Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Oil on the Brain

October 17, 2012

Image from The Journal of American History



The Yankees that they make clocks
Which “just beat all creation.”
They never made one could keep time
With our great speculation.
Our stocks, like clocks, go with a spring:
wind up, run down again;
But all our strikes are sure to cause
Oil on the brain.


Stocks par, stocks up,
then on the wane,
Everybody’s troubled with
Oil on the brain.

There’s various kinds of oil afloat: cod-liver,
Castor, sweet–
Which tend to make a sick man well, and set
him on his feet;
But ours a curious feat performs — We just a
well obtain,
And set the people crazy with
Oil on the brain.


There’s neighbor Smith, a poor young man,
Who could not raise a dime,
Had clothes that boasted many rents,
And took his “Nip” on time;
But now he’s clad in dandy style,
Sports diamonds, kids, and cane;
And his success was owing to
Oil on the brain.


Miss Simple drives her coach and four,
And dresses in high style;
And Mr. Shoddy courts her strong,
Because her “Dad’s struck ile.”
Her jewels, laces, velvets, silks,
Of which she is so vain,
Were bought by “Dad” the time he had
Oil on the brain.


You meet a friend upon the street.
He greets you with a smile,
And tells you, in a hummed way,
He’s “just gone into ile.”
He button-holds you half an hour —
Of course, you can’t complain —
For, you can see the fellow has
Oil on the brain.


The lawyers, doctors, hatters, clerks,
Industrious and lazy,
Have put their money all in stocks,
In fact, have gone “oil crazy,”
They’d better stick to briefs and pills,
Hot irons, ink and pen,
Or they will “kick the bucket” from
Oil on the brain.


Poor Mrs. Jones was taken ill.
The doctors gave her up.
They lost the confidence they had
In lancet, leech, and cup.
“Afflictions sore long time she bore,
Physicians were in vain;”
And she, at last, expired of
Oil on the brain.


There’s “Maple Shade,” “Monitor,”
“Bull Creek,” “Big Tank,” “Dalzell,”
And “Keystone,” “Star,” “Venango,”
“Organic” and “Farewell,”
“Petroleum,” “Saint Nicholas,”
“Cornplanter,” “New Creek Vein;”
Sure ’tis no wonder many have
Oil on the brain.

Stocks par, stocks up,
then on the wane,
Everybody’s troubled with
Oil on the brain.

Then Venango Spectator (Franklin, Pennsylvania) Mar 1, 1865

Sheet music can be found at Jscholarship

Tune and Lyrics (scroll down) at American Civil War Music

The Little Brown Jug – [excerpts]

….It is generally used to-day as a college drinking song. A peculiar use when it is considered that its author, “Eastburn,” which was the nom de plume signed to most of his music by Joseph Eastburn Winner, was a strictly temperate man and an advocate of temperance, rather than an encourage of the “little brown jug.”

…..Whenever he outlined a song, before he put on the finishing touches, he would call in a little bootblack from the street, and used him as a sort of audience and musical critic combined. He knew most of the boys who in those days plied their trade in and about the old Reading Terminal, of Philadelphia, at Ninth and Green streets. Mr. Winner would seat himself at the piano, first telling the “audience and critic” that he wanted to play for him a new piece he had composed. He would begin and play it through, not once, but a dozen times, watching the effect on the “audience,” and if it moved its feet, or seemed to have any special effect, or if the “shine” would go out whistling it after the recital, Mr. Winner put it down a winner, and he says the test never failed him.

….Mr. Winner does not claim absolute originality in the writing of “The Little Brown Jug,”….. Mr. Winner jotted down the poem, entirely rearranged it into verse and chorus, added several verses, and sat down at the piano and wrote the melody….

…..Mr. Joseph Eastburn Winner is still living in West Philadelphia enjoying the best of health. His life has been a most active one, and he is now enjoying the ease of a man who has accomplished much and is willing to spend his remaining years in the pleasant memories of the past. He is a brother of Septimus Winner, the composer of “The Mocking Bird,” and many other songs. When “Eastburn” was only twelve years old he was able to play the violin so well that he was frequently heard in concert in Philadelphia as a prodigy. At this time he made his home with his older brother Sep., at Franklin and Callowhill streets.

