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Songs of the Moon, page 2


Sweet Hawaiian Moonlight

(Tell Her Of My Love)

1905

Music by: F. Henri Klickmann
Lyrics by: Harold G. Frost
Cover artist: unknown


It seems that there is no moonlight as romantic as that from a tropical moon; and what better romantic moon than a sweet one in Hawaii? Of course we at ParlorSongs have a soft spot for Hawaiian music and so we can't resist adding this one. The composer went to great lengths to notate the score in a way that the piano would emulate the Hawaiian guitar (as best it could). Through the use of plenty of arpeggiated chords and other instructions. For example here is what Klickmann said at the start of the sheet music:

By carefully tying every note as marked, a very close imitation of the Hawaiian steel guitar effect can be produced.
Well, try as I might, the sound I obtained via the piano was just not satisfactory so I have changed the midi file to play using the steel guitar instrument, it sounds much better..believe me. A dreamy song, it really does convey the tropical feel and moonlight on the tropical ocean.

     The composer, 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. 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.

     Hear this wonderful old song. (Scorch)

MIDI version




Cuban Moon

1920

Music by: Norman Spencer
Lyrics by: Joe McKiernan
Cover artist: Frew


Though for many people, Hawaii represents the ultimate romantic tropical venue, we cannot discount my personal favorite, the Caribbean. Having lived in the Caribbean for several years, I can attest to the beauty of the tropical Caribbean moon over the gorgeous azure seas.

     In the 20's up till the Cuban revolution, Cuba was the playground of America's elite. As such, it was the most popular Caribbean destination and one that gave many Americans their first taste of the nearby Caribbean's tropical beauty. The song is a real delight. Using a musical phrase that imitates a tropical Caribbean beat as an underlying theme, Spencer has crafted a great song that is very representative of the early twenties style.

     Spencer and McKiernan both seem to be among the many missing when it comes to finding information about their biographies and musical activities. I could find absolutely no mention of either man in over ten volumes of music history books and song listings. There was not even a mention of this song in any of the listings we have that profess to be "complete".

     Hear this great Cuban beat song  (scorch)

     MIDI version




Midnight Moon

1920

Music by: Al. Bernard
Lyrics by: T. Ernest Hare, Robert Schafer
Cover artist: unknown


From the same year as Cuban Moon we find ourselves enjoying a plain old moon at midnight. Depicted as a waltz song on the cover, this song has a nice tune that sounds familiar yet is fresh. If you like waltzes, you'll love this song.

     Al Bernard (1888 - 1949)was a famous minstrel singer who teamed up with the great ragtime composer J. Russell Robinson in a vaudeville team called the Dixie Stars. They recorded songs together for a number of famous labels. Bernard usually sang while Robinson played the piano and added some vocals. Together they composed a number of hit songs including Blue Eyed Sally and Let Me Be The First To Kiss You Good Morning. For a brief period in the early 20's Bernard was teamed with the Great Jimmy Durante and wrote the lyrics for Papa String Bean for Durante. Through it all Bernard continued to be a popular recording star and enjoyed a long career as a singer. Some of his recordings can still be found for sale across the net as prized collector's items. Ernest Hare was also a singer of some fame during the twenties and from 1925 -29 was teamed with Billy Jones. Together they recorded a number of novelty and comedy songs and were known as the "Happiness Boys." I could find no information about Schafer.

     Listen to this wonderful waltz song  (scorch)

MIDI version




Fairy Moon

1911

Music by: Charles K. Harris
Arranged by: Harris
Cover artist: unknown photographer


From the man who started the popular music boom with After The Ball, comes this fantastic moon song. We now have added a mythological or mysterious life to the moon. Musically, Harris starts the song off with a phrase that brings to mind some imaginary imp skulking around in the moonlight. Indeed, he has very deftly created a quite impish sound with his opening melody. The song has that charming early 20th century sound to it. The slightly dissonant harmonies bring to mind many of the songs of that era. The lyrics are quite original telling the story of a woman asking the fairly moon to answer questions about her lover. "Is my lover false or true, or only fooling me? Tell me fairy moon." The chorus is an outpouring of confession and tears to the fairy moon. An excellent song from the period.

     Much has been said about Harris over the years here at ParlorSongs so for those of you who have been around for a while or for any fan of old music, his life is well known. 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 juggernaught. Though Harris wrote many songs over the years, none ever rose to the level of popularity as After The Ball.

     Hear this great old Harris song  (scorch)

     MIDI version




Moonlight Bay

1912

Music by: Percy Wenrich
Lyrics by: Edward Madden
Cover artist: Starmer


I've saved the best for last. Moonlight Bay is arguably the best moonlight song ever written. Often, when the movie, Moonlight Bay (Warner Brothers, 1951) comes on TMC or AMC, my wife and I will watch it and enjoy it just as much as every time before. This one song, sung by Doris Day and Gordon MacRae is one we could listen to again and again. If you are a Doris Day fan, you gotta love it. Even if you are not, you have to admit that this is one of the greatest classic songs ever! In her memoirs, Doris Day mentioned this movie and song as one of her own personal favorites. Due to copyright limitations, we cannot share a full recording of it by her, but, if you want a brief reminder of that silky voice of hers, listen to this little audio clip of Moonlight Bay . (real audio format)

     Percy Wenrich. (b. Jan. 23, 1887, Joplin, MO, d. 1952, NYC) wrote a number of hit songs many of which were of the rag genre (see The Smiler in our catalog for one of his best). Wenrich, came from a musical family. His mother taught him to play the organ and the piano while he was still a child. A little later, he would write melodies and his father would write the lyrics. Often, his songs were heard at conventions and political rallies. When he was 21 years old, he enrolled in the Chicago Music College, and while there had two of his songs published by a Chicago publisher; Ashy Africa and Just Because I'm From Missouri" Among his biggest hits were: 1909, Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet, lyric Stanley Murphy, 1912 Moonlight Bay, lyric by Edward Madden, 1914 When You Wore A Tulip, lyric by Jack Mahoney. In 1914 he scored the Broadway show Crinoline Girl and in 1921 the Broadway show The Right Girl, 1926 the Broadway show Castles in the Air and in 1930 scored the Broadway show Who Cares?. He was married to the famous performer, Dolly Connelly and performed with her in vaudeville.

 

     Enjoy this ultimate moon song!  (scorch)

     MIDI version




Now that you have seen our featured songs, be sure to read our Essay On Coon Songs for an interesting, and uncomfortable look at another aspect of popular song. Coon songs flourished from 1880 till about 1920 and were exceptionally popular. Unfortunately, they were racist and exploited the African Americans who so rightfully deserved better. Find out how these songs emerged and what constituted a Coon song. Explore this unsavory chapter in our American popular music..

     We hope you have enjoyed this month's feature. We appreciate your interest in our efforts to bring you the best American popular music history site on the web. Be sure to tell your friends and family about us. If you have suggestions for themes or issues you would like to see in the future, please contact us. We will see you back next month for a new feature about a different subject area of American popular music, the music magazine phenomenon with excerpts from Etude, The Musician and The Echo, three music magazines from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We will also introduce a new biography of Anna Priscilla Risher, one of the best female composers of the golden age of song. You won't want to miss it so stay tuned! Have a great month.


To see the other songs featured this month again, go back to part A.




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