"Where music dwells,
Lingering -- and wandering on as loathe to die,
Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortality"
--William Wordsworth (1821)
At the turn of the last century, before the general availability of electricity, Victrolas, or radios, at-home musical entertainment was a do-it-yourself proposition. There were hundreds of sheet music songs being performed by millions of amateur musicians across the porches, parlors and drawing rooms of America and the British Isles.
Amazingly, some of these sold several million copies of sheet music in their day -- mega-platinum, even by today's standards! Equally amazing, today these songs are largely unknown. Some of us may be able to hum along with, say, the catchy chorus part of "After the Ball" -- a song that sold over 5 million copies of sheet music -- but how many know anything of the wistful tale of lost love and regret in the verses? A shame, as these are among the most musical, charming and sweet songs ever written.
Our collection of 19 songs ranges from earthy, elegant folk tunes of the 1800s to the more elaborate songs of the early 1900s. Some of these songs became very popular and remained so for generations. Others are more obscure, but, as you'll hear, no less worthy of attention. Our arrangements endeavor to recreate the original spirit of the compositions, and we were careful to use only instrumentation that would have existed and been used in the period.
This project has been more than a year in the making. We wanted to get it right, to match the songs with the right singers and featured musicians. For instance, Garth Hudson, the legendary master musician of The Band, brings his unique magic to bedazzle us on 10 of the songs here. Listen to "The Flying Trapeze", and his accordion and piano interplay -- only Garth could bring what he brings!
All of the illustrious singers and musicians gathered here excel at what they do and really bring these songs back to life. For us, they are a dream team of some of our all-time favorites! While many of these artists may be known to you, others will perhaps be a new discovery.
There is much to discover and re-discover from the era and in this collection, and we hope you will enjoy that process as much as we have. And, most importantly, we believe you will be thoroughly entertained!
Paul Marsteller, San Diego
Gabriel Rhodes, Austin