Favorite Songs and Hymns For School and Home, page: 0080

450 Of The World's Best Songs And Hymns, With Lyrics & Sheet music for voice & piano.

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80                                    FAVORITE SONGS FOR SCHOOL AND HOME
The popular ballad," Listen to the Mocking Bird," was written and first published in 1855, by Septimus Winner, of Philadelphia, under the nom de plume of * Alice Hawthorne," his mother's maiden name. It was suggested incidentally by listening to a colored man, Dick Milburn, known as " Whistling Dick," who wan­dered about the city whistling in imitation of a mocking bird, at the same time strumming an accompaniment upon a guitar. Struck by his remarkable performance as a warbler, Mr. W. said to him one day, half in jest, "Dick, I'll write you a song for your mocking bird." The compass of the negro's voice was hardly an octave, and, as will be observed, the melody was made very simple, so as not to be beyond his reach. The words, " Listen to the Mocking Bird," which run higher, were to be spoken by him, not sung, except where they came within his compass, followed by the whistler's marvelous
imitation of the bird. The man was a very good-natured fellow, but of so little intellectual capacity that, though he came to Mr. Winner's music store night after night to learn the words of the song, he was never able to master more than one verse of it. Such, however, was his sense of the comic, and such his facility in improvis­ing lines to the music, suggesting ridiculous fancies to attract the laughing crowd, that his " Mocking Bird " soon added greatly to Dick's local reputation. The song was published in ballad form and at once became very popular, and such is its hold upon the public fancy that, although it has been sung and whistled and played the country over for an average lifetime, it still retains its place as a song of national reputation. It was sold by Mr. Winner to the firm of Lee and Walker for a trifling sum. The profits from its sale have exceeded one hundred thousand dollars, perhaps the largest
TOUCH US GENTLY, TIME.
Bryan Waller Procter. (Barry Cornwall)
amount ever realized from any musical composition of its class. There have been published upwards of fifty different arrangements, with variations, each differing from every other in some musical peculiarity, making it one of the most widely known of all airs and ballads; and yet the composer, during the twenty-eight years of the first copyright, never received upon the song any­thing beyond the price at which it was originally sold. This song at once gave him a reputation which opened the market everywhere to his efforts. It was followed, as it had been preceded, by others in different veins, humorous and pathetic. His first song, " How Sweet are the Roses," was published in 1850; his last, a merry " Party at the Zoo," a tuneful bit of humor, has just appeared (1888) in one of the magazines.. Be­tween these dates he has written a hundred or more songs, both words and music, many of which have sold
by tens of thousands and are very widely known, among them, "What is Home without a Mother?" " Let us Live with a Hope," " I'll Sail the Seas over," etc., besides a large number of instruction books upon different instruments. Some of these songs which, at the time of writing them, he sold for a few dollars each, have netted their publishers full as many thousands, and he laughs pleasantly as he recalls the mistake of these low figures. His songs have had a very large sale also in Great Britain, more than sixty of them having been republished in England. His numerous instruc­tion books have been published under his own name, but his songs under various noms deplume, among them " Alice Hawthorne," the most familiar, giving name to the " Hawthorne ballads "; " Aspley Street," from the street in which he lived; "Mark Mason," a degree of the Masonic order to which he belongs, and others.
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