Covers On The Covers

Ladies Hats on Sheet Music Covers


This year (2005) seems to be the year of the woman for thus far we've featured music about women's names and "I Love You" songs about woman and now, we take a brief look at women's hat fashions as they appear on sheet music from "La Belle Époque." The beautiful period was in general, the last decade of the 19th century and the first of the 20th. Portions of that same period was also known as the Edwardian, after King Edward VII of England.


It was a period of opulence and privilege and one of transition from the more staid and prim days of the Victorian era to the loose and liberated period of the "flappers" and the jazz age. This period, perhaps as no other in recent history featured some of the most garish and downright huge hats known to the human fashion experience. The hats reached enormous proportions and led to the practice of requesting ladies to remove their hats at performances and especially the new moving pictures. Theaters were forced to display a slide making their request. Of course men were not exempt from admonishment as they were often requested to use the cuspidors provided for tobacco waste and to refrain from other offensive behavior.


Our feature this month will touch on a few of the many women's hat fashions shown on sheet music covers of the period but will not attempt to show them all. Virtually every cover from the period that featured a photo or painting of a woman included a depiction of the fashions of the period and most were wearing huge hats and in some cases hats that today look almost comical. Of course, the music contained in the sheet music rarely if ever had any relationship to the fashions or hats so this month you'll see and hear a bit of an eclectic and unrelated songs brought together only by virtue of the hat depicted on the cover.


So, a tip of the hat to the ladies and to all of you who continue to visit our site to enjoy our music. If you are new to us, 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 A. Reublin, March, 2005. This article published March, 2005 and is Copyright © 2005 by Richard A. Reublin 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 or a company officer.


Everyone Was Meant For Someone.


Music by: Evans Lloyd
Words by: Jeff T. Branen
Cover artist: Unattributed


I thought it best to get the comedic look over with at the start. King Edward VII the son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (in a can?) ascended to the throne upon his mother's death in 1901. Fifty-nine years old at the time, Edward had been given little responsibility during Victoria's lifetime, Bertie (as he was called by his family) devoted himself to a life of pleasure. Despite his 1863 marriage to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, with whom he had six children, he was infamous for his many mistresses and playboy lifestyle. His reign only lasted nine years to his death in 1910 but the Edwardian period of fashion lasted beyond till about 1914.


I selected this song's cover for I thought that the hat style was laughable and absurd. It perhaps illustrates as well as any the dimensions and "poufyness" that hats ascended to during this period. The image as shown is a little difficult to see so I'm providing a full size inset of the hat picture here. Interestingly, as strange as it may appear ( a giant chefs hat?) the hat and blouse as well are exemplar of the Edwardian fashions of the period; large hats, "pouched" blouses and bodices and lots and lots of lacy diaphanous material. In this case though, the wearer nearly becomes lost in a sea of poufs and folds. However, she seems quite happy so who am I to say that this might not have been the sexiest and most appealing look of the times. We'll look at other aspects of the Edwardian look as this feature progresses.


Oh, and the music. It's really a very nice song, not at all funny but reflective of the period's music; simple in harmony, plenty of octaves and a sweet melody. It has a happy, carefree melody using dotted rhythm that gives it an almost childlike quality. If ever a song could be called "gay" (in the original context) this one is well qualified for such a description. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


Though Evans Lloyd and Jeff Branen collaborated on several songs ( Somebody Lied, 1908 and You're An Indian ) and Branen also collaborated with many other great composers (Ballard MacDonald, Stanley Keene, Arthur Lange), very little information is available regarding their lives. Neither is listed in my resources and searches of the net primarily only result in song titles associated with them. Interestingly, in some of his collaborations with Irish song composer Ernest R. Ball, Brannen appears as Jeff T. Nenarb which happens to be the reverse of Branen, or vice versa. The question I've been unable to answer as yet is which name is Branen-Nenarb's birth name?


Hear this great 1906 "hat" song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

listen to MIDI version



You're My Baby.


Music by: Nat D. Ayer
Lyrics by: A. Seymour Brown
Cover artist: Starmer

Though already King Edward's years were limited (he'd die just two years after this song was published), the Edwardian influence in fashion would continue for several more years. It should be said that Edward VII was not a fashion designer nor was he personally responsible for the fashions of the period. Although he personally did cut quite the figure in terms of his own fashion and behavior. Of course we know the Victorian age as one of stiff formality and modest, almost sepulchral morality. Edward's exploits on the other hand brought a more liberal morality, definitely a sharp contrast to his mother's era.

