Sidewalks of New York
DESCRIPTION: Known by its chorus: "East side, west side, all around the town, The tots sang Ring-a-Rosie, London Bridge is falling down...." The verses describe courting in New York, and wax nostalgic for the days when the singer was one of those doing the courting
AUTHOR: Words: James W. Blake (1862-1935) / Music: Charles B. Lawlor (1852-1925)
EARLIEST DATE: 1894 (sheet music published by Howley, Haviland & Co)
KEYWORDS: courting game children
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Silber-FSWB, p. 48, "Sidewalks of New York" (1 text)
Gilbert, p. 257, "The Sidewalks of New York" (1 text)
Messerli, pp. 211-213, "The Sidewalks of New York" (1 text)
Fuld, pp. 499-500, "The Sidewalks of New York"
ADDITIONAL: Robert A. Fremont, editor, _Favorite Songs of the Nineties_, Dover Publications, 1973, pp. 259-262, "The Sidewalks of New York" (1 text, 1 tune, the 1899 sheet music)
William E. Studwell and Bruce R. Schueneman, _State Songs of the Unites States: An Annotated Anthology_, The Haworth Press, 1997, pp. 54-56, "(The Sidewalks of New York)" (1 text, tune on pp. 165-168)
Abner Burkhardt, "The Sidewalks of New York" (Champion 15279, 1927)
Vernon Dalhart, "The Sidewalks of New York" (Columbia 437-D, 1925; Columbia 15256-D, 1928 [as Al Craver])
George Gaskin, "Sidewalks of New York" (Berliner 0959, 1895)
Andrew Jenkins & Carson Robison, "Sidewalks of New York" (OKeh 45232, 1928)
Billy Jones, "The Sidewalks of New York" (Edison 51340, 1924)
East Side, West Side (Harvesting Song) (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 105)
East Side, West Side
NOTES [255 words]: For some inexplicable reason, this was Al Smith's 1928 presidential campaign song. - RBW
Well, Smith *was* the governor of New York. Of course, rubbing that in didn't endear him to the rest of the country, and anti-Catholic bigotry helped do him in. - PJS
Incidentally, the flip side of the Dalhart recording was "Al Smith for President." I don't know whether that's cause or effect. It's interesting to note that Herbert Hoover doesn't seem to have made any influence on oral tradition, but in addition to the Dalhart recording, Dave Macon sang an Al Smith song.
According to William E. Studwell and Bruce R. Schueneman, State Songs of the Unites States: An Annotated Anthology, The Haworth Press, 1997, p. 55, "In the true melting pot tradition of the city, New York native James W. Blake... collaborated with Irish immigrant Charles B Lawlor [to produce this song]."
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. 26, reports that this was popularized in 1894 when it was sung by Lottie Gilson, known as "The Little Magnet" because of the crowds she drew.
Jasen, p. 28, reports, "Supposedly, [Charles] Lawlor, humming the melody, walked into the hat shop where [James] Blake was working, and asked him to write some lyrics about New York. Blake agreed then and there, writing the words down as he waited on customers. When the song was finished, Lawlor took it to Pat Howley, who bought it outright." - RBW
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