Category Archives: Author Known

Demon of the Seas

TITLE: Demon of the Sea AUTHOR: Unknown, possibly an anonymous London street author, identified only by the initials J.H. CATEGORY: Public Domain, Parlor Song KEYWORDS: Death, Fight, Navy, Pirate EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1847 (Journal of William Histed of the Cortes) About fourteen years ago [1833] I tried to make a shilling or two by selling read more »

Calvary (On a Hill Lone and Gray)

TITLE: Calvary (On a Hill Lone and Grey) AUTHOR: Words: Beverly F. Carradine, Music: Unknown, possibly Dock Boggs CATEGORY: Public Domain, Author Known KEYWORDS: grief, punishment, resurrection, death, dying, Bible, religious, Jesus EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: © 1895, R. M. McIntosh Co., Charles M. Alexander, Owner. HISTORICAL REFERENCES: It would appear that this song generally follows read more »

Marching Song of the First Arkansas (Negro) Regiment

TITLE: Marching Song of the First Arkansas (Negro) Regiment AUTHOR: Words: Capt. Lindley Miller? CATEGORY: KEYWORDS: Civil War, battle, Black(s), slavery, freedom, soldier, derivative EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1960 Songs of the Civil War (Irwin Silber) Dover Publications 1995, original 1960); also, a nineteenth century broadside is listed on p. 147 of Edwin Wolf 2nd, _American Song Sheets, Slip read more »

Battle Hymn of the Republic

TITLE: Battle Hymn of the Republic AUTHOR: Words: Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), using the music from the song “John Brown’s Body” CATEGORY: Public Domain, Author Known KEYWORDS: religious, patriotic, war EARLIEST DATE: 1861 HISTORICAL REFERENCES: The words to this piece were written by Julia Ward Howe in November 1861 after Howe watched a parade of Union troops. I went to read more »

Red Wing

TITLE: Red Wing AUTHOR: Kerry Mills and Thurland Chattaway CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: American Indians, death, battle EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: copyrighted in 1907, now in public domain SOME CONSIDER THIS SONG OFFENSIVE: See below. Frederick Allen (Kerry) Mills and Thurland Chattaway wrote this tune in  1907. Mills spent twenty years trying to keep up read more »

Get Up, Jack! John, Sit Down!

TITLE: Get Up, Jack! John, Sit Down! AUTHOR: Words: Edward Harrigan / Music: David Braham CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: sailor, work, drink EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1885 (“Old Lavender”) According to Sigmund Spaeth, A History of Popular Music in America Random House, 1948, pp. 186-187, the late 1870s saw a series of musical skits called the Mulligan series. read more »

Sailing, Sailing

TITLE: Sailing, Sailing AUTHOR: Godfrey Marks CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: sailor, sea, ship, home EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1880 (sheet music) James Frederick Swift, who wrote under the pseudonym of Godfrey Marks, was born in Manchester in 1847, became an organist and composer and died in Wallasey, Cheshire, in 1931. The complete lyrics and music are read more »

Columbus, 67 (Once I Had a Glorious View)

TITLE: Columbus, 67 (Once I Had a Glorious View) AUTHOR: collected by Jesse Mercer CATEGORY: Author Known KEYWORDS: religious, Sacred Harp EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE:  Jesse Mercer’s Cluster of Spiritual Songs, 1810 I learned this one from Mark Bordeaux. Thanks. Jesse Mercer’s Cluster of Spiritual Songs (1810 was the most important hymn collection in the read more »

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

TITLE: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star AUTHOR: Jane Taylor (1783-1824) CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: children, EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1806 (Rhymes for the Nursery, according to Opie-Oxford2) People all around the world are familiar with the tune to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. It’s at least 245 years old! The tune is originally from France and it read more »

Row, Row, Row

TITLE: Row! Row! Row! AUTHOR: Words by William Jerome, Music by Jimmie V. Monaco CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: Tin Pan Alley, parlor song EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: The Ziegfeld Follies of 1912 Composer James V. Monaco (Jimmy) was born in Fornia, Italy on January 13, 1885, immigrated to the United States in 1891 and settled in read more »

Aba Daba Honeymoon

TITLE: Aba Daba Honeymoon AUTHOR: Arthur Fields and Walter Donovan CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: Tin Pan Alley, EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: The first recording of Aba Daba Honeymoon was made in 1914 by Collins & Harlan. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I consider many Tin Pan Alley songs written prior to 1922, folk songs, because read more »

