Growing Old and Aging

Music From the Cradle to the Grave

Adapted from the September 1915 edition of The Etude Magazine

Of all the forms of art that intellect has conceived to beautify and bless our lives, to help us to forget and forgive the trials and tribulations of existence, from the earliest emergence of awareness to the last failing perception, none is so intimately associated with our every experience, as music. Music is well named the universal language, not only because it is understood and felt in every land, by every race, but also because it voices and influences the universal experiences of all humanity. None is in such close touch with every phase of life's ebb and flow, of emotions, dreams, hopes, and fears as music. It has been well said that we all love to "emote". We enjoy thrilling to the vividly expressed emotions of others in the strains of great music. It adds so much to our own emotional experience and we are pleased to find the moods we have ourselves felt or imagined, reflected in musical art. It puts us in touch with other minds and hearts. It gives us comfort in feeling that, in joy or in pain, we are one with all humankind. Music is the golden chain whose links bind all humanity in a bond of common feeling and fellowship.

Gods may rise and fall, faiths may wax and wane, creeds be made, modified and abandoned, but music remains, outliving them all. What matters the form or name of the particular cult which music is called upon to serve? The essence, when reduced to the last analysis, is virtually the same; the effect practically identical in every case, from ancient Egypt to modern America. Creeds may falsify the facts, dogmas may deny the fundamental truths they assert, preachers may vilify and blaspheme the very God they claim to serve; but music remains true to the ultimate realities.

In later life, when we have reached the introspective and retrospective age, we are prone to live in memories, rather than in hopes and aspirations. Associations from our youth add a sort of mystic spell to the charm of certain strains of music. The half-forgotten fragment of a tune, heard or recalled by accident, is filled with reminiscences sadly sweet. It will unlock storehouses of memory forgotten for decades and we live again among the refreshed scenes and persons of the long-buried past. This is the secret hold certain old, familiar melodies have on all of us; not their intrinsic worth, but the associations connected with them.

At last, when we come to the end of our days, music provides its last comforts. Tolling bells and muffled minor measures of the funeral march accompany us to our last resting place. As Tennyson said, "Music that gentler on the spirit lies than tired eyelids upon tired eyes". Thus, music is the first, last, best, most constant of our friends among the fine arts. It meets us at the threshold of life with gentle, caressing voices. It cheers and strengthens us to the loftiest endeavors. It quickens our purest, deepest emotions. It echoes our every mood and experience and leaves, reluctantly, at last only when its soft, solemn harmonies have muffled the clang of the iron portals of the tomb. Or does it leave us even then? We can only note that in all dreams and pictures of the hereafter, music is the only one of the fine arts which has a place. We don't hear of poets writing or reciting great verses, or of artists painting pictures. But, we do hear of the harp, which is the emblem of instrumental music, and of choral harmonies among the angels, typifying vocal music.

It has been said and often quoted, "Music is the only thing in Heaven we have on earth, the only thing we take to Heaven". In this issue, we've chosen songs that exemplify this journey.


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 G Beil, March 2012. This article published March 2012 and is Copyright © 2012 by Richard G. Beil 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..

Cradle Song


Words and Music by: Alexander Mac Fadyn

Long before a baby can understand spoken language, it perceives and responds to the soothing influence of the lullaby, softly crooned by mother or nurse. The child feels the heavy, protective love expressed in these sweet tones. It is quieted by the gentle magic of the soft refrain. This is its first introduction to any form of art - the cradle song. The cradle song is probably the oldest and most widely known and used of all musical forms. The character and moods are always the same and the uniform keynote is maternal love.

This particular song is one of the most peaceful and beautiful lullabies that we've heard. With an especially good set of lyrics and a wonderful melody, it is a surprise that this piece has not found its way into the current repertoire.

Alexander MacFayden (1879 - 1936) pianist, composer, music teacher, b. Milwaukee. He received his musical education under Julius Klauser and William Borchert in Milwaukee, and also studied under Rudolph Ganz, Felix Borowski, and Arthur Friedheim in Chicago. He graduated from the Chicago Musical College (B.Mus., 1905), and the same year made his debut as piano soloist in the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. He taught in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music (1912-1921), and at the Wisconsin College of Music (1922-1935), as well as in conservatories in New York and Chicago. MacFayden appeared frequently as soloist with the Chicago Symphony and with many other well-known orchestras, and toured with the Leonora Jackson Concert Company and Orpheum Circuit. He was a member of numerous musical organizations, and was the composer of more than 100 piano works, men's choruses, violin compositions, organ pieces, and songs. Among his best known songs are "Inter Nos," "Love is the Wind," "Cradle Song," "Spring Singing," and "Daybreak." He died in Chicago. Who's Who in Amer., 19 (1936); Wis. Blue Book (1929); A. E. Wascher, Who's Who in Music and Art in Milwaukee (Milwaukee [1927]); Milwaukee Journal, June 7, 1936; N.Y. Times, June 7, 1936.1

