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Ann Kathleen Otto

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Musical Moments

October 5, 2015

Can you remember what song was playing the first time you knew that guy was the one, or the one that they  played at your wedding? Music creates an atmosphere for us to remember special moments and gives us a common language transcending our native tongue. Popular songs were especially helpful in creating a common culture across the country before radio. They were helpful in setting the mood in some Yours in a Hurry scenes.

Ragtime                                                          

The older generation didn't always understand the new music. Sound familiar? "Alexander's Ragtime Band" introduced a new sound and gave a new meaning to the word rag. Instead of something worthless, in the new idiom to rag meant to play in ragtime in the vein of the popular song—you were hip and a tease. Billy Murray (right), one of the most popular singers of the era, performed a popular rendition in 1911 which provides a good example of the sound that everyone liked at the time, but very different from today. You could listen at home on the new Victrola or on Mr. Edison's cylinders which played for only two minutes until he improved them and they could play for over four minutes. 

Come Josephine

One story line in the book is about early aviation. When three early aviatrices, Harriet Quimby, Blanche Scott and Matilde Moisant, are dining out, someone recognizes Harriet, the former actress and journalist, and asks the pianist to play "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine." If you'd like to hear an original rendition of that, listen to Billy Murray's and Ada Jones's popular rendition from 1911.

Dreamland                                                                               

Some things haven't changed. We all love a love song. Anna's beau tries to sweep her off her feet by playing "Meet me Tonight in Dreamland" on the  Victrola. The song by Leo Friedman was the #1 hit in November, 1910, and I must admit that the rendition by Henry Burr is as beautiful today as it was then. It's clear why the singer (right) was popular for so many years.

Author's Dilemma

I could use Leo Friedman's popular song in Yours in a Hurry because it is registered as public domain due, in part, to age. It's difficult for authors to get permissions to use most songs, which is why they are not often used in text. Even the website Best Known Public Domain Songs includes a caution on how to properly vet any song before you use it in print.

Photos: Library of Congress Photos

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