Celebrating Mother's Day 2000 & Songs about Mother!

Another of the many popular themes for songs and cover art from the parlor song era was that of Mother. Of course, during the golden age of song (1890 - 1920) both individuals, and society as a whole showed more reverence, respect, and outward displays of affection for parents, especially our mothers than we do today. This is evident even in our music. Few songs have been written over the last several decades that sing the praises of good ol' mom. So for the most part he songs we sing today about our mothers, are the very songs that were written nearly one hundred years ago that we are featuring here.

      During the early years of the century, thousands of songs were written in praise of mothers and people unashamedly gathered around the family piano to sing these beautiful ballads and waltzes.

      It is fitting that in this month of May, 2000 we salute all of the mothers of the world in recognition of the first Mother's Day of the new century. Many of the songs featured this month you probably have sung, and many will be new to you. Most are quite good and deserve a second hearing, even a rebirth. Some may tear at your heart and others may cause you to laugh.

      Come with us now to celebrate mother. I want to dedicate this month's issue to all mothers but especially to my mother, Lucy who is 88 and Robert's mother, Patricia who left us sixteen years ago, both of whom are much loved.

      Also this month, as a part of our continuing series of essays exploring the origins of American popular music, we continue with part two of last month's "Cowboys & Indians" theme. So please go to Part Deux, The Cowboys. We hope you will find it interesting.

Sheet Music Cover

Music by: Theodore Morse
Lyrics by: Howard Johnson
Cover artist: unknown


Clearly, this one song defines the "mother songs" genre. Without a doubt in my mind, it is the song that most epitomizes the sentiments relating to mothers. Sung practically nonstop since it was written it has also been identified as an "Irish" song through the great performances of some of the world's most prominent Irish tenors.

      I have seen several versions of this song from the period and most carry the subtitle as seen above "Eva Tanguay's Great Mother Song". Obviously, Miss Tanguay introduced this 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 & 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 in which three men recount the life of Eva Tanguay. I've never seen the film, but am going to have to find it to learn more about this beautiful star.

Do you remember what M-O-T-H-E and R stand for?

M is for the million things she gave me.
O means only that she's growing old.
T is for the tears were shed to save me.
H is for her heart of purest gold.
E is for her eyes, with love light shining.
R means right, and right she'll always be.
Listen to this lasting classic song

Sheet Music Cover Those Songs My Mother Used To Sing
Music & Lyrics by: H. Wakefield Smith
Cover artist: unsigned/unknown

Here we have a great "medley" song from a composer who is pretty unknown. Yet, he crafted a very nice ballad that quotes a number of old and popular melodies. Listen to the song to see if you can identify them all. Check yourself against the list at the end of the page.

      Medleys, compilations of key themes from several songs, were quite popular early on in American music and have continued to be a popular marketing technique. Some composers created medleys of their own most popular works in order to revive them or extract a little more in the way of sales. In this case, Smith has taken a number of old standards and very nicely included them in a song that has stayed in the repertoire for years although it is not as often heard now as it was a few years ago.

      The song is one of remembrance of one's childhood, sitting on your mother's knee while she sang songs to you. It is a very tender and memorable moment as illustrated in the very nice cover photo. I have enjoyed creating this midi and listening to this song, I hope you like it too.

Hear this great medley based song.

Sheet Music Cover
My Mother's Lullaby
Music by: Harold Brown Freeman
Lyrics by: Charles Louis Ruddy
Cover artist: E. H. Pfeffer

Here we have another of Pfeiffer's (see our February Edition) beautiful covers. And, a well crafted song that has that telltale sound of the period it was written. Similar to the last song, this one quotes another song, but only one, "Rock A-Bye-Baby".

      Another nostalgia piece, this one speaks to those times when we are alone and down and just need our mommie to make things better. I think no matter how old you get, when times get tough, we could all use a hug and a tuck into bed my mommie.

(Four bar intro and two bar vamp)
I'm all a-lone to night I've got the blues, And ev-'ry thing seems wrong;
I'm think-ing of a lit-tle coun-try town, For boy-hood days I long,
I see my dear old moth-er stand-ing there, Just like the stars a-bove;
I see her kneel and give a lit-tle pray'r, A lul-la-by of love.

In the days of long a-go, Moth-er sang to me
Just a song so soft and low, an old sweet mel-o-dy
It was-n't a class-ic op-era so grand, A sweet sim-ple tune you could all un-der-stand
Rock-a-bye ba-by on the tree-top; Seemed to make me cry.
Still I hear it soft and low, My Moth-er's Lul-la-by

Sheet Music Cover If You Had All The World and Its Gold
Music by: Al. Piantadosi
Lyrics by: Bartley Costello & Harry Edelheit
Cover artist: unsigned/unknown

This song is a real tear jerker. Written obviously from a the heart by someone who had lost their mother, it gives us all food for thought regarding the value of our mother.

      The cover is rather plain and ordinary, but it is the sentiment inside that really tells the story on this work.

