Saturday, June 28, 2014


You have probably figured out that titles are what usually catch my eye.   I thought this was probably a so-so piece that never went far, but to my surprise this was a big hit.  It was written and copyrighted in 1934,  by Al Sherman and Al Lewis and sung by Ozzie Nelson.  

AL SHERMAN was a Tin Pan Alley song writer, born in Kiev, in 1924, the oldest of five children.   After his father, a prominent musician in Russia, brought the family to American, he found himself just another immigrant musician among many, and getting work was difficult.   He was unable to cope with the circumstances and left the family.   Al became, at age 13, the "man of the family."  He left school to go to work, clearly to be the breadwinner.   His early introduction to music, standing in the wings of his father's performances, began his love of music.   Once when his father was performing for the Bohemian emperor, he rustled the curtains and the emperor asked who was back there.  When  young Al was brought out, the emperor took him on his knee for the rest of the performance.  Always wanting to be a musician, he began teaching himself piano,  and worked in  clubs and with orchestras around New YOrk.   He became the pianist of choice for a lot of silent film stars, and eventually met and married Rosa Dancis in 1923.   They had two sons, Robert Bernard and Michael Morton.   They became the "Sherman Brothers" which delighted their father.   They were the composers for such movies as "Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang" and "Mary Poppins."   

Sherman worked with such greats of the time as Youmans and Gershwin and wrote many songs:  "Pretending",  "On The Beach At Bali Bali", "For Sentimental Reasons" to name a few, plus a special tribute piece - "Lindberg, The Eagle of the USA".   I also have a piece of sheet music called, "What Do You Do On A Dew-Dew-Dewy Day."   The Associated Press wrote a comment about Sherman:
"Al Sherman helped raise the spirits of a Depression-era generation with his hit song "Potatoes are CHeaper, Tomatoes are Cheaper, Now's the Time To Fall In Love."  HE is not to be confused with the Allen Sherman who wrote "Hello Mudder, Hello Fadda" , a letter from a kid at camp!

I didn't find a lot about Al Lewis, at least not the Al Lewis I was looking for.   He was born in New York in 1901 and died there in 1967.   He was also a Tin Pan Alley entertainer, lyricist who worked with many of the more notable composers from the '20s through the '50s.   In the early to mid '30's he and several other productive musicians created a revue called "Songwriters On Parade."   They performed in many venues along the east coast, and the Loew's and Keith Theater circuits.   Among his better known songs is "Blueberry Hill" and "You Gotta Be A Football Hero."   HE is not to be confused with Grandpa in the Munsters comedy series!

OZZIE NELSON, a very handsome and talented young man born of Swedish/English heritage 
in Ridgefield, NJ is probably best remembered for the hit show, "Ozzie and Harriet" one of the earlier "happy TV family shows" that might have even been considered the first reality show.
Ozzie played sax, football, was an Eagle Scout at age 13.  He went to Rutgers where he also played football, and played sax with local bands.   He formed a band and was gaining popularity when the New York Daily Mirror ran a "people's choice poll" on bands.   Knowing that the paper vendors tore off the front pages of the paper for a rebate from the Mirror, and tossed the rest of the paper in the trash, he and his friends retrieved the discarded papers, got friends to fill out the poll with OZZIE'S BAND as the choice, of course.   Such a successful campaign it was that it edged out Paul Whiteman's very professional and well established Big Band of the time.   He was a multitalented man and when his sons,  David and Ricky grew up in the eyes of the public television fans, it was natural they would also be musician/showmen.   Ozzie Nelson was born in 1906 and died in 1975.     OZZIE NELSON made a hit with the song: 


I was dancing gaily to the music soft and waily, when you danced into sight.
Lucky you were were dancing with a friend of mine,
So he could introduce us that night.
Your first sweet glance, dear
Kindled romance, dear,
That still is  burning bright, my darling --

Over somebody else's shoulder
I fell in love with you.
Over somebody else's shoulder,
 I saw my dreams cone true.
The moment I spied your charms
My heart was in danger
The girl I held in my arms became a total stranger.

Over somebody else's shoulder I fell in love with you.

You know that old story - 'a glance across a crowded room --'.

Does anybody write lyrics like that today?    Too sweet and sappy?  I don't know.  I like reading the lyrics and I think they show a sentimental side we have lost, but then I'm not in the dating scene so maybe I those wonderfully poetic lyricists are out there and I'm just not hearing them. 
BUT,  I think "Baby, Oh Baby, Baby, Baby Baby, Oh, Baby" lacks something, how about you?

