#1s of 1901: Discs versus cylinders

Tell Me, Pretty Maiden

Emile Berliner
Emile Berliner

I’ve listed the 14 songs that went to #1 on the charts in 1901. This wasn’t as easy as you might think. Joel Whitburn’s Pop Memories 1890-1954 gives due credit to Jim Walsh. He is “the world’s leading authority on the pioneer recording age.” His columns in Hobbies magazine ran “a remarkable 40 years.”

The book also used sheet music sales and historical narratives from the record companies.

Emile Berliner, who had invented the microphone, patented the gramophone in 1887. “It utilized zinc discs rather than cylinders,” which Thomas Edison had used on his 1877 phonograph.

Technology changed rapidly. The Berliner Gramophone Company marketed the first commercial flat disc recording in 1895.

Eldridge Johnson’s Consolidated Talking Machine Company had improved sound quality compared with Johnson’s former employer, Berliner. In October 1901, the Victor Talking Machine Company was formed from the two entities of Johnson and Berliner.

The hits

Tell Me, Pretty Maiden– Harry MacDonough and Grace Spencer, #1 for seven weeks (Edison). I’ve heard a version of this song.

Ma Blushin’ Rosie – Albert Campbell, #1 for seven weeks (Gram-o-phone). Dudley had a #3 hit that year, which I found, as well as this more modern version. Al Jolson recorded this more than once.
Hello Central, Give Me Heaven – Byron Harlan, #1 for five weeks (Edison)

The Tale of the Bumble Bee – Harry MacDonough, #1 for four weeks (Victor). Here’s a newer version.
Any Old Place I Hang My Hat Is “Home Sweet Home” To Me  – Will Denny, #1 for four weeks (Gram-o-phone)

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder – Harry MacDonough, #1 for three weeks (Victor)
The Stars and Stripes Forever – Sousa’s Band, #1 for three weeks (Gram-o-phone). This is the 1926 version. The band also had a #3 hit with the finale of the William Tell Overture.
Good-Bye, Dolly Gray  – Big Four Quartet, #1 for three weeks (Edison). “Big four quartet: Arthur Collins, Byron G Harlan, Joseph Natus, and A D Medeira. This quartet only recorded for a year or so.” McDonough had a #2 hit that year with this.
Good Evening, Carrie – Dan Quinn, #1 for three weeks (Victor). I didn’t find that, but I did come across Good Morning, Carrie by the same performer. Could the sources be wrong?

Uncle Josh’s Huskin’ Bee Dance – Cal Stewart, #1 for three weeks (Edison)
When Reuben Comes To Town – S.H. Dudley, #1 for three weeks (Gram-o-phone). The photograph is of a black performer with a similar name, not the actual white performer.
Tell Me, Pretty Maiden – Byron Harlan, Frank Stanley, Joe Belmont, and Florodora Girls, #1 for three weeks (Columbia). This is a real hip-hop lineup.
Jim Lawson’s Horse Trade with Deacon Witherspoon  – Cal Stewart, #1 for three weeks (Edison)

In the Shade of the Palm  – J.W. Myers, #1 for one week (Columbia). The label started in 1890.

QUESTION: Columbus discovered America, et al.

People falsely reported as dead on social media is practically a cliche.

Started musing – my, I muse a LOT – about how certain information is considered true, even though there is incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, such as Abner Doubleday inventing baseball, even though he clearly did not; yet, the ballpark in Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of fame, remains as Doubleday Field.

I’m not sure there is a better example than that. There are quotes that are misstated. The one here I find most interesting is “Nice guys finish last” by US baseball manager Leo Durocher (1906–1991). His remark was actually Continue reading “QUESTION: Columbus discovered America, et al.”

ARA: Influences and historical conversations

We’ll have Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie.

Dear Lisa says Okay, I’ll play:
Who (living or dead) has had the most influence on your life?

I’d have to say my father. He turned me on to music, which was always in the house. He had a thing for social justice. His moodiness was something I tried to avoid in myself, not always successfully. He could be an unfocused dreamer, something I can be guilty of as well.

If you could go back in time and have a conversation with someone, who would it be? Continue reading “ARA: Influences and historical conversations”

Loss of data

I was putting together my monthly list of links, when it struck me that some of the pieces were of a type. They were all about information of one form or another and how sometimes, it goes away.

JEOPARDY! wiz Ken Jennings – he won 74 games in a row – gave a TEDx talk at Seattle University in February 2013 called The Obsolete Know-It-All. It runs about 18 minutes, in which he discusses the JEOPARDY! competition with Brad Rutter (human) and the IBM computer named Watson, as. He talks, among other things, about how a part of the brain shrinks when one uses GPS, or uses the cellphone to look up your friends’ numbers. This is one of those issues I respond to viscerally. Looking it up on Google may be more “efficient,” but it doesn’t compare with knowing stuff.

If the technologies fail us – power grid crashes, computers compromised by cyberattacks – what will we still know? What does it all mean in terms of our human interaction? By contrast, 5 ways robots can improve accuracy, journalism quality.

Andy Marx writes about the day he and his grandfather Groucho saved the television show ‘You Bet Your Life’ from ending up in a Dumpster. If he hadn’t answered the phone, the shows would have been lost forever. In the comments, there was an interesting link to a story of how much of our cultural history depends on one person’s decision to preserve something instead of throwing it away.

Speaking of TV, Ken Levine’s comment about the late Bonnie Franklin, and her TV show ONE DAY AT A TIME falling between the cracks prompted the question about why some shows remain perennially popular while others fade out. “It doesn’t necessarily seem to be question of quality.” Interesting responses in the comments section.

Mark Twain Captured on Film by Thomas Edison in 1909. It’s the only known footage of the author.

Finally, since Jaquandor inspired this with his lazy linkage, I appreciated reading what he has to say: When going back to edit your writing, how do you determine what to keep and what to weed out? I imagine novelists in particular whether to exorcise a scene, or just save it for another book.
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My first thoughts about the end of this year’s Boston Marathon. Probably not my last.