Tag Archive | 1910 pop culture

Exotic Numbers: Tin Pan Alley Daydreams about the Orient

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, robust development in the musical business and its assortment of technologies had turned every aspect of the American pop song industry on its head. At the turn of the twentieth century, rags, cakewalks and coon songs had captured the attention of the music business, but after twenty years, the entire vocabulary of music industry had morphed into jazz, blues, and fox trots. Male barbershop quartets which had a considerable presence on record for the entire Ragtime Era, relented their popularity while instrumental jazz orchestras and their celebrity bandleaders became the preferred musical fashion for the 1920s and 1930s. The entire Ragtime Era brought changes in musical culture from domestic piano culture to passive entertainments of mechanical music reproduction of player pianos and talking machines. Consequently, the recording industry had become a multimillion-dollar business which “shoved the piano down a sharply steeped slope.”[1] The voices that consumers were hearing on record had undergone dramatic demographic change as well between these two decades. Instead of white singers performing coon songs in black dialect, a style that had been in vogue circa 1900, two decades later, African-American singers and musicians like “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith and Louis Armstrong found mainstream success, so much so that niche labels like Okeh, Ajax and Paramount came into business releasing so-called “race records” with the increasing demand for African-American musicians who had “greater influence upon American culture.”[2] The recording industry would undergo further dramatic changes just a few years later when electronics put an end to turn-of-the-century acoustic methods of recording and transmitted music directly into the home via radio. With all of this change and sheet music in a slowly declining state, a new song trend about foreign and exotic lands would make a stylish impact on sheet music in the early Jazz Era.

At the beginning of the Jazz Era in the late 1910s and early 1920s, popular culture’s interest in Asian and Middle Eastern things had been renewed and riding the trend were the composers and lyricists of Tin Pan alley; a song trend featuring exotic and oriental lands had come to the market. The trend was noticeable with illustrations of oriental themes on sheet music and lyrics which describe exotic people and their mannerisms. The trend also had its own distinctive sound with a specific beat and Jazz-styled chords and intervals in melodies. The word oriental was a convenient word for lyricists to use since it adds an element of novelty without being terribly specific and it was used to describe everything to environment to personal appearance. However, looking more deeply at the trend in exotic songs, the oriental trend featured song-writing techniques which had been in use by Tin Pan Alley for years. With geography and distance between people inherent parts of the trend in oriental songs, sentimental torch songs of unrequited love, make up a sizeable majority of these songs. There were cases in which the oriental trend had brought about funny people engaged in funny situations in the Orient, including the sex appeal of the harem and curious encounters with Sultans. However, within the trend in oriental songs, there were ways in which oriental elements of these songs had been used beyond the scope of the exotic trend. Songs with dated formats, song-writing buzzwords used for non-oriental purposes and caricatures of Chinese people had been influenced by the trend in oriental songs. By 1924, the trend had subsided, but with so much activity in the pop song market, had been a noticeable trend than a prevailing fad.

Oriental influence on pop culture was nothing new to Americans in the 1920s, in fact popular culture had been impacted by interest in the East for decades. After Japan and China had been opened up for western trade in the nineteenth century, Asian styles of decorative arts became fashionable in American and Europe homes and Western companies found great success with their lines of Chinoiserie or Japonisme designed domestic arts. Decorative plants like azaleas and rhododendrons became an increasingly popular choice in Western gardens after their export from China during the nineteenth century.[3] Noel Fahden Briceno notes that expositions in Philadelphia in 1876, Chicago in 1893 and Buffalo in 1900 brought Asian arts to the attention of even more American consumers and successive waves in availability for Chinoiserie items followed each exposition.[4] Middle Eastern, particularly Egyptian motifs also found their place in the Western decorative market including obelisks, sphinxes, and pyramids and images of Cleopatra. The trend was so pervasive throughout the history of decorative arts that the term Egyptomania is used to describe the phenomenon.[5] Exotic places and people were nothing new to the pop song market either by 1920; numerous songs during the Ragtime era feature distant lands including titles like “Egypt” (1903), “Turkish Trophies” (1909), “Under the Oriental Moon” (1909), and “an Indian isle,”[6] the setting of the popular “I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers” from 1909. By 1919 following the conclusion to the First World War, a renewed interest in all things Asian, Middle Eastern and Egyptian had come into fashion. Advertising brought exotic portrayals of girls in Egyptian wardrobe hawking everything from Cusenier Cognac to Egyptian Luxury Cigarettes to Palmolive Shampoo.[7] By 1919, popular movies often depicted oriental themes including The Fall of Babylon, Harakiri, Broken Blossoms and Auction of Souls became some of the most popular films of that year.[8] Egyptomania would be reignited in America in 1922, followed the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb.[9] The pop song market would also reflect this renewed interest with the East and stylish sheet music featuring Middle Eastern landscapes, fashion accessories on beautiful exotic women and lyrics which reflected the distant nature of the Orient. When exotic and oriental songs came onto the pop song market in the late 1910s, pop culture had already experienced various waves of oriental influence and was enjoying a resurgent spike in interest in oriental and exotic themes.

With renewed interest in the Orient, the subsequent pop song trend prominently offered music consumers foreign settings; geography consequently plays a central role in oriental songs. Naturally, the most effective way to introduce a song’s distant and exotic setting is to style the sheet music covers as much as possible. Cover art is musical advertisement; it is the first thing that music consumers see when shopping for music and the decorative nature of the oriental trend was colourfully displayed conspicuously, and Middle Eastern elements had been the prevalent theme on these illustrations. Byron Gay’s “Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose)” features an illustrated scene of camels, caravans and the golden light of sun setting against a desert.[10] The cover art for “Egyptian Moonlight” features illustrations of all things Egyptomania including palm trees and a couple resting beside a slumbering camel.[11] In other songs, the artwork is more specific in detail including a girl wearing fashionable Egyptian-styled clothing and jewellery with towering minarets of a mosque in the background in Olson, Thompson and O’Neill’s “Kharmine.”[12] The cover art of “The Sheik (Of Araby)” features a scene of a sheik clad in a turban and robes embracing his adoring maiden.[13] The description of these far off lands is even more baroque and stylised within the lyrics of the song with geography illustrated in dreamy detail for the sake of the song’s setting. In “Egyptian Moonlight,” the action of the song happens in relief to the Egyptian landscape illustrated rather attractively as “Down where the old dreamy Nile is flowing.”[14] A similar graceful and stylish scene of Egypt can be found in “There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes”

There’s Egypt in your dreamy eyes

A bit of Cairo in your style

The shades of night are in your hair

While fragrant incense seems to the fill the air.[15]

In “Hindustan” the exotic nature of the geography is the most memorable experience for the main character in the song, the landscape is so important that the lyric “where I met her and the world began”[16] emphasises the impact of Hindustan’s geography. “The Sheik (of Araby)” features lyrics which combine descriptions of arid land and robust action, “Over the desert wild and free/Rides the bold Sheik of Araby,”[17] the imagery is amplified by the romantic embrace illustrated on the cover. When the exotic and oriental nature of the songs had come onto the pop song scene, the imagery of the setting both on cover art and within the lyrics became an important addition to define the style of song content.

The protrusion of oriental songs onto the American song market had not just been about the dreamy style of the songs’ locations and decorative nature of sheet music; it had briefly formed its own musical genre with its own distinct sound suited for the tonal sensibilities of the Jazz Era including heavy distinctive beats and interesting combinations of chords. There had developed a distinctive beat to oriental songs, of heavy march-like “four on the floor” beat with the second beat of a measure composed of two accented eighth notes. This beat is a common marker of a new genre of “Oriental Fox Trots” which had come onto the market of sheet music and disc recordings. “The Vamp,” specifically labelled as a “novelty Oriental Fox Trot” according to the title page,[18] incessantly has this rhythm from beginning to end, which is amplified on record between the sparse lines in the verses and refrain.[19] This distinct oriental rhythmic pattern is also found in the accompaniment to Byron Gay’s “Sand Dunes,”[20] Olson, Thompson and O’Neal’s “Kharmine,”[21] and the heavily accented chord accompaniment to Oliver Wallace and Harold Weeks’s “Hindustan.”[22] However, with the sonic changes that Jazz had brought to the music market at the time, the melodies and chord progressions had been stylised with chromatic runs, exotic chords and intervals to add more distinctive musical elements to Tin Pan Alley songs. The song Richard Whiting and Raymond Egan tune “The Japanese Sandman” opens with a descending flourish of syncopated chromatic chords.[23] The melodic lines of “Dardanella” ascend and descend a chromatic scale seemingly without any key at all,[24] the song’s sound was tremendously popular that recordings by Ben Selvin and his Orchestra sold one million records.[25] The chorus of “Hindustan” features some very jazzy blue notes of minor thirds and flatted ninths.[26] The verses of “The Sheik (Of Araby)” prominently feature the Middle Eastern-sounding interval between minor third and raised fourth.[27] For the oriental song trend, songs did not just look pretty with exotic locations on the covers, but also sounded exotic with a distinct rhythmic accompaniment and foreign sounding intervals and chromatic runs.

However, besides the style of the images and the sound of the music, there is another feature to these oriental songs, that their exotic people and places are characteristically described as vaguely as possible with the qualifier oriental. Presumably, the word could mean anything Middle Eastern or Asian and its inclusion is a convenient way for lyricists to describe something exotic without getting bogged down with details. Giving a new song an oriental name representative of a new genre had been a noticeable feature, for example, “Egyptian Moonlight” is specifically labelled as an “Oriental Love Song.” The rhythms of the accompaniments to exotic songs had given way to a new genre of Oriental Fox Trots; a popular recording by Paul Whiteman Orchestra was generically titled “Oriental Fox Trot.[28]” A further examination of the word oriental in reference to song lyrics reveals that there are instances when it is both semantically vacuous, while also at least adding intrigue to the song’s content. In the song “Dardanella” the setting where the title girl resides is described “Beside the Dardanella Bay/Where Oriental breezes play”[29] although oriental does not really mean anything. The oriental geography also becomes part of personal characteristics of people in songs, which adds mystery without much specificity. For example, in “There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes,” a girls is described as having “All the Orient in your smile/Mysterious as River Nile.”[30] The Irving Berlin song “The Syncopated Vamp” links the vocabulary of jazz trends with new with the interest in Egyptomania by describing the main character, a dancing girl, as a “Jazzy Cleopatra.”[31] The title character of the song “Kharmine” is addressed as “Kharmine, my gypsy Kharmine, So Oriental” in the refrain, a statement which is descriptive but as generic as the word oriental. In the song “Chong (He Came from Hong Kong)” the main character of the song Little Allee Ho Chong is described as “played all day in an oriental way,”[32] but that does not actually describe what he is doing. Beyond the dreamy descriptions of geography and the sounds of Jazzy oriental songs, there is also a self-referential quality to these songs which is more semantically vacuous while curiously adding depth in detail.

Among the dreamy landscapes, exotic locations and driving jungle beats rampant during the exotic trend, there is admittedly nothing truly distinctive about the overall lyrical content of exotic songs. Similar to the ways in which love is represented during World War I love songs where couple had been separated by the conflict or the Hawaiian fad of 1915 and 1916 where one half of the couple is in Hawaii and the other is on the mainland, love during the exotic trend is similarly expressed by means of geographic separation. Consequently, most of the trend’s love songs have the lonesome sentiment of torch songs that had been on trend with musical fashion of the late 1910s. Much of the actual lyrical content apart from exotic geography rests upon the content of sentimental torch songs, maudlin feelings set against the backdrop of exotic locations deserts, nights and sand. In “Hindustan,” the main character in the lyrics pines over his love emotionally, “Soft my heart is crying for my love afar.”[33] In “Kharmine,” the title character languishes, “I’m so lonely I want only you…Kharmine, My heart’s aflame/And dearie, I know I’ll be content With you in the orient.”[34] A female perspective in “Burnin’ Sands” addresses love in the same manner, this time, in the middle of a desert suggested by the title. “Across the Burning Sands, There waits my Arab man,”[35] read the lyrics. The title girl in “Dardanella” stands next to the sea waiting for her man to come back to her,

There lives a lonesome maid, Armenian

By Dardanelles with glowing eyes.

