Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sweet Adeline

Lovecraft remembered this being a hit in the Spring of 1904. His memory holds.

In 1934, Lovecraft recalled the Spring 1904 song "You're the Flower of My Heart, Sweet Adeline". From Wikipedia:

"(You're the Flower of My Heart) Sweet Adeline" is a ballad best known as a barbershop standard. It was first published in 1903, with lyrics by Richard H. Gerard to music by Harry Armstrong, from a tune he had written in 1896 at the age of 18. According to a 1928 newspaper story, the lyrics were inspired "by a girl who worked at the music counter of a New York department store."

After failing to find a publisher with the initial title, "You're the Flower of My Heart, Sweet Rosalie", according to a story the two decided a new title was in order and were inspired by a poster advertising the farewell tour of opera singer Adelina Patti. It did not become a hit until it was performed in 1904 by the {Philadelphia based} group The Quaker City Four. They re-priemiered is at a performance at the Hammerstein Theater and the "lid blew off".

{Lovecraft does not mention, but would probably have been chagrined at its use by John F. Fitzgerald, grandfather of John F. Kennedy, who used it as his theme song for his two successful campaigns for Mayor of Boston. In 1931, the Marx Brothers used it comedically, but I've not seen where Lovecraft saw the Marx Brothers in anything. Unlikely his "cup of tea".

I found a notice that at least by 16 December 1904, this was a billboard #1 hit: 1904 ... "Sweet Adeline (You're the Flower of My Heart)" by Haydn Quartet. Again, many people would have rushed to cover this to get a record sale. This one "had legs" as they say. Parodies would immediately be rampant, too.

Also, remember that there were dozens of top songs in these years - nothing changes - these are only the ones that impressed him over the years.

For instance, here are a few top Billboard hits of December on each year - Christmas was a hot buying time even then. The same singers/groups were perennial hit-meisters.

1908 ... "Sunbonnet Sue" by Harry MacDonough & Haydn Quartet
1907 ... "Let's Take an Old-Fashioned Walk" by Ada Jones & Billy Murray
1906 ... "Love Me and the World Is Mine" by Henry Burr
1905 ... "Where the Morning Glories Twine Around the Door" by Byron G. Harlan
1904 ... "Sweet Adeline (You're the Flower of My Heart)" by Haydn Quartet
1903 ... "Any Rags?" by Arthur Collins
1902 ... "In the Good Old Summer Time" by J.W. Myers

[Adeline was Adelina Patti, a 19th century singer of renown, and froma billboard sign of her parting came the song]

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