Sing Me a Song of Postal Significance

     Ir has been a while since we took up the question of popular song.  This is a subject which is a lot more fun in retrospect.  If I say a little ditty from 2010 was popular, I must be challenged by people who tell me it was NOT a “pop song”, that it was NOT popular with the general populace but only a certain age group, or that the singer/songwriter responsible for the song has said something vile on Twitter and must no longer be mentioned in polite company.  Dealing with songs from an age where the people who hummed it when it was new are all dead now takes a great weight off the blogger’s mind (if any.)

     Postcards making use of popular songs come in two basic varieties: there are those where the artist was looking for something to illustrate and thought of a song with lines that suggested a good gag, and there were those which were part of a series specializing in popular songs.  I thought we might hit up the latter platter today, and save the first kind for next week.

     You have seen these cats at the top of the column before.  They were part of a general species of postcards printed in striking red and black, but these cats specialized in gags relating to songs.  This one references a little number from 1904, in which a rustic tourist remarks the chorus to the tour guide in a palace.

     They also took an interest in this perennial paean to optimism, and preserved a number of other songs simply by being nifty black cats.

     You have also seen this company’s creations in this column.  Theoochrom cards can generally be recognized by this gold border (though a few companies copied it after it caught on.)  the “chrom” part of the name comes from “chrome”, which appears in numerous postcard company names or lines, as a reference to shininess or color or both.  The “Theo” comes from Theodor Eismann, the founder of the company.  The company, headquartered in Germany, concentrated on cards to sell in English-speaking countries, and preferred to use pop songs known in the United States, frequently paying for the rights to them, and occasionally changing lyrics a bit when they couldn’t get the rights to the real ones.  This is a fine tear-jerker about a woman who was SO beautiful she couldn’t get a boyfriend.  (More to it than that, but we must move on.  Who has time for an entire Victorian tearjerker?)

     Bamforth became famous for its humorous, and frequently bawdy, postcards, but it also had lines which specialized in pictures based on hymns or popular songs.  This is a song best known now because Bamforth did three postcards of it: the first verse, shown here, the chorus, and the second verse.  It is another tearjerker, and perhaps you will be glad to know, without having to buy all three postcards, that after the stepmother cries out that the boy broke his mother’s heart so she died, disgraced his father, and is probably only trying to insure an inheritance, his father decides to take him back home anyhow.

     This couple are featured in the “Simple Life” series from Julius Bien.  I assume they live the simple life because they’re broke, as shown in his patched clothes, and her glorious patchwork gown, cheap hat, and distinctive hairdo.  Here they reference a song of 1904 by a W.H. Thompson.

     It was exactly the sort of lyric to be useful to the general public as well as to postcard publishers, so it can be found in many places.

     Our Simple Life couple also saluted this little song from 1908, the chorus of which lives on in a wholly different song.  The original said nothing at all about chili, and was not set to the tune of Santa Lucia.  It was another work in the genre of songs about demented women, this one being a dancing fiend.  (Other song hits in this genre were “Shine On, Harvest Moon” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, but that’s a whole nother blog.)

     They put a very nice spin on this bachelor anthem of the nineteen-aughts: the title of the show at the opera house makes the reaction quite logical.

     Unlike some of the rather caddish postcard takes on the same lyric.

     Again, to the relief of readers, I can point out the existence of an answer song, which our Patchwork Child and friend also covered.  I prefer blogs (and songs) with happy endings.

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