  The fashion and hat depicted on this particular cover is interesting in that it contains elements of early to mid 19th century with a touch of the Edwardian fashions. The most striking contrast is the hat. The bonnet and hair style shown was more in keeping with the early to mid 1800's style. The bonnet style was high fashion in the first two decades of the 19th century then again in the 1845 - 1860 period. By the 1870's bonnets were replaced by more fashionable and variable styles, most though still on a smaller scale than those we'll see later. However, the blouse design in this photo is that of Edwardian. The period saw the addition of lighter more diaphanous materials which in some cases bordered on a look more fitting for lingerie than outerwear. In fact some styles of dresses during the Edwardian period were called "lingerie dresses."


The song within the cover perhaps explains the ambivalent nature of the styles. The "you're my baby" theme in general explains the coy and childlike qualities depicted on the cover. Sweetness and innocence from prior times might be what the song and cover are trying to depict. The music is wonderful. Written by the same team who wrote Oh, You Beautiful Doll, (Scorch Version) you'll hear some echoes of the harmony and motifs from that song from time to time within this one. Of course, that was typically true of any "sequel" song written to try to capitalize on the success of a prior song.


Nat D. Ayer (b. 1897, Boston - d. 1952, Bath, England) Ayer wrote a number of lasting and contemporary hits during his time on Tin Pan Alley including King Chanticleer (1911, lyrics by Seymour Brown, used in the Ziegfeld Follies) and a huge hit, If You Were The Only Girl In The World in 1916. The music from King Chanticleer is very often performed at ragtime festivals (never the lyrics), - even used as background music in films and accompaniment to silent films. Ayer left Tin Pan Alley to return to England, where he remained until the end of his life, composing mostly for the theater. His shows there include The Bing Boys Are Here (1916), The Bing Boys Are There (1917) and the Bing Boys On Broadway (1918) all of which were produced at the Alhambra Theater in London. Among his other compositions are: Another Little Drink, Bingo Farm, and Zuyder Zee, a popular novelty song:


A. Seymour Brown (b. 1885, Philadelphia - d. 1947, Philadelphia) Brown was an actor and lyricist. In addition to his lyrics for the 1914 work, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, his best known work is Oh You Beautiful Doll (Scorch format) (1911). Brown also wrote lyrics for a number of Broadway productions including; Rufus LeMaire's Affairs (1927), Adrienne (1923) and A Pair of Queens (1916). As an actor he starred in a number of productions including the 1907 musical The Grand Mogul. Among his other songs are Gee, But I Like Music With My Meals with Nat D. Ayer.

Enjoy this wonderful old song (Scorch format)

listen to MIDI version



Are You Sincere



Music by: Albert Gumble
Words by: Alfred Bryan
Cover artist: De Takacs


During the Edwardian period, hats grew as though they'd been showered with nuclear fallout that made them mutate into the amazing colossal chapeau. It seems that with each passing year, the size of the hat was a reflection of a woman's status and fashion sensibility. At this time, there is no doubt in my mind that men must have suffered an incredible level of helmet envy. The hat depicted on this cover is one of the "Merry Widow" style. That style was influenced by the wildly successful operetta, The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar which premiered in Vienna in 1905 then in 1907 in New York. The Merry Widow style hat was characterized by a wide brim and adornments such as feathers, brooches, cameos, pearls and other such decorative trim. The timing of this song suggests the emergence of that style.


The music is also a reflection of the Merry Widow influence. Of course the most remembered piece from The Merry Widow is the Merry Widow Waltz and this song seems to be influenced by that as well. A waltz with a great deal of depth and breadth, it is an expansive work that seems to exude class and the Viennese waltz style. The harmony is rich and musically it is more complex than many of the more simpler waltz songs of the period. It seems to me to be much more symphonic in nature than most songs of the times.


Albert Gumble (b. 1883 - d.1946) . Gumble not only wrote original music but he also arranged for many of Tin Pan Alley's most prominent composers including; Percy Wenrich, Alfred Bryan, Gus Kahn, Edward Madden, Bud D. Sylva and Jack Yellen. He wrote the music for at least one Broadway musical, Red Pepper in 1922 as well as a number of single hits during the Tin Pan Alley days. Albert Gumble's best known single work work is Bolo Rag (1908) however his credits also include Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm (1914), The Wedding of the Sunshine and the Rose (1915), If You'll Come Back to my Garden of Love (1917), I'll Do it all over Again (1914) and The Chanticleer Rag.