This Little Light of Mine

 TITLE: This Little Light of Mine AUTHOR: Harry Dixon Loes CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: Civil Rights, Religious EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip This Little Light of Mine was written in the 1920s as a song for children by a white northern pastor/music teacher, Harry Dixon Loes. read more »

Abdul, the Bulbul Amir

TITLE: Abdul, the Bulbul Amir AUTHOR: Percy French CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: humorous, death, foreigner EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1877 (copyright under the title “Abdulla Bulbul Ameer”) HISTORICAL REFERENCES: 1853-1854 – Crimean War William Percy French was the son of a landlord and a clergyman’s daughter. He studied engineering at Trinity College, where he spent read more »

Over in the Meadow

TITLE: Over in the Meadow AUTHOR: Words by Olive A. Wadsworth (Katharine Floyd Dana), CATEGORY: Public Domain, Author Known KEYWORDS: Counting, Children, Animals EARLIEST DATE: 1870 The poem Over in the Meadow was written by Olive A. Wadsworth (whose real name was Katharine Floyd Dana) and published in the book Kit, Fan, Tot, and the Rest read more »

You’re a Grand Old Flag

TITLE: You’re a Grand Old Flag AUTHOR: George M. Cohan CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: Patriotic, Flag EARLIEST DATE: February 6, 1906 HISTORICAL REFERENCES: The song was introduced to the public in the play’s [George Washington, Jr.] first act on opening night, February 6, 1906, in New York’s Herald Square Theater. “You’re a Grand Old Flag” was read more »

On the Line (On the Picket Line)

TITLE: On the Line AUTHOR: Words: Margaret Larkin, Music: “Polly Wolly Doodle” CATEGORY: author known, public domain KEYWORDS: protest, union EARLIEST DATE: 1926 HISTORICAL REFERENCES: The 1926 Passaic Textile Strike was a work stoppage by over 15,000 woolen mill workers in and around Passaic, New Jersey over wage issues in several factories in the vicinity. The strike began on January 25, 1926 read more »

April Showers

TITLE: April Showers AUTHOR: music written by Louis Silvers and lyrics by B. G. De Sylva CATEGORY: public domain, author known KEYWORDS: Broadway, optimism EARLIEST DATE: The 1921 Broadway musical Bombo, where it was performed by Al Jolson. “April Showers” is a popular song with music written by Louis Silvers and lyrics by B. G. De Sylva. First published in 1921, it is one of many popular songs whose lyrics read more »

America (My Country Tis of Thee)

TITLE: America (My Country Tis of Thee) AUTHOR: Samuel Francis Smith CATEGORY: public domain, author known KEYWORDS: patriotic, America, religious, derivative EARLIEST DATE: 1831 (first recorded performance, though Smith later thought he wrote it in 1832, when it was first published) HISTORICAL REFERENCES: According to Spaeth (A History of Popular Music in America, p. 69), S. F. Smith discovered the tune of read more »

Simple Gifts

TITLE: Simple Gifts AUTHOR: Joseph Brackett, Jr. CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: religious EARLIEST DATE: 1848 Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. “received” the song in late spring or early summer of 1848 at a Shaker community in Alfred, Maine. Shakers, or The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, has “influenced American culture way beyond what read more »

I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate

TITLE: I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate AUTHOR:  Clarence Williams and Armand Piron CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: dance, EARLIEST DATE: 1915 I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate; often simply Sister Kate, is an up-tempo jazz dance song, written by Clarence Williams and Armand Piron, and published in 1915. It is believed to be read more »

Bill Morgan and His Gal

TITLE: Bill Morgan and His Gal AUTHOR: Words by Will A. Mahoney, Music by Halsay K. Mohr CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: food, humorous, lover, money, comic EARLIEST DATE: 1906 HISTORICAL REFERENCES: John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), mortgage banker, was probably the most powerful financier in American history; he controlled railroads, steel mills and the largest bank on Wall read more »

Come Ye Sinners (I Will Arise)

TITLE: Come Ye Sinners AUTHOR:  Verses: Joseph Hart, Refrain: Debated, Tune: Walker’s Southern Harmony CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: Religious, Hymn, Jesus, God EARLIEST DATE: 1759 Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, Weak and wounded, sick and sore; Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, love and power. He is able, He read more »

Look for the Silver Lining

TITLE: Look for the Silver Lining AUTHOR: Music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by B.G. DeSylva CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: optimism, musical EARLIEST DATE: 1919 Look for the Silver Lining is a popular song with music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by B.G. DeSylva. It was written in 1919 for the unsuccessful musical Zip, read more »

Are You Washed in the Blood?