She looks across the seas and sighs.”[36]

The main speaker in “Sand Dunes” envisions an idyllic life in the oriental desert, “No clouds of show’rs in the lands of repose, A world of True love is ours, Sweetheart in our little Sand Dunes home” while longing for “my sweet desert rose.”[37] In Irving Berlin’s “Tell Me, Pretty Gypsy,” the speaker in the song consults with a Gypsy fortune-teller to tell him some good news about his future and his love life.[38] While this sentimental torch song element represents a large variety of exotic numbers, not all oriental songs have this sort of sentiment. In “The Sheik (of Araby),” inspired by the imagery of a popular film The Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino,[39] a sheik finds not just a bride, but also a queen, “You’ll rule this land with me; the Sheik of Araby.”[40] The lyrics of “Dardanella” are more about the celebration of the title girl rather than an emphasis on her distance from the speaker in the song.[41] Even though the new fashions of songs with foreign locations had come onto the market, their lyrical content of love, and the consequences of distance of oriental locations resulted in sentimental torch songs.

Of course, whenever the music industry finds a new song trend, there are other facets to consider and not all songs during the exotic wave were about teary proclamations of unattainable love. Humour was also a tremendously important entertaining component to music and during the trend in oriental numbers, songwriters included humour by using out of context Americans in the orient, with awkward encounters with Sultans and visits to their various harems. The easiest method to include funny situations and characters was, of course, to compose a story song which would be equally humorous and also salacious and during the trend in oriental themes, this was accomplished by mentioning harems filled with Sultan’s many wives. These sorts of songs frequently pair men and Sultans in funny exchanges for the sake of getting into the Sultan’s harem to see what goes on inside. The actual description of situations can be humorous as in Irving Berlin’s “Harem Life” in which a Sultan, “a poor old man with young ideas,” has so many wives and yet “each day a wife arrives Fresh from Bagdad.”[42] But funny stories are more about out of context characters, for example in “Lock Me in Your Harem and Throw Away the Key,” the sultan loses his horse and comical Irishman Pat McCann “who happened to be there” is rewarded with a trip to the harem after saving the Sultan’s life.[43] The comical nature of the harem is more than just a funny story to play out in song lyrics, it also adds sex appeal and intrigue about such an exotic concept as a many-wived harem in an exotic land. In “I’m the Guy who Guards the Harem,” extramarital shenanigans are assumed when the Sultan of Turkey “goes out for a spree,” and the title guy guarding the harem finds that “it keeps the wheels a-working in my knob/If Sultan ever saw the way I guard his harem/He would go out and engage someone to guard over me.”[44] The curious nature of the harem excites one character in “Lock Me in Your harem and Throw Away the Key” who has his own physical curiosities for the women inside, his eagerness for departure lacking: “Down in you harem there’s Rosie, Josie, Posie and I know that you spare ‘em/So won’t you let me stay, Locked in the harem with the keys thrown away.”[45] But such comically represented examples of harems are not the only ways in which Sultans and harems are described. In “Dardanella,” the title maiden’s virtue is protected from a frisky Sultan who “said ‘I’ll buy her for my Harem” and her suitor “just told the Sultan to be nice/She can’t be bought for any price.”[46] The use of harem within song lyrics of the Orient add both humour and sex appeal which could get consumer’s attention by being funny and provocative.

With any song trend that come into fashion on the American market, there are ways in which songwriters and lyricists take full advantage of its vocabulary and imagery and during the rash of oriental songs in the late 1910s and early 1920s, there were songs which feature oriental-like words, but have nothing to do with the trend’s most salient feature, the geography of the Middle East. For example, “The Vamp,” specifically labelled as a “Novelty Oriental Fox-trot with words” on the sheet music, has nothing to do with the milieu of the Orient at all, in fact, the song is about a new dance step, the lyrics instruct “ev’rybody do the Vamp/Vamp until you get a cramp.”[47] The song “The Love a Gipsy Knows” lacks all of the characteristic oriental beats, sounds and lush geographical description; instead it is a waltz ballad with lachrymose lyrics reminiscent of pop songs of the 1890s.[48] “Lovin’ Sam (The Sheik of Alabam’)” is a warning about a man in Alabama, i.e. “the sheik,” who can “vamp” a girl better than anyone and steal her away for his own, resulting in an odd combination of oriental vocabulary and Southern Ragtime song.[49] The spike in oriental songs had caused Tin Pan Alley arrangers and lyricists to modify Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff’s “Song of India” from the opera Sadko to suit the trend, consequently, various English lyric versions styled for the American pop market became tremendous popularity during the first part of the 1920s, including “Play that ‘Song of India’ Again” from 1921, which uses Rimsky-Korsakoff’s music while the lyrics are referential to the oriental currents in the pop market, “There’s a melody I know that’s always haunting me/Just a melody who strain is always taunting me.”[50] Chinese caricatures had also come onto the pop market during the flurry of exotic songs, but they were about the funny features of Chinese characters living in the United States, instead of exotic locations and these songs focus on a humorous caricature of Chinese people in the lyrics in rather racially insensitive ways. In “Chong (He Came from Hong Kong)” the main character’s musical talents are the main feature of the song’s lyrics, and not the place where he lives; “I betcha he teachee his China girl how to dance, like in a trance/Teachee Preachee Melican song;”[51] the song does not venture into the oriental trend’s characteristic portrayal of foreign places. Another Chinese song, “Ching Chong,” also does not fit the exotica trend, instead, the lyric tells about a Chinese shop owner and his popular café in San Francisco; presumably, an opium den:

The when the time is ripe,

He’ll fill your little pipe,

And then a light he’ll bring,

Gently you’ll float away

Far out on slumber Bay

And softly you will sing,[52]

Such stereotypes and caricatures were not just limited to the lyrics of these songs, but also in their recordings. In a 1919 Premier Quartet recording of “Chong (He Came from Hong Kong),” for example, the sounds of the Chinese language are mimicked for comical effect.[53] While the trend in exotic locations had been going on, there were ways in which the trend’s superficial elements were used in rather non-exotic ways including use of vocabulary and inclusion of caricatures of oriental people.

By 1923, the exotic trend had subsided and its historical legacy within the context of pop song history became a noticeable, but not a pervasive trend. Considering the amount of activity in the pop song market of the early Jazz Era, it is not surprising that consumer attention could not have fixated on single fad. Even though exotic songs charted well, recording artists and the new sounds of orchestras were more popular than these songs, after all. But left behind are songs from a time when new and novel locations became part of popular culture once again and scenes of deserts and foreign places became popular in description and illustration. The music suited the times when Jazz brought new rhythms and sounds to the American market. But the song trend, in retrospect, had lyrical content which had a familiar presence on the American market including pining torch songs of loves left in distant lands. While humour and sex appeal were brought to the attention of consumers through the use of a foreign concept of the harem, which had been used as something novel and funny. But there were other ways in which the trend in Oriental songs had produced music, which had nothing to do with the oriental song trend, in fact the vocabulary was used in ways which lacked the exotic trend’s focus on geography including racial stereotypes of Chinese people, for humorous effect. By the middle of the 1920s, the exotic nature in pop had had gone and left in its wake was a pop market which had increasingly focused on American themes and pop trends rather then looking internationally for musical inspiration.


Brentschneider, E. History of European Botanical Discoveries in China. London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company. 1898.

Briceno, Noel Fahden. The Chinoiserie Revival in Early Twentieth-Century American Interiors.

Brier, Bob.   Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. 2013.

“Ching Chong form 1917 – Original Roll.” Youtube.com. Posted on 5 November 2010 by John A. Tuttle. Found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyEJjxInCo0.

Peerless Quartet’s recordings of Ching Chong.

“Edison Blue Amberol Cylinder 3769 – Chong (He Came from Hong Kong) by Premier Quartet.” Found on YouTube.com. Posted on 12 October 2014 by bigtradermicks.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf0ST2KcP_4.

Green, Adam. Selling Race: Culture, Community and Black Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 2007.

Hischak, Thomas. The Tin Pan Alley Encyclopaedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 2002.

Loesser, Arthur. Men, Women and Piano: A Social History. New York: Dover Publications. 1990.

Monserat, Dominic. Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt. New York: Rutledge. 2001.

Most Popular Feature Films Released in 1919. Internet Movie Database. Imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/search/title?year=1919,1919&title_type=feature&sort=moviemeter,asc.

“Palmolive: Re-Incarnation of Beauty.” (poster). The Advertising Archives.co.uk. Accessed 5 May 2015. http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk/detail/87518348/1/Magazine-Advert/Palmolive/1920s.

Songs Cited

Ager, Milton (music) and Jack Yelen (lyrics). Lovin’ Sam (The Sheik of Alabam’). New York: Ager, Yellen & Bornstein Inc. 1922.

Berlin, Irving. Harem Life (Outside of That Every Little Thing’s All Right). New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1919.

——-. I’m the Guy Who Guards the Harems (And My Heart’s In My Work). New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1919.

——-. Lock Me In Your Harem and Throw Away the Key. New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1914.

——-. The Syncopated Vamp. New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1920.

——-. Tell Me, Pretty Gypsy. New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1920.

Bernard, Felix and Johnny S. Black (music) and Fred Fisher (lyrics). Dardanella. New York: McCarthy & Fisher Inc. 1919.

Fancho and Marco. The Love A Gipsy Knows. New York: Jerome Remick & Co. 1920.

Gay, Byron. Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose). New York: Leo Feist, Inc. 1919.

——-. The Vamp. New York: Leo Feist, Inc. 1919.

Olson, Elmer, Moe Thompson and Dannie O’Neill. Kharmine. New York: Harrison Music Co. Inc. 1921.

Onivas, D. (music) and Jack Meskill (lyrics). Burnin’ Sands. New York: Richmond-Robbins Inc. 1922.

Phillips, A. Fred (music) and Jack Caddigan (lyrics). Egyptian Moonlight. New York: Ted Garton Music Co. 1919.

Rimsky-Korsakoff, Nikolas (music) and Leo Wood and Irving Bibo (Music), arranged by Paul Whiteman. Play That “Song of India” Again. New York: Leo Feist Inc. 1921.

Roberts, Lee S. Ching Chong (He Came From Hong Kong). Chicago, IL: Lee S. Roberts. 1917.

Scott, Maurice (music) and Weston & Barnes (lyrics). I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers, or Mumbo Jumbo Jijjiboo J. O’Shay. New York: T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter. 1909.

Snyder, Ted (music) and Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler (lyrics). The Sheik (of Araby). New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder. 1921.

Spencer, Herbert (music) and Fleta Jan Brown (lyrics). There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes. New York: Jerome Remick & Co. 1917.

Wallace, Oliver G. and Harold Weeks. Hindustan. Chicago, IL: Forster Music Publisher Inc. 1918.

Weeks, Harold. Chong (He Came from Hong Kong). New York: Leo Feist, Inc. 1919.

Whiting, Richard A. (Music) and Raymond B. Egan (lyrics). The Japanese Sandman. New York: Jerome Remick & Co. 1920.


Paul Whiteman Orchestra. Oriental Fox Trot. Victor 18940. located at The Library of Congress National Jukebox. Found at http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/8853/

Waldorf-Astoria Singing Orchestra. The Vamp. Columbia Record. A2758. 1919. Found on YouTube.com. Posted on 2 August 2009 by cdbpdx. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51Iop5LZqsI.

[1] Arthur Loesser, Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History, (New York: Dover Publications, 1990), 602.

[2] Adam Green, Selling Race: Culture, Community and Black Chicago, (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 54.

[3] E. Brentschneider, History of European Botanical Discoveries in China, (London, Sampson Low, Martson and Company, 1898), 476.

[4] Noel Fahden Briceno, The Chinoiserie Revival in Early Twentieth Century American Interiors, Thesis. Spring 2008, University of Delaware. 15.

[5] Bob Brier, Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 160.

[6] Maurice Scott (music) and Weston & Barnes (lyrics), I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers, or, Mumbo Jumbo Jijjiboo J O’Shay, (New York: T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Harris, 1909).

[7] “Palmolive: Re-Incarnation of Beauty,” The Advertising Archive, accessed 5 May 2015, http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk/detail/87518348/1/Magazine-Advert/Palmolive/1920s.

[8] For synopses of these films, see “Most Popular Films Released in 1919,” Internet Movie Database, imbd.com, accessed 20 May 2015, found at http://www.imdb.com/search/title?year=1919,1919&title_type=feature&sort=moviemeter,asc.

[9] Dominic Monserat, Akhenaten: History, Fantasy of Ancient Egypt, (New York: Routledge, 2001), 8.

[10] Byron Gay, Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose), New York: Leo Feist Inc, 1919).

[11] A. Fred Phillips (music) and Jack Caddigan (lyrics), Egyptian Moonlight, (New York: Ted Garton Music, 1919).

[12] Elmer Olson, Moe Thompson and Dannie O’Neill, Kharmine, (New York: Harrison Music Co Inc, 1921).

[13] Ted Snyder (music) and Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler (lyrics), The Sheik of Araby, (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co, 1921).

[14] Phillips and Caddigan, Egyptian Moonlight.