Alfred Bryan (b. 1871, Ontario Canada - d. 1958, New Jersey). A prolific and prominent lyricist of early Tin Pan Alley, Bryan collaborated with some of the best composers including Percy Wenrich and Fred Fisher. Bryan's most lasting hit was the classic, Peg O' My Heart (MIDI) from 1913 with Fisher. Some of his other works include Rainbow (1908),and It's A Cute Little Way Of My Own sung in 1917 by the great Anna Held in the show Follow Me.


Listen to and see this 1908 song (Scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version


Darned If The Fellows Can Do Without Girls, Girls, Girls.


Words and Music by: Billy Gaston
Cover artist: Starmer


On this cover, we've a variant of the Merry Widow style with a garland of decorative flowers around the crown. The brim is stylishly crimped in a very loose scalloped design. The blouse that the artist (Ethel Green) wears in this photo is a lacy with a slightly poufed bodice. The lacy look was a main factor in the Edwardian styles, especially on blouses and hats. Skirts though were more straight and a bit more clingy than the Victorian styles, portending the radical changes to be seen in only a few years. It should also be said that during this period, very large hair styles emerged which in turn required ever larger hats to maintain some fashionable proportionality.


The song within the cover is a classic novelty song that pokes fun at we men who simply can't do without the ladies. It's a tale of historic fascination and classic downfall of men through the charms and wiles of women. It illustrates how even from the time of Adam and Eve, men can be enticed from all other pursuits for just the favor of a woman's touch or attention. Alas, I must say it's true, we're suckers for a pretty woman. However, it also must be said that women down through history have learned to use that attraction to their advantage. That advantage manifests itself in later years when women outlive men and ultimately end up with all the marbles. OK, the battle of the sexes aside, the song is really fun and has a nice melody. It's also in 3/4 time but sounds very different from the previous song.


The dapper Billy Gaston (on the cover, inset photo) seems to have faded into history save for this song and credits for a few others written for the Ziegfeld follies during this period.


Hear this 1912 novelty (Scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version


Everybody Two-Step


Music by: Wallie Herzer
Lyrics by: Earl C. Jones
Cover artist: Starmer, photo unattributed.

Of all the covers we've featured in this issue, this one illustrates the epitome of Edwardian fashion. We see nearly the entire package in the photo of Nellie Beaumont on the cover. Miss Beaumont sports a beautifully embroidered and high collared blouse with a full, yet closer fitting skirt with a "train", and a hat of enormous proportions. By comparing the hat to her body, I estimate the breadth of the hat to be at least 3 feet across. The hat has a beautiful lacy fall and is simply adorned with a single rose. The outfit and Miss Beaumont exude class and luxury. La Belle Époch was one that was characterized by beautiful clothes and the peak of luxury in living and if ever a poster child for that era could exist, she is in my mind, Miss Nellie Beaumont. Though we cannot see all of her, another aspect that is suggested here is the famous "Gibson Girl" look that was introduced in a cartoon by the artist Charles Gibson. That look was one of fashionable yet sporty looking clothes often embellished with lace and embroidery. Also early in this period, the "s" style (Corseted side profile of a blossoming bosom, pinched waist and a similarly blossoming buttock area) in body shape was popular but moved to a more straight line look moving into the late teens and early twenties.


I found this song musically interesting as it reflects the Ragtime influences of the composer, Herzer. In many respects his later 1913 rag, Tickle The Ivories sounds very similar to this piece. Perhaps best known for this 1912 song , Wallie Herzer, also wrote Aloha Land which was recorded on an Edison Record in 1916. The rest of the story on this creative composer is seemingly unknown. It appears that this song first appeared in 1910 as a Ragtime piece without lyrics. The infectious sound was lyricized by Earl Jones and used as a "rag song" in the stage show, A Lucky Hoodoo starring Miss Beaumont. Taking a rag and arranging it for lyrics can be difficult but Herzer and Brown managed to do it with a minimum of damage. The original sounds a bit different and is structured differently but the basic melody is the same. To hear the original, here is a version that was sequenced by Colin D. MacDonald in 1999, listen to the original 1910 Everybody Two-step Rag. Colin's Ragtime site has been on-line for almost 10 years and is one of the most comprehensive and important Ragtime Midi sites on the net. As a thanks to him for allowing us to use his sequence, take a side-trip visit to In addition, we have a wonderful original piano roll version created by Terry Smythe, you must hear it as well! Piano roll version, Everybody Two-step


Enjoy this classic "Edwardian" song (Scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version


