coal production, petroleum, precious metals and natural gas. Sparsely populated, Montana claims on it's site that there are more animals than people in the state. Montana's symbols represent the plant, animal and mineral specimens that distinguish Montana. They are the western meadowlark (bird); bitterroot (flower); ponderosa pine (tree); agate and sapphire (gem stones); bluebunch wheatgrass (grass); cutthroat trout (fish); grizzly bear (animal); and Maiasaura, or duck-billed dinosaur (fossil), Treasure State (nickname) and 'Oro y Plata', Spanish for gold and silver (motto). The official state song, "Montana," has an interesting story behind it which you can read at the state site kids page about the song.
This song is a delightful, novelty song by one of early Tin Pan Alley's best women composers. The song portrays the independence of Western women and their attraction as well. In spite of her wild west image, Anna still ends up bound by traditional roles of the times and it is implied she may be corralled before all is done. With a very upbeat melody and terrific lyrics, this song deserves continued exposure.
Luella Lockwood Moore (Born 1864, Pontiac, MI; died November 1927, Detroit). Usually referred to as Mrs. Luella Lockwood Moore in the press, this highly respected Michigan composer was the daughter of Timothy Lockwood, a popular music composer of the Civil War era. Her Nov. 21, 1927 obituary said that she "never received any conventional music education, but as a child she played in the churches of Pontiac after learning the hymns by ear from her mother." In 1915 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra presented Moore's orchestral suite, "My Lady's Boudoir," at one of their Wednesday night programs. Moore was the first Detroit composer ever to be so honored. By then she had several popular instrumentals and ballads to her credit.
Her father was a contemporary of Stephen Foster; composed approximately 55 songs and piano pieces, taught music and was a partner in a music business in Pontiac, MI before dying in 1870 at the age of 35. His wife, Luella's mother, also a musician, supported the family by teaching large music classes and putting on musical extravaganzas. Luella and her brother LeBaron sang in these musicals from the age of five to their upper teens.
A somber, almost malevolent Al Jolson graces the cover of this song and his look makes one wonder what cataclysm might have made the writer want to leave town and go home. I'm sure Jolson's photographer did not intend this picture to be so sinister but the somber colors and the dark shadows around the eyes make for perhaps the least flattering Jolson image published on sheet music. The song actually does not reflect such a mood. A very upbeat song with a jaunty tune, the song tells the tale of a happy man heading back to "wild and woolly" Nebraska to see his friends and marry his sweetheart. This song is a great tribute to Nebraska as well as one that clearly is a Jolson style song that would showcase his talents.
Called the Cornhusker State and whose name is based on an Oto Indian word that means "flat water," referring to the Platte River, Nebraska gained admission to the Union on March 1, 1867 as the 37th state. With a state bird the Western Meadowlark, and a state flower the Goldenrod, Nebraska emphasizes its unique natural resources and heritage. The official song for the state of Nebraska is Beautiful Nebraska (50states.com) with music by Jim Fras and words by Jim Fras and Guy G. Miller. You can learn much more about Iowa at their website at http://www.state.ne.us/ .
Bert Rule & Ray Sherwood seem to be temporarily lost to us.
A search of my library as well as the internet returns but this one song
by Rule and a very few other songs with lyrics by Sherwood including Hawaiian
Slumbertime (1922) with music by Carl Vandersloot and Hawaiian
Twilight (1920) also with Vandersloot.
Music by: Archie Gottler
Words by: Edgar Leslie
Cover artist: "EDL"
Nevada was granted statehood on Oct. 31, 1864 becoming the 36th state in the US. A vast state, 7th in area with a wide variety of topography and climates, she boasts beautiful mountains as well as desert beauty. Named for the Sierra Nevada range; in Spanish, Nevada means "snow," or "snowy," while sierra means "mountains." Like many states, she has a number of nicknames including: Sage State, Sagebrush State, Silver State, Battle Born State (for her emergence as a state during the Civil War). Lincoln needed the gold and silver to keep the Union solvent during the Civil War so on October 31, 1864 Lincoln made Nevada a state although it did not contain enough people to constitutionally authorize statehood. Her motto, "All For Our Country" shows her devotion to the Union and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. Among her other symbols are the state flower the Sagebrush, the state bird the Mountain Bluebird, and the state animal the American Buffalo or Bison. Nevada's state song is Home Means Nevada words and music by Bertha Raffetto. Nevada's state flag is lovely, but it is her state seal that is among the most beautiful of all the states. Adopted February 24, 1886. A gold seal is embossed with the words, "The Great Seal of the State of Nevada" around the outer edge. Within this is a composite picture showing the mining, agriculture, industry, and scenery of Nevada, under which is a scroll with the state motto, "All for Our Country. For more great information about Nevada, visit their state web site at http://www.state.nv.us/ .
