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Indian Maidens

Tin Pan Alley Sings Indian Love Songs

 

Over the years, we have featured an occasional "Indian" (Native American) cover and in March of 2000, wrote an article about the influence of Native American music on popular music with an accompanying feature article titled "Cowboys and Indians" that featured a few songs with Native American themes.

 

 Since then we have acquired many more stunning examples of this style of music, especially those that relate to "Indian" love songs. Some of these are classics, others virtually unknown. In all cases, the songs are beautiful and included this month are several "discoveries" that deserve preservation and public performance lest they be lost for all time.

 

As we said back in April of 2000, "the American music publishing industry couldn't have missed the mark by a wider margin than they did when it comes to depicting American Indian songs." Almost all of the songs were simply the usual "Euro-American" songs we were accustomed to but with "Indian" titles and stylized stereotypical cover images. We also said at that time: "They (Indian themed songs) were characterized by idealized art that always depicted the Indians in a "noble savage" manner. If you review the images we have presented this month, you cannot miss the beauty and stateliness of the cover art images. Compare these depictions to those of the Afro-Amerians of the period. Nearly all of the "blackface" music was extremely racist in both lyric and art. The other hand, the American Indians were treated with more respect and lionized in their depictions. Though in some cases the lyrics were less kind and more stereotypical, we still find a case of more sensitivity and care in what is presented." That was a rarity back then for racism was rampant and the songwriters of America held nothing back.

 

Regardless of motives or stereotypes, the Indian themed sheet music covers and songs are some of the best Tin Pan Alley gave us. The covers were almost always stunning and the music seemingly above the norm (in most cases). You'll see some covers this month that are truly great works of art and hear some music that is infectious and exciting.

 

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 some of the music yourself. It's a complete musical experience! Get the Sibelius Scorch player now.

 Richard A. Reublin, June, 2006. This article published June, 2006 and is Copyright © 2006 by Richard A. Reublin and The Parlor Songs Association, Inc. Text, images or music may not be reproduced in part or in total without written permission of the author or a company officer. Some uses may not require written permission when in compliance with our published usage policy


 


Red Wing

 

1907


Music by: Kerry Mills
Words by: Thurland Chattaway|
Cover artist: Unknown


We begin this month's feature with a work we've featured before, but one that inspired nearly all others of this genre that followed. It also happens to be one of our biggest selling reprints. In many respects, the cover of this song is the greatest of all "Indian maiden" covers, however several others this month rival it and may exceed it in your opinion. As we said back in our April 2000 issue "Cowboys and Indians;" "This is absolutely one of the most colorful & gorgeous covers ever created. In some respects it is also one of the most inaccurate depiction's of a Native American yet typical of the period. Imagine, if you will, a native American woman in a war bonnet complete with full makeup, eye shadow, rouge, lipstick. DEspite that, it is absolutely beautiful. It seems the depiction of native Americans on these music covers was very stylized to present them not as they were but it seems, as we envisioned they should be." At that time we also said, "the popular music of this period did not truly represent native American music. Instead, as with many issues, the title themes and cover images were primarily designed as marketing techniques to sell music. The music within was still the Euro-American popular music style we have become accustomed to as we listen to the songs of the era."

 

I believe those thoughts needed restatement her as we explore the songs from Tin Pan Alley that paid homage to our Native Americans even if that homage was sometimes insulting and in almost all cases, inaccurate. Despite that, the Indian theme intensely flourished as a musical fad for about five or six years from around 1905. As you'll see, there were other such songs published well after that but few rose to the level of Red Wing and the others from the pre 1910 period.

 

Kerry Mills (1869 - 1948) was an American composer of popular music during the Tin Pan Alley era. His stylistically diverse music ranged from ragtime to cakewalk to marches. He was most prolific between 1895 and 1918. Mills was born Frederick Allen Mills in Philadelphia. He trained as a violinist and was working as head of the Violin Department of the University of Michigan School of Music when he began composing.