TITLE: Are You Washed in the Blood? AUTHOR: Elisha Hoffman CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: religious EARLIEST DATE: 1878, Spiritual Songs for Gospel Meetings and the Sunday School  Elisha Hoffman was born in Pennsylvania in 1839, and he died ninety years later in 1929 in Chicago. Elisha enrolled in the Union Bible Seminary in read more »

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

TITLE: Take Me Out to the Ball Game AUTHOR: Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain (1908 version only) KEYWORDS: baseball EARLIEST DATE: 1908 Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a song from Tin Pan Alley. Tin Pan Alley is the name given a period of songwriting in the read more »

Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis

TITLE: Meet Me in St. Louis AUTHOR: Words by Andrew B. Sterling and music by Kerry Mills CATEGORY: author known, public domain KEYWORDS: love, travel, separation, abandonment, world’s fair EARLIEST DATE: 1904 (sheet music) HISTORICAL REFERENCES: 1904 – St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World’s Fair). The song Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis was written read more »

Amazing Grace

TITLE: Amazing Grace AUTHOR: Words: John Newton (1725-1807) CATEGORY: author known, public domain KEYWORDS: religious EARLIEST DATE: 1789 (reportedly composed) or 1831 (printed in Virginia Harmony) Most people know the story of John Newton (1725–1807) and his writing of the hymn Amazing Grace, but if you don’t, rent or purchase the PBS CD . John Newton’s gravestone reads: 

Prayer of the Abolitionist (The Abolitionist Hymn)

TITLE: Prayer of the Abolitionist (The Abolitionist Hymn) AUTHOR: John Pierpont, tune: “Old 100th,” Genevan Psalter 1551 CATEGORY: author known, public domain KEYWORDS: slavery, anti-slavery, Civil War EARLIEST DATE: poem written by Pierpont in 1842 HISTORICAL REFERENCES: During the years just before the American Civil War when the tension between the North and South was growing, both white read more »

Power in the Blood

TITLE: Power in the Blood AUTHOR: Lewis Edgar Jones CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain KEYWORDS: Religious, Hymn, Jesus EARLIEST DATE: 1899 “The power in the blood” is one of those phrases that should be in the Bible, but it isn’t. You are more likely to find it in an older hymnbook. An old hymn which begins read more »

Come Thou Fount (Come Thy Fount)

TITLE: Come Thou Fount AUTHOR: Robert Robinson CATEGORY: public domain, author known KEYWORDS: religious EARLIEST DATE: 1757 Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is a Christian hymn written by the 18th century pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson. Robert Robinson penned the words at age 22 in the year 1757. At the age of 17, after  taking on read more »

All Through the Night

TITLE: All Through the Night AUTHOR: music: unknown, lyrics: John Ceiriog Hughes CATEGORY: unknown, public domain KEYWORDS: lullaby death love EARLIEST DATE: 1784 (tune: Edward Jones, “Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards”) “Ar Hyd y Nos” (“All through the Night”) is a Welsh folksong sung to a tune which was first noted in Edward read more »

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

TITLE: When Johnny Comes Marching Home AUTHOR: Words: “Louis Lambert” (Patrick S. Gilmore) CATEGORY: author known, public domain KEYWORDS: home, war, return, reunion, nonballad EARLIEST DATE: 1863 (sheet music published by Henry Tolman & Co, Boston) HISTORICAL REFERENCES: United States Civil War When Johnny Comes Marching Home expressed people’s longing for the return of their friends read more »

We Shall Not Be Moved (Labor Version)

TITLE: We Shall Not Be Moved AUTHOR: Hymn by Alfred H. Ackley, modified by the labor movement in the 1930s. CATEGORY: Public Domain, Debated KEYWORDS: labor-movement, nonballad, protest EARLIEST DATE: 1955 (recording, Pete Seeger) HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Union Coal Mine Strike in West Virginia, 1931. “One of the most popular union songs, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” read more »