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Irving Berlin - Songs of the Young Master, Vol. 1

In keeping with our mission of preseving America's musical heritage, and to make our own small contribution to music's historical record, in 2009, vocalists and published an article entitled "Irving Berlin-Songs of the Young Master". This is Volume 1 of the companion CD that we have re-released and, as with all our music, we have taken great care to bring you the songs in their entirety. This is the first CD that inclues our female vocalist, Debbie Purdue, who has provided her great talent to sing these great old songs for the CD production.

While copies of old vocal recordings are available, they are recordings done in the days of singing into a megaphone. Even with filtering and digital enhancement, the result is still a recording with very limited and compressed sonic range and unclear instrumentation. And, many of the vocal renditions are just lost forever.  Although Irving Berlin penned a complete body of patriotic songs during World War I, this set presents only his popular songs during the period.  We have a special CD of the songs he wrote during the Great War available.  Just go back to the Our CDs page and click on the button for that title


About the Early Berlin Songs on Vol. 1

1. Everybody Step – 1921

Copyrighted October 6, 1921. The finale of Act I, it was introduced by the Brox Sisters. Cited by the distinguished American composer John Alden Carpenter as one of the greatest works of music, the only American composition on a list that also included works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Wagner.


2. Alexander’s Ragtime Band -1911

Copyrighted March 18, 1911. Berlin's first hit song and one of the greatest successes in the annals of American popular music and the song that made Berlin world famous. According to Berlin, "I wrote the song in about 18 minutes in Ted Snyder's publishing house, surrounded on all sides by roaring pianos and roaring vaudeville actors". Originally written as an instrumental piece, it did not fare well. Once Berlin put lyrics to the music, it became an instant hit.


3. A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody - 1919

Copyrighted June 26, 1919. Written for Ziegfeld Follies of 1919. According to Berlin himself "One of the best songs I've ever written was for Flo Ziegfeld who needed a song to show off 5 of his prettiest girls. He had spent a fortune on their costumes and said his accountants would have a fit if there wasn't a song in the show to showcase them".


4. After You Get What You Want You Don't Want It- 1920

Copyrighted April 29, 1920. Another of Berlin's great novelty songs. Popularized by the singing team of Gus Van and Joe Schenk. Sung by Marilyn Monroe in the 1954 movie There's No Business Like Show Business.


5. When I Lost You – 1912

Copyrighted November 8, 1912. This great ballad is believed to be the first song Berlin wrote after the tragic death of his first wife, Dorothy Goetz, in July, 1912 only five months after their wedding. At first, Berlin did not want to write about his own, personal loss, but friends convinced him that it was aid the healing process.


6. All By Myself – 1921

Copyrighted April 27, 1921. Introduced by Charles King at the Palace Theater in New York. Ted Lewis' recording (Columbia) reached #1 and remained there for 4 weeks until displaced by Paul Whiteman's recording (Victor) of Berlin's Say It With Music, a tune featured on our CD The Lost Verses-Songs You Thought You Knew, previously released in 2009


7. When My Baby Smiles – 1919

Copyrighted December 24, 1919. Not to be confused with the song When My Baby Smiles At Me by Ted Lewis


8. Crinoline Days – 1922

Copyrighted November 2, 1922. Introduced by Grace LaRue (the Girl in Crinoline) with the Fairbanks Twins (the White Crinolines). Major recording by Paul Whiteman's orchestra reached number 2 on the charts of 1922


9. That International Rag – 1913

Copyrighted August 12, 1913. Like Alexander's Ragtime Band, this song is not true Ragtime, but captured the craze.  Written in London during the first week of July, 1913. Berlin introduced the song himself in the English musical show  Hello Ragtime.


10. You'd Be Surprised – 1919

Copyrighted October 28, 1919. Introduced in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919 by Eddie Cantor


11. Home Again Blues - 1921

Copyrighted November 24, 1920. Co-written with Harry Akst, who was Berlin's musical secretary from 1919-1921. He needed a musical secretary to actually chart the music because Berlin could neither read nor write music. The leading recording of the day was by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band on Victor records.


12. The Hand That Rocked My Cradle Rules My Heart – 1919

Copyrighted July 18, 1919. Dedicated "To My Mother". This was the first song Berlin published with his newly formed company, Irving Berlin, Inc


13. Homesick – 1922

Copyrighted August 25, 1922. A tune like many songs of the period in which Home was a central theme. The leading recording of the day was by Nora Bayes on Columbia


14. I Love a PIano – 1915

Copyrighted December 10, 1915. Irving Berlin never learned to read or write music. He only played piano in one key and had a specially made piano with a transposing lever. Although he loved a piano, Berlin never learned to play in any key except F-sharp.


15. I Want To Be In Dixie – 1911

Copyrighted January 14, 1912. The music here was written by Ted Snyder, with Berlin as the lyricist. The song was introduced by May Irwin in She Knows Better Now which opened January 15, 1912 at the Plymouth Theatre, Chicago. The show closed out of town. Under the title I Want to Be in Dixie, the song was sung at the Winter Garden, New York, by the Courtenay Sisters in A Night with the Pierrots.


16. Try It On Your Piano – 1910

Copyrighted July 7, 1910. A rather ribald (for the times) novelty song. It is is one of the best musical uses of double entendre we've seen from this period. It is a witty and sexy song, quite extraordinary for 1910. We also see with this song, Berlin's sense of melody and the melding of lyric and music to create memorable and singable songs.


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