 

Mills moved to New York City in 1895 where he started a music publishing firm, F. A Mills, from which he published his own music. His first published song was Rastus on Parade written in 1893. That song was one of the first published "Cakewalks." He went on to publish some more of his own songs that may have been instrumental in popularizing syncopation with the Tin Pan Alley writers. Among his many published works are: Any Old Port in a Storm (1908), At A Georgia Camp-meeting (1897 or 1899, accounts vary), Impecunious Davis, In The City Of Sighs And Tears (1902), Just For The Sake Of Society, Kerry Mills' Barn Dance, Let's All Go Up To Maud's, Like A Star That Falls From Heaven, The Longest Way 'Round Is The Sweetest Way Home (1908), Red Wing (1907, words by Thurland Chattaway). Mills adapted the melody from Schumann's Merry Peasant and perhaps his greatest hit, Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis which was originally written in 1904 with words by Andrew B. Sterling and was revived in the 1944 movie, Meet Me In St. Louis starring Judy Garland. Mills died in Hawthorne, California.

Some facts for this biography were taken from From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, in accordance with the GNU Free Documentation License.


Enjoy the Scorch version of Red Wing, (Hear and see the music with Scorch)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics

 



Reed Bird

1904


Words and Music by: Dave Reed Jr.
Cover artist: Hirt


The cover of this work, is the closest rival to Red Wing of all the covers this month. It is a fabulously colorful one full of Indian art images. If any cover could be said to be better than Red Wing, in my opinion, this would be it. It is quite possible that this cover inspired Red Wing and many of the others that followed; it certainly sets a high standard. The title of the song is rather interesting in that the composer, Dave Reed Jr. apparently used his last name as a part of the title. As you'll see though, use of "Bird" as a part of the name of the Indian maidens in song was quite common. I think Reed used the name as a bit of a joke and in a fit of self satisfaction.

 

The song is a real masterpiece of imitation of an imagined Indian scene. It begins with a long introduction with a sinister drumbeat of war drums sound through a repeated bass line. An Indian like melody is added and the drums continue, the introduction gains momentum and complexity and then we get to the song proper. In the verse we still have that "Indian" sound but it almost sounds oriental which is a characteristic of Amerindian music scales and harmony. Alternating between sinister and brighter passages which illustrate the lyrics, we begin to learn the story of Reed Bird and tribal wars. The chorus gives us a tremendous melody that is memorable and interesting too. Reed uses passages of staccato notes to add emphasis in both the verse and chorus that add to the urgency and warlike tone. In many respects, I believe this song deserves to be remembered as much as Red Bird and some of the other more well known Indian songs of the period. This is one of our two favorite "discoveries of the month" in this issue.

 

Dave Reed Jr. Little of Reed's life has been preserved for us. We do know that wrote at least one Broadway production, The Catch of the Season. The show opened at Daly's Theater on August 28, 1905 and closed November 25th after 93 performances. Among his other works are Elisa, Listen (1926 with Max Morath), Sammy Sampson's Semmigambian Band (1903), Love Me, and the World is Mine!(1906 with Ernest R. Ball)

 

Enjoy this wonderful song. ( Scorch version)

listen to MIDI version

Lyrics


 

Iola

1906


Music by: Chas. L. Johnson
Words by: James O'Dea
Cover artist: De Takacs

 

 

A Photo of the lovely Catherine Call graces the cover of this song. Were it not for the inset image of the Indian maiden, chances are this work could be mistaken for something else. Call may or may not have introduced this song as often popular performers appeared on sheet music more as a sales ploy rather than a testimony to their performance of the song. These were some of the earliest product endorsements. Little seems to be documented about Call's career however we do know that she starred in the Broadway show, The Duke of Duluth in 1905. Unfortunately that show only ran for 24 performances at the Majestic Theater in New York.

 

The music is quite interesting as it almost seems to be a compendium of ideas and motifs from some other songs from the period. The melody similarities to a later song is quite astonishing. For those of you familiar with the 1940 hit song Playmates, I think you'll be amazed at the chorus of Iola. They are so similar, it seems too much so to be a coincidence. The verse sounds a bit like many of the other Indian songs of the period and though unremarkable (save the chorus), the song is very nicely done and entertaining.

 

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 Kansas City for his entire life and died there on December 28, 1950

 

James O'Dea ( dates unknown at this time) was a composer, lyricist and writer most known for his stage productions and plays that include; Chin Chin (1914), The Lady of the Slipper (1912), Uncle Sam (Play, 1911), The Top o' th' World (1907) and Madge Smith, Attorney (Play, 1900). He collaborated with a number of Tin Pan Alley composers including Neil Moret and was Moret's collaborator on the famous song, Hiawatha in 1901. He also wrote the lyrics to Ragtime Temple Bells (1914) with Ivan Caryll.

