Parlor Songs in search of popular American Song


Parlor Songs Favorites

Rich BeilOver the years, the requests for sheet music reproductions, as well as music files, has been far reaching. However, there are songs which seem to be the most popular with you, our visitors. Originally released as instrumentals only, this is a re-release of a compilation of the most requested songs. We have added vocal tracks to every song for which lyrics were originally written. This CD comes in CD-extra format and includes PDF versions of each of the scores. Should you choose to purchase in MP3 format, we will still provide you with a file of those scores. Simply email us with a copy of your PayPal receipt

About Our Parlor Songs Favorites

1. America, I Love You (m. Archie Gottlier, w. Edgar Leslie-1915)

Inspired by an early spirit of pro-war enthusiasm, Americans eagerly accepted patriotic messages portrayed in songs, allowing them to serve as strong vehicles for propaganda. Anti-war messages were replaced with songs such as I Did Not Raise My Boy to Be a Coward and I'd Be Proud to Be the Mother of a Soldier Americans heard, responded enthusiastically to, and sang this tune. The song appeared in the 1940 Tin Pan Alley in it's original form and it emerged again early in the Second World War, featured in a 1942 Castle soundie short. The 1942 version was done in the jazzy style of the early 40's and is nowhere nearly as inspiring. This was one of the most popular songs of its day. Here, Rich and Debbie are joined by two additional vocalists, Peggy Wooden of Anderson, Missouri and Phyllis Lippay of Coal Township, Pennsylvania. Our thanks to those two wonderful singers for participating in this project

2. I Love You Truly (w/m Carrie Jacobs-Bond- 1901)

As we pointed out in our Carrie Jacob Bond biography, at this point in her life, Bond had lost everything. She was suffering from debilitating rheumatism and was sometimes incapacitated for months. But she kept writing songs. Fortunately, Mr. Victor Sincere heard this song and was very impressed by it. This led to her work being heard by Jessie Bartlet Davis of the Boston Opera Company, who arranged to have Bond's work published. This was her first big hit and is perhaps the most beautiful love song ever written.

3. K-K-K Katy (w/m Geoffrey O'Hara-1918

Another of the very memorable songs of the Great War, but one whose verses are largely forgotten. Canadian-born Geoffrey O'Hara was a multi-talented musician who, during the course of his life, was a songwriter, composer, singer, teacher, lecturer, army singing instructor, ethnomusicologist, pianist and guild organizer. His lengthy career began in the first decade of the 1900s with minstrelsy, vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley, and he continued to entertain audiences and arrange music as late as the 1960s. There are conflicting stories of how K-K-K-Katy came to be written. O'Hara himself, writing in Maclean's magazine in 1921, said he wrote the melody while stationed at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, teaching the American troops patriotic songs. However, the family of the Katy of the song's title (Katherine Craig Richardson) remembers it as being written in their living room in Kingston, Ontario, in 1917, and indeed this version of events is the best known. Katy was a friend of O'Hara's sister and O'Hara was particularly fond of her even after she married. Yet another version of events has O'Hara writing the song while visiting his grandfather in Kingston. In any case, K-K-K-Katy became an instant wartime hit and one that is still associated with Kingston. It was especially popular with American, Canadian and British servicemen and their families, so much so that the sheet music sold over one million copies.

4. After The Ball (w/m Charles K. Harris-1892)

This song set the stage for the modern era of popular songs about sadness. It captured the imagination of the American public, and that of the rest of the world too, with this sad story of a man who mistakes a brother's kiss for that of another suitor for his lover. He rejects her and never sees her again without taking the time to confront her and determine the true situation. The result is a lifetime of lost love, only to find upon her death that it was really her brother who had kissed her all those years ago. One of the pre-eminent "story songs" of all time, it is considered to be the watershed song that started the popular song industry.

5. The Chariot Race or The Ben-Hur March (E.T. Paull-1894)

Many of Paull's works were arrangements of other composer's work. This is one of his own, original songs. When we think of Ben Hur, the 1959 movie of the same name starring Charleton Heston, we immediately think of the chariot race. The original story was written by former Civil War General Lew Wallace. When published in 1899, it was an immediate hit. The story was first made into a movie way back in 1907. It was remade in 1925 with the title Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It starred Ramon Novarro as Judah Ben Hur and the great Francis X. Bushman as Messala. The 1925 version has a chariot race scene that rivals the one in 1959. This song evokes the excitement, tragedy, and victory of that race.

6. In the Baggage Coach Ahead (w/m Gussie Davis-1896)

According to Davis' biography, "When Mr. Davis was a railroad porter, he found a young child crying. The child's mother was in the car ahead, in a coffin. A fellow porter, moved by the tale, wrote a poem about it". The article went on to say that it was years later when Mr. Davis put the poem to music and sold it to music publisher Howley, Haviland, and Dresser. The song was his biggest hit.

7. A Perfect Day (w/m Carrie Jacobs-Bond-1910)

This work may be Carrie Jacobs-Bond's most famous and lasting work despite the success of I Love You Truly, which has probably been sung at 99% of the weddings in America since it was written. This song cemented Bond's place in music history and became, in most respects her "theme song". Almost every article in contemporary magazines and newspapers cite this title in the same breath as Bond's name. The song was written at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, now a National Historic Landmark. The Inn still features a "Carrie Jacobs-Bond room", said to be the very room in which she was staying when this song was written. It was her biggest hit, selling over 5 million copies and catapaulting CJB into super-star status as a songwriter.

