Thursday, March 31st, 2016...4:47 pm

April Fool’s Day: odd sheet music

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The Historical Sheet Music Collections at Houghton have been yielding some weird cover art lately. Here are a few in honor of April foolishness:

SHEET MUSIC 378

SHEET MUSIC 378
Thanks for the lobster
by “Jack” Caddigan & “Chick” Story.
1913

This song tells the story of a gentleman escorting a lady friend to a cabaret, where she pawns him off on a female friend enamoured of his wealth; her friend calls her later to say:

“He’s a red hot, hard shell rural creation
But his diamond pin saved me from starvation
Oh! Thanks for the Lobster, the beautiful Lobster
That you handed over to me.”

The Cassell Dictionary of Slang has a mid-19th century definition of lobster: “a slow-witted, awkward or gullible person; a fool ; a dupe ; a bore. ” It seems as if she agreed. Here’s the Victor Military band with the tune.

The following year produced this piano tango:

This one is sans lyrics, so I leave it to the scholars to decide if this is a tribute or a sequel. Here’s the Fred Van Eps Banjo Orchestra with the tune. For more on large hats in restaurants, see:

Here’s the tune, once again by the Victor Military Band. Probably relating to the French idiom “la moutarde monte mon nez” — The mustard is going up my nose (I’m getting irritated).

This one is dedicated to the “B.P.O. Elks”.

SHEET MUSIC 372

SHEET MUSIC 372
Hello Bill! medley march
by Walter L. Rosenberg.
1907

If you don’t know the “Hello Bill” story, here it is. It sort of explains the cover … but not really.

In this number from 1901, a mosquito from Hoboken meets an untimely end when he ventures across the river and bites a wax figure of a woman he sees in Manhattan. The moral: don’t leave Hoboken. That’s the formidable comedienne Marie Dressler in the photo portrait.

SHEET MUSIC 371

SHEET MUSIC 371
The ambitious mosquito
words by J. Clarence Harvey ; music by John L. Golden
1901

What’s the strangest cover art you’ve seen? Visit Houghton and discover these and more 19th and 20th century illustrated sheet music.

[Thanks to Dana Gee, Project Sheet Music Cataloger, for contributing this post]

1 Comment

  • My grandfather–whose given name was William–was a loyal Elk for 50 years so I recognize most of the symbolism on the sheet music. Going to Mother’s Day breakfasts at the local Elks Lodge–where the men cooked–is one of my fondest childhood memories.