Thursday, February 04, 2010

Tracking the Elusive Lovecraft: "My Sweet Elaine" with "Mockingbird".

HPL declares in a rare rhapsodic outburst [To Galpin/Galomo, 31 August 1921], "...the voices of men shall sing the songs of boys - the songs of fifteen years ago - "In the Golden Autumn Time, My Sweet Elaine", "When the Mocking Bird is Singing in the Wild Wood" ..." and [To Kleiner 11 August 1921] "we shall go back to 1906 ... howling the old cheap popular songs of 1906..."

Never satisfied and seemingly with too much capacity for the trivial, Chrispy sought out for a date. When did all this bloody singing take place?? - assuming Lovecraft wasn't tripping on bad coffee.

Well, "Da Google" comes to the rescue. How did researchers ever research Lovecraft without it? Heh.

I tracked down the obscure, "In the golden autumn time, my sweet Elaine" to its inception as a Victor (double) release 9 January 1906 of a Stephen R. Henry composed song. See below.

Link:

A-2991 1/9/1906 In the golden autumn time, my sweet Elaine John H. Bieling ; Harry Macdonough ; Haydn Quartet Male vocal quartet, with vocal soloists and orchestra
C-2991 1/9/1906 In the golden autumn time, my sweet Elaine John H. Bieling ; Harry Macdonough ; Haydn Quartet Male vocal quartet, with vocal soloists and orchestra
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Now he has misremembered slightly the other song which Chrispy found as another Victor recording entitled, "When the mocking birds are singing in the wildwood" by composer H. B. Blanke.

The notes are:
Link

2/9/1906 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [unconfirmed]) 1 Master Victor 4665 8" disc
Authors and Composers Notes ... H. B. Blanke (composer) Arthur J. Lamb (lyricist)
Primary Performer Notes Harry Macdonough (vocalist: tenor vocal)
Matrix E-3088

US Billboard 6 - Apr 1906 (1 week)
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So, assuming that HPL did recollect the memory correctly - and he is proven over and over correct (unless he's caught spinning the facts, spin-meister that he was) we shall have to agree he was correct. They bicycled out 8 or 9 miles into Massachusetts singing melodies as they went. Since, it's unlikely they built any club houses in mid-winter, these song were playing and caught on through the late Spring and Summer of 1906. This would be pretty close to the date that Lovecraft gives for their ages - but he would have been 16 years old on 20 August 1906, a bit younger than he admits: [To Kleiner, op cit] "...we were boys of 16 or 17".

He also recalls the precise date of the new club formation as [To Kleiner, op cit] "... which had its last reorganisation on April 11, 1906 ..."
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So, dear Lovecraftians, we have reasonably independent data that supports Lovecraft's memories on this one.

The latest of the two songs mentioned released February 1906 and hit Billboard's top in April for one week, and HPL recalls 11 April 1906 as the reorganisation meeting of the clubhouse expedition. Following that, they must have selected the far off Rehoboth location, solicited James Kay's help, and through that Summer of 1906 as HPL was turning 16 'they' rebuilt an old shack into a country club and had a grand time.

And as we see, it was still standing and intact on Monday, August 8, 1921.

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