8. When Yankee Doodle Learns To Parlez-vous Francais (m. Will Hart, w. Ed Nelson-1917)

One of the greatest novelty songs to ever come out of the First World War is this lilting and gay song about the difficulties and ultimate benefits of learning the French language. The music and lyrics to this song are absolutely perfect. The music, in a military quick time march style combines familiar melodies (Yankee Doodle) with new ones to create an outstandingly memorable melody; the kind that sticks in your head and just won't go away! The lyrics are humorous and fit the melody so well we can't imagine that two minds created the lyrics and melody rather than one. Sometimes a song writing team strikes gold and Nelson and Hart absolutely did so with this one.

9. M-O-T-H-E-R (m. Theodore Morse, w. Howard Johnson-1915)

The one song that defines the "Mother songs" genre. It is the song that most epitomizes the sentiments relating to mothers. Sung practically non-stop since it was written, it has also sometimes been identified as an Irish song through the great performances of some of the world's most prominent Irish tenors. Most versions of the song from the period carry the subtitle "Eva Tanguay's Great Mother Song", as can been seen her on the cover. Obviously, Miss Tanguay introduced the song and made it famous. This cover is inscribed with a dedication by Miss Tanguay to her mother. Known as the "I Don't Care" girl, Eva Tanguay (1878-1947) was one of the silent era's hottest stars. She began her career as a vaudeville entertainer and was a headliner of the caliber of Nora Bayes and W. C. Fields. There was a movie made about her life titled The I Don't Care Girl, starring Mitzi Gaynor, Oscar Levant, and David Wayne.

10. Red Wing (m. Kerry Mills, w. Thurland Chattaway-1907)

Featured in our 2000 article Cowboys and Indians, this is one of the most colorful and gorgeous covers ever created. In some respects, it is also one of the most inaccurate depictions of an American Indian, yet typical of the period. Imagine, if you will, an Indian woman in a war bonnet, complete with full makeup, eye shadow, rouge, and lipstick. Not very historically accurate, but beautiful nonetheless.

11. The Robin's Departure (Leander Fisher-1876)

Fisher was quite prolific in composing a number of fine works that are in the British library. It seems he favored birds as theme material. Along with the song that completes this CD, The Robin's Return, Fisher has created a pair of artistic works more in the vein of classical piano than popular song.

12.Silver Bell (m. Percy Wenrich, w. Edward Madden-1910)

One of Wenrich's bigger hits. Musically, this may be the best of the lot and it is certainly a good example of Wenrich's talent. You may notice a little hint of the ragtime style or swing in the tune. This cover is perhaps the most beautiful of the "noble savage" variety produced in that era.

13. Stay In Your Own Backyard (m. Lyn Udall, w. Karl Kennett-1899

From our Racism and Prejudice in Music article in August 1999, this song expresses an unfortunate sentiment that prevailed during the times. The idea of staying in one's own backyard was nothing more than a thinly veiled desire to not mix races and cultures. Rather than a person from the white majority stating the case, the song is written from the perspective of a black mother who lectures her children on the need "stay in your own back yard". Sung beautifully by guest vocalist, Peggy Wooden

14. The Black Hawk Waltz ( Mary E. Walsh-1897)

Based on the story of Chief Black Hawk (1767-1838) and the Black Hawk war of 1832. That war, by the way, was the only military combat experience of Abraham Lincoln. For a more complete history, see our Dec. 1997 article. Of all the works we've published over the years, none other has generated the interest or sales of reproductions that this most famous 19th century waltz has. We continually receive requests for copies or just letters from people telling us how meaningful the work was to them, their parents or grandparents.

15. The Yankee Doodle Boy (w/m George M. Cohan-1904)

From Little Johnny Jones in 1904,the title of this one is most often thought of as Yankee Doodle Dandy, since it was sung by James Cagney portraying Cohan in the movie of that name. This piece stirred up mixed reactions from many critics and theatregoers. In spite of recent successes in the Spanish American War, the people were not used to this blatantly ostentatious display of unbounded patriotism. Many came initially just to see what all the fuss was about. By the end of the Great War, some fourteen years later, this song along with You're a Grand Old Flag, written in 1906, saw a fervent revival

16. Til We Meet Again (m. Richard Whiting, w. Raymond Egan-1918

Perhaps the first point at which reality began to set in about the war was at that point when it was time to say good-bye. At this point all the bravado is of no service. Soldiers, families and sweethearts must now look themselves square in the eye and face the prospect of never seeing each other again. Song after song was written about this aspect of the war but perhaps none so poignant and touching as this one. This song has survived as one of the greatest classics of all time. It became the generic "good-bye" song for any situation; war, graduation, off to school, you name it. If it was good-bye to someone special, this was THE song to sing. The words are touching and the melody is completely unforgettable. A duet between Rich and Debbie, this is perhaps the most beautiful ballad written during the war and certainly the most beautiful on this disc. Most recognizable by the chorus, like all songs done by Rich, we have included both verses. The beautiful accompaniment was arranged and performed by Rich.

17. The Robin's Return (Leander Fisher-1876)

No other piece in our collection has received more comments, inquiries and sales of sheet music than this work. It was a staple for piano teachers for many decades and many of the writers we hear from tell us that they can remember their mother, or grandmother playing it when they were a child. We first featured this work on our site back in 1999 and it has been a favorite for visitors to our site ever since.

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