Band Played On, The
DESCRIPTION: Known by the chorus, "Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde, and the band played on...." The verses concern the social club founded by Matt Casey, and the kissing, courting, and dancing which took place there
AUTHOR: Words: John F. Palmer / Music: Charles B. Ward (but see NOTES)
EARLIEST DATE: 1895 (New York World)
KEYWORDS: courting dancing music
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 163-164, "The Band Played On" (1 text, 1 tune)
Geller-Famous, pp. 75-80, "The Band Played On" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gilbert, p. 254, "The Band Played On" (1 partial text)
Shay-Barroom, pp. 6-7, "The Band Played On" (1 text)
Messerli, pp. 214-216, "The Band Played On" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 246, "The Band Played On" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, p. 123, "The Band Played On"
ADDITIONAL: Robert A. Fremont, editor, _Favorite Songs of the Nineties_, Dover Publications, 1973, pp. 15-19, "The Band Played On" (1 text, 1 tune, a copy of the original 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. 64-66, "The Band Played On" (1 text, 1 tune)
Dan Quinn, "The Band Played On" (Berliner 0961, 1898)
NOTES [292 words]: According to Gilbert, Palmer could not sell this song to anyone. One day, Ward heard him humming the tune, took it and touched it up, and thus was a hit born.
James J. Geller's story is more detailed. Palmer's sister Pauline had ordered breakfast, but her servant did not respond quickly; there was a street band performing. Pauline tried to hurry the servant, but Palmer said, "Let the band play on." Pauline told him that that would be a good song title.
Palmer eventually evolved the story of Matt Casey, his social club, and his wooing of his strawberry blonde wife. The rest is as in Gilbert.
Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 72, observes that the verse of this is a march, the chorus a waltz -- there was a waltz craze in the late nineteenth century. Interesting that the only part people remember is the chorus. The waltz also was considered to have slightly erotic undertones -- waltzing together implied strong attraction.
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. 28, "Both words and music were written by John F. Palmer, whose sister called attention to a hurdy-gurdy melody which was playing outside their house. Palmer took it to publisher Charles B. Ward (1865-1917), who purchased it and gave himself credit as the composer. It was first published in the New York Sunday World on June 30, 1895, and when the sheet music came out, it was dedicated to that newspaper...."
An 1878 song by Harrigan and Braham was called "The Casey Social Club"; I don't know if it provided a degree of inspiration. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
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.