One of the first songs Winner composed and published was “The Ring My Mother Wore.” It became immensely popular. The words had been written by Lewis Dela, who was known in Philadelphia as “The Bard of Tower Hall.” A short time after this came the oil excitement, and Mr. Winner wrote one of his best comic songs, which was called, “Oil on the Brain,” and which was sung in all parts of the country. It was first sung by Mr. Dixie, of Carncross & Dixie’s, and was frequently hear on the stage at the Old Arch Street Theater, then conducted by Mrs. John Drew.

…..He was only in his teens when he wrote “The Ring My Mother Wore,” and for its composition he received then bright silver dollars, which to him in those days seemed a small fortune. For many of his songs later in life he received large sums…..

After conducting the store at Eighth and Green streets for a number of years, he sold it to his brother, Septimus Winner, and went into the publishing business with J.M. Stoddart, at 1018 Chestnut street. They published extensively the Encylopaedia Britannica, and bought out all the Gilbert & Sullivan operas, as well as a great deal of music of various classes….

…..Mr. Winner has been married twice. His children of his first wife are living in Philadelphia, and with his second wife he has one son, a bright boy of seven, who bears the name of Hawthorne Winner, Hawthorne being Mr. Winner’s mother’s name, and out of respect for her Mr. Septimus Winner used the pen name of “Alice Hawthorne” for “The Mocking Bird” and many other songs he composed….

The Washington Herald (Washington, D.C.)  Jun 19, 1910

The Bookseller and Newsman, v. 12 (google link)

In Some Forgotten Life, Long Time Gone By

October 11, 2012

Image from The Pathology Guy – Enjoying “The Lady of Shalott”


(After Gerard de Nerval)

Andrew Lang* (1844-1912)

There is an air for which I would disown
Mozart’s, Rossini’s, Weber’s melodies —
A sweet sad air that languishes and sighs,
And keeps its secret charm for me alone.

Whene’er I hear that music vague and old,
Two hundred years are mist that rolls away;
The thirteenth Louis reigns, and I behold
A green land golden in the dying day.

An old red castle, strong with stony towers,
And windows gay with many-colored glass;
Wide plains, and rivers flowing among flowers,
That bathe the castle basement as they pass.

In antique weed, with dark eyes and gold hair,
A lady looks forth from her window high;
It may be that I knew and found her fair,
In some forgotten life, long time gone by.

Mason City Globe Gazette (Mason, City, Iowa) Nov 27, 1929

Newspaper listed author as Andrew LONG, rather than LANG, his correct surname.

Cantata of the Hay Makers

June 7, 2012

Image from Hillsdale College 1881 Catalogue

Hillsdale, June 16, 1868.

H.B. ROWLSON ESQ: — The notice of the Beethoven Society of Hillsdale College of the Concerts to be given by that Society to-night and to-morrow night with the programme of the “Cantata of the Hay Makers,” suggested to me a beautiful piece of “word painting.”

It is redolent of the fragrance of flowers and of new mown hay, and musical with the cheery songs of the mowers, and with the ring and stroke of their scythes. Please publish it to-day as very appropriate to the occasion.          M.

Image from 19th Century American Women

We are up and away, ere the sunrise hath kist,
In the valley below us, that ocean of mist;
Ere the tops of the hills have grown bright in its ray,
With our scythes on our shoulders, we’re up and away!
The freshness and beauty of morning are ours,
The music of birds and the fragrance of flowers;
And our trail is the first that is seen in the dew,
As our pathway through orchards and lanes we pursue.

The helmeted clover, in serried array,
Like a host for the battle, awaits us to-day;
Like a host overthrown, rank by rank, shall it lie
Ere the heats of the noontide are poured from the sky.
Hurrah! — here we are! — now together, as one,
Give you scythes to the sward, and press steadily on;
All together, as one, o’er the stubble we pass,
With a swing and a ring of the steel through the grass.

