Today’s Cover Story

Ok, yes
it’s been a
while since
we had some
blog-o-tastic
fun with vintage
song sheets…

(here’s a
previous
post on the
subject)

so,
maybe today
we’ll see what
fun stuff that
we have in the
archives that
hasn’t been
posted here yet.

It’s pretty much
a passe thing
today, but there
was quite a
large, profitable
market for
sheet music
and song sheets
in the early part
of the 20th century.

These days,
we have
recorded
music being
utilized just
about
everywhere….

But, back then,
notwithstanding
the very limited and
unsatisfying quality
of musical recordings
as they slowly became
available, most people,
well into the 1930’s,
preferred music that
was performed live –
in restaurants, bars,
cabarets, burlesques,
strip joints, band shells,
speakeasies, carnivals,
medicine shows, revivals,
yes, even at the movie
theatre.

A large percentage
of educated people
in the U.S. and Britain
played at least one
instrument at the time,
and that usually meant
folks had plenty of sheet
music to go with it.

Song sheets
proliferated
in every musical
genre, from John
Philip Sousa style
marches,
all the way up
and down the
scales –

— blues,
gospel,
classical pieces,
tangos,
folk songs,
and operettas,
to ragtime
jazz.

The large publishing
houses that printed
music in New York
City were collectively
called
” Tin Pan Alley “,
and you still
occasionally
hear that phrase
used today…..

but before the
rise of radio and
the phonograph,
it’s hard to imagine
just how essential
these early publishers
were to the period’s
culture and
entertainment.

I personally
especially
treasure the ones
that had an
interesting or
suggestive theme
or illustration on
the cover —

— or feature music
written for an
unusual instrument
like the ukelele or
the contra-bassoon.

But believe me,
suggestive covers
were effective in
selling more
sheet music
than the
potential
hit songs inside
them ever did. 

There was a lot
of very good
music being
written
and published,
of course –

– but there were
also a lot of songs
that wouldn’t
seem to have been
worth the price
of printing –
except for
the novelty
aspect of them.

And of course,
that’s what
got them
featured on
today’s
Muscleheaded Blog,
cause we love
a little novelty
around here.

!!! HOY !!!

.

 

 

 

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1920’s Musical Anomie

The 1920’s were an
interesting time in
American history.

The earliest part of
the century had a
strong vibe of puritanical
stuffiness that, by the
time of the roaring 20’s
had caused a significant
social backlash.

The reaction to Prohibition
is often singled as a leading
factor in this general sense
of anomie.

But the huge casualty
figures from World War I,
and the 1918 Spanish Flu
epidemic —

(which had also
killed off millions of the
younger generation),

caused many ’30 and unders’
to rethink their lives and
seize upon the pleasures
available.

Skirts got shorter,
dances got closer,
movies got naughtier.

Slang changed dramatically.

Single girls no longer
waited for introductions
to suitable men for the
purpose of marriage.

It was a time
of experiment,
testing limits,
trying new things.

“Carpe Diem” was
the defining
expression of the era.

Living life to the fullest,
riding like ya stole it,

burning the candle at
both ends,

— burning out was better
than rusting away.

Sure,
you hear that stuff today,
but those people were the
first generation really doing it.

There was a wealth
of changes
in the music world, too…

— fusions and
inclusions —

— off beats,
— down beats —

like the proverbial typewriting
monkeys, it seemed that the
harmonizers of the day were
really going to find the lost
chord if they could just
create enough melody.

And of course, the lyrics
were as racey as the times
themselves.

Sheet music from the
time bears this out
very clearly.

The covers can be
wonderfully done,
and are often
very telling indeed.

Many 1920’s people
bought racy sheet music
to place conspicuously
somewhere in their homes,
to show just
‘and how in the know’
they were.

Sorta like a coffee table
book with Marilyn Monroe
nudes would be today……

But back then.

You know,
23 skidoo
and all that.

Ahem.

If you’re interested in
1920’s slang,
why not check out
one of my posts
on that very subject here
(imagine that!)

And,
if you liked these
vintage racy song sheets…

well, there are plenty
more on a previous
post of mine on that
subject, too  –
– here .

I hope you enjoy them
and
thanks for dropping in !

.

!!! HOY !!!

.

.