[15] Herbert Spencer (music) and Fleta Jan Brown (lyrics), There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes, (New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co, 1917).

[16] Oliver G. Wallace and Harold Weeks, Hindustan, (Chicago, IL: Forster Music Publisher, Inc, 1918).

[17] Snyder, Smith and Wheeler, The Sheik (Of Araby).

[18] Byron Gay, The Vamp, (New York: Leo Feist, Inc, 1919).

[19] Waldorf-Astoria Singing Orchestra, The Vamp, Columbia Record, A2758, 1919, found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51Iop5LZqsI.

[20] Gay, Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose).

[21] Olson, Thomspon and O’Neill, Kharmine.

[22] Wallace and Weeks, Hindustan.

[23] Richard A. Whiting (music) and Raymond B Egan (lyrics), The Japanese Sandman, (New York: Jerome H. Remick, 1920).

[24] Felix Bernard and Johnny S. Black (music) and Fred Fisher (lyrics), Dardanella, (New York: McCarthy & Fisher Inc, 1919).

[25] Thomas Hischak, The Tin Pan Alley Encyclopedia, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002), 74.

[26] Wallace and Weeks, Hindustan.

[27] Snyder and Brown, The Sheik (Of Araby).

[28] Paul Whiteman Orchestra, Oriental Fox Trot, Victor 18940, located at The Library of Congress National Jukebox, accessed 5 May 2015, found at http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/8853/

[29] Bernard, Black and Fisher, Dardanella.

[30] Spencer and Van Brown, There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes.

[31] Irving Berlin, The Syncopated Vamp, (New York: Irving Berlin Inc, 1920).

[32] Lee S. Roberts, Chong (He Came from Hong Kong), (Chicago, IL: Lee S. Roberts, 1917).

[33] Wallace and Weeks, Hindustan.

[34] Olson, Thompson and O’Neil, Kharmine, (New York: Harrison Music Co. Inc, 1921).

[35] D. Onivas (music) and Jack Meskill (lyrics), Burnin’ Sands, (New York: Richmond-Robbins Inc, 1922).

[36] Bernard, Black and Fisher, Dardanella.

[37] Gay, Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose).

[38] Irving Berlin, Tell Me Little Gypsy, (New York: Irving Berlin, Inc, 1920).

[39] Hischak, 318.

[40] Snyder and Smith & Wheeler, The Sheik (of Araby).

[41] Bernard, Black and Fisher, Dardanella.

[42] Irving Berlin, Harem Life (Outside of That Every Little Thing’s All Right), (New York: Irving Berlin, Inc, 1919).

[43] Irving Berlin, Lock Me in Your Harem and Throw Away the Key, (New York: Irving Berlin Inc, 1914).

[44] Irving Berlin, I’m the Guy Who Guards the Harem (And My Heart’s in My Work), (New York: Irving Berlin, Inc., 1919).

[45] Irving Berlin, Lock Me In Your Harem and Throw Away the Key.

[46] Bernard, Black and Fisher, Dardanella.

[47] Bryon Gay, The Vamp (New York: Leo Feist, Inc, 1919).

[48] Fanchon and Marco, The Love a Gipsy Knows, (New York: Jerome Remick & Co, 1920).

[49] Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics), Lovin’ Sam (The Sheik of Alabam’), (New York: Ager, Yellen & Bornstein, 1922).

[50] Nikolas Rimsky-Korsakoff (music) and Leo Wood and Irving Bibo (lyrics), arranged by Paul Whiteman, Play That “Song of India’ Again, (New York: Leo Feist Inc, 1921).

[51] Weeks, Chong (He Came from Hong Kong).

[52] Lee S. Roberts (music) and J. Will Callahan (lyrics), Ching Chong, (Chicago, IL: Lee S. Roberts, 1917).

[53] “Edison Blue Amberol Cylinder 3769 – Chong (He Came from Hong Kong) by Premier Quartet,” found on YouTube.com, posted on 12 October 2014 by bigtradermicks, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf0ST2KcP_4.

Time Changes: From Ragtime to Jazz

Between 1900 and 1917, the music business had transformed from reliance on plugging a song by singing it “as loudly as possible in the city’s lowest dives,”[1] to create and commercialize popular songs on a national scale. The old days of the Ragtime Era reflected a music business culture that was still in its infancy. But by 1917, Tin Pan Alley songwriters and publishing houses had become multimillion dollar industries with titles regularly selling over a million copies of sheet music. The new world of Tin Pan Alley was an efficient factory that produced hit songs, but, judging from the songs that had been published between 1916 and 1918, this factory consistently produced a stylistically homogenous product. Underneath the war production fervour that had taken over the music business, sentimental ballads, oftentimes the sorts of waltzes that had been pop gold in the 1890s before the Ragtime craze hit the music market, became hits once again in the mid-1910s, this trend also included Dixie ballads featuring lullabies, mother ballads and wistful characters eager to go back to the south, rather than the caricatures that had been prominent during the days of Ragtime. While the pop music market had stagnated in topic, a new kind of music, Jazz, a style that had been popular throughout New Orleans as early as 1890, would make its mass-market debut. Consequently, the new genre gained favour with the Tin Pan Alley song machine; Jazz became the latest and freshest musical product on the scene for music consumers, officially marking the end to what was left of the Ragtime Era. Capping off these ongoing musical changes came a Prohibition law that outlawed alcohol, a news event that would eventually become synonymous with the pop culture of the Jazz Era and the 1920s.

Understanding the business environment of music industry adds a greater depth of knowledge about how commercial pop music is created and popularized throughout the decades. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries during the Ragtime Era, most songs to become sheet music hits were created in the offices of Tin Pan Alley, a one block strip of West 28th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue in Manhattan’s notorious Tenderloin district. Nicknamed “Satan’s Circus,” the Tenderloin was a “shabby city enclave” of “Tammany police-protected vice”[2] that included gambling halls, saloons, bare-knuckled boxing matches, and more than 100 whorehouses.[3] Tin Pan Alley and the businesses of the surrounding neighbourhood supported each other in a somewhat symbiotic relationship. With Tin Pan Alley inundated with an endless stream of musicians and performers in search of new material for their acts during the 1890s, many of the saloons, pool halls, gambling houses, restaurants and local vaudeville theatres profited from the increased traffic. Music firms awash in new money and wary of the tumultuous banking system of the 1890s often used Tenderloin gambling houses as local banks. Publisher Edward Banks, partner in the Joe Stern Music Company, deposited large sums of cash at Shang Draper’s Gambling House on a regular basis, leaving as much as $800,000 in the first floor safe.[4] Plugging in the theatres of the Tenderloin and Bowery was the main form of advertising during these years and it required skilled knowledge of the area’s nightspots and a gruelling weekly schedule of promotion in up to sixty venues per week.[5] In one evening, Edward Marks visited five theatres to promote a single song, plying singers, musicians and theatre staff with rounds of beer for the hopes that a popular stage star would choose to introduce his title to the audience. The song’s chorus, the main component that insured a song’s success, had been reinforced in the ears and minds of theatregoers with the aid of a paid whistler and note cards distributed to each table in each establishment including the lyrics of the song’s refrain . All of this plugging took place while trying to avoid the myriad of other composers and publishers using these same tactics in the same theatres night after night. If successful, the network of plugs would produce sales by word of mouth or interpolation into another stage act; if unsuccessful, composers simply moved on to the next title to promote. Although initially crude, the music business by 1917, after the end of the Ragtime Era, the business environment for music publishing had become an industry.

By the end of the Ragtime Era, the pop song business and the geography of its old neighbourhood had changed significantly. The old notions of Vaudeville touring and Ragtime were quaint in the multi-million dollar music and theatre industries of the late 1910s. City officials eager to clean up the area’s reputation[6] targeted the characteristically raucous pop culture incubator that was the Tenderloin district and many property development projects approved throughout the 1900s and 1910s eventually swallowed entire city blocks of the neighbourhood. In 1910, the grandiose Penn Station occupied two whole blocks of the old Tenderloin; in 1914, the US Post Office Building took another block, as did retailers like Rogers-Peet Department Store[7] and the city’s largest hotel of the time, the Hotel Pennsylvania opening in 1919.[8] As the vaudeville circuit waned in the Tenderloin and the Bowery, audiences were attracted to musicals and spectacular revues debuting on Broadway further to the north of the neighbourhood. The music industry expanded beyond Tin Pan Alley, including recording studios and Broadway offices. The publishing industry matured into “a well-organized, efficient factory, capable of producing songs on every conceivable subject on an assembly belt.”[9] Nearly three decades of operation brought up a crop of composers raised and trained in the music business, well-versed in all the composition and lyrical formulas and promotional techniques. New schemes of profiting were on the rise like tune filtching, lifting a classical composer’s tunes for one’s advantage, the most famous instance being Harry Carroll’s “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” from 1917, a million-selling tune whose melody had been directly lifted from Frédéric Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu in C Sharp Minor.[10] During the war and the topical profusion of war songs, “Alleyites blushed to speak of less than seven figures,” remembers music publisher Edward B. Marks.[11] Composers had become national celebrities. Irving Berlin, by 1919, relishing in the profits of nearly $200,000 from his own publishing firm,[12] was his own brand and industry; stores featured special sections in music departments showcasing his most popular tunes. Music licensing and distribution of royalties had been brought to the Supreme Court in 1917 and ASCAP, a group formed to insure performance and recording royalties would eventually pay over $200,000 in royalties by 1923.[13] By 1917, the business environment, in both geographic and financial terms, had changed considerably in Tin Pan Alley and the Tenderloin that had fostered the growth of the music business.

With the music business intensely focused on mass production, including war songs, sentimentality became a unifying theme on the pop song market and in some of the most popular songs during the years between Ragtime and Jazz Eras. While 1917 and 1918 would see a music industry in the throes of production of war songs, beneath this topical current of pop culture and music, songs not about the war turned sentimental in nature compared to the happy escapism of Ragtime syncopated rags that had gone out of fashion as early as 1912, according to Gilbert Chase.[14] With a wave of war songs gracing the talking machines and piano rolls of Americans, the sentimental ballad and particularly the waltz, a form that had been Tin Pan Alley’s signature composition during the 1890s, became popular once again with prominent themes of nostalgia and sadness offered for audiences and music consumers. Two of the most successful and biggest-selling titles of these years, Harry Carroll and Joseph McCarthy’s “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” and Jaan Kenbrovin and William Kellette’s “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” feature characters who are dreamily pessimistic about the relative trajectories of their lives:

At the end of the rainbow there’s happiness

And to find it how often I’ve tried,

But life is a race just a wild goose chase,

And my dreams have all been denied.

Why have I always been a failure?[15]

“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” mirrors this sentimentality: “I’m forever blowing bubbles, Pretty bubbles in the air/They fly so high nearly reach the sky/Then like my dreams they fade and die.”[16] Nostalgia for a long-ended relationship is featured in the Pete Wendling song “Oh! What a Pal Was Mary,” a song that relays feelings of melancholy with a character who woefully remembers a long-lost childhood friend.[17] The short verses of Neil Moret and Sindey Carter’s torch song “Yearning” feature turn-of-the century bucolic, romantic imagery and lachrymose tones about pining for another lover, “There’s a sadness in the tone Of the woodbird’s song/All the gladness, dear, has flown While for you I long/In the lonely garden, too, Roses droop and die.”[18] The Heath, Lange, and Solman song “In the Sweet Long Ago” is particularly nostalgic for the “old-fashioned ways” and a character pines, “Can’t you bring back the old-fashioned melodies, mother and daddy used to know.”[19] With most of the songs coming out of Tin Pan Alley during this time between Ragtime and Jazz were about the war, topics had been homogenous among the factories of publishing firms and a well-known product, the sentimental ballad, made a notable and profitable return to the pop song mass market.

