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Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s

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GUEST,Bob Coltman 10 May 07 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 10 May 07 - 10:26 AM
dick greenhaus 10 May 07 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 10 May 07 - 11:25 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 May 07 - 09:36 PM
Joe Offer 11 May 07 - 03:18 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 11 May 07 - 07:27 AM
Joe Offer 27 Mar 10 - 06:36 PM
GUEST,Value 18 Aug 10 - 10:54 PM
Joe Offer 19 Aug 10 - 01:29 AM
GUEST 05 Jul 12 - 11:17 AM
Joe Offer 06 Jul 12 - 12:28 AM
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Subject: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 10 May 07 - 09:56 AM

In the tradition of Joe Offer, who's given us lists of the Silver Burdett school-age songbooks that taught folk and near-folk songs to so many people as kids, some of them for the first time in their lives ...

A word should be said for the Robbins Pocket-Size school songbooks of the 1930s and 1940s. They'd fit in a BIG pocket -- they were approximately 9" x 6", bound, as they boasted, "in colorful 'Duro-style' covers for more durable use in homes, schools, assemblies, libraries, fraternities, camps, civic and recreational groups." Most were full of old pop standards, but some included folk standards as well.

Their flagship songbook, widely circulated in schools, was SONGS FOR AMERICA. 163 songs in 144 pages from the Harold Robbins and Leo Feist catalogs "plus national songs, ballads, campfire melodies, etc." I no longer have my copy, but someone may. This book was standard equipment, so we could sing together in school singing periods (one room schools in eastern Pennsylvania, grades 3 through 5, which for me was 1945-8). Indeed a copy given to every kid who wanted on. Freebies! Of course I took it.

My memory is that the book included, along with standard patriotic songs and hymns, a good few folk songs like "Red River Valley," "Home On the Range" and "Polly-Wolly Doodle," plus a great many ancient pop / near-folk songs like "Little Liza Jane," "Oh Susanna,""Little Brown Church in the Wildwood," "Juanita," maybe others like "Listen to the Mocking Bird," and so on.

I hope someone who still has a copy will post the entire contents.

Meanwhile I will post, in a second message, the table of contents of the real treasure in the series, and the only one of them I still have: AMERICAN COWBOY SONGS.

The series was quite extensive, drawing on the Robbins-Feist catalog as well as standards. Most of them were largely pop or religious. Most of these I never saw, as they didn't seem as promising, but for completeness sake I list them below. They included (I draw from the description in the front and back inside covers of my copy of the only one I have left):

ALL-AMERICAN SONG BOOK - 120 favorite song classics in 144 pages, examples given are pop songs.
MERRILY WE SING -   176 songs in 144 pages, examples given are pop.
FIFTY FAMOUS FAVORITES and Fifty Other Favorites - pop examples in 96 pages.
SING WITH LUCY MONROE - 82 songs in 96 pages, including Star-Spangled Banner, Marching Along Together, Whispering, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, The Rose of No Man's Land, etc.
SONGS OF THE GAY NINETIES - no examples given.
GOLDEN TREASURY SONG BOOK - barbershop stuff, including Give a Man a Horse He Can Ride.
GEOFFREY O'HARA HARMONY HYMNS - Hold the Fort, Crossing the Bar, etc.
VICTORY SONG BOOK - Anchors Aweigh, Marine's Hymn, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, etc. (World War II was current news).
STEPHEN FOSTER IMMORTAL MELODIES
AMERICA SINGS - 188 songs on 144 pages. "Patriotic songs, hymns, folk tunes," pop.
101 HYMNS OF THE HOUR OF CHARM - My Task, Brighten the Corner Where You Are, The Old Rugged Cross, etc.


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Subject: Index: American Cowboy Songs (Robbins)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 10 May 07 - 10:26 AM

Scene: my one-room schoolhouse circa 1944-5. Teacher: Mrs. Rickert, a large and capable lady who taught with great authority, usually kindly, but no slouch in a pinch. She once picked up Steve, a big kid who'd been "left back" and was causing trouble in class, by his shirt and shook him, all must-be-90 pounds of him -- an astonishing feat that made the classroom quiet as the grave.

