My Mother Was a Lady

DESCRIPTION: Two (drummers) come to a hotel for dinner, and harass the waitress. Eventually she bursts out, "My mother was a lady... I came to this great city To find a brother dear...." One drummer knows her brother, and offers to marry her
AUTHOR: Words: Edward B. Marks / Music: Joseph. W. Stern
EARLIEST DATE: 1896 (sheet music published by Jos. W. Stern & Co)
KEYWORDS: family servant brother separation marriage
FOUND IN: US(MA,MW) Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Pound-AmericanBalladsAndSongs, 107, pp. 218-220, "The Two Drummers" (1 text)
Bethke-AdirondackVoices, pp. 121-122, "Mother Was a Lady (Or, If Only Jack Were Here") (1 text, 1 tune)
Brumley-LamplitinTimeInTheValley 44, "My Mother Was a Lady" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Robert A. Fremont, editor, _Favorite Songs of the Nineties_, Dover Publications, 1973, pp. 208-211, "Mother Was A Lady. or If Jack Were Only Here" (1 text, 1 tune, the 1896 sheet music)

Roud #2982
Mack Allen [pseud., for Vernon Dalhart], "Mother Was a Lady" (Harmony 721-H, 1928)
Arkansas Woodchopper [pseud. for Luther Ossenbrink], "If Brother Jack Were Here" (Supertone 9628, 1930)
Ted Chestnut, "My Mother Was A Lady" (Gennett 6480 [as Ted Chesnut]/Champion 15524 [as Cal Turner]/Supertone 9180 [as Alvin Bunch], 1928)
Jerry Colonna, "My Mother Was a Lady" (Columbia 35371, 1940)
Walter Dalton, "If Brother Jack Were Here" (Perfect 12468, 1928)
Morgan Denmon, "The Two Drummers" (OKeh 45306, 1929; rec. 1927)
Warde Ford, "My mother was a lady (Brother Jack)" (AFS 4201 A1, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Beatrice Kay & the Elm City 4, "My Mother Was a Lady" (Columbia 35460, 1940)
Jimmie Rodgers, "If Brother Jack Were Here" (Victor 21433, 1928; Bluebird B-5482, 1934; Victor 23193, n.d.; rec. 1927)
Joan Sullivan, "My Mother Was a Lady" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Arnold Keith Storm, "Two Drummers" (on AKStorm01)
Frankie Wallace [pseud. for Frankie Marvin], "If Brother Jack Were Here" (Domino 0261, c. 1928)

NOTES [299 words]: "Drummer" = "salesman." - PJS
Finson, pp. 77-78, quotes Edward Marks as writing, "It was a German restaurant on Twentieth Street, and some of the male customers were joshing a new waitress.... The girl, a comely, simple sort... burst into tears. 'No one would dare insult me,' she said, 'if my brother Jack was only here.' And she added, 'My mother was a lady.' Meyer Cohen, known as 'the Californa tenor,' a favorite ballad singer, was at our table and suggested the possibilities of this line as a song title. Stern and I wrote it that afternoon, and Meyer introduced it at [Tony] Pastor's the next day."
Jasen, p. 3, reports that "Edward B. Marks (1865-1945) was a young notions salesman who liked to write lyrics." Having published a song, "December and May," in 1893 through Frank Harding's music publishing house and being dissatisfied with the royalties, he went into business for himself. "He teamed with another salesman who could write melodies, Joseph W. Stern. They opened a small office in 1894 and issued their first collaboration, 'The Little Lost Child,' that same year. With the help of music hall singers Della Fox and Lottie Gilson, the song became a hit and established the firm of Joseph W. Stern & Company as a major voice in Tin Pan Alley. Marks also created the illustrated song slide, which was used in music theatres to help the audience visualize the lyrics through a series of action and sentimental photographs and illustrations."
The other Marks/Stein collaboration in the Index is, not surprisingly, "The Little Lost Child."
Lottie Gilson, the single most important influence in popularizing this song, was known as "The Little Magnet" because of the crowds she drew. She was also responsible for popularizing "The Sidewalks of New York" (Jasen, pp. 26-27). - RBW
Bibliography Last updated in version 6.2
File: LPnd217

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