Comments welcomed either on this site or at

Friday, June 20, 2014

Oh, Just Write A Letter To Your Mother

There have been a number of songs written about Maine and  a few written by Maine residents.  I thought I would put them all together an write a little on each one, but that is too much at once, and doesn't give each of them the blog they deserve.

I don't know much about the writer of this piece of music except that he was a resident of West Baldwin, and as it happened in that small town there were several males who shared the same first name.  For privacy's sake I won't list them, but one of them was the husband of  my good friend Joyce.  And Joyce is the person who donated this piece of music for my collection.

OH, JUST WRITE A LINE TO YOUR MOTHER (Wherever You Are To-night) was written by Elwood S. Harris who lived in West Baldwin, Maine.   West Baldwin is a small community a little north and west of Portland, Maine (which is Maine's largest city, but not it's capitol).   Mr. Harris wrote his song,  both words and music in 1941,  the year so many of our Maine brave hearts were far from home in the service.  The cover art is of a window with ruffled cottage curtains, a side table with a basket of  knitting, and a vase with a bouquet of flowers.  A bespectacled lady with her hair properly pulled into a very obedient bun, is sitting in a high backed rocking chart with her feet on a low stool.    She has a pair of very prim pumps with an ankle strap, and her dress, with sleeves to her forearms has a "ruching" around the neck.
She is holding a page of a letter in her left hand dangling beside the chair, and in her right hand she has the envelope.  She is contemplative in mood.

The cover is printed in monochromatic green.  Of course, it's a bit faded now, but even in its best day it was a bit drab.   Mr. Harris published it himself under the title "The Harris Publishing Co., West Baldwin, Me; and claims copyright 1941.    His instructions are "MODto  (with expression).  And it's written in four flats.    I could not find any information on Mr. Harris, but I have to assume he was an accomplished piano player.   I am hoping to find someone to help me put appropriate chords for organ in it for me.  On a copy, of course, as I NEVER write on original music.   Writing in books and on music is practically a sin in my mind.


Remember your promise to Mother
That you made her when you went away.
And the letters you promised to write her
As she kissed you good bye that day.
But the  time has gone by
There are tears in her eyes
You have broken your promise to write.
Oh have you forgotten your Mother
Back at Home Sweet Home tonight?

Where ever you are tonight
Just think how she'd love to see you
As she wonders why you never write,
For she will not always be with you
Back where the home fires burn bright.
But as long as she  lives you are welcome
Back at Home Sweet Home tonight.

No matter whatever befalls you
And your promise to Mother untrue,
It will make no difference to Mother
She will be the same Mother to you.
But there'll come a time but it may be too late
For the letters you promised to write,
So just write a line to your Mother
Back at Home Sweet Home tonight.

etc. etc.

I feel very privileged to have so many old pieces of music.   I have no idea what my kids will do with it all when I am gone, but for now it is in my care and I really do love going through it, reading the words and thinking about the time when it was written.  It tells a history, just as family albums do, and old diaries.   

If you like reading these blogs, post a comment or just drop me a line at janice.major@iCloud. com and put "music" in the subject line.   If you're looking for a piece of music, try me.   And whatever you do, don't throw away old printed  music!   I heard some one was buying up old sheet music to make wrapping paper for gifts.  I was horrified!   Some of the old covers are so beautiful.   Some indicate the dress mode of the times, and some have photos of long gone soloists, and some have pictures of whole bands.   Sometimes there are artist credits, sometimes not.  There is no signature on this particular piece, maybe the talented Mr. Harris drew it himself.   

With respect for the composer and thanks to my friend Joyce for donating it,
Janice Major
Scarborugh, Maine

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Here it is, the middle of June already.   We were supposed to have a big yard sale today to dispose of a lot of sheet music and old books we no longer were using but the weather forecast was for 'pop-up showers' so we cancelled - and wouldn't you know, it was pretty nice all day and didn't even drizzle in this part of the state.   And that's they way life is, sometimes we make the right decisions and sometimes we don't.   "Tomorrow", as Scarlett famously said, "is another day."