Hear this lovely lullaby song

Listen to MIDI version





In the Little Red School House



Words and Music by: James Brennan and Al Wilson

As the child grows, it finds the natural expression of exuberant spirit in the strongly marked rhythms and lively swinging melodies of the simpler forms of music. They whistle or sing at play or as they go hopping and skipping off to school. Upon entering school for the first time, children are filled with a sense of wonder and pride at having finally achieved a "milestone". After a few years, that initial feeling begins to wear off. We can all remember telling our parents at some point, "I'll sure be glad when I'm grown up and don't have to go to school any more". And, the universal reply went something like, "Just you wait. There'll come a day when you'll wish you were back in school, with no worries and no bills to pay". Here's a lively tune that captures that feeling.

This video contains the "patter" chorus that describes an incident to which all of us can relate from our own school days.

Hear and see the score to this song ( Scorch format, printable, be patient for images to load)

Listen to MIDI version




After the Ball


Music by: Charles K. Harris
Lyrics by: Charles K. Harris


The gaiety and sensuous beauty of the dance, as expressed by the music, appeal irresistibly to the emotions; especially the waltz, which is the love dance, the idealized mating instinct, voiced in alluring melody, like the songs of birds in springtime.

Featured in our October 2001 issue, not only was this the first piece of music to sell a million copies, but it started the "Popular Song" industry.

Aging, regrets, bad choices made, this song has them all. A story being told to the protagonist's young niece, he reminisces and explains how, as a young man, he saw his true love kissing another man at the ball. He refuses to listen to her attempts to explain, forsakes her, and spends his life growing old, alone and bitter, only to learn after her death that it was an innocent kiss from her brother.

Charles Kassell Harris was born in 1867 in Poughkipsie, NY and died in NYC in 1930. He lived for many years in Milwaukee and published many of his early songs there. His After The Ball, published in 1892 is generally considered to be the watershed song that started the popular song industry in earnest as a commercial juggernaut. Though Harris wrote many songs over the years, none ever rose to the level of popularity as After The Ball. See our in-depth biography of Harris for much more information.



This song is featured on our Parlor Songs Favorites CD.

Listen to and see this great song of folly and growing old.

Listen to MIDI version




Shimmy Moon


Music by: F. Henri Klickman

Lyrics by: Jack Frost

A bit later we find the youth and the maiden, in the first flush of adolescence, responding eagerly to the throbbing, sensuous measures of dance music in its various forms. In the Victorian era, and extending into the first decade of the new century, it was considered unseemly for couple to dance in public, unless it was a stately waltz. That began to change. A dance craze swept the nation's urban centers in the early 1900s, led by young women. Soon nearly every neighborhood hall, ballroom and saloon with the space was taking advantage of the phenomenon, and it wasn't long before specialized dance halls sprang up all over Manhattan. By the 1910s, over five hundred public dance halls were in service throughout New York City, and nearly one hundred dancing academies were in operation teaching young people the latest steps.

The Shimmy goes way back to Haitian "voodoo" dances with the rapid shaking of hips and shoulders. The Nigerians had a dance called the ""Shika", which is said to have come to America during the times of slavery and later transformed into the "Shake and Quiver" around 1900. The Shimmy actually became a couples dance in the 1930s, but is mainly a solo dance movement.

F. Henri Klickmann (1885 - 1966) also wrote, Floatin' Down to Cotton Town in 1919 with Jack Frost and Waters of The Perkiomen in 1935. Klickman was an extremely versatile composer having written many instrumental and ragtime compositions such as A Trombone Jag (1910) and High Yellow Cake Walk and Two Step (1915) as well as a wide variety of songs. Interestingly, Waters of The Perkiomen was originally a work for accordion. Klickmann wrote quite a few pieces for accordion and is one of the more popular composers for that instrument. In addition to all this, he also wrote "classical" style music, including a concerto for tenor sax. Klickmann wrote a large number of ragtime works that are popular in today's resurgence of ragtime interest. A simple search of the internet will return many, many references to his music and a number of sites that feature his music.

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. With a long and fruitful life, Klickmann turned to arranging in later years and arranged some of Zez Confrey's great piano jazz works such as Kitten On The Keys.

Listen to and view this song

Listen to MIDI version


Pershing's Crusaders



Music by: E. T. Paull


The effect which stirring, martial music has on troops, whether on the march or actually going into battle has long been known by military experts; stimulating to courage, fortitude, and patriotism. It is not without good reason that the band is considered as necessary a part of the equipment of every division as the unit flag or its munitions train.

