Thursday, April 14, 2016

Songs of Yesteryear

by Shanna Hatfield

I had such fun reading Kathryn Albright's post about cowboy music yesterday, I thought I'd continue down a musical road today.

From the time I was five until the end of my junior year of high school, my mother carted me into town once a week for a piano lesson.

Not a particularly eager student, I begrudgingly went each week mostly because it meant I'd get some sort of treat on the way home.

By the time I hit high school, I could play fairly well, although there were no hopes on my horizon for being the next great concert pianist. In fact, I much preferred to accompany members of the choir than perform solo.

One afternoon, while my mother perused summer-weight material for a new dress at the fabric shop in town, I wandered to the music store next door to browse through the latest sheet music arrivals.

As though I could hear the tinny rag-time music calling my name, a thick book of sheet music jumped out at me.

Favorite Songs of the Nineties (Dover Publications, Inc.) offered the complete original sheet music for 89 songs popular around the turn of the 20th century.

As I flipped through the array of fascinating tunes, I wondered why my music teacher had been holding back on me so long. Forget about Beethoven and Mozart — here was the music that sang to my heart.

The staggering price of the book (when you're fifteen and still on an allowance) did little to deter my enthusiasm. I had to have it. Scraping every bit of change from the bottom of my purse, I excitedly purchased the book.

Broke but determined, I went home and spent several hours that evening acquainting myself with songs such as After the Ball, The Bird on Nellie's Hat, In the Good Old Summertime, and Waltz me Around Again Willie.

Where had these wonderful songs been all my life? I probably drove my family nuts that summer, playing those old tunes over and over again until I had the notes and lyrics memorized. (At least I was practicing the piano of my own free will — a huge change from past summers in my childhood!)

I still have that book of sheet music and it has served me well as I write sweet historical romances set in the 1890s and 1900s.

It's fun to incorporate some of these songs that have become so familiar to me into the stories of characters who have become my friends.

In my new release Bertie, I included one of my favorite songs because the lyrics are so fun and flirty and fit so well into the story.

If you've never heard Coax Me, here's a peek at the opening lyrics:
"A night in June,
A lovely moon,
Beneath the trees two dusky lovers wooing,
He softly sighs,
She rolls her eyes..."

Some other tunes from the book of sheet music you might recognize include:
I Love You Truly 
Sweet Rosie O'Grady
Ta-Ra-Ra Boom-De-Ay!
The Fountain in the Park
While Strolling Through the Park One Day

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic  is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

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  1. Oh yes, I've played those songs also. They are such fun. When I performed with the Cripple Creek Melodrama, I sang a couple of those songs in the Olio (I was the Olio).
    Your post brought back memories of playing and singing as I was growing up. Doris/Angela

  2. How fun, Doris! You are such a multi-talented woman! :)

  3. I saw this late last night and came back to comment today, Shanna. I love hearing these old songs that you mention here. Bicycle Built for Two and The Band Played On are two of my favorites from yesteryear and I know them both on the piano too. When I play something from my past, it brings back memories of when I first heard it--where I was, what was happening. A bit nostalgic... Thanks for the walk down memory lane...

    1. Thanks, Kathryn! It is fun to take those musical strolls down memory lane.