Dream Songs

All Aboard For Dreamland


Music by: Harry Von Tilzer
Lyrics by: Andrew B. Sterling
Cover artist: Hirt

It seems appropriate that we should board the bus, or boat or whatever and head for dreamland to enjoy this month's feature. This song was quite popular in its time and was a widely performed vaudeville song. It was recorded by Edison with Byron G. Harlan performing. Like many of the songs we will listen to this month, the song is a waltz time work. Waltzes lend themselves nicely to a soaring sort of floating feeling and offer that "dreamy" tone that many of the great ballads of the past have. This song is no exception and sets a nice tone for this month's feature. Thanks to an alert ParlorSongs visitor, Kathy, we have learned that this song is unquestionably written about the Coney Island attraction, "Dreamland. According to Kathy,

"Dreamland was only one portion of the Coney Island collection of amusement attractions back in 1900 to about 1911 when Dreamland burned. And it makes perfect sense to get on the trolley, or train, or whatever, to ride to Dreamland in Coney Island NYC. There is also a "Dreamland waltz" out there somewhere I found one time when poking on the internet."
Kathy also provided us with this fascinating and interesting link;
"You can read more about the early 1900's and Coney Island with a WONDERFUL
collection of old photos in http://naid.sppsr.ucla.edu/coneyisland/histart.htm Check out the article on the Dreamland fire in 1911."
Thanks Kathy for adding to our knowledge base about this old song!


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 wonderful dreamy song(SCORCH format)

listen to MIDI version


You Are The Ideal Of My Dreams


Music by: Herbert Ingraham
Lyrics by: Ingraham
Cover artist: Unknown


In the earlier part of the 20th century, many love songs were exceptionally passionate and this one is no exception. In fact, the chorus is wonderfully emotional and oozes with passion. In addition, the song has that lilting happy-go-lucky turn of the century flavor at the beginning. Musically it is a real treasure and contains a marking rarely seen in popular music. At the beginning in the verse, the lyrics carry the marking Recititavo, a singing style more often found in classical music and in Oratorios rather than common popular song. Of course the composer Ingraham was a noted composer who worked in theater, orchestral music and popular music and no doubt his broader background resulted in the use of musical methods usually not found in popular song.


With this song we encounter perhaps the most common "dream" theme in popular music; that of the dream lover or the girl (or man) of one's dreams. You'll see this as a common and continuous theme in the "dream" songs of early American popular music.


Herbert Ingraham (1883 - 1910) Ingraham was born in Aurora, Illinois in 1883 and was considered a musical prodigy early in life. As a child he conducted his own theatrical company and organized an orchestra in Chicago. He moved to New York and became a staff composer for Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. and was on his way to spectacular success when he contracted tuberculosis and he died at only 27. In the last year of his life, he had several hits including, All That I Ask Of You Is Love, You Are The Ideal of My Dreams and Good-by Rose. Roses Bring Dreams of You (MIDI) was one of his greatest hits and a couple of comedy songs; Because I'm Married and Hoo-oo! Ain't You Coming Out Tonight? His untimely death ended a very promising career.

Listen to and see this emotional hit song (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version




Just A Dream Of You Dear


Music by: F. Henri Klickmann
Lyrics by: Charles F. McNamara
Cover artist: Bouthillier(1), unknown(2)


Here is a work that we have two different copies of with different covers so we have included both covers as a "rollover" (put your cursor over the cover image). The first image is by a cover artist who is rarely seen, he must have done only a few covers, in fact, we can find only one other song listed with him as artist. Regardless of art, this is yet another song with a great deal of passion. Harmonically, it has that special sound of the turn of the century works. In waltz time, it offers a tender melody and sweet lyrics about dreams of the one he loves. (See the lyrics link below to review the full lyrics or view the score as it plays).


F. Henri Klickmann has a fairly large number of works to his credit, yet biographical information on his is sketchy at best. He was well known as not only a composer but as an orchestrator and arranged music for a number of acts including the famous Six Brown Brothers who were responsible for the popularization of the saxophone in vaudeville and recording. Klickmann composed a number of pieces they recorded in 1916 and 1917 as well as published commercial arrangements of them including the tune Chicken Walk. There is an audible improvement from 1914-15 in the sophistication of the writing., attributed to Klickmann. Klickmann composed in a wide range of popular styles and his hits include; Sweet Hawaiian Moonlight (Sibelius scorch format); Good-Bye (1914) a "hesitation waltz"; Knockout Drops Rag; The Dallas Blues (1912), and My Sweetheart Went Down with the Ship, a 1912 tear jerker about the Titanic.

Hear this great old melody (scorch format)

listen to MIDI version




How Can I Forget You (Dreaming of You All The While)


Music by: Harry Verona
Lyrics by: Verona
Cover artist: Starmer


This is one of the few songs this month not in 3/4 time. In "common" time (basically 4/4), it still comes across as a nice dreamy tune. Here though, rather than singing about someone in their dreams, we are singing about a lost love and the protagonist's inability to forget his lost love because of recurring dreams of her. Of course, for some, those dreams might be nightmares, but not in those times. Romance was always in the air so it seems and love was always a topic for melancholy or joy.


Harry Verona, it seems is a victim of no-one dreaming of him for he seems long forgotten. A search of the net reveals no other songs by him and a review of our complete collection of references comes up empty. I hope someone out there who knows about him will let us know so we can preserve his biographical information. In the meanwhile, enjoy this fine work by him and dream about someone you love.