We have written extensively about E. T. Paull and his music over the years. This piece is very typical of Paull and as he often did in other marches, he borrows heavily from other marches he published. The introductory passage as well as the following section are almost note for note copied from some of his other works. Closing in on his final years at the time of this piece, it is as though he has run out of energy and creativity. None the less, his marches were wildly popular and despite the re-use of prior materials, his works continued to be purchased and played in parlors all across the world.

E. T. PaullE. T. (Edward Taylor) Paull (February 16, 1858 - November 27, 1924) Was the son of Virginia farmers and started his musical career as manager of a music store, selling pianos and organs in Martinsburg , Virginia around 1878. It is unclear as to his activities for the next 20 years but his first successful march was The Chariot Race or Ben Hur March (MIDI) in 1894. The great success of this march caused Paull to begin a steady stream of works. He started his own publishing company around this same period and continued publishing under his name till his death (at which time the company was bought and continued to publish under the same name for two years afterward). Though best known today for his marches, Paull did write other works and even wrote one piece for silent film Armenian Maid in 1919. Marches were wildly popular and though Paull was capable of composing fine works, he often obtained works by others and arranged them and released them under his banner. This work is one such work. His last work was the 1924, Spirit Of The U.S.A., copyrighted just six weeks before his death. See our in-depth biography of Paull as well as our two features on his music from July 2001 and June 1998 to learn more about this man and his music.

Listen to this rousing march

Listen to MIDI version


Huskin' Time


Music by: Albert Gumble
Lyrics by: Bartley Costello

When the soldier returns from his/her campaigns to home and sweetheart, wearing honorable scars and well-earned medals, the love song and the serenade are the appropriate expressions of the next vital experience in life and the priceless reward for which that soldier has toiled and fought. It's time to marry and raise a family. For the fortunate, although our relationship experiences the inevitable "bumps in the road", the years are spent together and we can look back down that road and see fond memories.

Our copy of this piece is a Sunday newspaper supplement from the September 22, 1912 issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In 1910, when this piece came out, you could also hear for the first time, Down By the Old Mill Stream, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, and the song that would become the theme song for Sophie Tucker, Some Of These Days.

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.

Hear and see this song

Listen to MIDI version



Those Good Old Days Back Home


Music by: Jimmie V. Monaco
Lyrics by: Joe McCarthy

Songs about "goin' home" and regret for ever having left were regular fare for Tin Pan Alley songwriters. Here we have the same team that in 1913 gave us You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It), a tune that was a standard for Al Jolson. And, just as in the 2nd verse of Jolson's Rock-a-bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody, "Wonder why I went away, what a fool I've been", the fellow in this song has had enough of city life and longs to be back home where strangers say, "Good Mornin'."

As we pass through our "middle" years and realize we're on the downhill side of life, this poignant tune kind of sums things up.


Jimmie V. Monaco (1885 - 1945) Born in Genoa Italy, (some sources list Fornia as his birthplace.) Monaco came to the U.S. (Chicago) in 1891 with his parents. Wikipedia states the family emigrated to Albany, New York when Jimmy was six. He worked as a ragtime player in Chicago before moving to New York in 1910. Monaco's first successful song Oh, You Circus Day was featured in the 1912 Broadway revue Hanky Panky. Further success came with "Row, Row, Row" (lyrics by William Jerome) in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1912. Perhaps his best remembered song is You Made Me Love You (lyrics by Joseph McCarthy) introduced by Al Jolson in 1913 and famously performed by Judy Garland with revised lyrics as Dear Mr Gable in 1937.

Listen to this nostalgic, but upbeat tune

Listen to MIDI version



Bring Back Those Wonderful Days


Music by: Nat Vincent
Lyrics by: Darl MacBoyle

We'll end our musical trip through life by going back to our beginnings. This is the song that started it all. No, not American popular music, but Parlor Songs. Those who have been with us for many years will recall that the original site was inspired by The Forward Collection, Rick's early hobby site, based on a collection of music given to him by his parents. Back in 1996 the very first piece of music that Rick scanned was this tune. Since then, we've grown to over 1,400 songs that have been scanned, although there are many that have yet to be featured in an article.

As we get older we long for the things that gave us comfort when we where young. In 1919, after 4 long years of horror, World War I was finally over. Prohibition was coming, the Roaring Twenties about to start and, although no one knew it, the Great Depression was just around the corner.

Longing for days gone by is a theme that permeates the history of song to this day. Who doesn't feel the pain and angst of the words of Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkin?


Hear the song that started it all

Listen to MIDI version



1. Wisconsin Historical Society, MacFayden, Alexander

This article published May, 2012 and is copyright Richard Beil, Richard Reublin and The Parlor Songs Academy.

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