Sweet Rosie O'Grady
DESCRIPTION: "Just down around the corner of a street where I reside, There lives the sweetest little girl that I have ever spied." The singer vows never to forget the day they met, and says that the very birds sing her name
AUTHOR: Maude Nugent
EARLIEST DATE: 1896 (sheet music published by Jos. W. Stern & Co)
KEYWORDS: love nonballad bird marriage
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Dean, p. 62, "Rose O'Grady" (1 text)
Messerli, pp. 220-221, "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Robert A. Fremont, editor, _Favorite Songs of the Nineties_, Dover Publications, 1973, pp. 290-293, "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" (1 text, 1 tune, the 1896 sheet music)
Aline Waites & Robin Hunter, _The Illustrated Victorian Songbook_, Michael Joseph Ltd., 1984, pp. 175-177, "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" (1 text, 1 tune)
Margaret Bradford Boni, editor, _Songs of the Gilded Age_, with piano arrangements by Norman Lloyd and illustrations by Lucille Corcos, Golden Press, 1960, pp. 89-91, "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "Sweet Rosie Levinsky" (lyrics)
NOTES [276 words]: According to Spaeth, "Maude Nugent, who sang and danced at Johnny Reilly's famous place, 'The Abbey'... is officially recognized as the creator of Sweet Rosie O'Grady, althouth there is a strong suspicion that her husband, Billy Jerome, actually wrote the song." The reason for this is that she never wrote anything else of significance (and, according to Waites & Hunter, she was only 19 when she wrote it) -- but let's be serious: This is a silly piece of work. It wouldn't take much of a songwriter to produce such a thing. It became a hit presumably because the tune is good and harmonizes well in barbershop arrangements.
Billy Jerome, according to Spaeth, p. 331, was responsible for such tremendous hits as "Bedelia," "Mister Dooley," "China Town, My China Town," "My Irish Molly, O," and "The Hat My Father Wore on Saint Patrick's Day." Not a particularly inspiring list of songs to my way of thinking.
Whoever the author, it didn't bring much money to the Nugent/Jerome household. They sold the rights for a few hundred dollars, according to Spaeth, and when the copyright was renewed, they reassigned them, resulting in much quarreling over royalties.
According to David A. Jasen, Tin Pan Alley: The Composers, the Songs, the Performers and their Times: The Golden Age of American Popular Music from 1886 to 1956, Primus, 1988, p. 119, a writer named Walter Donaldson (who would later write the tunes for "My Blue Heaven," "Makin' Whoopee," "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby," and "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?") in 1916 produce a song "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady," the contents of which can best be imagined. - RBW
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