Nicknamed the Silver State, and with a state metal of silver, it seems that the songwriters here were confused about which mineral was predominant. Nevada was, after all, the site of the Comstock lode at Virginia City (isn't that near Hoss' home, the Ponderosa?), the largest silver deposit in history. However, we can forgive them as Nevada is also rich in gold as well as other minerals. The cover carries a photo of Sonia Baraban and Charles Grohs, a popular dance couple from the era. Though it was common to find performer's photos and endorsements on sheet music, the connection to a dance couple is hard to make unless one looks at the music more as a fox trot than a song. This song was written only a year after the fox trot was introduced, and it is said that these two introduced some of the earliest fox trots so it would appear the publishers were cashing in on the fad and the pair's fame. Regardless, it is a great song, well composed by one of Tin Pan Alleys best and has a wonderful lyric line. The chorus is especially beautiful, I think you'll enjoy it.
Archie Gottler (1896 - 1959) is perhaps most famous for his patriotic song America I Love You, (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 ColonelWith 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 is considered one of the pioneers in sound movies and even directed films as well as composed. 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 WWII as a producer of training films. Among his Broadway scores was the Zeigfeld Follies of 1918 and Good Boy in 1928. His movie scores include Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 and Happy Days in 1930.
Edgar Leslie ( b. Dec. 31, 1885 Stamford,
CT., d. 1976)
New Hampshire was one state that I expected to have some difficulty in covering with a song but I was fortunate to run across several. Among them is this classic song by one of Tin Pan Alley's greatest song writing teams. Written when both were very early in their careers, Sterling was only 24 and Von Tilzer, 26, the song nonetheless shows how quickly their sophistication and talent came through. This song in fact, was Von Tilzer's first real hit (see his biography below for details.) It is a beautiful ballad that like many of it's time, speaks to home and family and loved ones left behind. What puzzles me is why Von Tilzer and Sterling chose New Hampshire as a subject. Neither were from New Hampshire and it is unlikely that Von Tilzer had been there by 1898. Maybe one of them had visited there and been charmed by its beauty. Who cares, it's a lovely song.
One of America's earliest states, New Hampshire joined the Union as the 9th state (and 9th of the original 13 colonies) June 21, 1788 . Her state bird is the Purple Finch, flower the Purple lilac and her state motto is the famous, "Live free or die." Known as the Granite State, New Hampshire is known for its dairy products, nursery stock, cattle, apples, eggs and boasts industry in machinery, electric equipment, rubber and plastic products. A beautiful state with great areas of wilderness and rolling hills and mountains, she is also a mecca for tourism. Her attractions include fishing, hunting, skiing, boating and many hiking trails and camping opportunities. The New Hampshire state song is Old New Hampshire with words by Dr. John F. Holmes and music by Maurice Hoffmann For more information, visit the state site at http://www.state.nh.us/.