I came across a piece of sheet music in very good condition which was written 100 years ago, yes in 1914, called   A HUNDRED YEARS FROM .   I wish I had the capability of copying the cover page for you to see as it is a drawing of some of the "miracles" of that age: a zeppelin, some single engine prop planes, and a little bearded elfin character in the corner holding a spyglass peering skyward.   You can, if you care to,  put the title in your search engine and find pictures of it.

The song was written by Caddigan, Brennan and Story.  Inside it says, " All rights for Mechanical Instruments reserved.  International Copyright secured.  Entered according to Act of Parliament of Canada in the year MCMX1V by O. E. Story at the Dept. Of Agriculture.  It was also copyrighted in Boston Mass by Mr. Story.   

Back to the cover, in a circular inset there is a picture of a pixieish looking chap with a crown on his head, and it says "Featured by Tom Linden and Jungle Girls".  I was unable to find any information about Mr. Linden or Jungle Girls, but he may have been the cover artist.

JACK CADDIGAN was one of seven children born to Irish parents who were both Irish and immigrated from Canada to Boston's heavily populated South End.  Originally he was an apprentice plumber, and then joined Boston Edison Co., successfully rising to the esteemed position of Assistant Vice-President in charge of advertising.   He married Mary Manning and they raised seven children.  

His song writing career was mostly between 1914 and 1918 and quite naturally, were about the war.
"The Rose of No Man's Land",  "We're All GOing Calling on the Kaiser" and  "Salvation Lassie of Mine"   to name a few.   He wrote rhyming, rhythmic, songs.  SOme were sentimental, some novelties.  Some waltzes, some ballads.   He collaborated with Chick Story and James A. Brennan who wrote much of his music, and some with Jimmy McHugh.  In his later live he directed minstrel shows and revues for civic groups.

JAMES A. BRENNAN a Boston Mass native who attended Mass Normal Arts School and became a camouflage artist fort the U. S. Shipping Board during WWI.   He was a songwriter for lyricists, notable Jack Caddigan.   One of his more popular songs was "Little Red School House" which he wrote with Al Wilsonin 1922, originally sung by the American Quartet, and eventually sung by Brenda Lee (at age 10 with Red Foley) and Perry Como (at age 16).  

OLIVER "Chick" STORY was also a Massachusetts native.  His father owned a grocery store and apparently it was a prosperous business.  He was an only child, never married and lived with his father Chelsea. After his father's death he moved back to East Boston where they had previously lived.  He was a Harvard graduate and remained an active alumnus, became involved in politics, and became as Mason.

While at Harvard Story wrote several pieces of music, and collaborated with Peter (Happy) O'Neil for dozens of songs.  They formed a publishing company together. O'Neil died at age 28 and Story opened his own company issuing more than 50 titles including many of his own.   In1913 he began collaborating with Jack Caddigan .  He was an accomplished piano player and vocalist, and formed a couple of different groups:  The Chick Story Trio and Chick Story Serenaders.  After closing his publishing firm he joined the offices of Feist Music.   Even after his publishing days ended, he continued to list himself in directories as a musician and performed in amateur theatricals, clubs and restaurants performing "songs of yesteryear." 


A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW  (written and published in 1914)

Everyone today is going crazy
Everyone today is going mad.
Each one is trying to do something decidedly new
Just to get the rest in bad.
Every day they change the style of dancing,
Every day they change the style of dress,
Oh, Boys, what is it come to
That's a problem we will have to guess.

I wonder what kind of a life  they'll lead
A hundred years from now?
I wonder what's going to be the speed
A hundred years from now.
The girlies are setting a pace today
That's turning the locks of gold to grey.
We're living a life of constant alteration
I wonder if they'll have a tango dance
A hundred years from now.
I wonder if they'll wear short pants
A hundred years from now.
There's no solution 
It's all evolution,
I sonder and wonder and wonder how much
The girls are going to wear
A hundred years from now.

Picture this town that once was just a pasture
Picture the girls who roamed it years ago-
They were the wonderful kind you know, 
The kind I've in mind, 
The sort of girl the world calls slow.
Think of a girl today out in a meadow
Raking the hay a la de da collette
No chance not in a thousand years
The girls today are all for Cabaret.

I wonder …………….A hundred years from now.

I wonder what he would think if he came back for just one day, to his Boston haunts.

I wonder "A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW"  in 2114.

