Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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Henry Carey, author of " Sally in our Alley," was born about 1663, and was a natural son of George Saville, Marquis of Halifax, whose family granted Carey a handsome annuity. He adopted the musical profession; but, although he had unusual advantages, he never rose to eminence. For many years, he taught music in schools and families of the middle rank. He was a prolific writer of songs, and in 1729 published two volumes of poems, many of which are good, and one or two of which are widely known. His fame must rest upon the one song which touched the popular heart.—"Sally in our Alley"; for his claim to the authorship of " God save the King" is too stoutly denied, to add anything to it.
He seems to have been a man of good qualities and character. He was the principal projector of the fund for decayed musicians, their widows, and children. In announcing a benefit concert to be given him, the London Daily Post of December 3, 1730, said: " At our friend, Harry Carey's benefit, to-night, the powers of music, poetry, and painting, assemble in his behalf; he being an admirer of the three arts. The body of musicians meet in the Haymarket, whence they march in great order, preceded by a magnificent moving organ, in form of a pageant, accompanied by all the kinds of musical instruments ever in use, from Tubal Cain until the present day. A great multitude of booksellers, authors, and printers form themselves into a body at Temple Bar, whence they march, with great decency, to Covent Garden, preceded by a little army of printer's devils, with their proper instru­ments. Here the two bodies of music and poetry are joined by the brothers of. the pencil, where, after taking some refreshments at the Bedford Arms, they march in solemn proces­sion to the theatre, amidst an innumerable crowd of spectators."
"Sally in our Alley" was one of the most popular songs ever made in England. In the third edition of his poems, Carey gives an account of the manner in which it came to be written. He says: " The real occasion was this: A shoemaker's 'prentice, making a holi­day with his sweetheart, treated her with a sight of Bedlam, the puppet-shows, the flying-chairs, and all the elegancies of Moorfields; from whence proceeding to the Farthing-pie-house, he gave her a collation of buns, cheese, cakes, gammon of bacon, stuffed beef, and bottled ale; through all which scenes the author dodged them (charmed with'the sim­plicity of their courtship), from whence he drew this little sketch of nature; but being then young and obscure, he was very much ridiculed by some of his acquaintance for this performance, which nevertheless made its way into the polite world, and amply recom­pensed him by the applause of the divine Addison, who was pleased (more than once) to mention it with approbation."
Endless were the answers, parodies, and imitations of the favorite song. One of the liveliest of the former began:
" Of all the lads that are so smart, There's none I love like Billy; He is the darling of my heart, And he lives in Piccadilly."
Another contained the following:
" I little thought when you began, To write of charming Sally, That every brat would sing so soon, ' She lives in our alley.'"
Carey committed suicide in a fit of despair, October 4, 1743, at his home in Warmer street, Coldbath-fields,—or, to quote a quaint account, "by means of a halter he put a