Harry Von Tilzer (b. July 8, 1872, Detroit, MI, d. Jan. 10. 1946, New York, NY nee: Harry Gumm.) Harry, one of five children, was to find a career in music as did his younger brother Albert. When still a child, his family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where his father acquired a shoe store. A theatrical company gave performances in the loft above the store, and that's where Harry learned to love show business. His career really started in 1886 when, at age 14, he ran away from home and joined the Cole Brothers Circus. By 1887, he was playing piano, composing songs, and acting in a traveling repertory company. He changed his name at that time. His mother's maiden name was Tilzer, and he 'gussied' it up by adding the 'Von'. Thereafter he would be called Harry Von Tilzer, and later his younger brother Albert would adopt the name also. Harry met Lottie Gilson when the burlesque troupe with which he was working reached Chicago. The popular vaudevillian took an interest, and induced him to go to New York. In 1892, Harry, working as a groom on a trainload of horses, arrived in New York, with just $1.65 in his pocket. He rented a room near the Brooklyn Bridge and became a $15.00 per week saloon pianist. He left New York briefly to work in a traveling medicine show, but returned to again work in saloons and later as a vaudevillian in a 'Dutch' act with George Sidney. At this time, Harry was writing songs, literally hundreds of songs that were never published. He would sell them outright to other entertainers for $2.00 each. But the tide was about to turn for Harry. One of his songs was published, My Old New Hampshire Home, lyric by Andrew B. Sterling. William C. Dunn, owner of a small print shop, purchased it outright for $15.00, and issued it in 1898. It was a hit that sold more than 2 million copies. In 1899, three more of Von Tilzer's songs were published: I'd Leave My Happy Home for You, lyric by Will A. Heelan I Wonder If She's Waiting, lyric by Andrew B. Sterling Where The Sweet Magnolias Grow. The success of My Old New Hampshire Home prompted Maurice Shapiro of Shapiro-Bernstein Music Publishers to make Von Tilzer a partner, and the firm was renamed 'Shapiro, Bernstein and Von Tilzer'. Harry then wrote his next big hit in 1900, A Bird In A Gilded Cage (Sibelius scorch format). In 1902, Von Tilzer quit the partnership and formed his own firm 'Harry Von Tilzer Music Company'.
Andrew B. Sterling (b. 1874, New York City, d. 1955, Stamford, CT) is perhaps one of the greatest American popular song writers from the period. His most lasting partnership was with the great Harry Von Tilzer but he wrote numerous songs in collaboration with other composers such as Lange. Lange was a successful song composer for many years and went on to write motion picture scores culminating in his Oscar nominations in 1943 and 1944 for his songs The Woman in the Window and Casanova Brown.
Enjoy this classic New Hampshire song Printable score! (Scorch format)
The third of the original 13 colonies, New Jersey became our third state
on Dec. 18, 1787. The birthplace of my mother (Freehold, 1913), New Jersey
is often judged based on the area proximate to New York yet there is so
much more to the state that may surprise many people who have never been
there. Topographically diverse, her Appalachian valley in the northwest
has the highest elevations comprised of flat topped mountain ranges. She
has low plains with ridges (no, not like Ruffles) and a coastal plain
that covers nearly two thirds of the state in the southeast. Surprisingly
rural, sparsely populated and wooded in areas, she offers a great deal
of beauty and recreational opportunities for the outdoors oriented visitor.
I suppose were I from new Jersey, I might find this song a bit off putting. A novelty song in every sense, it does make New Jersey the butt of a joke, yet does so with good nature. One of the things we seem to have lost over the last few decades is the ability to laugh at ourselves. Everyone seems to take offense to everything and our collective sense of humor has gone the way of many other things that used to make the country what it was. Regardless of my opinions about that, the song is another of Norworth's best. With a great melody and very funny lyrics, Norworth has managed to capture the essence of the (unfair) opinions of New Jersey that abounded then and even continue to this day. The melody is a catchy tune that carries the novelty mood of the song. The words are a bit cutting but through them, you can see his real admiration for the state. A good natured rib and pot shot comes across less offending than you might think. Of course all you New Jerseyites might disagree but I hope you can still enjoy the song as a great song from the history of American popular music..
Norworth ( 1879, Philadelphia - d. 1959, Laguna Beach, Ca.) Norworth
was a famed vaudevillian who also composed and wrote songs as well as
Broadway musicals. Norworth was married to the great Nora Bayes, also
a songwriter and with her wrote one of Tin Pan Alley's greatest hits,
Shine On Harvest Moon (MIDI).