 

Hear and see this Indian love song (Scorch version)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics



Ottawah

1909

 

Music by: T. Jay Flanagan
Words by: J. Wesley Ossman
Cover artist: De Takacs

 

This work is our second "discovery of the month for it's musicality and lyrical value. The cover is excellent, done by one of Tin Pan Alleys best and most prolific artists. The inset photos are likely Clarence Gates (on the right) who is noted as a performer who featured the song. The second photo is probably either the composer or the lyricist but is unfortunately, not captioned so we just must guess.

 

In almost all cases, the chorus of songs is where one finds the greatest melody and lyrics. In the case of Ottawah, the formula is reversed, in my opinion. It is the verse where we find the most musical creativity and interest. The song begins with an introduction of alternating loud - soft motifs and then into a loping passage in that "oriental" mode that merges into the main melody. The melody is upbeat and bright with each passage ending with a repetitive echo. Between main passages, we get a sprightly mini coda, transitional motif that adds to the delight. The chorus continues the echoing and transitions that were established in the verse and in many respects, the song is seamless in its musical continuity. It's a great work, however, were it not for the lyrics, it could be on any subject other than Native Americans. The lyrics though do tell us a nice Indian love story.

 

Flanagan and Ossman are two more of many songwriters for whom little information is available. We do know that Flanagan published at least two other songs; Fleet Comes Sailing Home (1918) and Where is My Mama (1910). No other song can be located that is attributable to Ossman.

 

Listen to and see this song (Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics




From The Land of the Sky-Blue Water

1909



Music by: Charles Wakefield Cadman
Words by: Nellie Richmond Eberhart
Cover artist: None


Now we come to what might be one of the very few authentic native American melodies published as a popular song. According to the cover, this work is "founded upon a Tribal Melody." Inside, the sheet music reveals that the melody is based on Omaha tribal melodies collected by Alice C. Fletcher. Alice Fletcher (1834-1923) was America's foremost and first woman anthropologist and a pioneer in the study of Native American culture and society. Fletcher spent most of her career studying and living with Native American tribes and as a result, published a number of works that gave us first hand knowledge of various tribes. In one case, she kept a diary during a six-week excursion to Dakota Territory in 1881. In 1893 she wrote A Study Of Omaha Indian Music which was probably where the inspiration for this song originated. However, in 1911 she published The Omaha Tribe, a two volume set based on twenty-nine years of study and observation in the field. In volume two, we find her collections of tribal music, some of which could also be the basis for this song. Several of her books can still be purchased through Amazon.com. A very interesting biography of Fletcher can be found at: http://www.cas.usf.edu/anthropology/women/fletcher/fletcher.htm

 

Though the cover subtitles the song as "Four American Indian Songs," the inside sheet music only illustrates two Omaha tribal melodies as source materials. The main melody is from an Omaha Love Song collected by Fletcher. That song's melody is illustrated as: and is heard in the opening verse after the introduction. The introduction is the only other specifically identified melody and is captioned as "Flageolet Love Call of the Omahas." Though there are other motifs that appear, they are not specifically identified so it is difficult to determine whether they are continuations of the main melody or where they break off into separate melodies. If the title is correct there are two more in there somewhere but I am unable to definitively identify them. Perhaps one of our sharp readers can let us know more.

 

The song clearly has a more native sound than most popular Indian songs of the period and as such is an important historical document. It is not particularly a favorite of mine as I find it somewhat stilted and uneven. I think Cadman could have done a better job of making the music flow and sing. The poem by Eberhart is a bit enigmatic but is clearly a fit in that it is a love story of sorts. Again, this is an important song but it lacks the pizzazz that people were most accustomed to in that period. As an art song and classical American work, it is outstanding and enjoyed a long period of popularity.

 

Charles Wakefield Cadman (1881-1946) A native of Pennsylvania, Cadman was educated in Pittsburgh, where he spent time as a church organist and music critic. In 1904, he began publishing organ pieces and ballads. But it was an interest in American Indian lore than really launched his composing career.

 

Inspired by the various ethnological inquiries then in vogue in America's ill-fated quest to preserve the dwindling Native American culture, Cadman spent the summer of 1909 collecting and recording Omaha and Winnebago tribal melodies and studying American Indian music. With a Native American princess, the mezzo-soprano Tsianina Redfeather, he toured the country between 1909 and 1916, giving music-talks on Amerindian music.

