Home Songs, Page 2
This is a continuation of the May, 2002 Feature, if you missed
page one, check the link at the end of this page or use
You're A Long, Long Way From Home
Music by: George W. Meyer
Lyrics by: Sam M. Lewis
Cover artist: De Takacs
On our first page of this month's feature we looked at the idea of "Home
Sweet Home" and how that idea was used in many a song over a period
of many decades. On our second page, we look at songs that express our
feelings about being away from home, returning home and in at least one
case, staying at home.
In time, all of us must leave home, sometimes for a long time, sometimes
forever. In most cases, when we leave home we long to return. Homesickness
(see Heimweh on page 1 of
this feature) is a real feeling and of course, one way to express
those feelings is through music. Meyer and Lewis have done a masterful
job of finding the words and music that express the feelings that you
have when away from home and missing those you love, at least during those
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?
Sam M. Lewis (b. 1885, New York, NY, d. 1959, New York, NY ) As
with many songwriters, Lewis was a performer first and he sang gigs in
nightclubs in New York before songwriting took over his life. Lewis was
actively writing from 1912 through the 1930's. From 1916 into the 1930's,
his principal collaborator was Joe Young, but he did write with some other
well known composers including Walter Donaldson, Ted Fiorito and Harry
Warren. Sam Lewis and Joe Young were a powerhouse Tin Pan Alley combination.
They collaborated only on lyrics but the list of lasting hits for them
is astounding. Among their many hits are; Rockabye Your Baby With
A Dixie Melody 1918 , music by Jean Schwartz sung by Al Jolson in
B'way play 'Sinbad'; Dinah, with music by Harry Akst, from the
Broadway show Sinbad starring Al Jolson later, also in Plantation
Revue starring Ethel Waters; Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, music
by Ray Henderson and I'm Sitting on Top of the World,
again with Ray Henderson's music (1926). Sam Lewis is a deserved inductee
into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.
Listen to this home ballad
(scorch format only)
Listen to MIDI version
Music by: Charles Willeby
Lyrics by: D. Eardley-Wilmot
Cover artist: unknown
Hopefully, for most of us who stray from home, we eventually return.
Depending on how far and long we ventured, homecoming can be a meaningful
and emotional moment. In this song, Willeby and Wilmot have created one
of the most expressive songs possible. Musically it is full of emotion
and feeling. Lyrically, it says a lot with few words. Relatively short
and through composed rather than strophic, I've picked this song as the
song of the month for this month's feature. A strophic work uses a melody
over and again for repeats of verses or a chorus. A through composed song
simply goes straight through with no repeats of the melodic sections.
Coming Home may have been Willeby's most popular work and it was
recorded several times including a 1919 Edison Diamond disc.
Charles Willeby (1865 - ??) An Englishman, his songs were popular
during the early years of this century; they include titles like Little
pilgrim (A child's fancy), published 1907; Crossing the Bar,
The Fortune Hunter, Summer Rain, Autumn Days, The Sea Gipsy, Coming
Home and Flower Fetters plus the cycles Bow Bells:
Five London Silhouettes and the (three) Songs of the Madonna.
. Willeby was also a music critic and writer and wrote a biographical
work about Gilbert & Sullivan circa 1893. In his notes for that work,
he commented about one of their less performed works, The Sorcerer,
and said; "the style of the entertainment was so novel, that people
did not understand it at first, and the opera was only fairly successful."
Willeby also wrote a Chopin biography, Frederic Francois Chopin,
published in Edinburgh, 1902. A broadly talented man, Willeby also dabbled
in Ragtime, producing at least one Ragtime style work, his 1905 The
Silver Lining, using a poem by James Whitcomb Riley.
Hear and see this song(SCORCH
listen to MIDI version
Afraid To Come Home In The Dark
Music by: Egbert Van Alstyne
Lyrics by: Harry Williams
Cover artist: Starmer
Not everyone wants to come home, sometimes for good reason, sometimes
not. Here we have a hilarious novelty song from 1907 that speaks to a
philandering husband who strays from home and comes up with a rather absurd
excuse to explain his all night absences. In the best novelty song tradition,
he gets his comeuppance from a rather clever wife who turns the tables
on him and manages to leave him home alone using the same excuse.
A typically upbeat Van Alstyne song, it is clever and funny. Notice yet
another example of a musical quote from Home, Sweet Home near the
end of the chorus. Be sure you've got the Sibelius "Scorch"
player to both see the lyrics and music as the song plays. For those of
you unable to use the player, you can look at the lyrics using the link
below. The somewhat dour prima donna on the cover is Bessy Sheer whom
I've been unable to find any information about.
Van Alstyne (b. Chicago, Ill 1882 - d. Chicago, 1951) A musical prodigy,
he played the organ at the Methodist Church in Marengo, Illinois when
only seven! Schooled in the public school system in Chicago and at Cornell
College in Iowa, he won a scholarship to the Chicago Musical College.
