Saturday, November 9, 2013

At the Music Hall: Down by the Old Mill Stream, 1908

My darling I am dreaming of the days gone by,
When you and I were sweethearts beneath the summer sky;
Your hair has turned to silver the gold has faded too;
But still I will remember, where I first met you.

The old mill wheel is silent and has fallen down,
The old oak tree has withered and lies there on the ground;
While you and I are sweethearts the same as days of yore;
Although we've been together, forty years and more.

Down by the old mill stream where I first met you,
With your eyes of blue, dressed in gingham too,
It was there I knew that you loved me true,
You were sixteen, my village queen, by the old mill stream.

Known to many today as a punch-line or comic Barbershop song in the style of Moe Howard, “Down by the Old Mill Stream” was written in 1908 by Tell Taylor and remained one of the most popular songs in the U.S. in the first decades of the Twentieth Century.

As the story goes, Taylor was sitting on the banks of Ohio’s Blanchard River. Taylor was advised by friends not to try to publish the song which they deemed simple and of little value. Taylor took their advice, but, two years later decided to go ahead and publish the song. It debuted in 1910, performed by the vaudeville quartet known as “The Orpheus Comedy Four.” It quickly became a hit.

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