DESCRIPTION: The words often consist of floating lyrics. The chorus, "Ta-ra-ra(-ra) Boom-de-ay," is diagnostic. Sayers' lyrics: "A sweet Tuxedo girl I see, Queen of swell society, Fond of fun as fond can be, When it's on the strict Q.T...."
EARLIEST DATE: 1888
KEYWORDS: nonballad nonsense
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,So)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
FSCatskills 144, "Ta-ra-ra-ra Boom, Hurray!" (1 text plus many fragments, 2 tunes)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 144-146, "Ta-ra-ra Boom-der-e" (1 fragmentary text)
Gilbert, pp. 206-208, "Ta-ra-ra-boom-der-e" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 25, "Ta-Ra-Ra Boom-Der-E" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 570-571+, "Ta-Ra-Ra boom-Der-E"
ADDITIONAL: Robert A. Fremont, editor, _Favorite Songs of the Nineties_, Dover Publications, 1973, pp. 2999-301, "Ta! Ra! Ra! Boom De Ay!" (1 text, 1 tune, an early but undated sheet music edition)
Aline Waites & Robin Hunter, _The Illustrated Victorian Songbook_, Michael Joseph Ltd., 1984, pp. 103-106, "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay!" (1 text, 1 tune, plus a color print of an early sheet music cover)
Reginald Nettel, _Seven Centuries of Popular Song_, Phoenix House, 1956, pp. 209-210, "(no title)" (1 text)
Land Norris, "Bum Delay" (OKeh 45058, 1926)
cf. "I'm the Man that Wrote Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay"
cf. "Will You Go Boom Today?" (tune)
Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay (We Have No School Today) (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 102)
[Joe Hill's] Ta-ra-ra Boom De-ay (Barrie Stavis and Frank Harmon, editors, _The Songs of Joe Hill_, 1960, now reprinted in the Oak Archives series, pp. 22-23); (William M. Adler, _The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon_, pp. 274-275) (Gibbs M. Smith, _Joe Hill_, 1969 (I use the 1984 Peregrine Smith Books edition), pp, 257-258)
NOTES [262 words]: Cazden et al present a list of the various authors who have claimed this piece while denying credit to any of them. (They concede the form "Ta-ra-ra Boom-der-e" to Henry J. Sayers, 1890; published in 1891 by Willis Woodward; cf. Spaeth, Read 'em and Weep, pp. 144-146. Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 76, carefully states that the song is "usually credited to the [sic.] Henry J. Sayers, manager of the Thatcher, Primrose and West Minstrels.")
There was actually a lawsuit over the issue (Henry J. Sayers vs. Sigmund Spaeth et al, 1932). Fuld reports "Judge Robert P. Patterson later held that the music and words of the chorus were not original, but the first two verses were."
Randolph quotes Gilbert to the effect that the tune "is said to have originated in Babe Connors' famous St. Louis brothel" (!); Finson, pp. 76-77, says that the claim came from the court testimony of Theodor Metz.
Something very similar appears in a Strauss piece.
The uncertainty about the authorship resulted in the comic parody "I'm the Man that Wrote Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay."
Nettel, p. 209, says that "Lottie Collins first sang it in 1891, and had to keep giving encores until she was exhausted." Laura Ingalls Wilder, in her journal of her trip from South Dakota to Missouri, reported that even cowbells were playing this song, it was so popular (see Laura Ingalls WIlder, On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, Harper & Row, 1962, p. 70). - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.