The propagation of sentimental ballads during the years of the First World War would not, however, impede the American taste for songs about the South, or more precisely Dixie, a notable trend lacing together many of the best known Coon songs of the Ragtime Era. However, such Dixie songs published between 1916 and 1918 continued the sentimental nature of the Tin Pan Alley production machine; the happy escapism of earlier syncopated Dixie songs had been replaced by wistful Dixie lullabies, mother ballads, and, of course, waltzes. Such Dixie songs would not be about the caricatures of the south, but rather nostalgic visions of returning back home and particularly, one’s mother. “The Missouri Waltz (Hush-a-Bye Ma Baby)” would become a million-seller after lullaby lyrics about an adult being comforted to sleep by mother were added in 1916 by J.R. Shannon: “Hush-a-bye ma baby, go to sleep on Mammy’s knee/Journey back to Dixieland in dreams again with me,”[20] read the lyrics. Another sentimental Dixie song and Al Jolson stage vehicle, Jean Schwartz, Sam Lewis and Joe Young’s “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody” also copies this trend with similar lyrics, about going back home to Dixie and being lulled to sleep through song.[21] “I’m All Bound Round for the Mason-Dixon Line” tells the story of a lad going back home to see his mother while remembering his childhood in lyrics like “When I was younger I knew ever lane/Now I hunger to be once again Back where the robin keeps throbbin’ pretty melodies.”[22] Another song brought to the stage and popularized by Al Jolson, “Ain’t You Coming Back to Dixieland?” features a boy reading a letter from his “Mammy down in sunny Tennessee,” who asks when he is coming back home to the south.[23] The topic about the South, such a prominent feature of the earlier Ragtime Era, had also experienced the factory treatment of Tin Pan Alley and consequently, such Dixie songs published between 1916 and 1918 would follow the return of sentimental ballads and waltzes to the music market during this time, and the trend was so strong that even lullabies were becoming part of the pop culture character of these years.

Despite the schmaltz and war production taking over Tin Pan Alley throughout 1917 and 1918, the music-purchasing public were slowly turning their collective attention to a new music called Jazz. In 1917, the first Jazz recording became a million-seller; “Tiger Rag” by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band would start a style transformation in the music industry that would become the Jazz Era characteristic of the 1920s. Characterized as “a steady beat overlaid with the three lines of lead instruments,”[24] “Tiger Rag” and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, fresh off a tremendous amount of buzz from their 1916 performances at Reisenweber’s Restaurant in New York after relocating from Chicago, became the freshest thing on the music market during 1917. Recording for Victor, after managers at Columbia shelved the original recordings,[25] the song vaulted the Original Dixieland Jazz Band to the status of celebrity. It is important to note, however, that while “Tiger Rag” was their original recording, it was not necessarily their original composition. With the history of Jazz in New Orleans less rigid than that of Tin Pan Alley publishing, the ability to compose or read music was not a prerequisite talented early jazz musicians to produce music; consequently, borrowing or improvising on themes and melodies between musicians was common; such was the case for “Tiger Rag.” There has been some dispute about the precise origins of “Tiger Rag;” Bunk Johnson notes that King Buddy Bolden used the first eight bars of the song to introduce quadrilles on Storyville dance floors in 1894, “Had Bolden knew music,” reflects Johnson, “probably Bolden would have made ‘Tiger Rag.’”[26] While David Ewen credits Jelly Roll Morton with creating “Tiger Rag” in the 1900s, experts have proven that “Tiger Rag” is most likely attributed to The Jack Carey Band and the song had various monikers like “Jack Carey” used by black musicians and “Nigger #2” by white performers.[27] “Tiger Rag” was not the only such jazz standard to make the pop charts, The Original Dixieland Jazz Band regularly brought other standards from the New Orleans Jazz scene into pop market in the late 1910s like “At the Jazz Band Ball” and “The Original Dixieland One-Step,” a song plagiarized from Joe Jordan’s “Teasin’ Rag.”[28]   Their celebrity not just woke up a profitable yet stylistically stagnated song market, it also changed the playlists of traditional jazz musicians working the Jazz circuit. Musician Jack Weber remembers that jazz bands on riverboats could no longer play well-established jazz melodies since The Original Jazz Band popularized them on record for mass audiences.[29] With a song market awash in sentimentality, a new sound pioneered by “Tiger Rag,” would simultaneously trigger a change in the music market of pop song during the late 1910s.

The sudden arrival Jazz in the music market brought an eagerness by Tin Pan Alley publishers to profit from the new vocabulary and included it in various ways on the covers and in the lyrics of sheet music. The trend became so noticeable that The Literary Digest in 1917 noted that “a strange word has gained widespread use…it is ‘jazz,” used mainly as an adjective descriptive of a band.”[30] An early pop use of the Jazz name actually came in 1916, when stage star Sophie Tucker, always looking for fresh material and variety for her stage shows, introduced a back-up Jazz band, the Kings of Syncopation, and heralded herself as the “Queen of Jazz.”[31] Terry Teachout notes that before “Tiger Rag” came onto record Jazz had never been out of New Orleans or Chicago[32] and so a new music market had opened up for the new and unfamiliar music that would have stood out in a music scene awash in war songs and sentimental ballads. Some tunes popular in the 1890s and early 1900s had been invigorated to fit into the new genre like Arthur Pryor’s 1899 hit “A Coon Band Contest,” a song that had been modernized in 1918 as a “Jazz Foxtrot.” [33] But Tin Pan Alley composers and lyricists would take a much more matter-of-fact approach, by literally introducing audiences to Jazz in the lyrics of songs. The Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 included “I Want to Learn How to ‘Jazz’ Dance,” a number plainly introducing audiences to the Jazz brand by describing a girl who wants to try new dances associated with the genre.[34] Of course, tunesmith Irving Berlin, keen on using any kind of new trend to his advantage to create a commercial hit, published “Mr. Jazz Himself,” plainly introducing audiences to the new music by characterising the genre as someone to meet,

Shake hands with Mister Jazz himself!

He knows a strange sort of change in a minor key,

I don’t know how he does it But when he starts to play the blues

He’s like the messenger of happy news;[35]

Jazz’s success “put an end to what was left of the Ragtime craze, for other bands rushed to record a similar style”[36] and throughout the 1920s, Jazz bands and composers would come to dominate the pop song market.[37] In the late 1910s and early 1920s when the First World War and eventually Prohibition shut down the saloons and brothels of New Orleans’s Storyville district, the cradle for jazz for over three decades, jazz musicians like Joe “King” Oliver, Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong relocated north, giving a much larger audience exposure to Jazz musicians. After Jazz became a new vocabulary word on the music market, it became part of the Tin Pan Alley machine by introducing people to the new change in popular music and with a market languishing in sentiment, customers were likely receptive of this change in music.

Besides the music, The Jazz Era would also be inseparable with the cultural consequences that accompanied Prohibition, a law outlawing alcohol enacted by the 18th Amendment to the constitution in 1919 and its enforcement one year later. As soon as the Constitutional amendment and the Volstead Act that allowed its enforcement had been ratified, Joe Stern, a Tin Pan Alley publisher since the 1890s, retired believing that the song market would implode with the lack of alcohol.[38] The effects of Prohibition on the entertainment industry had been discussed when the legislation had been debated in Congress, it was logical for politicians to think that with households saving money by abstaining from alcohol, music consumers would purchase theatre tickets and sheet music for the home.[39] Called by Edward Marks as “one outstanding error and farce of the century,”[40] Prohibition initially inspired a series of topical and comical songs written by composers and lyricists thumbing their noses at the law. The Ziegfeld Follies of 1919 opened its summer season with a mock funeral march featuring an enormous whiskey bottle accompanied by Irving Berlin’s “You Cannot Make Your Shimmy Shake On Tea.”[41] Playful song titles came onto the pop market like “It’s the Smart Little Feller Who Stocked Up His Cellar (That’s Getting the Beautiful Girls),” “What Are You Going to Do to Wet Your Whistle (When the Whole Darn World Goes Dry),” “A Syncopated Cocktail” and “Everybody Wants a Key to My Cellar.” Entertainment spaces that traditionally profited from the combined effects of alcohol and music in their environs were forced to adjust. Some hotels and restaurants closed their elaborate bars and dance floors and transformed such spaces into cafeterias,[42] eventually “hotel dining rooms virtually disappeared since much of their trade depended on the convenience for lodgers of their bar and dining room.”[43] But the Prohibition years would not completely snuff out drinking in America, in fact cities would become epicentres of “bootlegging, distilling and imbibing.”[44] For entertainment purposes, Prohibition created the social spaces that one associates with the rebellious nature of Jazz music in the 1920s. Drinking during the Jazz Era would go underground in cellars, private parties, basements, and speakeasies albeit with more expensive bootleg liquor where anyone with the financial means could get “stewed to the balls.”[45] Enforcement of the Volstead Act was lax and enforcement officers sometimes could be easily bribed with money or liquor. In one establishment, bribes were a regular occurrence, seeing enforcement officers “eating dinner, having a few drinks and picking up some cash [i.e., a bribe] if he needed it.”[46] Just as Jazz was becoming a new trend with music publishers and record companies, Prohibition would establish the social nature of music by driving drinking below the legal radar and its soundtrack would composed of Jazz music throughout the 1920s.

The later years of the 1910s had been a transformative time period for composers and publishers producing commercial pop songs. The old days of the Tenderloin and Bowery theatres where songs were ruthlessly plugged were distant memories in the multi-million dollar music industry where tunes and lyrics were mass-produced in formulaic methods. Popular songs during these years reverted to sentimental ballads, including many Dixie songs that, in the past would be replete with caricatures and humours, turned sentimental by 1916. Precluding the war songs that had also been manufactured by the composers and publishers of Tin Pan Alley, the sentimental trend and the stagnated market of sadness, nostalgia and maternal wistfulness produced titles that sold millions of copies like “Hush-a-Bye Ma Baby (Missouri Waltz),” “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” or “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” Simultaneously, a new style called Jazz had abruptly attracted the attention of music consumers with the popularity of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s “Tiger Rag,” a song that had long been a New Orleans standard. With an unremarkable yet tremendously prosperous pop song market and a new genre on the horizon, song composers and publishers quickly included the word on many titles. Also during this time, Prohibition had been added to the Constitution, a law which would become synonymous with the Jazz Era of the 1920s. Even though the song market had become monotonous in war and ballad production, Jazz was becoming a new product to sell to consumers eager for something new to listen to and Jazz would become the major pop style for over twenty years in the United States.


Caldwell, Mark. New York Night: The Mystique and Its History. New York: Scribner. 2005.

Chase, Gilbert. America’s Music: From the Pilgrims to the Present. New York: McGraw-Hill Company. 1966.

Ewen, David. Panorama of American Popular Music. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 1957.

Freeland, David. Automats, Taxi Dances and Vaudeville: Excavating Manhattan’s Lost Places of Leisure. New York: New York University Press. 2009.

Green, Harvey. The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915-1945. New York: Harper Collins. 1992.

Jonnes, Jill. Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: the Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels. New York: Viking. 2007.

Marks, Edward B. They All Sang: From Tony Pastor to Rudy Vallée. New York: The Viking Press. 1934.

Morgenstern, Dan. Living With Jazz: A Reader. Sheldon Meyer, ed. New York: Pantheon Books. 2004.

Shapiro, Nat and Nat Hentoff, ed. Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told by the Men who Made It. New York: Dover Publications. 1955.

Teachout, Terry. Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. New York: Gotham Books. 2013.

Tirro, Frank. Jazz: A History. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2009.

Waldo, Terry. This Is Ragtime. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc. 1976.

Song List

Berlin, Irving. Mr. Jazz, Himself. New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder. 1917.

Carroll, Harry (music) and Joseph McCarthy (lyrics). I’m Always Chasing Rainbows. New York: McCarthy & Fisher Inc. 1918.

Eppel, John Valentine (original music) and J.R. Shannon (lyrics), piano arrangement by Frederic Knight Logan. Hush-a-Bye, Ma Baby (Missouri Waltz). Chicago, IL: J.A. Forster. 1915.

Heath, Bobby, Arthur Lange and Alfred Solman. In the Sweet Long Ago. New York: Joe

Morris Music Co. 1916.

Kenbrovin, Jaan and John William Kellette. I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles. New York: Jerome H Remick & Co. 1919.

Moret, Neil (music) and Sidney Carter (lyrics). Yearning. New York: T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter. 1919.

Pryor, Arthur. A Coon Band Contest. New York: Emil Ascher. 1899/1918.

Schwartz, Jean (music) and Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young (lyrics). I’m All Bound ‘Round with the Mason Dixon Line. New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co. 1917.

——-. Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody. New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co. 1918.

Stamper, Dave (music) and Gene Buck (lyrics). I Want to Learn to “Jazz” Dance. New York: T.B. harms & Francis, Day & Hunter. 1918.

Wendling, Pete (music) and Edgar Leslie and Bert Kalmar (lyrics). Oh! What a Pal Was Mary. New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder. 1919.

Whiting, Richard A. (music) and Raymond Egan (lyrics). Ain’t You Coming Back to Dixieland. New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co. 1917.

[1] Edward B Marks, They All Sang: From Tony Pastor to Rudy Valée, (New York: The Viking Press, 1934), 3.

[2] Jill Jonnes, Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: the Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels, (New York: Viking, 2007), 72.

[3] Ibid, 67.

[4] David Freeland, Automats, Taxi Dances and Vaudeville: Excavating Manhattan’s Lost Places of Leisure, (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 122.

[5] Marks, 4.

[6] Freeland, 125.

[7] Ibid, 124.