Every Girl Was Meant For Someone


Music by: Fred Heltman
Words by: Conley Foster
Cover artist: Ray


If the last hat shown was three feet across, then surely this one is four or more. My guess is that the women of the Edwardian period had hulking necks like modern day football players just to hold straight and control the weight of the hat. One false move and a neck could snap like a fresh picked green bean! Though not a photo the artwork very nicely and accurately depicts the hats during this era. This one being rather plain but nonetheless, quite impressive. Regarding the issue of hairstyles, mentioned earlier in this article, we find that the hairstyles popular during this time were also often of massive proportions. The hair styles were quite "poufy" and longer hair allowed for even greater volumes. And, if that were not enough, large balls of padding called "rats" were often added behind tresses to provide even more volume. The large hats simply offset the hairstyles. Imagine a delicate small hat atop a mountain of hair so the hats were large partly out of necessity. I imagine there was a "mine is bigger than yours" competition going on at that time regarding hair and hats.


This song has an interesting sound to it. Use of dotted rhythm adds a joyful, playful nature to the song. The opening motif reminds me a great deal of the first few notes of Dvorak's Humoresque. Of course, Antonin Dvorak's works were very popular in the early 20th century and they are still so today. His "New World Symphony" was said to contain elements of American spirituals and as director and conductor of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, his works were well known in America. It's possible that the short motif at the beginning may have been influenced by Dvorak's Humoresque Nr. 7 in Gb. Listen to this piano roll transcription by our Canadian friend Terry Smythe and decide for yourself.


Fred Heltman enjoyed much greater success as a publisher than as a songwriter as his Cleveland publishing house became a respected one that published a number of well regarded songs. However Heltman himself did write quite a large number of songs, several of which were hits among them; Chewin' the Rag, 1912; The Beautiful Land of Somewhere, (MIDI) 1918; Daisy, (MIDI) a rag from 1914; Every Girl Was Meant For Someone, 1913 and Fred Heltman's Rag in 1918. Heltman's rags continue to find performance outlets and are respected among ragtime performers and collectors. Oddly enough, little mention is made of him in publications about early American popular song.


Listen to this great old song Printable using the Scorch plug-in

Listen to MIDI version


Lady Alice Waltz


Music by: Marie Knowles
Cover artist: Moffett


A beautifully painted and colorful cover signed by "Moffett graces this cover and with it we see the beginning of the end of the Edwardian influence and a loosening of the formal dress standards that came with it. The hat is still pretty big but is of a much lighter construction, essentially unadorned and rather plain, more of a sun hat than a fashion statement. Yet another clue to the changing styles is the more revealing and simpler blouse. We only get a glimpse but you can see the rather daring neckline and a less garish look to the outfit. Times are about to change, and change radically in but a few more years.


The song, or more correctly, the music inside is a lovely waltz, in the style of the Merry Widow (Piano Roll Midi by Terry Smythe) and simply a delightful waltz that has a captivating melody and harmony that demonstrates a great deal of musicality by the composer. She uses a number of techniques to add interest and variety in the work such as the emphasized chords in the second subject. Her use of dynamics is masterful as well. The flowing nature of this work is truly delightful to listen to. Sadly, I'm unable to find any information about Ms. Knowles as is often the case with female composers of this period.


Listen to this great song Printable using the Scorch plug-in

Listen to MIDI version

There are no Lyrics to this work

Hiawatha's Melody Of Love


Music by: George W. Meyer
Words by: Alfred Bryan & Artie Mehlinger
Cover artist: Frederick Manning


Frederick Manning was one of the greatest artists to grace sheet music with their work. He and Rolf Armstrong rate the highest marks for their female portraiture. This gorgeous portrait, "specially posed by Miss Grace Nelson was painted by Manning especially for this work. This is one of those rare times where the art on the cover and the musical artistry inside truly go together. The fashions are now moving towards the "flapper" era and the roaring twenties style. W.W.I is over and women have become much more liberated and more a part of the mainstream of society. The hat here is again, somewhat smaller than what we've seen up till now and the clothing style has clearly moved away from Edwardian. Now we begin to see dresses with a more straight line design with lighter fabrics that more clearly define the "real" figure beneath the clothes. Though still decorative the lacy covering is less garish and less bold than what has gone before. Just looking at these fashions compared to the Edwardian, women had to be much more comfortable.