Before us the clover stands thickly and tall,
At our left it is piled in a verdurous wall;
And never breathed monarch more fragrant perfumes
Than the sunshine distills from its leaves and its blooms.
Invisible censers around us are swung,
And anthems exultant from tree-tops are flung;
And mid fragrance and music and beauty we share
The jubilant life of the Earth and the Air.

Let the priest and the lawyer grow pale in their shades,
And the slender young clerk keep his skin like a maid’s;
We care not, though dear mother Nature may bronze
Gur cheeks with the kiss which she gives to her sons.
Then cheerly, boys, cheerly! — together, as one,
Give your scythes to the sward, and press steadily on;
All together, as one, o’er the stubble we pass,
With a swing and a ring of the steel through the grass.

The Hillsdale Standard (Hillsdale, Michigan) Jun 16, 1868

From the Atlantic Monthly, June 1862 article: The Health of Our Girls:

A Queer Sort of Hymn

March 25, 2012

Image from Trees for Life

The Cherry Tree Carol (music and lyrics)

A Queer Sort of Hymn.

[From the Boston Watchman.]

The Baroness Coutts, whose charities are known all over the world, has built many churches, and among others St. Stephen’s, in Westminister, where a congregation of Ritualistic Episcopalians worship. Here is the hymn they sang on New Year’s Day. We almost hesitate to admit it to our columns, yet it illustrates a phase of religious life; it is a “sign of the times,” and therefore we print it:

Joseph was an old man,
An old man was he,
He married sweet Mary,
And a virgin was she.

As they went a-walking,
In the garden so gay,
Maid Mary spied cherries
Hanging over yon tree.

Mary said to Joseph,
With her sweet lip so mild,
“Pluck these cherries, Joseph,
For to give to my child.”

“Oh! then,” replied Joseph,
With words so unkind,
“I will pluck no cherries
For to give to thy child.”

Mary said to cherry tree,
“Bow down to my knee,
That I may pluck cherries
By one, two, and three.”

The uppermost sprig then
Bowed down to her knee;
“Thus you may see, Joseph,
These cherries are for me.”

“Oh! eat your cherries, Mary,
Oh! eat your cherries now;
Oh! eat your cherries, Mary,
That grow upon the bough.”

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Mar 5, 1876

Musical Catechism

February 8, 2012

Image from Family Tree MagazinePhoto Detective


1. What is a slur?
Almost any remark which one singer makes about another.

2. What notes require more time than others?
Notes of hand signed by bankrupt debtors.

3. What is beating time?
Singing so fast that time cannot keep up with you.

4. What is a rest?
Going out of the choir to get some refreshment during sermon time.

5. What is singing with the understanding?
Marking time on the floor with the foot.

6. What is a staccato movement?
Leaving the choir in a huff, because one is dissatisfied with the leader’s requirements.

7. What is figured base?
The scribbling usually found on the blank pages of singing books, supposed to  be executed usually during sermon time.

8. What is a swell?
A professor of music who pretends to know everything about the science, while he cannot conceal his ignorance.

9. With what propriety may a clarionet be used as an accompaniment of church music?
With about the same as a tin kettle, beat with a pair of tongs, might be used with an AEolian harp.

10. What is a leg-ato movement?
The escape of Santa Anna at Cerro Gordo.

Lynn News.

American Freeman (Prairieville, Wisconsin) Apr 5, 1848

Our Presidents to the Tune of “Yankeee Doodle”

February 20, 2011

Our Presidents.

The following verses, which were written by J.D. Elder teacher of the Burwood school, were sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle” at the recent closing exercises of that school. They will be found valuable in helping the children to memorize the names of the Presidents and the order in which they held office.

We publish it by request.

George Washington, first President,
By Adams was succeeded.
Tom Jefferson was next the choice;
The people’s cause he pleaded.
Madison was then called forth
To give John Bull a peeling.
James Monroe had all the go
In the “Era of Good Feeling.”