[8] Jonnes, 299.

[9] David Ewen, Panorama of American Popular Music, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1957), 29.

[10] Gilbert Chase, America’s Music: From the Pilgrims to the Present, (New York: McGraw-Hill Company, 1966), 201.

[11] Marks, 200.

[12] Chase, 179.

[13] Ibid, 193.

[14] Ibid, 148.

[15] Harry Carroll (music) and Joseph McCarthy (lyrics), I’m Always Chasing Rainbows, (New York: McCarthy & Fisher Inc, 1918).

[16] Jaan Kenbrovin and John William Kellette, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, (New York: Kendis-Brockman Music Co, 1919).

[17] Pete Wendling (music) and Edgar Leslie and Bert Kelmar (lyrics), Oh! What a Pal Was Mary, (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, 1919).

[18] Neil Moret (music) and Sidney Carter (lyrics), Yearning, (New York: T.B. harms & Francis, Day & Hunter, 1918).

[19] Bobby Heath, Arthur Lange and Alfred Solman, In the Sweet Long Ago, (New York: The Joe Morris Music Co, 1916).

[20] John Valentine Eppel (music) and J.R. Shannon (lyrics) arranged by Frederic Knight Logan, Hush-a-Bye Ma Baby (Missouri Waltz), (Chicago, IL: F.J.A. Foster, 1914).

[21] Jean Schwartz (music) and Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young (lyrics), Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody, (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co, 1918).

[22] Jean Schwartz (music) and Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young (lyrics), I’m All Bound ‘Round with the Mason Dixon Line, (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co, 1917).

[23] Richard A. Whiting (music) and Raymond Egan (lyrics), Ain’t You Coming Back to Dixieland, (New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co, 1917).

[24] Frank Tirro, Jazz: A History, (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1977), 167.

[25] Dan Morgenstern, Living with Jazz: A Reader, Sheldon Meyer, ed, (New York: Panteoen Books, 2004), 527.

[26] Bunk Jonson, qtd in Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told by the Men Who Made It, Shapiro, Nat and Nat Hentoff, ed, (New York: Dover Publications, 1955), 36.

[27] Tirro, 170.

[28] Terry Waldo, This Is Ragtime, (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc, 2009), 128.

[29] Jack Weber, qtd in Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya, 60.

[30] Chase, 465.

[31] Stewart, 171.

[32] Terry Teachout, Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, (New York: Gotham Books, 2013), 36.

[33] Pryor, Arthur, A Coon Band Contest, (New York: Emil Archer, 1918).

[34] Dave Stamper (music) and Gene Buck (lyrics), I Want to Learn to “Jazz” Dance, (New York: T.B. harms & Francis, Day & Hunter, 1918).

[35] Irving Berlin, Mr Jazz Himself, (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co, 1917).

[36] Teachout, 37.

[37] Tirro, 157.

[38] Marks, 200.

[39] Ibid, 200.

[40] Ibid, 199.

[41] Mark Caldwell, New York Night: The Mystique and Its History, (New York: Scribner, 2005), 222.

[42] Harvey Green, The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915-1945, (New York: Harper Collins, 1992), 168.

[43] Green, 214-215.

[44] Caldwell, 222

[45] Gloria Wandrous, qtd in Freeland, 156.

[46] Luis Russell qtd in Freeland, 157.

Hapa Haole Numbers: The Hawaiian Craze

Geographically based trends and fads are infrequent throughout the history of American commercial pop songs. One example of geographic song has been explored earlier in this series,[1] the Irish trend of the early twentieth century, and it was a song trend which not only prominently featured Ireland as a geographic place, but also the connection the characters in the lyrics have with the Emerald Isle. Other than the rash of Irish songs, many titles of which have become beloved over the decades, there are not many outstanding trends based on location and place. There have been a substantial number of individual songs that focus specifically on a place. Think about how many songs there are about California in the American pop canon like Al Jolson’s “California, Here I Come” (1924), The Beach Boys’ “California Girls” (1965) The Mamas and the Papas “California Dreamin’” (1966), Scott McKenzie’s “If You’re Going to San Francisco” (1967), Tupac Shakur’s “California” (1996), Weezer’s “Beverly Hills” (2005) or Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” (2010). These songs are not part of a cohesive trend; instead, they are individual and incidental popular song moments. However, there was a brief geographical song fad that rippled through pop culture in the mid-1910s, with pop songs about Hawaii becoming the latest commercial music product of Tin Pan Alley, a fad which came on quickly and then faded within a couple of years.

Sparked by the popularity of Hawaiian musical acts at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, it became vogue for composers and publishing houses to churn out Tin Pan Alley visions of Hawaii. Unlike the Irish phenomenon, a trend which had lasting consequences in popular music memory, the Hawaiian craze was a consumer targeted fad, the goal of which included selling an image and riding the wave of the fad’s popularity. In Irish songs, by comparison, Irish characteristics were the focus, along with all the jokes, references to Ireland and Irish pop culture, songs targeted to music consumers who may understand such connotations. The Hawaiian fad, on the other hand was substantially less dimensional, where mass commercial consumers on the mainland were less likely to have a full grasp of Hawaii beyond limited and passing information about the islands. Most of these hapa haole[2] titles featured common themes of love impacted by the distance of Hawaii from North America, while other songs use a select number of oft-repeated Hawaiian buzzwords. Consequently, according to Michael Keany, “The hapa haole music being produced at this time didn’t often have much to do with real Hawaiian culture.”[3] These Hawaiian themes and superficial references were likely easily digestible with audiences in the midst of a fad about a new and exotic place, all the while packaged within an illustrated, decorative and fashionable piece of music. Upon review of the songs from this brief period, it is surprising to note that nearly every song was not necessarily about Hawaii, rather its main port and territorial capital, Honolulu. While brief, the hapa haole music fad of the 1910s gave composers an opportunity to create new songs from oft-used themes and language, resulting in a homogenous music product easily understood by a collective mass audience.

Music from or about Hawaii was not a new arrival to American pop culture when the Panama-Pacific Exposition opened in 1915, in fact, Hawaiian musicians had been producing traditional music for centuries and commercial music for decades. Hawaiian royalty were even involved in the music business. In 1874, King Kalakaua composed what would become the state song of Hawai’i, “Hawai’i Pono’i,” a hymn celebrating King Kamehameha’s unification of the islands. In 1878, Queen Lili’oukalani wrote “Alohe Oe,” a song reworked many times throughout the decades by Tin Pan Alley staff arrangers, translators and published in various editions by various firms; in June 2007, a group of panellists from Honolulu Magazine named “Aloha Oe” the greatest song of Hawaii. Hawaiian recording artists also lent their voices to the talking machine like Toots Paka Hawaiians and Albert R. “Sonny” Cuhna, designated “the father of Hapa Haole Songs” according to the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame.[4] The Hawaiian-themed show Bird of Paradise from 1912 had a successful run on Broadway followed by a national tour, bringing Hawaiian musicians publicity and exposure.[5] Hawaiians were also subjects of songs in the early years of Ragtime in the mid 1890s when coon songs were all the rage, but included under the racial umbrella of coons in lyrics, evident in the songs of composer Lee Johnson. In his “My Honolulu Lady” form 1898, he writes of bringing home a “choc’late culled” Hawaiian girl to “show dem coons and wenches style,”[6] suggesting that Hawaiian girls are somewhat classier than the typified “coon.” Another Hawaiian coon song, “The Bella of Honolulu,” also written by Johnson, is less raggy and dialectical but still has “blacked-up” lyrics when describing the wedding of a “Honolulu hula queen.”[7] William H. Penn’s “My Honolulu Queen” from 1899 is also part of this racial characterisation of Native Hawaiians, “And although her face a dusky shade is/She is my Honolulu Queen.”[8] This classification eventually fell out of favour after coon songs became less abundant on the pop market by the end of the 1900s, and songs like Tom Armstrong’s “My Rose of Honolulu” (1911) focus more on love for his “sweet Hawaiian maiden”[9] than her ethnicity. Even before the Hawaiian song craze of 1915, songs about Hawaii and Hawaiians had been on the American pop culture radar, even included in early Ragtime and placed within the cultural context of coon songs.

In 1915, the Panama-Pacific Exposition opened in San Francisco, celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal, and one of the attractions available to fair-goers was the Hawaiian Pavilion which showcased the culture, people and music of Hawaii. The Pavilion, located in the vicinity of the California Building and the Boat Harbor, near the centre of the Fair,[10] featured artefacts including canoes of various Hawaiian woods, grass huts, and “making fire with two sticks by friction.”[11] Although Heather Diamond mentions that Hawaii’s participation at the World Fair was for business prospecting and that Native Hawaiian images were heavily managed and scripted,[12] an estimated 17 million people over the span of nine months visited the exhibit.[13] Hawaiian musicians performed there several times a day, including steel guitar players, ukulele performances and guest musicians including the Royal Hawaiian Quartet, Joseph Kekuku, Pale K. Lua and David Ka’ili.[14] Consequently, with so many people in attendance, in 1915 and into 1916, the ukulele, the Hula and everything else associated with Hawaii became part of pop culture pandemonium, including the song “On the Beach in Waikiki” which became a national hit at a time when “many Americans had never been exposed to Hawaiian music.”[15] Composers and lyricists of Tin Pan Alley found themselves in the epicentre of full-on music publishing craze, and dozens of songs and recordings flew out of the offices of publishing firms and record companies eager to attract consumer attention.

The kingdom of Hawaii’s relatively recent entry into United States by annexation in 1898 brought a new geographical area to pop culture attention[16] and an easy way to market music about the islands included producing dreamy descriptions of a new and paradisal place. Stylish cover art frequently advertised the setting of Hawaiian songs with beaming moonlight on a seashore, palm trees and lovers fraternising in the climate of the islands, exactly the sort of material that could possibly entice consumers.[17] Song lyrics also gave consumers loving descriptions of a new exotic place including the constant perception of Hawaii as a seaside paradise. The Earl Burtnett tune “Down Honolulu Way” from 1916 reads like a love letter to the Hawaiian environment including descriptions of the islands where “the moon is always shining,” “palm trees swaying” and “whispering to me of a blue singing sea.[18] In “My Lonely Lola Lo” a similar setting is given where “Banyan trees are softly swaying to and fro, in Hawaii/While the cooling South Sea Island breezes blow, in Hawaii.[19] The Irving Berlin song “I’m Down in Honolulu (Looking them Over)” from 1916 adds a more bawdy element to the descriptions of the climate of Hawaii by discussing his wardrobe, “Try and guess the way I dress/No matter what you think it is, it’s even less.[20] By creating song lyrics with a unifying theme of a tropical paradise, it was uncomplicated to sell the image of Hawaii and with a demand for Hawaiian-themed products high, composers were more than willing to create an ample and seemingly homogenous supply.

Other than being a tropical locale, Hawaii is, after all, located thousands of miles away from the United States mainland and a novel way to address this fact by composers is to use Hawaii’s distance to give another perspective to love songs. By including distance between two lovers as part of the plotlines, composers could successfully give consumers the familiar topic of love, albeit in formulaic ways; note the abundance of copied themes in the following examples. The song “Dear Old Dreamy Honolulu Town” is entirely about the anticipation of arriving in Honolulu to meet his “dark eyed gal” once more,[21] a plot repeated in “Down Honolulu Way.”[22] In the torch song “I Left Her on the Beach in Honolulu,” from the Ziegfeld Follies of 1916, the speaker of the song in the first verse sets the scene of heartbreak and longing:

       My heart is yearning, My thoughts are turning ever,

       A maid, I met her, I can forget her never,

       She was a sweet Hawaiian, A little Hula dancing maiden,

       And for her now I’m sighin’, My heart with love is heavy laden.[23]

Such sad sentiment of distance and love is mirrored in the song “Hawaiian Butterfly,” in which the speaker in the song is lovelorn and “she simply carried my heart away.”[24] Returning is also a common motif, in the Gus Edwards song “I Lost My Heart in Honolulu,” the speaker in the lyrics is heartbroken when he has to leave Honolulu, on the other hand, is elated when he is restless to get back to Hawaii to wed “some girl.”[25] The same sentiment is in the 1915 Irving Berlin hit “My Bird of Paradise,” in which the speaker in the song writes a letter to his “Honolulu girl” saying that he will return to her.[26] A less formulaic way of talking about distance is by complaining about the unequivocally high cost of telephoning Hawaii, a plot point which is the focus of the song “Hello, Hawaii, How Are You?” in which case the speaker in the lyrics goes broke calling his “Honolulu Lou” to “give me a kiss by wireless” and then only has time to say “hello.”[27] By addressing ideas of love within the context of Hawaii’s relative distance from the mainland, composers and lyricists created lyrically analogous songs for consumers.

