There'll Be a Hot Time (In the Old Town Tonight)

DESCRIPTION: A quatrain ballad, this is essentially an ever-changing collection of floating bawdy verses.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1896 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: bawdy nonballad
FOUND IN: US(MW,So)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Stout 77, pp. 99-100, "Hot Time in the Old Town" (3 texts, all short)
Neely, pp. 213-214, "A Hot Time in the Old Town" (1 text)
Randolph-Legman I, pp. 532-534, "There'll Be a Hot Time" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 203-204, "A Hot Time in the Old Town" (1 text, 1 tune -- from the sheet music)
Geller-Famous, pp. 138-143, "A Hot Time in the Old Town" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 278-279, "A Hot Time in the Old Town"
ADDITIONAL: Robert A. Fremont, editor, _Favorite Songs of the Nineties_, Dover Publications, 1973, pp.117-121, "A Hot Time in the Old Town" (1 text, 1 tune, the 1897 sheet music)
Margaret Bradford Boni, editor, _Songs of the Gilded Age_, with piano arrangements by Norman Lloyd and illustrations by Lucille Corcos, Golden Press, 1960, pp. 36-38, "There'll Be a Hot Time" (1 text, 1 tune)

ST RL532 (Partial)
Roud #4324
RECORDINGS:
Edward M. Favor, "Hot Time in the Old Town" (Berliner 0791-L, 1899)
Bill Mooney & his Cactus Twisters, "Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" (Imperial 1096, n.d. but post-World War II)
Dan W. Quinn, "A Hot Time in the Old Town" (Berliner 527-Z, 1897)
Bessie Smith & her Blue Boys, "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town" (Columbia 3173-D/Parlophone R-2477 [UK], 1938)
Gid Tanner & his Skillet Lickers, "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" (Columbia 15695-D, 1931; rec. 1929)

SAME TUNE:
West Wallsend Football Song (Meredith/Covell/Brown, pp. 253)
Baritone solo, "Come Join the Ku Klux Klan in the Old Town Tonight" (KKK 75009, c. 1924)
W. R. Rhinehart, "There'll Be a Hot Time - Klansman" (100% K-36, rec. c. 1924)
NOTES: Fuld points out that the earliest (1896) sheet music refers not to "the old town" but to "Old Town" (in Louisiana). This version is by Joe Hayden (words) and Theodore A. Metz (music), and involves a dance and/or camp meeting. This camp meeting version, according to Spaeth, came to be "indelibly associated with the Spanish[-American] War."
According to Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 229, Metz claimed to have written the song in 1886 as a song and circus march.
This may be true, but clearly the folk have taken things into their hands from there. - RBW
Indeed; [Dan W.] Quinn's recording, only a year after the sheet music, already calls it "The Old Town." - PJS
The cover sheet to the 1896 sheet music at LOCSheet Music B-570 [cover only] has the title as "A hot time in the old town"; the commentary notes the chorus as "There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight, ma baby" - BS
Last updated in version 4.1
File: RL532

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