Among the titanic #1 hits of 1912 are tunes I have actually sung.
Before that, A Century of Pop Music by Joel Whitburn notes that in July of 1912, “Columbia stopped all production of [wax] cylinders.” This left “Edison as the only major company still producing the recording format that had ruled the industry only decade earlier.” All of these songs were on the Victor label, except the Burr/Campbell track on Columbia.
Moonlight Bay – American Quartet, 8 weeks at #1. Billy Murray, John Bieling, Steve Porter, and William F. Hooley. Those of you who own The Beatles Anthology 1 will recognize the song, performed on the British TV series Two of a Kind by the band and the show’s hosts, comedy duo Morecambe and Wise.
Down By the Old Mill Stream – Harry MacDonough, 7 weeks at #1. “Not the new, but the old.” It is so embedded in the culture, it’s been used by the Marx Brothers, the Chipmunks, and All In The Family. I feel I’ve always known the song.
Ragtime Cowboy Joe – Bob Roberts, 6 weeks at #1
Waiting For The Robert E. Lee – Heidelberg Quintet, 6 weeks at #1. Apparently, this was actually Billy Murray and the American Quartet, supplemented by countertenor Will Oakland. When I was growing up in Binghamton in the 1960s, we had this ancient songbook at the school, probably from the 1930s. That song must have been in the text because I remember the lyrics, specifically “There’s Ephraim and Sammy.”
Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee – Ada Jones and Billy Murray, 5 weeks at #1
Ragging My Baby To Sleep – Al Jolson, 5 weeks at #1, gold record
When I Was Twenty-One and You Were Sweet Sixteen – Henry Burr and Albert Campbell, 4 weeks at #1
My star turn
Love Is Mine – Enrico Caruso, 3 weeks at #1
That Haunting Melody -Al Jolson, 2 weeks at #1. I couldn’t find this on YouTube. So I used the Discography of American Historical Recordings, which I described here
I Love You Truly – Elsie Baker, 2 weeks at #1. When I was a boy soprano at Trinity AME Zion Church in Binghamton, I sang this song at weddings at least twice. The song appeared on various TV shows and movies. Notably, Bert and Ernie serenaded George and Mary Bailey on their wedding night in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). The song was recorded several times after its initial release.
Everybody Two-Step – American Quartet
Oh, You Beautiful Doll – Billy Murray and the American Quartet. I know this song quite well, and it’s not from its various usages in movies and even cartoons. Did my mom sing this around the house?