      This song is dedicated to Robert and all those of you whose mothers have left us. I'll let the lyrics say the rest:

(Nine Bar Introduction)
I was wish-ing that I had the rich-es to buy all my dreams as I sat by the fire,
What a life I would live, What could rich-es not give?
What more could a heart de-sire?
When my fond lit-tle moth-er drew close to my side.
There are some things, my child, You can't buy she re-plied:

You can't buy the sun-shine at twi-light,
You can't buy the moon-light at dawn,
You can't buy your youth when you're grow-ing old,
Nor your life when the heart-beat is gone.

You can't buy your way in-to heav-en,
Tho wealth may hold pow-er un-told__
And when you lose your moth-er, you can't buy an-oth-er,
If you had all the world and its gold.
(chorus repeats)

Sheet Music Cover
That Old Fashioned Mother of Mine
Music by: Caddigan & Story
Lyrics by: Harry H. Williams
Cover artist: Starmer

It is interesting to me how many of the songs from the period would use only the last names of the composers or lyricists, or in this case the pair. Obviously, at the time, they were hot property and that was all that was needed to help sell the song.

      Unfortunately, today, nearly 100 years later, Caddigan and Story are virtually forgotten. A search of the Internet, World Book, MS-Bookshelf come up empty for both names. A search of my own database of (now) over 2000-12 songs comes up with only this one song. A search of other music databases does come up with a few other songs by Caddigan (Jack) and Story (Chick), for example "Salvation Lassie of Mine", from 1919 but little else in the way of information about them.

      Regardless, they have crafted a fine ballad that speaks to the thoughts of someone who is far away from home and missing the old times with that "Old fashioned mother who's waiting in an old fashioned home ..In an old fashioned gown, In an old fashioned town". As if that were not enough, she even has an old fashioned love for him. The song begins with a nice "chime" introduction, a device used in many songs of the period to symbolize a church or carillon chime. This device became so popular at one time that there were several songs written devoted just to producing chime effects.

Sheet Music Cover Your Mother Is Your Best Friend After All
Music & Lyrics by: Charles Coleman
Cover artist: unsigned/unknown

Of course for almost all of us, whether we want to admit it or not, our mother truly is a good friend. Even though we often resent their advice and guidance, it is always motivated by both love and what they believe is in our best interest. This song defines that belief.

      I have to admit though that every time I look at this cover, it makes me laugh. The mother in the picture looks so much like Jonathan Winters' "grandma" character that surely, he posed for this picture. None-the-less, we have a great old ballad, rather simple musically but sweet and pleasant. Both the composer and publisher, Songland Music, are rather obscure. Among Coleman's other works are; "Let's All Work Together", "You're The Nicest Little Girl I Ever Knew", "Always Remember Mother" and "It's The Good Old Summertime" (darn, he missed a big hit by just one word).

      Regardless of the lasting nature of this song, the sentiments expressed in the chorus speak volumes. This one is dedicated to all the mothers who really are "our best friends after all":

Your moth-er is your best friend af-ter all,
She's al-ways there to help you when you fall,
When your days are dark and drear-y,
Moth-er does not grow wea-ry,
Just a word and she comes quick-ly at your call.
You'll find lots of friends as through this world you roam,
But there's no friend like your moth-er dear at home;
Though her brows all lined with care, And there's silver in her hair,
Your moth-er is your best friend af-ter all.

Sheet Music Cover There's A Mother Old And Gray Who Needs Me Now
Music & Lyrics by: Geo. H. Diamond
Cover artist: unsigned/unknown

Our last feature this month is a work by George Diamond, yet another composer who has faded into obscurity. Searches for information about him is even less fruitful than some of the others featured this month.

      However, he crafted a fine and tender song that expresses the other side of the story; the care we must show for our mothers later in life. After they have given us so much, it is often late in life that the tables turn and we must sometimes care for them. This song tells the story of a woman who must give up her lover and take care of her old mother.

      Musically, it is similar to all the others this month, a ballad that allows for plenty of expression in the playing and singing. The lyrics tell a wonderful story.

(Five bar introduction)
As the gold-en sun-beams shone in all their glo-ry,
On the riv-er where the wa-ter lil-ies grew,
There two sweet-hearts true were whis-p'ring love's old sto-ry,
Gent-ly glid-ing in a lit-tle birch ca-noe,
Then Jack said "Dear why are you hes-i-tat-ing?
To say you love me; I don't un-der-stand",
But she an-swered, "lad for me please don't be wait-ing,
Tho' I'd like to go with you to Ma-ry-land."

There's a moth-er old and gray who needs me now,
Time has brought deep fur-rows to her once fair brow,
Though so fond of you I've grown, yet I can't leave her a-lone,
It would on-ly cause her head in grief to bow,
Jack to me you've al-ways been so kind and true,
And you know I've ev-er faith-ful been to you,
Though this part-ing brings re-gret, still my heart must not for-get,
There's a moth-er old and gray who needs me now.
Thanks for visiting us and we hope you enjoyed your time with us this month. Hear this great American classic song

There are more songs to be heard! If you have not already visited our essay on American "Cowboy" Music, now is a great time to do so. It is the second part of the "Cowboys and Indians" feature from last month's issue.

      For those of you who think you identified all of the songs in "Songs My Mother Used To Sing", here they are: Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms", "The Last Rose Of Summer", "Ben Bolt", "Come Back To Erin", "Kathleen Mavourneen", Annie Laurie" and "Swanee River". Let us know if you heard any others or if you got them all right.

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