Songbook takes a step back


page originally published as “5 June 2009 — a step back,” on that date


dear-heart-sheet-music-1919I’ve decided to take a step back, chronologically, because there are too many great songs which I’ve bypassed by starting my annual pages at 1927. There will be fewer songs per year in my early 20s pages compared to the latter 1920s pages, about six or seven each for 1921 and ’22 for example. Owing to other commitments and some recent PC troubles it may be a week or more before I begin to construct these pages.

For pre-20s songs I aim to do at least a page or post per decade beginning with the 1890s. The teens will probably get two or more pages. Though this will extend the period covered significantly beyond what I originally proposed, I don’t see any reason not to . It may, however, become more difficult to find an early recording in fine condition as I go back further.

There are songs in the American Songbook which are still played and heard frequently from at least as early as the 1820s: Home! Sweet Home! – 1823. Among well-known songs produced in the 1830s are My Country,’Tis of Thee, better known as America (the melody coming from the British national anthem God Save the King) and the hymn Rock of Ages -1832. From the 1840s everybody knows Oh! Susanna, Stephen Foster – 1848); and from the 1850s we have It Came Upon a Midnight Clear– 1850, Jingle Bells (copyrighted as One Horse Open Sleigh) – 1857, and several more of Foster’s songs (notably Camptown Races – 1850, The Old Folks at Home – 1851, and Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair – 1854). However, at this time I have no plans to do significant sections on pre-1890s songs. Perhaps we’ll have historical overview pages eventually to touch upon the popular music of these important decades.

[Note, 16 July 2014: For those interested in American popular songs published before 1890, please see my index of external links, here: pre-1920 popular music resources.]


Some proposed songlists for selected years


Alexanders Ragtime Band (Irving Berlin)
(On) Moonlight Bay” (w. Edward Madden, m. Percy Wenrich)
Oh, You Beautiful Doll (w. A. Seymour Brown, m. Nat D. Ayer)
My Melancholy Baby (w. George A. Norton, m. Ernie Burnett)

Ain’t We Got Fun (Richard Whiting)
All By Myself  (Irving Berlin)
I’m Just Wild About Harry (w.m.Noble Sissle & Eubie Blake)
The Sheik of Araby (w. H.B. Smith & Francis Wheeler, m. Ted Snyder)
I’m Nobody’s Baby (w.m. Benny Davis, Milton Ager, Lester Santly)-
Second Hand Rose (w.Grant Clarke, m. James Hanley)


Chicago (that Toddlin’ Town) – Fred Fisher
China Boy (w.m. Phil Boutelje, Richard A. Winfree)
Limehouse Blues (w. Douglas Furber, m. Philip Braham)
Lovesick Blues (w. Irving Mills, m. Cliff Friend)
My Buddy (w. Gus Kahn, m. Walter Donaldson)
Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo’ Bye) – (w.m. Dan Russo, Gus Kahn, & Ernie Erdman)
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (w. Henry Creamer, m. Turner Layton)*


*I am on this page following the policy of Wikipedia in putting the lyricist first.  I will probably switch to the composer first, which I prefer, when I begin to construct the pages. I will try to normalize the format of songwriting credits throughout the site in time. The abbreviations “w.” and “m.” above, which I haven’t used elsewhere on the site yet, stand for “words” and “music”, respectively. The abbrev. “w.m.” indicates both words and music were written by the names that follow. I will normally provide only the name when a single writer produced both the words and the music.


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