‘Twas J.Q. Adams then came in
And next came Andrew Jackson,
Who’d licked John Bull at New Orleans
With such great satisfaction.
Then Van Buren took the chair;
Then Harrison and Tyler —
The latter made the Whigs so mad
They thought they’d “bust their biler.”

We then elected James K. Polk;
The issue that did vex us
Was, “Shall we ‘do up’ Mexico
And ‘take in’ little Texas?”
Taylor then got in the chair,
But soon had to forsake it.
Millard Filmore filled it more,
Frank Pierce then said, “I’ll take it.”

Old Jim Buchanan next popped in.
Abe Lincoln then was chosen;
He found the current of events
Was anything but frozen.
Andy Johnson had a time;
The Senate would impeach him,
But as it took a two-thirds vote
They lacked one vote to reach him.

And now we come to U.S. Grant,
The man who fought at Shiloh,
And Hayes and Garfield, who was shot —
They both came from Ohio.
Arthur then the scepter held,
To Cleveland turned it over.
Ben Harrison sandwiches in,
And now again it’s Grover.

The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California) Jul 1, 1893

Massa in the Cold, Cold Ground

February 23, 2009


Massa in the Cold, Cold Ground

Round de meadows am a ringing,
De darkeys’ mournful song.
While de mocking bird is singing,
Happy as de day am long;
Whar de ivy am a creeping
O’er de grassy mound.
Dar old massa am a sleeping,
In de cold, cold ground.

CHORUS–Down in de corn-field,
Hear dat mournful sound,
All de darkeys am a weeping–
Massa’s in de cold, cold ground.

When de autumn leaves were falling,
When de days were cold.
“Twas hard to hear old massa calling,
Case he was so weak and old.
Now de orange tree am blowing,
On de sandy shore.
Now de summer days am coming.
massa neber calls no more.
CHORUS–Down in de corn-field, &c.

Mass made de darkeys love him.
Case he was so kind;
Now dey sadly weep above him,
Mourning as he leave behind
I canted work before tomorrow,
Cause the tear-drops flow,
I try to drive away my sorrow,
Pickin’ on de old banjo.
CHORUS–Down in de corn-field, &c.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Mar 21, 1853


The sheet music and lyrics to Massa’s in the Cold, Cold Ground, can be found at This version was published in 1890 with a few variations on words and spellings.

**Removed bad link.

Musical Interlude…And Science

December 19, 2008
Dancing Cow

Dancing Cow

A man ahead of his time, or was he just keeping an eye on the bottom line?

Lancaster Cows Like “Swing”

LANCASTER, Jan. 19–Fellow dairymen shook their heads when Park Miller installed a radio for his 31 cows about a year ago. Today he explained [what] his experiment disclosed. Cows like to hear dance orchestras.

They seem to prefer snappy tunes to the dreamy waltz numbers.

Classics are not so effective.

Symphonies and bits from the comedians and speeches never should be tuned in.

Miller explained he installed the radio because he figured music would help keep the cows contented. Poultrymen discovered some years ago that they got more eggs by putting electric lights in their hen houses. It works out the same, he said.

When he turns on the radio his 31 cows show immediate interest. If the orchestra swings into some catchy tune, they’ll listen in bovine contentment, seldom taking their eyes from the machine.If the music doesn’t have that certain swing, the cows appear bored.

Then there’s something else about putting a radio in your cow barn. Miller said he observed that his hired men went about their work with a lot more vim and vigor when a snappy tune was on the air.

Indiana Evening Gazette (PA)  19 Jan 1937

Now, about those chickens…

Timely Reminders From Pennsylvania State College.

Eggs and Electric Lights–If artificial lights have been turned on in the poultry plant, turn on an equal amount of common sense with them. Those who get an egg production much over fifty per cent for any length of time will pay dearly next spring by having their flocks go to pieces and molt.

Indiana Evening Gazette (PA) *unknown date