Shine on Harvest Moon

"Shine on Harvest Moon" was first published in 1908 by performers Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth; although, apparently there is some controversy as to the actual composers. This song is one of many moon-themed songs of the era.

The song has enjoyed long-term popularity. In addition to being featured in many films, there are at least two movies with the same title as the song; a 1938 western starring Roy Rogers, and a 1944 bio pic about Bayes and Norworth. It has been recorded by many performers throughout the 20th century and continues to be a popular choice more than a century later.

I'm using sheet music from 1918 that includes chords for uke in D. Since I'm playing a soprano ukulele tuned in C and singing it in the original key, I'm ignoring the chord shapes and just reading the chord names. As with many songs of the tin-pan-alley era, the chorus is more well known than the verses, but I've decided to sing the first verse as well.

Here it is in honor of this week's harvest moon, and the autumnal equinox. Enjoy!

Let Me Call You Sweetheart (I'm in Love with You)

In honor of Valentine's day, here's a little love song. "Let Me Call You Sweetheart (I'm in Love with You)" is a popular tune from 1910 with music by Leo Friedman and words by Beth Slater Whitson. I'm playing from the 1912 sheet music, which includes ukulele chords along with the piano accompaniment. I made a few minor adjustments, but I'm basically playing and singing as written. You may have heard this song in a recent episode of Downton Abbey (series 3, episode 2).

At the Mid Hour of Night

I'm finally back to making music after the holidays, so here's a new song for my public domain project. "At the Mid Hour of Night" is an Irish folk song from the 5th volume of Moore's Irish Melodies. The poet, Thomas Moore, and arranger, John Stevenson, selected old Irish tunes and wrote new words and piano accompaniments for them. They began publishing these in about 1807 and the volume with this song was first published in 1813. I used the 1882 edition available at the Petrucci Music Library.

Many classical singers know this song from the collection of folksong arrangements by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), which is where I first learned of it. The melody is slightly different from Britten's arrangement, which used the melody "O Molly, dear!" collected by Edward Bunting from a harper in 1800. Petrucci Music Library has the Bunting Ancient Music of Ireland collection available, as well. Instead of using Stevenson's accompaniment – it seems a bit too reliant on tonic and dominant chords for this tune – I've made my own simple arrangement for baritone ukulele to highlight the haunting melody.

One Horse Open Sleigh (Jingle Bells)

Here's one more Christmas tune. This one will be very familiar to most people since Jingle Bells is perhaps the most performed secular Christmas tune (although it was apparently first intended as a Thanksgiving song). I arranged this version for voice and ukulele from James Lord Pierpont's 1857 publication, which you can view via the Library of Congress. The melody is a bit different from the one usually heard, and the chord progression is a little more interesting. Merry Christmas!

What Child Is This

It's been a while since I've posted a video in my public domain project. This one has double public domain credits. The original tune is a traditional English 16th-century melody called "Greensleeves." It was popular enough in Elizabethan England to be referenced in multiple Shakespeare plays. In 1865 William Dix wrote the poem that we use for the lyrics of the popular carol, "What Child Is This."

This is one of my favorite carols. The melody is what captures me -- it feels old and pagan -- perfect for a long, dark winter night.

After You've Gone

"After You've Gone" was written in 1918 by Creamer and Layton. The 1918 recording by Marion Harris was a hit. It has become a jazz standard performed by many others including Ella Fitzgerald and Fats Waller. I've decided to include the first verse and the refrain (which often stands on its own). I'm also trying out a new mic. I think the sound is much better, but I'm sure I'll find ways to tweak it as I use it more.

Toot, Toot Tootsie

This is the latest video in my public domain video project. "Toot, Toot Tootsie" by Gus Kahn, Erie Erdman and Dan Russo was published in 1922. Any later and it wouldn't be in the public domain! The original publication has the highly apropos subtitle, "A Cute Fox-Trot Song."

The song is quite well known, but most performers have sung only the chorus. I've included the first verse, which puts the chorus in the third person rather than in the first person. Instead of the singer telling a girlfriend good-bye in a ridiculously happy way, it becomes a story about a silly man saying goodbye at the train station that the singer tells to friends. Hope you enjoy it!

Check out my Youtube channel for more videos.