For your entertainment and enlightenment, with thanks to Wikipedia and the wonderful composers and lyricists of long ago, and with thanks to the person who took care to preserve this old music.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


What an amazing amount of music has been written and printed.  Going back through the years I find the not only are the words simpler and more innocent, but the music  is less complicated, more predictable in structure.   You can anticipate where the tune is going, and while I cannot play without written music, I am not surprised most of the time with the path and pattern.   I wish I could play the left hand as written but I have to rely on "fake" music, or music with the chords indicated above the melody.  That's fine.  I didn't begin this journey until rather late and am happy with what i can do.   Well, no, I'm not.  I just said I wished I could play the music and written, and that's the truth.   But I know I don't have time enough to accomplish that so I am satisfied, if not happy.  As my son said recently, contentment or satisfaction is a nice state of being but "happy" is for special events.  I took some liberty with his words, but that's the gist of them.

The song this week is a little on the naughty side, and doesn't make a lot of sense.
While the words claim Harry got sued for "breach of promise"  there is no expansion on that subject.    The song was written in 1912 and the music composer was the publisher.   It took two men to write the lyrics, Alfred Bryan and Sam M. Lewis.

Mr. Bryan was born in 1871 and died in 1958.   He worked as an arranger in New York, and wrote for several Broadway shows in the 1900s.  In the '20s he moved to Hollywood to write lyrics for screen musicals.   Among is hits which are more familiar than "Daisy"  are: Peg o' My Heart, Come Josephine in My Flying Machine, I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier (which sold 650,000 copies during the first three months and  describes the American public's anti-war sentiments); We'll Be Together When the Clouds Roll By and Who Paid The Rent For Mrs. Rip Van Winkle?

Mr. Lewis, whose real name was Levine, was born in 1885 and died in 1959.  His musical career began by singing in cafes in New York, and began writing songs in 1912.  He collaborated with some of the well known songwriters of the time (many of those names appear on numerous sheet music copies over and over): Harry Warren, Walter Donaldson, Victor Young, Peter DeRose to name a few.  He wrote for some Broadway productions and screen musicals.  He was a charter member of ASCAP.
Some of his songs:  Dinah, For All We Know, Gloomy Sunday (English version)
Has Anybody Seen My Gal, I'm Sitting On Top Of The World, Laugh, Clown, Laugh.

Some people buy sheet music to use the covers for wrapping paper.   I am offended by that careless destruction of the really lovely artwork and interesting pictures of the celebrities.   "Daisy" has (what else) a random bunch of yellow eyed daisies, really very attractive.  In the corner there is an inset picture of Reine Davies, the vocalist who became known as "The New American Beauty"  in the early 1900s.    Her friends called her "The True Blue Girl".  She was the oldest girl in the Douras family and when driving through Brooklyn one day saw the office sign of Valentine Davies, liked the name, adopted it.   Her sisters followed by taking the name also.  Marion Davies was one of her younger sisters.

Reine married twice: to George Lederer with whom she had a son, writer/director Charles Lederer; and a daughter,Josephine Rose.  After her divorce in 1912 she married Goerge Regas, an actor.  Reine died in 1938 in her swimming pool of a heart attack.  Both children are also deceased.  

She is featured on many sheet music covers, always in elaborate dress of the times, wonderful fancy hats setting of her truly beautiful face.  Some of her songs were Meet Me Tonight IN Dreamland, The Reine Waltz, When I Kissed Your Tears Away,  Leaf By Leaf the Roses Fall to name a few.  

Many of the songs named above are still available to listen to on the internet.  

"Always Take A Girl Named Daisy (Cause Daisies Won't Tell).

Handsome Harry, handsome Harry Thomas, He was sued yes, sued for breach of promise.

He took Mary walking through the dell,and said, "Now don't you dare to tell,
Mary went right home and told her mother,
Ma told P and Pa then told her brother.
Brother told the preacher and the preacher went and tolled the wedding bell ---

Never take a walk with Mary, Never take a walk with Sue
Never take a walk with Maud or Carrie,
That's the kind of girl you'll have to marry.
If you take a girl out walking, 
Down a little shady dell
Always take a girl named Daisy
'Cause Daisies don't tell.

Harry's married life was pure and simple,
Till he met a girlie with a dimple.
She said "Dear, I'm not acquainted here, I just came down from Beaver Fall,
Harry went and said, why silk and satin
To this girl would be like Greek and Latin,
Harry felt like fainting when he missed his little dollar Ingersol -

Never take a walk with Mary --etc.  etc.

