Collections can be carefully curated or amassed with wild abandon. Collections can be born out of the discovery of a single item or thrust upon one in one fell swoop. My collection of vintage sheet music is an unholy combination of both. Music has always played an integral part of our not so well-to-do family. Thusly, sheet music and a love for music has been the rich inheritance passed down through generations. Being the natural pack-rat that I am, I took the initial inherited library and have added to it over time based on the beautiful images that adorn the covers. Naturally, it has begun to spiral out of control and for someone who, beyond hammering away at a child's color-coded xylophone or picking out "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on the piano, couldn't play a musical instrument to save his life, the idea of a shelf full of sheet music is rather ridiculous. I was told by a wise friend that, "the greatest collectors are the best editors." So, my new goal is to try and collect better by collecting less. Okay, so maybe I'll just try to try....
The only redeeming quality about a sheet music collection is the relative ease with which it can be stored. It requires no special shelving. It takes up very little space. It can actually be quite useful (like I said, it's like one never-ending sing along around these parts and my siblings can all play "real" instruments). Here are some pieces from the collection that are particularly attractive, interesting, or musically inspiring.
I don't know if I could love the cover of "Cowboy Songs" any more than I do right now. It is an anthology of ridin' and ropin' songs with 1936 cover art that makes my heart sing.
"Wah! Hoo!" - Ray Whitley (1936)
I couldn't find the Fred Waring recording but this one needed to be heard.
I LOVE cowboy music!!!
"It's Magic" - Romance on the High Seas (1948)
It just doesn't get better than Doris.
Mr. Tiny would love to find more music with Tiny Hill on the cover
"San Fernando Valley"
One of my favorite "Der Bingle" tunes
BROADWAY & MOVIE MUSICALS
"That's for Me" - State Fair (1945)
One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite movies.
Could Vivian Blaine get any more beautiful?
"Tip Toe Through the Tulips" - The Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929)
And I'll bet you thought Tiny Tm wrote that one...
"Sonny Boy" - The Singing Fool (1928)
"Rosalie" - Rosalie (1937)
I love these lyric books because even if one didn't play an instrument,
they made it possible to sing along with records or the radio.
"Accent on Youth" - Duke Ellington (1935)
"The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" - Shep Fields (1937)
It's not Guy Lombardo, but it is a pretty great recording.
"Near You" - Francis Craig & His Orchestra (1948)
"It's Been a Long, Long Time" - Stan Kenton w/ June Christy
This has always been my grandparents' song.
These two (WWI era) are especially interesting because I always tend to think that past generations
were inherently more patriotic and dutiful than today. Placed side by side, it is clear that war is
always a hardship and not everyone was joyful or proud to see their child become a casualty
"Bell Bottom Trousers" - Kay Kyser (1942)
The real reason I collect sheet music is because I can't help myself. The colors, graphics, accessibility, and generally low price tag have me on the hunt for more and more. I love that almost every single piece is inscribed with the name of the original owner. Although, I kind of wonder why. Did sheet music get so blotto at parties that it wandered off to strange homes? Did it get loaned out so often that the borrowers forgot from whom it was lent? Why did it require that handwritten ID bracelet? Whatever the reason, it is just another one of my silly collecting passions. Again, it does have a useful side - especially if you are a musician. If you are not, it is wonderful for use in decorating too. In the home of a staunch recreationist, what lends a more period character than colorful, musical ephemera? In a modern setting, what provides more charm and interest than the beautifully-printed images of sheet music? Please keep an eye out for me for Tiny Hill!