 

Any reputation left to Charles Wakefield Cadman is based on the pseudo-Indian song popular in the 1920s, called From the Land of the Sky-blue Water. In the 1930s, though, he was San Diego's leading musical celebrity. (From an article by Welton Jones in the San Diego Union Tribune and from PBS / WNET.org, reprinted at sandiegohistory.org)

 

Nellie Richmond Eberhart was a poet and considered to be Charles Wakefield Cadman's primary lyricist. With him she produced a number of poems to accompany his music including the most famous of their collaborations, Land of the Sky-blue Water. Among her other lyrics for Cadman was At Dawning (1906) which was later recorded in 1912 by the famed Irish tenor, John McCormack.

Enjoy this "authentic" Indian song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics



Lily of the Prairie

1909



Words and Music by: Kerry Mills
Cover artist: unknown

 

Two years after the success of Red Wing, Kerry Mills came back with yet another Indian maiden love song. Now I'm not real sure, but somehow I think that Lily is not a Native American name. Perhaps Lily was one of those unfortunate wagon train kids that got adopted and raised as their own but I doubt it. Of course, it could simply be that she is thought of a a flower on the prairie. If it was meant to be her name, it illustrates how uninformed many of the songwriters were back then. When a fad started, anything was possible and publishers called for more songs in the popular genre, regardless of accuracy. The cover on this sheet is another fabulously colorful one. It also may be one of the few that comes close to a fairly accurate depiction of Native American culture and art. I'm unable to find any evidence of an artist's signature or other mark that would help identify the artist. It's a shame for he or she deserves much credit.

 

This song is enjoyable but has little relationship to anything musically Native American. It is a jolly tune, upbeat and with a nice tune. The chorus is fine but has nothing special to note about it, it's just good Tin Pan Alley music.

 

Listen to this Kerry Mills Indian song. ( Scorch plug-in version)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics



Song Bird

1909



Music by: Harry L. Alford
Words by: Arthur Gillespie
Cover artist: Starmer

 

The cover of this song is also one of the best this month; artistically it is a winner. In fact almost all of the covers this month are a cut above the average and we've already mentioned that this genre got a lot more artistic attention than many others we've seen and featured over the years here at Parlor Songs. I believe part of that is the romantic nature of Native American culture in the minds of Americans at that time. Despite the fact that we nearly destroyed their culture, there has always seemed to be a veneration of Native Americans and their culture. This cover is by Starmer and for those of you familiar with his work, you'll agree this is very unlike most of his covers. It is clear he went the extra mile to create a work of art, not just a cover.

 

The music and lyrics for this song are quite good. There is little in the sound or tone of the work that implies or imitates Indian music but it tells a very nice story and is pleasant. Though unremarkable, it is a fine example of popular songs from the era. The songwriters, Gillespie and Alford are another elusive pair though Alford composed a number of works still extant in libraries and collections. Among them are; The Hustler (1912), He's a Traitor To The Union Boys In Blue (1917) and Ku Klux Steppin'' Blues from 1923, a title sure to generate discussion in today's world.. Gillespie seems to have many songs to his credit besides Song Bird. Among his works are; Honey, When it's Sunny (1909), Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (1900), Subway Glide (1912) and My Turkish Opal from Constantinople (1912). Given their relatively robust output, I'm very surprised their biographies are not easily found.

 

Listen to this song (Scorch plug-in version)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics



Singing Bird

1909


Music by: Ed Edwards
Cover artist: B. Byers

 

Just as we saw a reverie last month in our feature on garden songs, this month we have an intermezzo, which is pretty much the same as a reverie in it's purpose but distinctly different in feeling. An intermezzo is most often an instrumental interlude between the acts of a performance but in this case, the meaning is a short, lyric composition, usually for the piano. A reverie is a state of abstracted musing; daydreaming, a daydream. So by definition, an intermezzo is less dreamy and more an interlude. As such, the feel and tone of the work can vary from soothing to exciting. And at that, we shall use this piece as an interlude in our feature article simply for your listening pleasure.

