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Monday, February 8, 2010

The Japanese Sandman

By Richard A. Whiting & Raymond B. Egan
1919

Did you know that this song single-handedly kicked off the modern phenomenon of popular music recording? It's true, and I only discovered it after researching the song, which I recently came across in the new Terry Gilliam film The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Apparently, prior to Paul Whiteman's introduction of the tune, basically only classical music and some local folk material was deemed worthy of recording for posterity. But this pop song became the first platinum record, and in so doing ushered in the notion that there was a viable market for recorded performances of pop songs. Prior to that, the main market for pop was in the sale of sheet music.

Lyrics:

Won't you stretch imagination for the moment and come with me
Let us hasten to a nation lying over the western sea
Hide behind the cherry blossoms here's a sight that will please your eyes
There's a baby with a lady of Japan singing lullabies
Night winds breath her sighs here's the Japanese

Just as silent as we came we'll leave the land of the painted fan
Wander lightly or you'll wake the little people of old Japan
May repose and pleasant dreaming be their share while the hours are small
Like an echo of the song I hear the Japanese Sandman
call new days near for all here's the Japanese

Sandman sneaking on with the dew just an old second hand man
He'll buy your old day from you
he will take every sorrow of the day that is through
and he'll give you tomorrow just to start a life anew
then you'll be a bit older in the dawn when you wake
and you'll be a bit bolder with the new day you make
here's the Japanese Sandman trade him silver for gold
just an old second hand man trading new days for old.

Recorded By:

The Andrew Sisters
Artie Shaw
Bix Beiderbecke
Django Reinhardt
Mandy Patinkin

3 comments:

Howard said...

Apparently, prior to Paul Whiteman's introduction of the tune, basically only classical music and some local folk material was deemed worthy of recording for posterity.

Hmm... where to begin. This is really, really wrong. What's your source other than Gilliam's film?

The usual consensus is that Arthur Collins's 1905 recording "The Preacher and the Bear" was the recording that changed the phonograph from a toy for the idle rich into a standard accessory for middle class homes. It's a pop song by any definition. Not classical or folk (although "coon song" would probably be the correct subgenre). And I imagine that there are scholars who would debate the centrality of this recording. (The Internet Archive has dozens of Arthur Collins recordings, all made well prior to 1919.)

You can check out the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at UC-Santa Barbara, and search music by genre and date. Here's a link to 223 popular music recordings made before 1901 alone.

I started getting into antique and vintage music a few years ago. I guess standards are a gateway drug to the harder stuff. Enjoy!

B-Sol said...

Thanks for the info! Came off a bit arrogant in the beginning there, but you saved yourself by the end. I'll look into this!

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to see just how permeant memory has become in our lives. It's like everywhere I turn, I see something with a card slot or USB jack . I guess it makes sense though, considering how cheap memory has become as of late...

Gahhhh, who am I to complain. I can't get by a single day without my R4 / R4i!

(Submitted using Nintendo DS running [url=http://www.leetboss.com/video-games/r4i-r4-sdhc-nintendo-ds]R4i[/url] ComP)

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