The music within is one of the most appealing songs from this period. The song was introduced at the Century Theater in New York in the stage production, The Midnight Rounders of 1920. The show opened in July of 1920 and played for 120 performances till the following November. Produced by Lee and J. J. Schubert, the cast included the great Eddie Cantor and a number of popular performers of the period, none of whom reached Cantor's level of lasting fame. For a fabulous Piano Roll MIDI produced by Terry Smythe, listen here for a real musical treat! The song is another wonderful waltz and may be one of Meyer's best ever. The piano roll version is a duet by Allison & Davidson and is done in a honky-tonk style. It lacks the finesse and tenderness of the song as written but is indeed a musical treat.


George W. Meyer (b. 1884 Boston, Mass.- d. 1959 New York, NY) was one of the more prolific composers of the period with many, many hits to his credit that spanned many years. Meyer's biggest hit was probably For Me and My Gal in 1917 but he also wrote many favorites that have lasted such as; My Song Of The Nile, Lonesome, My Mother's Rosary and the great novelty song Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday on Saturday Night? (Scorch format)


Listen to this great old song (Scorch format)

Listen to MIDI version


Peggy O'Neil


Words and Music by: Harry Pease, Ed. G. Nelson & Gilbert Dodge
Cover artist: Hamilton King, reproduced from The Theater Magazine, 1919.


As we move into the 20's we still see a few big hats such as this one but fashions continue to change. Looser fitting dresses, much more revealing as is the one depicted on this cover allowed more freedom of movement and comfort. By this time, popular dance was all the rage. Novelty dances such as the turkey trot and fox-trot required a great deal of activity so women's clothing changed thus allowing them to cut the rug in comfortable and alluring style. Hair styles have also begun to change to shorter, less voluminous coifs to simple, bob style and hat size came down with the hair size.


The music is a fine bit'o the Irish, an Irish themed song about a wonderful girl named Peggy O'Neil of course who is the prettiest of them all. The melody is cute and enjoyable but unremarkable at the same time. What makes this song interesting is the special "patter chorus" provided after the repeat of the prime chorus. Patter was often interjected into songs as a bit of fun and interest. Patter had been used by many performers as sort of an interlude in a song where a story was told, more spoken than sung then the song continued. The great Harry Lauder was one of the early masters of this practice. In the 20's the patter was typically added on as an optional feature. In this case a story is told but it's not really spoken but quasi sung in a very fast tempo with little variation in the notes, certainly not a melody of any kind.


Listen to this wonderful old song (Scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version


All Over Nothing At All


Music by: James Rule
Lyrics by: J. Kiern Brennan & Paul Cunningham
Cover artist: Unattributed


Well, it seems we've come full circle. Though this song is the latest in this feature, the hat style depicted on the cover is almost a throwback to the Edwardian style! No flapper here, just a sweet and sad country girl in a big hat, albeit floppy, with a tear in her eye. Perhaps the unknown artist was having a flashback or was nostalgic for the good old days. Maybe he or she was just out of touch with current fashions. More likely, he wanted to depict a sweet girl whose heart was broken as told in the song.


The cover of this song states; "Novelty Fox Trot Ballad." For the life of me, I see no novelty or comedic value to the song. It's a sad tale of love gone wrong and a lament about how something stupid, in consideration or just stubborn pride can ruin a relationship yet in retrospect we realize how small the issue really was. The music is very typical of the period, it's actually fairly upbeat yet the words belie the musical tone. The sound is more modern and jazzy with great dynamics and emphasis in just the right places.


J. Kiern Brennan ( b. 1873, San Francisco, d. 1948, Hollywood) began his musical career as a vaudevillian singer and turned to writing lyrics. His biggest hit was A Little Bit Of Heaven, Sure They Call It Ireland, written for the stage show The Heart Of Paddy Wack in 1914. The music for that song was by Ernest R. Ball and with that start, the two teamed for a long line of songs that were popular and lasting hits. Though Ball did write some songs on his own and a few with other lyricists, Brennan in generally considered to be Ball's chief lyricist. As a youth, Brennan worked as a cowboy and took part in the Klondike gold rush. He worked as a singer in a number of Chicago publishing houses and also wrote a number of stage show scores including White Lilacs (1928), Boom! Boom! (1929) and Luana (1929). In 1929, he focused his efforts on writing songs for Hollywood.


Listen to this great old song Printable using the Scorch plug-in

Listen to MIDI version


This article published March, 2005 and is Copyright © 2005 by Richard A. Reublin 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. Though the songs published on this site are often in the Public Domain, MIDI renditions are protected by copyright as recorded performances.

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