You can hear a recording of this typical vaudeville song on the internet.   It's from an old cylinder machine so it's a little gritty.  But it was quite an invention all the same.

You might also come across a visual and recording of an opera production done in 1903. It's not great, but near the end there is a picture of the equipment and the man recording the production.  Even if you don't think the sound is great, I think you will agree that 1) it was a marvelous feat of technology and 2) it's amazing it is still in tact and playable. 

Wouldn't it be great to find a few people who would put together a musical program singing and playing these long forgotten songs!   Now where can I find a tenor, a baritone, a contralto and bluesy alto who would love to work for a song?  Just another cockeyed notion.

Next weekend is the annual  community yard sale event in which the Maine Music For LIFE Players is participating.  Some of the 700 pieces of music I have been housing is going to go out for sale.  But I am keeping those with special meaning, and those with beautiful covers -  whether I can play them or not.  

jan major (please put MUSIC in the subject line.

Ack: Bing Search

Sunday, June 1, 2014

One of the nice things about sheet music is it usually has a verse, sometimes two, as well as he melody/refrain we are all familiar with.   Today I was looking at a song called THE GIRL IN THE LITTLE GREEN HAT.    The credits are given to Jack Scholl, Bradford Browne, and Max Rich and  Bibo-Lang, Inc. published it.  I found very little information about any of these writer/composers.

JACK SCHOLL was born in 1903 and died in 1988.  He collaborated with Eubie Blake, a wonder pianist.   Another of Scholl's songs might be familiar to you, "Throw Another Log On The Fire."   
MAX RICH was born in 1897 and died in 1970
BRADFORD BROWNE -  his bio was nonexistent. 

Apparently the song, The Girl In The Little Green Hat was part of the production of "Mrs. Henderson Presents" which featured Judi Dench .


Listen to the breezes in the tresses,
Harken to the grass upon the lawn, 
Listen to the mices in the pantry,
Harken to the breaking of the dawn.

Ooh! Ooh! Heavens above!  Aah! Aah! I'm in love.
Harken to the breaking of the dawn.

There's a lake in the park, 
There's a house by the  lake,
There's a girl in the house in the park by the lake;
And the girl in the house by the lake in the park, 

And tonight after eight, that's when I've got a date
When the moon's riding high and the stars light the sky,
With the girl in the house by the lake in the park, 

There's no water in the lake, there's no roof upon the house,
No tresses in the park at all
But she'll wait beside the lake, 
I'll be welcome at her house
I'll meet her by the garden wall.
There's a ship on the lake
There's a sailor on the shore
There's a girl in his arms,she's the girl I adore,
So goodbye to the house by the lake in the park

There's a storm on the lake, 
There's a ship in the storm
There's a girl on the ship in the storm on the lake
And the girl on the lake on the ship in the storm is

As the ship starts to dip, she is losing her grip,
Ev'ry dip makes her tip, not the girl but the ship,
But the girl on the ship has the pip from the trip

She's been sailing quite enough, she's been clinging to the rail,
She's dying to be home once more,
'Cause the lake is rather rough, And the girls is rather pale,
She's glad to ger her feet on shore.
Ah, she gave up the ship
And the captain and his men
For a round ticket trip to my arms once again.
Now I'm back in the park at the house by the lake, 

A lot of the music in the thirties was  "fox trot-y" .  (A lot more was 3/4 time)
I hope you'll go to your search engine and listen to this bouncy tune.    The words are kind of silly, but we had been through WWI and the depression, were not yet envisioning WWII.   

Scholl and Schenck (pronounced Shank"  were engaged to perform for Florenz Ziegfeld and Charles B. Dillingham when their original entertainment, a "trained but temperamental" chimpanzee failed to show up.   Following that they were featured in Zeigfeld shows.   They were well know and successful recording artists with such songs as "Hawaiian Sunshine",  "Yaddie Kaddie Kiddie Koo", For Me And My Gal" and "Dance And Grow Thin".   The wrote and performed a lot of their own music including "Mulberry Rose", "The Red Headed Gal", Promise Me Everything, Never Get Anything".  

After Schenck died Sholl worked solo in vaudeville and radio;  was on Broadway in a musical comedy with W. C. Fields.  He did some movie work, and eventually starred in "Gus Van's Garden Party"   which was a ten minute comedy  He was president of the American Guild of Variety Artists.

Gus Van died injuries after being struck by a car.