Thursday, November 12, 2009

All Those in Favor Say Aye

"Green Fields of France," posted for Veterans Day, is fittingly somber, but it wasn't the only thing I chanced across while looking for a fittingly somber song to post. One place I found was the web site of the truly remarkable Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project of the Donald C. Davidson Library of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the UCSB Libraries have created a digital collection of nearly 8,000 cylinder recordings held by the Department of Special Collections... On this site you will have the opportunity to find out more about the cylinder format, listen to thousands of musical and spoken selections from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and discover a little-known era of recorded sound," the site says. It also asks for donations to advance this worthwhile project. As soon as I have any money to spare, I'll donate some.

In the meantime, we all can enjoy such remarkable bugs-in-amber as, "All Those in Favor Say Aye," a comic tune that could have only been recorded in 1919, as indeed it was. The song manages to advocate showing the recently deposed Kaiser Wilhelm the business end of a rope, as well as cleaning the bolsheviks' clocks, but fails to come up with a ringing endorsement of Prohibition. Here it is, for download or streaming.

The singer, the generally forgotten Arthur Fields, made a lot of recordings in his day, it seems, including some generally forgotten World War I songs. They're not necessarily songs that need much playing now, but the titles do make me smile: "Just Like Washington Crossed the Delaware, General Pershing Will Cross the Rhine," and "It's a Long Way to Berlin, But We'll Get There," both from 1918.

I also came across this, which at one time Dr. Demento considered one of the ten worst song titles ever (Book of Lists, 1977), though it doesn't seem to be on later on-line lists attributed to him. It should be.

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