Fundamentally, the hapa haole fad give consumers a product that was familiar and yet fresh within the setting of a new place, but as a geographic location where action happened, representations of Hawaii are lacking, in fact in most of the songs of the times, even those not analysed for this essay, are about the territorial capital and port city of Honolulu, not Hawaii and by looking at where songs take place, it is apparent that the hapa haole fad was more about Honolulu than Hawaii. This is evident when investigating the glut of similarly titled songs from 1916 alone like “My Rose of Honolulu,” “My Honolulu Bride,” “I Love You Honolulu,” “Honolulu Cabaret,” “Honolulu Blues,” “In Honolulu,” “Goodbye Honolulu,” “Dear Old Dreamy Honolulu Town,” and “Down Honolulu Way.” Titles containing the name of the city abound and even when Hawaii is part of the title of a song, the action happens in Honolulu. For example. in the 1917 Joseph Santly song “Hawaiian Butterfly,” which mentions “Somewhere in Hawaii, I’m sending a wire,” a set-up which generalizes about geography, gives into the use of “Beautiful Hulu, Down in dreamy Honolulu”[28] without making any other references to the islands other than the port city. Even in a song which is written specifically about how the Hawaiian fad had swept over American pop culture and how Hawaii has “made America happy,” the actual title of such a song is “Honolulu, America Loves You,” and throughout the song, the city is the focus of the lyrics.[29] It is worth noting that the sounds of the word Honolulu are euphonic, rhythmic and rhymes easily with other common words and so, besides a general setting, Honolulu is an easy lyrical word to use. While Hawaii was at the centre of the music fad, Honolulu was actually the specific geographic setting of many lyrics.

Even if the Hawaiian language was officially banned in schools on the islands following American annexation,[30] Hawaiian words like hula, aloha, and, ukulele, had entered into the American English lexicon and these new words saturate the lyrics of song, adding superficial cultural references and lyrical word play for audiences interested in Hawaii. A verse of “Honolulu America Loves You,” a song self-referential to the Hawaiian craze, insists that everybody in cafés now dances the Hula and that “Our millionaires are playing Ukalele’s too.”[31] Bill Bailey, popularized in the 1902 Hughie Cannon song “Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home,” made an appearance during the Hawaiian craze playing a ukulele, “When Old Bill Bailey plays the Ukalele Down in Honolulu they do the ‘Hula Hula’/Ev’ry evening there they are, swayin’ while he’s playin’ his Hawaiian guitar.”[32] The refrain from the Irving Berlin tune “That Hula Hula” from 1916 illustrates just how invasive Hawaiian words were during this fad; note that there are no real descriptions, just superficial inclusion of repetitious words.

       That Hula Hula, Have you seen them do the Hula Hula

       In Honolula, The way they do?

       I know, if you know, How to do the Hula Hula,

       You’d be in Honolula doing the Hula Too[33]

In the lyrics of E. Ray Goetz’s “Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula” from 1916 alone, the word hula appears 17 different times, not counting a second repeat of the refrain. It should be noted that hapa haole songs before the fad, like “My Rose of Honolulu” from 1911 or “Honolulu Lu” from 1902, do not regularly include or overuse such Hawaiian words in their lyrics and it seems apparent that the incorporation of such words was inherently part of the fad in the mid 1910s. Inclusion of a few buzzword of Hawaiian extraction within lyrics was another method of attracting consumers to the homogenous sorts of Hawaiian songs during the mid-1910s fad.

With the exotic tropical climate in focus and the few words of Hawaiian extraction in American English in nearly every song, oftentimes the Hawaiian language was imitated, but usually in nonsensical, rhythmic rhyming chatter, with lyricist-created phrases that could possibly be used as catchphrases. Even though the lyrics of “Honolulu America Loves You,” assert that “We’ll all be talkin’ Hawaiian very soon,”[34] most of the lyrics of other songs of Tin Pan Alley imitated the language in pop culture context, whether as a serious imitation of the language, as blatant double entendre or to express annoyance and ire at the extent of lyrical novelty occurring during the fad. A transparent attempt at imitating the Hawaiian language can be found in “Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula,” the lyrics of which describes that popularity of a fictitious Hawaiian phrase, every third line repeats the song title while reinforcing it to listeners’ memory. This technique also adds convenient lyrical filler and takes up space in the verses,

       Down Hawaii way, by the moonlit bay,

       When I lingered awhile, she stole my heart away,

       Yaaka hula hickey dula, Yaaka hula hickey du,

       Oh I don’t care if you’ve loved the ladies far and near,

       You’d forget about them all if you could hear.

       Yaaka hula hickey dula, Yaaka hula hickey du.[35]

“Oh! How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo” offers a more risqué imitation of Hawaiian but in this example the title’s semantically vacuous phrase is, presumably, a coy euphemism, along with the other meaningless phrases that manage to create more vulgar suggestions,

       She had a Hula, Hula, Hicki, Boola, Boola in her walk,

       She had a Ukalele Wicki Wicki Waili in her talk,

       And by the big Hawaiian moon,

       Beneath a banyan tree we’d spoon,…

       But Oh, how she could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo, That’s love in Honolulu.[36]

Thomas Hischak mentions that some songs included imitations of the Hawaiian language in order to protest the superfluous lyrical content and intense popularity of the hapa haole craze,[37] which is unmistakable in the song “Yaddie Kaddie Kiddie Kaddie Koo,” when a man wonders “why do they sing that silly [phrase]?”[38] Certain composers were tiring of the Hawaii fad by 1917, including publishing of such titles as “The More I See Hawaii, The More I Like New York,” in which a speaker directly expresses the annoyance of the fad and such nonsense lyrics by being “sick and tired of hearing That crazy Yacki Hula talk.”[39] The fad in Hawaiian songs also made popular various ways in which the Hawaiian language was imitated within the song lyrics, whether as a serious attempt at copying the language, offering double entendre or expressing derision directly at the fad by mimicking the steady stream of nonsensical phrasing being published.

Songs about Hawaii coming from publishing houses and record studios flooded the music market in the mid 1910s, but the hapa haole fad would be brief. As the First World War consumed Europe and American military interests gradually shifted from isolationism to troop mobilisation and declaration of war, songs expressing enthusiasm of participating in the war in 1917 and 1918 quickly eclipsed the escapism of an exotic seaside paradise thousands of miles offshore, as did the new trendy music called Jazz. This quick end to the hapa haole publishing fad did not completely end America’s fascination with songs about the islands, in fact many waves of Hawaiian popularity have come and gone since 1915 and 1916. During the 1920s, a fad for the ukulele created a new market for manufacturing the instrument and sheet music commonly featured ukulele accompaniment. During the 1930s, “tropical escapism was a significant past-time in the depths of the great depression,”[40] and broadcasts of the radio show Hawaii Calls helped to reinvigorate the genre. Consequently, many pop songs from that decade also featured Hawaii as a destination like “Pagan Love Song” (1929), “Sweet Leilani” (1937), and Hawaiian-themed movies like the popular 1937 film Waikiki Wedding starring Bing Crosby. Hawaiian songs also had a resurgence of popularity during the 1950s. Although the Hawaiian song craze of the 1910s was brief, it was only the initiation of a broader American interest in songs about the islands.

By looking at the Hawaiian hapa haole fad of the mid-1910s, a number of methods for creating and propagating that fad emerge. Hawaii was a different locale for music consumers and with a hit song coming out of the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco, composers looked to create their own niche in the market. There are a number of ways in which composers and lyricists perpetuated the fad, by copying a number of unvarying lyrical mechanisms in which Hawaii, or rather Honolulu, was the setting of the plot, not by including anything remotely related to Hawaiian culture. When Hawaii was described, it was done so through the context of an island paradise. When Hawaii was the setting of the lyrics, it was usually accomplished by telling love stories just as in other Tin Pan Alley love song. But another pattern emerges from the homogenous nature of Hawaiian songs from this time, that buzzwords of Hawaiian extraction were used over and over again and the Hawaiian language was often imitated as nonsensical lyrical filler. These means were not universally accepted within the music business, in fact, there are a select few songs in which the Hawaiian song fad was addressed with exasperation. The Hawaiian song fad may have faded with the First World War on the horizon, but its inclusion in pop song history is a study of music marketing in fad form of supplying an in-demand product to music-hungry consumers.


“Albert S. ‘Sonny’ Cuhna.” Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. Accessed 18 August 2014. http://www.hawaiimusicmuseum.org/honorees/1996/cunha.html.

Bolante, Ronna and Michael Keany. “50 Greatest Hawaiian Songs.” Honolulu Magazine. 1 June 2007. http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/June-2007/50-Greatest-Songs-of-Hawai-8217i/?cparticle=1&siarticle=0#artanc.

Cooper, Catherine R. Bridging Multiple Worlds: Cultures, Identities and Pathways to College. New York: Oxford University Press. 2011.

Diamond, Heather A. American Aloha: Tourism and the Negotiation of Tradition. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press. 2008.

The Exhibits of the Smithsonian Institution at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. San Francisco, CA: Press of H.S. Crocker Co. 1915.

Emmons, Keith. “The Covers: 1915-1919.” Hulapages.com. Accessed 14 August 2014. http://www.hulapages.com/covers_2.htm.

——-. “The Covers: 1930-1939.” Hulapages.com. Accessed 14 August 2014. http://www.hulapages.com/covers_4.htm.

Hischak, Thomas S. The Tin Pan Alley Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 2002.

Keany, Michael. “100 Years of Hawaiian Music.” Honolulu Magazine. November 2010. http://www.honolulumagazine.com/core/pagetools.php?pageid=8151&url=/honolulu-magazine/november-2010/100-years-of-hawaiian-music/&mode=print

Ruymar, Lorene. The Hawaiian Steel Guitar and Its Great Musicians. Lorene Ruymar, ed. Amaheim Hills, CA: Centerstream Publishing, 1996.

Song List

Armstrong, Tom. Rose of Honolulu. New York: Jos. W. Stern & Co. 1911.

Baskette, Billy and Joseph Santly (music) and Geo. A Little (lyrics). Hawaiian Butterfly. New York: Leo. Feist Inc. 1917.

Berlin, Irving. I’m Down in Honolulu (Looking Them Over). New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co. 1916.

——-. My Bird of Paradise (My Honolulu Girl). New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder. 1915.

——-. That Hula Hula. New York: Irving Berlin Inc. 1915.

Burtnett, Earl and Joseph A Burke (music) and J.E. Dempsey (lyrics). Down Honolulu Way. New York: Jerome H Remick & Co. 1916.

Cox, Eddie, Grant Clarke and Jimmie V. Monaco. Honolulu, America Loves You (We’ve Got to Hand It To You). New York: Leo Feist Inc. 1916.

Edwards, Gus (music) and Will D. Cobb (lyrics). I Lost My Heart in Honolulu. New York: Shapiro, Bernstein & Co Inc. 1916.

Goetz, E. Ray, Joe Young and Pete Wendling. Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula (Hawaiian Love Song). Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co. 1916.

Gottler, Archie (music) and Bert Kalmar (lyrics). The More I See of Hawaii, The Better I Like New York. New York: Kalmar, Puck & Abrahms Consolidated Inc. 1917.

Johnson, Lee. The Belle of Honolulu. San Francisco, CA: Sherman, Clay & Co. 1898.

——-. My Honolulu Lady. London, UK: The Zeno Mauvais Music Co. 1898.

Lange, Arthur and F. Wallace Rega’ (Music) and Edgar T. Farran and Jeff T. Branen (lyrics). Dear Old Dreamy Honolulu Town. New York: Joe Morris Music Co. 1916.

McCarron, Chas and Nat. Vincent. When Old Bill Bailey Plays the Ukalele. New York: Broadway Music Corporation. 1915.

Meyer, George W (music) and Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young (lyrics). Yaddie Kaddie Kiddie Kaddie Koo. New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co. 1916.

Murphy, Stanley, Arthur Lange and Alfred Solman. My Lonely Lola Lo (In Hawaii). New York: The Joe Morris Music Co. 1916.

Penn, William H. (music) and Jas. O’Dea (lyrics). My Honolulu Queen. Chicago, Il: Sol Bloom. 1899.

Schwartz, Jean (music) and Bert Kalmar and Edgar Leslie (lyrics). Hello, Hawaii, How Are You? New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co. 1915.

Von Tilzer, Albert (music) and Stanley Murphy and Chas. McCarron (lyrics). Oh! How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo (That’s Love in Honolulu). New York: Broadway Music Corporation. 1916.