After graduation, he toured as a pianist and director of stage shows and
performed in vaudeville. In 1902 he went to New York and worked as a staff
pianist for a publisher in Tin
Pan Alley and began to devote himself to writing songs teamed with
Harry Williams as his lyricist. The teams first success cam in 1903 with
Navajo, one of the earliest commercial songs to exploit Indian
themes. They wrote two more "Indian
Songs"; Cheyenne in 1906 and San Antonio in
1907. In 1905 they produced one of the greatest songs of that early decade,
In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree which sold several million
copies. For several years, the team cranked out hit after hit and music
for two Broadway musicals, A Broken Doll in 1909 and Girlies
Listen to and see this
great novelty song (scorch format only)
Listen to MIDI version
Have A Jubilee In My Old Kentucky Home
Music by: Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by: Coleman Goetz
Cover artist: Barbelle
I suppose one thing that can be done when we arrive home is throw a party,
and that is exactly what Walter Donaldson & Coleman Goetz had in mind
with this upbeat song. Trading on Foster's My Old Kentucky Home,
Good Night!, they do quote a musical phrase from Foster's song in the
chorus. The pair in the inset photo on the cover are Ward & Howell,
a vaudeville team from the period.
A popular song at the time, it was recorded in 1915 by the Peerless Quartet.
Originally the Columbia Quartet which became the Peerless Quartet in 1912.
For the next 10-15 years, the Quartet and its later offshoot, the Sterling
Trio, became one of the most popular recording groups in America, recording
hundreds of 78's of popular songs. Some estimates of the number of records
made by Henry Burr, the manager of the group and his ensembles (Peerless
Quartet and Sterling Trio) reach over 10,000.
Donaldson (1893 - 1947)
Born in Brooklyn, New York. was one of the most prolific American popular
song writers of the twentieth century. He wrote more than 600 songs in
his long career. He composed most of his best during the years between
the two World Wars, when he collaborated with many of the best known lyricists
of his day (among them Gus Kahn, Edgar Leslie, Bud de Sylva, and Johnny
Mercer), but he also wrote many of his own lyrics, such as for At Sundown,
Little White Lies, and You're Driving Me Crazy.
Donaldson inherited a certain amount of musical skill as both of his
parents were musically inclined. Though he received no formal training
in music, he began by writing songs and music for school productions.
After graduation from High School, he went to work in a brokerage house
on Wall Street. Soon after, he became a "song plugger" on Tin
Pan Alley but was fired for writing songs on company time. His first published
song, Back Home In Tennessee,
(MIDI) in 1915 was an immediate hit and he published two other hits that
same year; You'd Never Know The Old Home-Town of Mine and We'll
Have A Jubilee In My Old Kentucky Home.
During the First World War, Donaldson performed as an entertainer at
Camp Upton New York and he wrote a number of war related songs including
Don't Cry Frenchy
(Scorch format) and How
Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm (Scorch format). After the
war Donaldson joined Irving Berlin's firm and stayed with them for a decade.
It was this period that Donaldson wrote his biggest and most lasting hits.
His Jolson song, My Mammy set the stage for his rise and then his
collaboration with Gus Kahn beginning in 1922 established him (and their
team) as one of America's greatest songwriters. Some of the hits they
generated during this period were; Carolina In The Morning, My Buddy,
Yes Sir, That's My Baby, Makin' Whoopee and My Baby Just Cares
For Me. Like many songwriters of the period, as soon as movies began
incorporating sound, Donaldson went to Hollywood to produce music for
the movies and he contributed a number of songs to movies including,
Follow The Boys and The Great Ziegfeld.
Donaldson also collaborated with a number of other lyricists, a list
of which reads like a who's who of American popular music; Billy Rose,
Lew Brown, Howard Johnson, Ballard MacDonald and George Whiting with whom
he wrote My Blue Heaven. In 1928 Donaldson resigned from the Berlin
organization and formed his own publishing house (Donaldson, Douglas and
Gumble). By 1946, Donaldson was plagued with illness and he withdrew from
all activities. He died in Santa Monica, California on July 15, 1947.
Donaldson's music lives on today, over a half century since his passing.
Many of his songs have been, and still are recorded and the singers who
have recorded his songs include the greatest singers of our times including
Frank Sinatra, Fats Domino, George Shearing, Django Reinhardt, Fats Waller,
Ella Fitzgerald, Bix Beiderbecke, and Louis Armstrong.
Hear this great old
melody (scorch format)
listen to MIDI version
Love To Stay At Home
Music by: Irving Berlin
Lyrics by: Berlin
Cover artist: Barbelle
Another of our Nest Magazine featured covers. Nest magazine specifically
asked for this one as the cover artwork shows a parlor from the period.