 

The music is quite upbeat and definitely not dreamy so intermezzo fits. There is nothing in particular that makes this an Indian intermezzo versus any other theme but you will notice some similarities in motifs between this work and some of the other Indian songs we've presented. The bottom line though is that this work, like so many others was probably given an Indian name and cover to capitalize on the frenzied Indian music fad. Once again we have a composer whose vital information seems lost. We do know that Edwards composed several other works including; Stop! Look! and Listen! (1911) and one other Indian themed song, Sunshine in 1911. Song Bird was later reissued as a song with lyrics by Arthur Longbrake.

 

Listen to this "Indian" intermezzo ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this work)



By The Waters of Minnetonka

1917

Music by: Thurlow Lieurance
Words by: J. M. Cavanass
Cover artist: Unknown

 

Now we come to a piece whose title is very familiar and which enjoyed a substantial popularity after its publication in 1917. The cover of this work is interesting. You really have to look closely to see the Indian maid and her lover in an embrace. That is them in the white and gray area behind the foreground trees. It's very subtle and a nice piece of art by an unidentified artist. Often recorded even to this day and issued in many editions over the years, it has in some respects become one of the defining Indian love songs of the 20th century.

 

This edition is interesting in that it includes a violin or flute ad. lib. accompaniment to the vocal line. The website "Zoominfo.com" has this to say about the song:

According to one account, "By the Waters" was inspired by an ancient Sioux love song sung for Lieurance in 1911 by one Sitting Eagle. The legend associated with the song has also been preserved and reads like a Native American version of Romeo and Juliet. It is the story of two ill-starred lovers from different clans who fell in love in spite of the ancient laws of their tribes which forbade this. They met in secret, knowing that their act carried the penalty of death were they to be discovered. They were, of course, found out, and realizing that death was inevitable they chose to commit suicide together by drowning themselves in a lake. The legend has it that the rippling water of the lake forever after moaned a rhythmic sound and the wind in the pines sang their love song. In his piece based on this story, Lieurance created the atmosphere of the water with an insistent right-hand arpeggiated figure.


The melody is a very beautiful one and when coupled with the flute as the ad lib. instrument, I think it makes for beautiful harmony. It has a haunting and plaintive quality that evokes images of native America and does have a bit of a stereotypical Indian sound to it. To add to the ethereal sound, I've created the midi using flute and "choir ahs." That said, I have to say that the piano accompaniment tends to dampen the mood. I know that the rippling motif is meant to simulate the flowing waters of Lake Minnetonka (in Minnesota) but I find that the continuous repetition gets old very quickly. After the first few bars of admiration for the creativity and effectiveness of the idea, I found it more boring and even a little annoying as the piece wore on.

 

Lieurance, Thurlow Weed (b. 1880; d. 1963) Lieurance studied music as a young man in Iowa. In 1897 he was appointed bandmaster of the 22nd Kansas Volunteer Infantry. He served with that regiment during the Spanish-American War. Then he studied at the Cincinnati College of Music where he worked with Preston Ware Orem. In 1902 he became interested in Native American music. During the rest of his life he made thousands of field recordings of Sioux, Crow, Cheyenne, and Taos Pueblo tribes among others. He also collected Native American flutes. He came to Nebraska in about 1917 and was a member of the faculty of the University School of Music from 1918 to 1927. In 1927 he was named Dean of Fine Arts at Wichita State University and was there until 1945. In 1952 he moved to Colorado. He married Edna Wooley in Omaha in 1917. They toured throughout the country specializing in Indian music. He wrote several hundred pieces, more than half of which are examples of Indianist Movement compositions. (Lieurance biography From Zoominfo.com.)


 

Listen to "Minnetonka" ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version.

Lyrics



Pretty Little Rainbow

1919

Music by:Vincent C. Plunkett
Words by: Robert Levenson
Cover artist: VP

 

Rainbow is yet another name that seems to appear regularly in association with Indian maidens. In September of 2001, we featured the song Rainbow as a part of our article about the music of Percy Wenrich. That version had all the exuberance that is often found in Wenrich songs. This work, with a slightly different title has a distinctly different sound and feel to it. The cover is a lovely romantic depiction of an Indian maiden wistfully looking into the night sky. The song too is very romantic so the cover and music go together quite well.

