Growing Old and Aging

Music From Cradle To Grave

Adapted from the September 1915 edition of The Etude Magazine

Of all the forms of art that intellect has conceived to beautify and bless our lives, to help us to forget and forgive the trials and tribulations of existence, from the earliest emergence of awareness to the last failing perception, none is so intimately associated with our every experience, as music. Music is well named the universal language, not only because it is understood and felt in every land, by every race, but also because it voices and influences the universal experiences of all humanity. None is the such close touch with every phase of life's ebb and flow, of emotions, dreams, hopes, and fears as music.


To enjoy the full musical experience, we recommend that you get the Scorch plug in from our friends at Sibelius software. The Scorch player allows you to not only listen to the music but to view the sheet music as the music plays and see the lyrics as well. Each month we also allow printing of some of the sheet music featured so for those of you who play the piano (or other instruments) you'll be able to play the music yourself. It's a complete musical experience! Get the Sibelius Scorch player now.

Richard G Beil, March 2012. This article published March 2012 and is Copyright © 2012 by Richard G. Beil and The Parlor Songs Academy. Text, images or music may not be reproduced in part or in total without express written permission of the author..

Bring Back Those Wonderful Days


Music by: Nat Vincent
Lyrics by: Darl MacBoyle
Cover artist: De Takacs

This is the song that started it all. No, not American popular music, but Parlor Songs. Those who have been with us for many years will recall that the original site was inspired by The Forward Collection, Rick's early hobby site, based on a collection of music given to him by his parents. Back in 1996 the very first piece of music that Rick scanned was this tune. Since then, we've grown to over 1,400 songs that have been scanned, athough there are many that have yet to be featured in an article.

As we get older we long for the things that gave us comfort when we where young. In 1919, after 4 long years of horror, World War I was finally over. Prohibition was coming, the Roaring Twenties are about to start and, although no one knew it, the Great Depression is just around the corner.

Longing for days gone by is a theme that permeates the history of song to this day. Who doesn't feel the pain and angst of the words of Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkin?


Hear the song that started it all.(scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version





Slumber My Darling


Words and Music by: Stephen Foster

Long before a baby can understand spoken language, it perceives and responds to the soothing influence of the lullaby, softly crooned by mother or nurse. The child feels the heavy, protective love expressed in these sweet tones. It is quieted by the gentle magic of the soft refrain. This is its first introduction to any form of art - the cradle song. The cradle song is probably the oldest and most widely known and used of all musical forms. The character and moods are always the same and the uniform keynote is maternal love. The lyrics and melody of this lovely tune by Stephen Foster exemplify this song style.

Hear this singable song ( Scorch format, be patient, long load time, printable)

listen to MIDI version



In the Little Red School House



Words and Music by: James Brennan and Al Wilson

As the child grows, it finds the natural expression of exuberant spirit in the strongly marked rhythms and lively swinging melodies of the simpler forms of music. They whistle or sing at play or as they go hopping and skipping off to school. Upon entering school for the first time, children are filled with a sense of wonder and pride at having finally achieved a "milestone". After a few years, that initial feeling begins to wear off. We can all remember telling our parents at some point, "I'll sure be glad when I'm grown up and don't have to go to school any more". And, the universal reply went something like, "Just you wait. There'll come a day when you'll wish you were back in school, with no worries and no bills to pay". Here's a lively tune that captures that feeling.

This video contains the "patter" chorus that describes an incident to which all of us can relate from our own school days.

Hear and see the score to this song ( Scorch format, printable, be patient for images to load)

Listen to MIDI version






Words and Music by: J.R. Shannon

Who can forget the closing scene of Going My Way (Paramount, 1944), in which Father O'Malley (Bing Crosby) has brought from Ireland the 90 year old mother of Father Fitzgibbons (Barry Fitzgerald), who he hasn't seen in 45 years. The new church organ starts to play, the boys choir begins to sing, and there's not a dry eye in the house. This one's just GOT to be a genuine Irish song, right? WRONG! This is another example of a composer using a pseudonym to make a song more sellable. In this case, Shannon's real name was James Royce, which is the old English form of the name Rice. Other songs by Shannon were Just An Old Sweetheart of Mine(1912) and Blue Rose (1917). But, it makes absolutely no difference. This song will always be thought of as a true Irish tune, and with good reason.

The vocal track on this video clip features our resident male vocalist, Rich Beil, singing all the voice parts.

Listen to and view this song ( Requires the Scorch plug-in, be patient, sometimes a long load time due to graphics)

Listen to MIDI version


When The Moon Shines In Ireland



Music by: Bert Peters

Words by: Marvin Lee

Here's a tune that can't be found listed on any Irish song site, but should be. The melody lends itself to harmony and, if sung as a ballad, rather than at the original tempo, would make a great pub sing-a-long. Little is known about Peters. There are only 2 other titles that can be found which show him as composer, Morning, Cy (1907) and The Clock of Life (1909). He was also an arranger, teaming with Gertrude Lincoff in 1930 on Drifting and with Billy Baskette in 1932 on Same Old Moon. Marvin Lee seems to be just as obscure as Peters. We do know he wrote both words and music to the 1917 song Livery Stable Blues which is distinguished by having been recorded by the Original Dixieland Band and W.C. Handy's Orchestra. That song was briefly revived in 1938 by Bunny Berigan and his band.

Listen to and view an old song that resonates today ( Requires the Scorch plug-in, be patient, sometimes a long load time due to graphics)

Listen to MIDI version




Music by: James A. Butterfield

Lyrics by: George Washington Johnson


We end our St. Patrick's Day salute with another song that makes the list on every Irish song site. But, like Kathleen, it never mentions Ireland, wasn't written by an Irish composer, and wasn't written in Ireland. Coincidentally, this one was also written by a school teacher. Seeing the name of composer and lyricist, one immediately pictures them together at the piano working out the tune and words. However, like America The Beautiful, this song began as a poem, with music added later.

George Washington Johnson was born in 1839 near Toronto, Canada. At age 20, he became a school teacher in Hamilton, Ontario, where he fell in love with Margaret "Maggie" Clark, one of his pupils. It turns out that Maggie was suffering from tuberculosis, although it's unclear whether they knew of the illness before or after they were married in 1864. In any event, during one particularly harsh period of her illness, Johnson walked to the edge of the Niagara escarpment, overlooking what is now downtown Hamilton. There, he penned a poem to her that was first published in 1864 in his book of poetry titled Maple Leaves. Maggie died on May 12, 1865 at the age of 23, less than a year after their marriage.

James Austin Butterfield was born in England in 1837 and immigrated to the United States in 1856, first coming to Chicago where he taught violin and singing. He later established the music house of J.A. Butterfield & Co. in Indianapolis, where he issued The Musical Visitor, the first musical journal published in Indiana. It's unclear exactly how Johnson's poem came to Butterfield's attention, but in late 1865, he put music to it and it was published in 1866.

Johnson died in 1917. In 2005, he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1878, Butterfield became the second president of the Music Teachers National Association. He died in 1891. The schoolhouse where the two lovers met still stands on the escarpment above Hamilton, and a plaque bearing the name of the song has been erected in front of the old building.

Listen to this song of lover's lament ( Scorch plug-in, printable, be patient, long load due to graphics)

Listen to MIDI version



Thanks for visiting us and be sure to come back again later to see our next issue or just to read some or all of our over 130 articles about America's music. 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'd like to contribute an article to us at Parlor Songs, we'd love to have your help and contribution. 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!