A great cover, it is one of Barbelle's better works. Barbelle's covers
abound and his works seem inconsistent. Often we see covers like this
one that are exquisite in detail and others that are almost amateur in
their appearance. Much of that may have been due to his success as one
of the most prolific cover artists. He was undoubtedly in demand and may
have been rushed in his production of covers, thus sometimes compromising
As for the music, it is a typical Berlin piece, his style is almost unmistakable.
The lyrics bring clear images of home and combine with the melody to give
us a fun and musically enjoyable experience. This could be my theme song,
I'm a home body and I too, Love to stay at home.
Berlin. Born Isidore Baline in Temun, Russia, in 1888, Berlin moved
to New York City with his family in 1893. He published his first work,
Marie of Sunny Italy in 1907 at age 19 and immediately had his
first hit on his hands. It was at that time he changed his name to Irving
Berlin. His total royalties for this first song amounted to 37 cents.
In 1911 the publication of Alexander's
Ragtime Band (MIDI) established his reputation as a songwriter.
He formed his own music-publishing business in 1919, and in 1921 he became
a partner in the construction of the Music Box Theater in New York, staging
his own popular revues at the theater for several years. Berlin wrote
about 1500 songs. One unique fact about Berlin is that he was not able
to read or write music or play the piano except in one key (F sharp).
He picked out melodies or dictated them and had assistants fill in the
harmonies and accompaniment for him. Berlin never seemed to give credit
for these very talented people. In his later years, he had a special device
attached to his piano that allowed him to transpose any song into his
"favorite" key. His initial start in the music industry was
as a singer and then as a lyricist. It was only after great success in
writing lyrics that Berlin turned to melodies.
Whether for Broadway musicals or films, for humorous songs or romantic
ballads, his compositions are celebrated for their appealing melodies
and memorable lyrics. Among the numerous musical comedies and revues for
which Berlin wrote music and lyrics were Annie Get Your Gun (1946),
and Mr. President (1962). His many popular songs include There's
No Business Like Show Business, God Bless America, and White
Christmas. In 1968 Berlin received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
On September 22nd 1989, at the age of 101, Berlin died in his sleep in
New York City.
It is almost impossible to provide a meaningful biographical sketch of
Berlin in only a few words, he is perhaps the most celebrated and successful
composer of American song from the Tin Pan Alley era. Way back in November
of 1988 we did a feature
on Berlin's music, sometime in the future we will post a more comprehensive
biography and more of his songs. Of course many of his songs have been
published by us over the years.
Hear this great Berlin
Listen to MIDI version
Music by: James Kendis, James Brockman, Howard Johnson
Lyrics by: Kendis, Brockman, Johnson
Cover artist: Rose Symbol
Now that we have traveled far and wide and from home and back, it's time
to settle in and make our house a home. This 1920 hit by a trio of great
songwriters speaks to the need for settling in and making your Home, Sweet
Home comfortable and a place of love. The cover of this sheet is lovely
and comes from an enigmatic source, the "Rose Symbol.' Under this
symbol, hundreds of sheet music covers were produced yet today, the artist(s)
who produced them are virtually unknown. Careful analysis of the styles
indicate several artists involved yet none have been identified (as of
yet) and even the true source of the consortium or studio they were produced
under is in doubt.
The song and lyrics are about as near perfect an example of American
popular music from the period one will find. A happy and musically upbeat
song, this is one of my many, many favorites from the period.
James Brockman (1886 - 1967) studied music at the Cleveland conservatory
and early in his career was a comedian in stage musicals. His most lasting
hit, I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles
(MIDI) was introduced by June Caprice in the Passing Show of 1918. Among
his other hits were, Down Among The Sheltering Palms, Feather
Your Nest (Scorch Format) and the great novelty song, I Faw
Down An' Go Boom. Brockman had a long and successful career, turning
to film scores later in his life. His partner, James Kendis (b.
1883, St. Paul, MN, d. 1946, Jamaica, NY) had some of his greatest success
in his collaborations with Brockman. Kendis formed his own publishing
company, Kendis Music Company. Some of his other hits not collaborated
with Brockman include, If I Had My Way, Angel Eyes, and
Come Out Of The Kitchen, Mary Ann.
Howard Johnson (b. 1887, Waterbury, CT, d. 1941, New York,NY) (not
the restaurant man) was also one of the greatest lyricists of the period,
also with many hits to his credit. His name appears over and over in our
collection in such famous works as M-O-T-H-E-R, When The Moon Comes
Over The Mountain, Where
Do We Go From Here ( Scorch format, featured in the
first installment of our three part essay about World War I music)
this rare old song (scorch)
Listen to MIDI version
That completes another of our features. As always, be sure to come back next
month for a new feature or just come back anytime to browse our extensive archive
of issues and special articles.
See our resources page
for a complete bibliography of all resources used to research this and other
articles in our series.
If you missed page one, or want to return to it, click
here to go to page one
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