 

The song is through composed, musically and lyrically romantic. It is relatively long and is languid in it's feel and tone. The music flows along as we hear the story as told by her lover of an Indian maid who is away and with whom the brave wants to reunite and build a "wigwam" home for two. Apparently, to add to the almost sad tone, Pretty Little Rainbow is crying and the singing brave says; "Pretty little Rainbow let me see you smile again, I'll kiss your tears all away Like a ray of light that's shining thro' the night." In an ABA form, the song begins with a slow introduction and into a dreamy melody that is marked Valse lento. The next section, marked "brightly," accelerates into a more strident passage that is former and more urgent, the final section returns to the original them but includes an obligato duet with a complimentary set of lyrics.

 

Robert Levenson (1897 - 1961) was born to Samuel and Paulina Levenson in Boston, Ma. (Dorchester/Roxbury area) on July 19, 1897. He had two brothers, an older one, Louis, and a younger one, Henry. The three of them used to play music at social occasions in the area. Henry went on to be a professional musician, playing piano and singing solo with his whiskey baritone voice (he wasn't a drinker, just sounded that way). You could see him 35 years ago as the regular piano player at Bill's Gay Nineties Bar in New York. Brother Henry wrote music too and Rudy Vallee liked one song enough to tinker with it and added his own name as a co-composer.


Robert attended Brimmer School in Boston and later Boston Latin School, the oldest public school in the country. In the early 1900s a student had to pass an entrance exam to attend. Graduating in 1913 he was accepted at Harvard (Class of 1917). It was during this time that he began to haunt the Boston music publishers with his lyrics, particularly, succeeding in winning first prize for his words to the famous WW I marching song, The National Emblem March (Scorch format) by E. E. Bagley, Jr. This march is easily the equal of any American march and is also one of the most popular and often played marches from our early musical heritage. After Levenson wrote the lyrics, all future editions of the march included them.


After Harvard, Levenson worked in Boston, particularly as a salesman. He continued to write songs in collaboration with others who appreciated his poetic talent and gracious personality. He did some acting and directing of plays and reviews, continuing also to write fun lyrics for many organizations' annual meetings and music nights.
He moved to New York City in the mid-1920s, met and married, Evelyn Lippman, and though he ended up working for Boston Knitting Mills, stayed in NY as their top salesman and designer of polo shirts and other knit clothing. He was very active in the community in which he lived, Lawrence, LI, serving as Village Trustee, Village Historian, and Honorary Fire Chief. He put in a great deal of time in the Jewish community as well, as Treasurer, Board Member, Chairman of the Music and Religious School committees of Temple Israel of Lawrence, as well as President of Long Island Lodge, B'nai B'rith.


Robert Levenson continued to sing wherever he went, performing his own songs as well as opera, and Broadway numbers at the invitation of local organizations. He died suddenly at the age of 63 in the airport in Rome, Italy in 1961 as he was returning home with the Temple group from a pilgrimage visit to Israel and Jerusalem. He is survived by two children, Paul and Judith, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Among his other credits are a 1925 song Drifting 'Neath the Silver Moon. (Levenson biography graciously provided by his son, Paul Levenson)

 

I've been unable to find any information about Levinson's partner in this song, Vincent C. Plunkett.

 

Listen to this Indian love song ( Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version.

Lyrics



Hiawatha's Melody of Love

1920

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

 

We end this feature as we started, with a previously published work. However, the difference now is in the sheet cover which is very different from the prior published cover. To see the alternative cover, place your mouse pointer over the cover image shown at right. Interestingly, both covers were by Frederic Manning, and both were published the same year. The mystery is why were two so very different covers used for the same song. Yet more strange is; why was the "non" Indian themed cover published on a song that is clearly an Indian love song? Both covers were painted by the same artist. As you ponder those questions (and if you have the answers, let us know) listen to and read some what we had to say about the song in our March, 2003 feature.

 

The cover artist 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. The "hat" portrait, "is noted as "specially posed by Miss Grace Nelson." In both cases, this is one of those rare times where the art on the cover and the musical artistry inside truly go together. 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 definitely worth hearing.

 

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 melody of love ( Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version.

Lyrics


This article published June, 2006 and is Copyright © 2006 by Richard A. Reublin and The Parlor Songs Academy Text, images or music may be reproduced only in accordance with our usage policy. Commercial use is prohibited without permission. Though the songs published on this site are in the Public Domain, MIDI renditions are protected by copyright as recorded performances.

 

Thanks for visiting us and be sure to come back again next month to see our new feature or to read some or all of our over 120 articles about America's music. See our resources page for a complete bibliography of our own library resources used to research this and other articles in our series.

 

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