Hear this old wonderful song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version




Queen Of My Dreams


Music by: Joseph Nathan
Lyrics by: Douglass Overin
Cover artist: unreadable signature

Here we have another of the many Sunday newspaper supplements that were printed in the early 20th century. With pianos gracing nearly every home, music was a national past-time and the newspapers knew that adding "free" sheet music was a way to bolster interest in the Sunday editions. Of course, for those without pianos, the music may have made a nice liner for the bird cage. Unfortunately, the format and distribution of this music has resulted in the loss of many otherwise unpublished works. Thanks to a few farsighted people though, some of the works have been preserved. Of course, due to the extremely short lived nature of high acid newsprint, we are finding fewer and fewer of these to preserve and the condition of most is deplorable. For more information about this form of music publication, see our feature on Sunday supplement music .


As with many of the Sunday supplement songs, this one is not necessarily the stuff of hits. Though a pleasant tune, it somehow lacks the combination of music and lyrics that makes a hit. Often, publishers would offer their slower selling songs to the newspapers to increase interest in the work or the composer. Published Sunday, Aug. 20, 1905 as a supplement to the New York American and Journal, this may be the one of only a few surviving copies .The song begins with an introductory verse in common time that is almost familiar, as though it were from another work. I cannot identify its source, but it is somehow familiar. At the chorus, Nathan moves to the dreamy waltz time and it is quite nice.


Joseph Nathan, (1858-1929) & Douglass Overin (b. NY. 1884?) are yet another pair of songwriters who have vanished into the past. Searches for information about both reveal just this one song although I feel sure that they must have produced more but once again, we have lost our musical heritage, at lease for the moment.


Enjoy this rare song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version



Dream Days


Music by: Charles L. Johnson
Lyrics by: Johnson
Cover artist: Fred Craft


I think this song is a fine example of the "dream song" as it has a wonderful 3/4 time melody with lyrics that fit well with the music. The flow of the music is emotional with good harmonics and a languid flow that makes you want to close your eyes and join the singer in dreaming of your love. In this case, we are taken to dreams of days gone by, better times when two lovers enjoyed happiness and a life without care or worry. A quite nostalgic song, the lyrics and music well integrated to create a real and palpable mood of the past. This work is by one of early American popular music's earliest and finest African -American composers. It is also unusual in it's style as Johnson is best known for his Rags and this song is somewhat of a rarity from his most productive years. Given its source, it is no wonder that Dream Days is clearly from the pen of a master songwriter.


Charles Leslie Johnson was born in Kansas City, Kansas on December 3, 1876. He started taking piano lessons at age six and at sixteen was studying composition and music theory. Incredibly talented, he taught himself to play the violin, banjo, guitar and mandolin. He not only was a composer and performer but also an important patron of the arts in organizing a number of string orchestras. Like many great composers of the times, he was a song plugger early in his career, playing for J.W. Jenkins Sons' Music Company. His first published rag was Scandalous Thompson, published by Jenkins in 1899. Later, Johnson was associated with Central Music Publishing and then Carl Hoffman Music Company. While working at Hoffman in 1906, Johnson was working on a new rag when the bookkeeper walked in and asked him what the name of the new work was. Johnson had not named the song yet but noticed the man carrying a carton of dill pickles. Johnson supposedly replied, "I'll call it 'Dill Pickles Rag.' " After the success of Dill Pickles (Sibelius scorch format), Johnson started his own publishing firm which was purchased by Will Rossiter in 1910 with the stipulation that Johnson not reenter publishing for at least one year.


Johnson became one of the most prolific composers of the period and expanded his compositions to cover all types of music other than rags. He was published by all of the major firms and was so productive he even resorted to using pseudonyms to make it look like he had a staff of composers working for him. In all, Johnson wrote thirty two rags including Porcupine Rag in 1909 and Blue Goose Rag in 1913. His biggest money making song was Sweet and Low in 1919. Considered a clever and creative composer, Johnson's high sense of humor was often reflected in his works, as it is in Dill Pickles. Always a homebody, Johnson stayed in his hometown of KC for his entire life and died there on December 28, 1950.


Listen to this old dreamy ballad (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version




Good-Bye, Little Girl Of My Dreams


Music by: A Fred Phillips
Lyrics by: Richard Howard
Cover artist: Starmer


Yet another love lost dream song came to us from the team of Phillips and Howard, neither of which are now, or were then, household names but who nonetheless created a wonderful ballad that speaks of a girl of dreams who he has never met except in his dreams and who leaves him with the dawn each day. A very nice melody with romantic sentiments and again, that nostalgic touch that seems to permeate "dream" songs from the period.


A. Fred Phillips is yet another of the many "missing in action" composers from the early 20th century golden age of song, there is virtually no information available on him other than listings for three of his songs, the present one and Got Her Off My Hands But Can't Get Her Out Of My Mind from 1951, and popularized by the Mills Brothers and Got The Bench, Got The Park But I Haven't Got You from 1931. It seems he wrote a song every twenty years or so. He also seemed to have a penchant for long titles. It seems his partner in writing this son, Richard Howard, has suffered the same fate with only three songs to his credit and little else about him to be found. His works include this one and Face To Face With The Girl Of My Dreams, 1914 and When The Leaves Come Tumbling Down, 1922.


Listen to this dream ballad (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version




See our resources page for a complete bibliography of all resources used to research this and other articles in our series.

WAIT! There are more Dream Song masterpieces to see and hear. The second part of this issue features more rare and different works.

More hit music and covers in this month's issue, go to part B.

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