[1] For a look at this essay, see Morgan Howland, “Hibernian Numbers: Irish Identity in Popular Song in the Early Twentieth Century,” Pop Song History (blog), https://popsonghistory.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/hibernian-numbers-irish-identity-in-popular-song-in-the-early-twentieth-century/.

[2] Hapa Haole is a phrase commonly given to people or things, including songs, which have mixed white and Hawaiian elements, in the case of songs, Hawaiian songs written by white composers.

[3] Michael Keany, “100 Years of Hawaiian Music,” Honolulu Magazine, November 2010, accessed 14 August 2014, http://www.honolulumagazine.com/core/pagetools.php?pageid=8151&url=/honolulu-magazine/november-2010/100-years-of-hawaiian-music/&mode=print.

[4] “Albert R. “Sonny” Cuhna,” Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, accessed 18 August 2014, http://www.hawaiimusicmuseum.org/honorees/1996/cunha.html

[5] Lorene Ruymar, The Hawaiian Steel Guitar and it Great Hawaiian Musicians, Lorene Ruymar, editor, (Anaheim Hills, CA: Centerstream Publishing, 1996), 31.

[6] Lee Johnson, My Honolulu Lady, (London, UK: The Zeno Mauvais Music Co, 1898).

[7] Lee Johnson, The Belle of Honolulu, (San Francisco, CA: Sherman, Clay & Co, 1898).

[8] William H. Penn (music) and Jas. O’Dea (lyrics), My Honolulu Queen, (Chicago, Il: Sol Bloom, 1899).

[9] Tom Armstrong, Rose of Honolulu, (New York: Jos. W. Stern & Co., 1911).

[10] Map of the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, San Francisco Photo Collection, San Francisco Public Library, accessed 11 August 2014, http://sfpl.org/html/libraries/main/sfphotos/ppie/ppiemap.htm.

[11] The Exhibits of the Smithsonian Institution at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, (San Frasisico, CA: Press of H.S. Crocker Co, 1915), 107-108.

[12] Heather A. Diamond, American Aloha: Tourism and the Negotiation of Tradition, (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008), 23.

[13] Michael Keany, “100 Years of Hawaiian Music,” Honolulu Magazine, November 2010, http://www.honolulumagazine.com/core/pagetools.php?pageid=8151&url=/honolulu-magazine/november-2010/100-years-of-hawaiian-music/&mode=print

[14] Ruymar, 30.

[15] Keith Emmons, “The Covers: 1915-1919,” Hulapages.com, accessed 14 august 2014, http://www.hulapages.com/covers_2.htm.

[16] For an in-depth look at the annexation of Hawaii see Tom Coffman, Nation Within: The History of America’s Annexation of the Nation of Hawaii, (Kane’ohe, HI: Epicentre, 1999).

[17] For a gallery of cover art images of songs written during this era, see Keith Emmons, “The Covers: 1915-1919,” Hulapages.com, accessed 11 August 2014, http://www.hulapages.com/covers_2.htm.

[18] Earl Burtnett and Joseph A Burke (music) and J.E. Dempsey (lyrics), Down Honolulu Way, (New York: Jerome H Remick & Co, 1916).

[19] Stanley Murphy, Arthur Lange and Alfred Solman, My Lonely Lola Lo (In Hawaii), (New York: The Joe Morris Music Co., 1916).

[20] Irving Berlin, I’m Down in Honolulu (Looking Them Over), (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co., 1916).

[21] Arthur Lange and F. Wallace Rega’ (Music) and Edgar T. Farran and Jeff T. Branen (lyrics). Dear Old Dreamy Honolulu Town. New York: Joe Morris Music Co. 1916.

[22] Burtnett, Burke and Dempsey, Down Honolulu Way.

[23] Louis A Hirsch (music) and Gene Buck (lyrics), I Left Her on the Beach at Honolulu, (New York: T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter, 1916).

[24] Billy Baskette and Joseph Santly (music) and Geo. A Little (lyrics), Hawaiian Butterfly, (New York: Leo. Feist Inc, 1917).

[25] Gus Edwards (music) and Will D. Cobb (lyrics), I Lost My Heart in Honolulu, (New York: Shapiro, Bernstein & Co Inc, 1916).

[26] Irving Berlin, My Bird of Paradise (My Honolulu Girl), (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, 1915).

[27] Jean Schwartz (music) and Bert Kalmar and Edgar Leslie (lyrics), Hello, Hawaii, How Are You?, (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co., 1915).

[28] Baskette, Santly and Little, Hawaiian Butterfly.

[29] Eddie Cox, Grant Clarke and Jimmie V. Monaco, Honolulu, America Loves You (We’ve Got to Hand It To You), (New York: Leo Feist Inc, 1916).

[30] Catherine R. Cooper, Bridging Multiple Worlds: Cultures, Identities and Pathways to College, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 68.

[31] Cox, Clarke and Monaco, Honolulu, America Loves You (We’ve Got to Hand It To You).

[32] Chas. McCarron and Nat. Vincent, When Old Bill Bailey Plays the Ukalele, (New York: Broadway Music Corporation, 1915).

[33] Irving Berlin, That Hula Hula, (New York: Irving Berlin Inc., 1915).

[34] Cox, Clarke and Monaco, Honolulu, America Loves You (We’ve Got to Hand It To You).

[35] E. Ray Goetz, Joe Young and Pete Wendling, Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula (Hawaiian Love Song), (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co., 1916).

[36] Albert Von Tilzer (music) and Stanley Murphy and Chas. McCarron (lyrics), Oh! How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo (That’s Love in Honolulu), (New York: Broadway Music Corporation, 1916).

[37] Thomas S. Hischak, The Tin Pan Alley Encyclopedia, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002), 412.

[38] George W Meyer (music) and Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young (lyrics), Yaddie Kaddie Kiddie Kaddie Koo, (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co, 1916).

[39] Archie Gottler (music) and Bert Kalmar (lyrics), The More I See of Hawaii, the More I Like New York, (New York: Kalmar, Puck & Abrahms Consolidated Inc. 1917).

[40] Keith Emmons, “The Covers: 1930-1939,” hulapages.com, accessed 14 August 2014, http://www.hulapages.com/covers_4.htm.

1910s Pop Trend: The Ragtime Dance Craze

As long as music has existed, even from the mists of antiquity, there have been dances to accompany it. The period of the pop song in America has had some dance trends which define entire musical eras. The popularity of “The Charleston” (1923) “perfectly reflected the defiance, freedom and turmoil of the Jazz Era,”[1] Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” (1961) partly defines the sounds and styles of the Rock ’n’ Roll Era and Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” (1975) helped to usher in the Disco Era of the 1970s. Los Del Rio’s “Macarena” (1996) was not only the most popular song of the year,[2] but it also launched a manic dance fad of that summer thanks to the choreography of its music video. The Club Banger Age of the twenty-first century has experienced its own dance fads like the Chicken Noodle Soup (2006), the Soulja Boy (2007), the Dougie (2010), the Harlem Shake (2012) and the Twerk, a word so popular that it was a runner up the word of the year in 2013, as selected by none other than the Oxford English Dictionary.[3] Songs of the era like ‘Nsync’s “Bye Bye Bye” (2000), Britney Spears’s “Oops…I Did It Again” (2000), Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” (2008) and Psy’s “Gangnam Style” (2012) became dance floor phenomena partly due to the influential choreography featured in their music videos. During a wave of new dance fads during the 1910s, the foxtrot, perhaps the most popular social dance after the waltz was becoming its own cultural phenomenon during the Ragtime Era.

During the second half of the Ragtime era in the 1910s, social dancing had suddenly consumed American culture, and numerous new ragtime dance crazes become fashionable and trendy. The new American dancing fads brought popular culture away from the Victorian age ideals of perpetual toil, work and duty and into the Progressive Age of the twentieth century. New dance floors in cabarets, night clubs and restaurants were abuzz with dozens of new dances and a revived pulse of the Ragtime era. But the new dance steps were not without controversy; in some places certain dances were outlawed and dancing became restricted to permitted areas. But by 1917, most dance crazes faded out of memory, but one dance, the foxtrot, whose rhythms reflected a new blues influence on ragtime music, became part of the American dance canon and part of the musical lexicon for decades. The foxtrot not only became one of the few such dances to continue to have popularity beyond the Ragtime Era, but also lent its name to a musical genre on sheet music and on record labels.

Dancing had been popular in America long before the trend in social dancing happened in the early 1910s; the American public had been introduced to a number of dance fads in the nineteenth century, albeit presented from the theatre stage. People were not necessarily partaking in social dancing in public until well after the Civil War, and even then, most dance occasions like balls were held in private homes.[4] Some theatrical shows of the nineteenth century prominently featured new dance steps, for example, the “Victorian Extravaganza” The Black Crook from 1866 created a sensation with its popular, yet critically maligned, combination of song, dancing and statuesque show girls. By 1895, it had been revived eighteen times in New York alone.[5] Minstrel shows introduced theatre-goers to the cakewalk dance step which concluded such shows and when Coon Songs became a pop trend in the 1890s, the cakewalk consequently became marketing fodder for music publishers indicate the genre on the covers of the plethora of rags during the time. The song “Chocolate Drops” from 1902 had been advertised as “Harry Von Tilzer’s great Cake Walk hit” and “Suitable for March, Cake Walk or Two Step.”[6] The technologically advanced stage of the New York Hippodrome Theatre, opening in 1905, featured a unique theatrical and sensational dance experience with grandiose ballets and legions of up to 150 chorus dancers to entertain audiences.[7] Before the ragtime dance fad began, American had already been exposed to numerous iterations of spectacular theatrical dancing in the pop culture of Victorian Age America.

The 1910s would see spectacular changes in not just dance as an art form in America, but also American attitudes towards social dance. In an era when American culture was beginning to shake off the notions of constant toil and prudence of the Victorian Age, the entire nation began to embrace novelty dances in social situations. The waltz was an older style of dance by this time and was falling out of favour; the public’s reception of new dance style was high. Many trace the beginning of the ragtime dance craze to saloons and beach resorts of San Francisco; at the club Parcell’s, dances like the Texas Tommy and the Turkey Trot were fashionable as early as 1910.[8] Mark Knowles points out that insurance money from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake disaster helped to rebuild the city with new dancehalls and amusements.[9] The George Botsford and Irving Berlin song “Grizzly Bear” from 1910 references the popularity of dancing in San Francisco.[10] New animal ragtime dances were becoming socially diffused and fashionable on a national scale, including the Grizzly Bear, Bunny Hug, Bunny Hop, and the Camel Walk as well as variations on old themes like the oddly-metered Hesitation Waltz and exotic dances like the Brazilian Maxixe and eventually the Tango. Almost immediately, the country was swept up in dance fever; so much so that there are reports of throngs of couples dancing the Turkey Trot and the Grizzly Bear in public along sidewalks of cities.[11] It was a time to shake off the Victorian ideals and the waltz and embrace dances that were new, fresh and daring during the “Age of Progress,” capturing Americans’ spirit of the early 1910s.

While the American public were embracing social dancing trends, of course there were also record companies and Tin Pan Alley composers encouraging and capitalizing on the new dance trends by producing a new wave of fashionable ragtime music detailing instruction of new dances. In 1909, composer Harry von Tilzer and lyricist Vincent Bryan published “The Cubanola Glide,” a forerunner of the dance craze, and a song whose raggy and dialect lyrics offer dance step instructions by “rag-a-dag to de left den to de right/Shake it up, shake it up, side by side.”[12] Botsford and Berlin’s instructional song “The Grizzly Bear” (1910), created its own Grizzly Bear dance craze when popular actress Sophie Tucker introduced the song and dance on the vaudeville circuit in 1911.[13] Other Irving Berlin songs from 1911 also perpetuated the growing enthusiasm for dancing. “Everybody’s Doin’ It Now,” a song whose lyrics describe seeing a new dance performed by “a couple over there, Watch them throw their shoulders in the air,”[14] is a song whose sole purpose is to describe a dance fad; its title subsequently became a catch-phrase for the dance fads. Berlin’s tremendously influential song “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” was about specifically seeing ragtime entertainment, and revived the ragtime name that had been in a slow state of decline. Talking machine and record companies were also marketing to consumers for dance purposes, one advertisement claims that “nothing will aid to your dancing ability more than practice at home to the music of Victor Records or Rythmodik Piano roles.”[15] In 1911, Ragtime was enjoying a revival in its popularity when it had become marketed for dancing purposes rather than just “novelty music”[16] that it had been classified in the early 1900s.