Norworth performed in a variety of modes including blackface as a minstrel
and even at sea with Nora. He starred in a number of Broadway shows (again,
with Bayes) including; The Jolly Bachelors (1909), Little Miss
Fix-It (1911) and Roly Poly (1912). Norworth collaborated with
other famed songwriters and wrote the words to baseball's greatest hit,
Take Me Out To The Ball Game in 1908. Other Norworth compositions include;
I'm Sorry, Honey Boy, Smarty and Way Down In Cuba. He collaborated with
Von Tilzer in writing the Broadway show Odds And Ends of 1917. The 1944
film, Shine On Harvest Moon portrayed the life of Bayes and Norworth and
starred Ann Sheridan and Dennis Morgan in the title roles.
Listen to this great old song (scorch format)
New Mexico joined the Union on Jan. 6, 1912 as the 47th state. New Mexico brought to the Union a strong Native American influence as well as its more recent Spanish heritage. Her flag is reflective of that heritage in that the yellow field and red symbol colors are the colors of Spain. Also:
on New Mexico's flag we see a red sun with rays stretching out from it. There are four groups of rays with four rays in each group. This is an ancient sun symbol of a Native American people called the Zia. The Zia believed that the giver of all good gave them gifts in groups of four. These gifts are: The four directions - north, east, south and west. The four seasons - spring, summer, fall and winter. The day - sunrise, noon, evening and night. Life itself - childhood, youth, middle years and old age. All of these are bound by a circle of life and love, without a beginning or end. (from 50states.com)
Nicknamed the Land of Enchantment, with a state flower of the Yucca and a state bird of the Roadrunner (Beep-Beep) her symbols are reflective of her resources and heritage. Her primary industries are surprisingly diverse and include; cattle, dairy products, hay, nursery stock, chilies, electric equipment, petroleum, coal products, food processing, printing and publishing, stone, glass, clay products and of course tourism. The state song is O, Fair New Mexico, words and music by Elizabeth Garrett (link to 50states.com, New Mexico state song) Written by Doralice Fontane and composed by Dr. John Croom. Learn more about this great state's history at the official New Mexico website at http://www.state.nm.us/.
This song is one that has endured for a century and probably will for many more years. Written for the musical Nancy Brown in the same year, it was popularized by the star of that show, Marie Cahill who is pictured on the cover. Cahill was born in 1870 and was a very popular singer and comedienne. Said to have a "ready Irish wit" (Kinkle, V. 2, p. 662) she starred in a number of Broadway musicals. Her career started at the tender age of 16 and extended to her final performance at age 60 in the 1930 production, The New Yorkers. Though she starred in several shows prior to 1900, her widespread fame did not come till she popularized some songs from a 1902 show, Sally In Our Alley (song, Under the Bamboo Tree) and the 1903, The Wild Rose ( song, Nancy Brown). The popularity of Nancy Brown then spawned the musical of the same name where Navajo appeared. The song has that "Indian" stereotypical sound often used during those times which we saw in our essay on Native American music, bears no resemblance to true American Indian music. It is a pleasant tune and lyrically, it is more a coon song than anything else. It uses stereotypes to depict both the Navajo maiden and an African American.
Egbert Van Alstyne (b. Chicago, Ill 1882 - d. Chicago, 1951) A musical prodigy, he played the organ at the Methodist Church in Marengo, Illinois when only seven! Schooled in the public school system in Chicago and at Cornell College in Iowa, he won a scholarship to the Chicago Musical College. After graduation, he toured as a pianist and director of stage shows and performed in vaudeville. In 1902 he went to New York and worked as a staff pianist for a publisher in Tin Pan Alley and began to devote himself to writing songs teamed with Harry Williams as his lyricist. The teams first success came in 1903 with this song, Navajo, one of the earliest commercial songs to exploit Indian themes. They wrote two more "Indian Songs"; Cheyenne in 1906 and San Antonio in 1907. In 1905 they produced one of the greatest songs of that early decade, In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree which sold several million copies. For several years, the team cranked out hit after hit and music for two Broadway musicals, A Broken Doll in 1909 and Girlies in 1910.
Listen to this great old song (scorch format)
Most of the state facts featured this month were taken from each of the state web sites cited for each featured song. As well, the terrific US States information site, 50states.com was used to find additional facts about the states. See our resources page for a complete bibliography of all other resources used to research this and other articles in our series.