One dance in particular, the foxtrot, would become the most popular dance of not only the 1910s, but the entire first half of the twentieth century. Animal dance fads fell out of fashion when songs slipped from popularity, and new dances came at such a fast pace that oftentimes it was tough work to keep with the new steps.[17] But by 1915, the foxtrot became the dance that represented both popularity of Ragtime Dances and changes in ragtime music. The history of the Foxtrot is disputed. According to Thomas L. Morgan and William Barlow, the foxtrot originated when James Reese Europe’s adapted W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues” for Vernon and Irene Castle to perform a new choreographed dance.[18] Other sources give credit to Vaudeville actor Henry Fox, whose surname lends its name to the dance.[19] But Eve Golden notes that an early form of the foxtrot had already been in existence as a syncopated trot step as early as 1905.[20] By 1914, the foxtrot became the latest popular dance craze in a long line of social dances but something else was also happening with the foxtrot name—it was beginning to appear on sheet music as an indicator of musical genre to advertise dance music. Names like waltz and two-step had been used as musical genre in the past, but foxtrot genre shows changes in the rhythms of ragtime music. By 1913, ragtime music was changing from a syncopated style to a more swinging style of “dotted ragtime” partly influenced by the growing popularity in numerous blues songs of the early 1910s.[21] Many blues songs like W.C. Handy’s “The St. Louis Blues” were labelled as rags, after all, and not constituting their own genre in this early stage. An early example of the foxtrot genre, “Ballin’ the Jack” has, in fact two versions of the sheet music, the first, published in 1913 and credits James Reese Europe with composition and only features the title of the song without a genre, while a second vocal version from 1914 indicates that the song is a “Fox Trot” and the cover features dancing couple Arria Hathaway and Joe McShane in a foxtrot dance pose.[22] Other Fox Trot songs and “dotted ragtime” followed, The James Reese Europe composition “The Castle House Rag” from 1914 is labelled both as a rag and as a foxtrot.[23] The foxtrot became the brand of ragtime with a unified dance and a genre for the changes in ragtime music.

The dance fads of the 1910s had a number of repercussions in American society. Dancing not only revitalized the popularity in ragtime music, but provoked a growing demand for social spaces like night clubs, restaurants and cabarets, which could allow people to practice the newest dances. Julie Malnig notes that originally, cabarets were a “wholly American phenomenon that combined dinner, drinks and floorshow.”[24] Restaurants and clubs began offering afternoon thé dansants to entice customers with a new dance floor, no matter how small and unable to accommodate many people. Stylish ballroom dance couples like Maurice Mouvet and Florence Walton and Vernon and Irene Castle became celebrities admired for their grace, forward-thinking fashions and elegance. Vernon and Irene Castle had their own critically and commercially successful Broadway show Watch Your Step in 1914 which featured their dancing style.[25] The new dance trends also changed American fashion, the Victorian style of long dresses, corsets and wide hats limited movement on the dance floor. New styles like the hobble dress with shorter hemlines and plunging necklines, shoes with “Louis heels” and taller ostrich feather hats became the fashion styles during this era.[26] The new dance craze was changing many areas of American culture from celebrity to entertainment to fashion.

But the dances of the times had created a divisive culture war between those embracing a new cultural development and those who found the dances too provocative. In a time when it was law to remain nine inches away from your dance partner, if found dancing too close, a bouncer would eject dancers from the dance floor by a bouncer, according to Irene Castle,[27] songs which encourage “snug up close to your lady,”[28] and “Get away closer hon, Squeeze me tight”[29] were shocking and their associated dances were considered by some to be immoral. There was a grave fear that particularly single American women would lose their morals to the social new dances. Race may have also played a part in the hysteria, since many of these new dances had black origins and Reynolds and McCormack note that “as ragtime and jazz invaded ballrooms and the stage…black style became the basis for a bevy of new social dances.”[30] Social Reformers during the Progressive Era began to push back against the new and provocative dances, looking to change municipal laws for dancing by outlawing some of the animal dances and regulating where dance could happen. So-called “wiggly dances” were banned in places like New Haven, Dallas and Chicago[31] and in New York, dancing became illegal in establishments which did not hold special cabaret licenses. The reaction against the ragtime dances was even international. In 1913, the New York Times reported an Austrian soldier in Geneva Switzerland challenged an American man to a duel after the soldier found his daughter performing the Turkey Trot in a hotel that had banned “American dances.”[32] While the changes brought on by ragtime era dancing had been part of a new form of entertainment, there were genuine concerns that such provocative dancing could lead to loosening morals.

While the Foxtrot as both dance fad and musical genre was approaching its zenith, social changes were bringing the ballroom trend to an abrupt hiatus and musical tastes transitioned from Ragtime to a new style called Jazz. In 1917, the United States entered the Great War in Europe and two million American servicemen travelled across the Atlantic to participate in the war effort.[33] Vernon Castle had begun training as a pilot as early as 1915 and American bandleader James Reese Europe became involved in the war 1918 by providing music to the troops on the battlefield.[34] The war left American culture focused on war production, sales of war bonds and thrift and less on amusements like social ballroom dancing and dance fads. American pop song performers and songwriters reacted by producing patriotic and rousing songs about the War, departing from novelty songs in ragtime tempos in favour of marches like George M Cohan’s “Over There,” Irving Berlin’s “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” and Jean Schwartz’s “Hello, Central! Give Me No Man’s Land” and sentimental songs like M.K. Jerome’s “Just a Baby’s Prayer at Twilight (For Her Daddy Over There).” By 1920, the disruptions in American social life had begun to resolve themselves, including social adjustment following a devastating Flu Epidemic in 1918 and recent Prohibition Laws outlawing alcohol. By the time Americans returned to pop culture, a new style of music was on the rise, Jazz, and the various popular orchestras of Paul Whiteman, Art Hickman, Ted Lewis and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band became popular, leaving the pop song styling of the Ragtime Era behind.

Despite the rapid changes in American society after the First World War, by 1920, the other animal dances faded but the Foxtrot dance and the Foxtrot genre would continue to evolve and take their modern forms. Many records like Paul Whiteman’s “Whispering” and “The Japanese Sandman” (both from 1920) and Ben Slevin’s Novelty Orchestra’s “Dardanella” (1919) were classified as Foxtrots. The Foxtrot would become a favoured dance of the Swing years of the Jazz Era, taking a slower form for the lush, orchestrated sounds of Big Band Music. The foxtrot label as a musical genre continued until the early Rock ’n’ Roll Era beginning in the mid-1950s In fact, 45s of Bill Haley and His Comets’s “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” of 1955 were labelled as a “novelty foxtrot,” when it was clear that Decca Records did not know what to call the music. The record sold 25 million copies, making the song, technically a Foxtrot, the most successful Foxtrot in American history,[35] four decades after its introduction. While the Ragtime Era faded and the Jazz Era began, the foxtrot continued to be popular in dance and in music for decades afterwards, even included the popular television show Dancing with the Stars. The dance fads of the 1910s had permanent contributions to American culture in not only Americans’ interest in dance, but also in the music which encouraged dancing’s popularity.


Berlin, Edward A. Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History. Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1980.

Billboard Magazine. “The Hot 100—1996 Archive.” Billboard.com. http://www.billboard.com/archive/charts/1996/hot-100.

Castle, Irene. Castles in the Air. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company. 1958.

“Challenges a ‘Trotter.’” New York Times. 10 July 1913.

Golden, Eve. Vernon and Irene Castle’s Ragtime Revolution. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. 2007.

Knowles, Mark. The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances: Outrage and Couple Dancing in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. 2009.

Kynaston, David. Family Britain: 1951-1957. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. 2009.

Malnig, Julie. “Two Stepping to Glory: Social Dance and the Rhetoric of Social Mobility.” Contained in Moving History/Dancing Culture: A Dance History Reader. Ann Dills and Ann Cooper Albright, editors. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. 2001. 271-287.

Mendes, Valerie and Amy de la Haye. Fashion Since 1900. 2nd edition. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 2010.

Morgan, Thomas L. and William Barlow. From Cakewalks to Concert Halls: An Illustrated History of African Americans Popular Music from 1895 to 1930. Washington, DC: Elliot & Clark Publishing. 1992.

Oxford University Press. “Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013: Runners-up.” Ofxordwords Blog (blog). Published 19 November 2013. http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2013/11/word-of-the-year-runners-up/.

Reynolds, Nancy and Malcolm McCormick. No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2003.

Tindal, George Brown and David Emory Shi. America: A Narrative History. 8th Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 2010.

Waldo, Terry. This is Ragtime. New York: Jazz at Lincoln Center Library Edition. 2009.

1908 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue: A Treasured Replica from the Archives of History. Northfield, IL. 1971.

Songs Cited

Berlin, Irving. Alexander’s Ragtime Band. New York: Ted Snyder & Co. 1911.

——-. Everybody’s Doin’ It Now. New York: Ted Snyder Co. 1911.

Botsford, George (music) and Irving Berlin (lyrics). The Grizzly Bear. New York: Ted Snyder & Co. 1910.

Europe, James Reese. The Castle House Rag. New York: Jos Stern Co, 1914.

Von Tilzer, Harry. Chocolate Drops (A Darktown Improbability). New York: Harry von Tilzer Music Publishing. 1902.

Von Tilzer, Harry (music) and Vincent Bryan (lyrics). The Cubanola Glide. New York: Harry Von Tilzer Music Pub. Co. 1909.


[1] Mark Knowles, The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances: Outrage at Couple Dancing in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2009), 135.

[2] Billboard Magazine, “The Hot 100-1996 Archive,” Billboard.com, http://www.billboard.com/archive/charts/1996/hot-100, (accessed 8 June 2014).

[3] Oxford University Press, “Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013: Runners-up,” Oxfordwords Blog (blog), published 19 November 2013, http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2013/11/word-of-the-year-runners-up/, (accessed 2 June 2014).

[4] Knowles, 36.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Harry Von Tilzer, Chocolate Drops (A Darktown Improbability), (New York: Harry von Tilzer Music Publishing, 1902), contained in Terry Waldo, This is Ragtime, (New York: Jazz At Lincoln Center Library Edition, 2009), 48.

[7] Nancy Reynolds and Malcolm McCormack, No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 676.

[8] Knowles, 63.

[9] Ibid.

[10] George Botsford (music) and Irving Berlin (lyrics), The Grizzly Bear, (New York: Ted Snyder Co, 1910).

[11] Irene Castle, Castles in the Air, (Garden City, NY: Double Day & Company, 1958), 85.

[12] Harry von Tilzer (music) and Vincent Bryan (lyrics), The Cubanola Glide, (New York: Harry von Tilzer Music Pub. Co, 1909).

[13] Terry Waldo, This is Ragtime, (New York: Jazz at Lincoln Center Library Edition, 2009), 130.

[14] Irving Berlin, Everybody’s Doin’ It Now, (New York: Ted Snyder Co, 1911).

[15] Julie Malnig, “Two Stepping to Glory: Social Dance and the Rhetoric of Social Mobility,” contained in Moving History/Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader, Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright, ed, (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001), 279.

[16] “List of Columbia P Records,” Sears Roebuck Catalogue, Catalogue No 117 (1908), reprinted as 1908 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue: A Treasured Replica from the Archives of History, (Northfield, IL: DBI Books, Inc, 1971), 200.

[17] Knowles, 71.

[18] Thomas L Morgan and William Barlow, From Cakewalks to Concert Halls: an Illustrated History of African American Popular Music from 1895 to 1930, (Washington, DC: Elliott & Clark Publishing, 1992), 71.

[19] Knowles, 99.

[20] Eve Golden, Vernon and Irene Castle’s Ragtime Revolution, (Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2007), 101.

[21] Edward A Berlin, Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History, (Los Angeles, AC: University of California Press, 1980), 160.

[22] Based on a search of Ballin’ the Jack on Johns Hopkins University Library, JScholarship, Levy Sheet music Collection, https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/search?scope=%2F&query=ballin+the+jack&rpp=10&sort_by=0&order=DESC&submit=Go, (accessed 7 June 2014).

[23] James Reese Europe, The Castle House Rag, (New York: Jos. Stern Publishing, 1914), contained in Terry Waldo This is Ragtime, 105.

[24] Malnig, contained in Moving History/Dancing Culture, 282.

[25] Golden, 126

[26] Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye, Fashion Since 1900, 2nd ed, (New York: Thames & Hudson Inc, 2000), 40-41.

[27] Castle, 85

[28] Botsford and Berlin, The Grizzly Bear.

[29] Von Tilzer and Bryan, The Cubanola Glide.

[30] Reynolds, 678.

[31] Knowles, 93.

[32] “Challenges a ‘Trotter,’” New York Times, 10 July 1913, 7.

[33] George Brown Tindal and David Emory Shi, American: A Narrative History, 8th ed, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010), 998.

[34] Morgan and Barlow, 71.

[35] David Kynaston, Family Britain: 1951-1957, (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009), 605.