Having been provided by Mrs. Rickert with free copies of SONGS FOR AMERICA that we all could take home and keep at the end of the school year, we were informed that if we liked, we could send off for copies of other songbooks in the series through the school. But this time we ourselves would have to pay the copy cost -- a whopping 35 cents!!! almost broke my budget for the month. The school would send the order from our rural Pennsylvania dirt-road nowhere to that great unimaginable mystery barely dreamt-of, Robbins Music Corp. in faraway New York.

Well, this little budding cowpuncher, ukulele fool-arounder and Roy Rogers fan paid his exorbitant fee and received by hand from Mrs. Rickert a couple of weeks later his own personal copy of AMERICAN COWBOY SONGS, Enlarged Edition, Copyright 1936, Edited by Hugo Frey -- the first songbook I ever owned. It was a stunner, for a popularly sold collection, and still is.

In fact this might just be the best folksong collection ever put out by Tin Pan Alley. It is a masterly survey of genuine traditional cowboy songs with a few straight folk items, also a couple of novelties and a half dozen cowboy pop standards that had sold a lot of sheet music and records. The compiler, Hugo Frey, obviously had done his homework in the Lomaxes' Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, as periodically enlarged from its original 1910 edition. Obviously the then current radio and film popularity of Gene Autry, the Sons of the Pioneers et al. had made a market.

Dig this table of contents, from my tattered, much used and loved-to-death copy. It expanded my sketchy folk song repertoire by about 900 percent:

A Prisoner For Life
Along a Texas Trail

Bad Companions
Big Corral
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Billy Venero
Brown-Eyed Lee
Buffalo Skinners
Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie

Chicken Reel
County Jail
Cowboy, The
Cowboy's Dream
Cowboy's Lament
Curtains of Night

Dreary Black Hills
Dreary, Dreary Life
Dying Cowboy
Dying Ranger

Fuller and Warren

Gal I Left Behind Me
Ghost of Jim Lane
Good Bye Old Paint
Great Grandad

Hand Me Down My Walkin' Cane
Hear the Wind Blow [Down in the Valley, of course]
Home On the Range

I Wish I Was Single
I'm An Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)
I've Been Wukkin' On De Railroad
In the Days of Forty-Nine
Indian's Death Song [The son of Alk-no-Mook shall never complain, etc.]

Jack O'Diamonds
Jesse James

Last Long Trail
Leanin' On the Ole Top Rail
Li'l Liza Jane
Little Old Sod Shanty On My Claim
Lonesome Cowboy

My Love Is a Rider

Night Herding Song

Oh! Dem Golden Slippers
Old Chisholm Trail
Only a Cowboy

Quilting Party

Railroad Corral
Red River Valley
Riding Song [Draw near young man and learn from me / My sad and mournful tale / And don't forget this history / Or you will land in jail]
Rio Grande, The [Oh, the Rio Grande is flowing, / And the starry skies are bright etc.]
Roll Along Prairie Moon
'Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon

Sam Bass
She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain
Shoo Fly!
Sweet Betsy From Pike

Take Me Back To Col-ler-rad-da Fer to Stay
Ten Thousand Cattle
Tenderfoot, The
Trail to Mexico
Turkey In the Straw

Utah Carroll

When It's Springtime in the Rockies
When I Was a Boy From the Mountains [And you were a girl from the hills]
When I Was Young and Foolish [I never dodged a fight]
When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain [Kate Smith's theme hit was the first song in the book]
When the Work's All Done This Fall
Whoo-pee Ti Yi Yo
Windy Bill

Yellow Rose of Texas

Zebra Dun


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Subject: RE: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 10 May 07 - 11:10 AM

And don't forget Robbin's "Jigs, Reels and Hornpipes"--a fine collection of fiddle and dance tunes.


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Subject: RE: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 10 May 07 - 11:25 AM

Hi Dick,

Should have thought of that. But it isn't among the Robbins Pocket list, so I forgot it.

Oh, and in that category M.M. Cole got to me first, with its classic One Thousand Fiddle Tunes (1940).

Bob


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Subject: RE: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 May 07 - 09:36 PM

A fine collection of singable songs. Copies are still findable, and reasonable.

Amsco was a contemporary competitor, little books, also 35 cents, published by Amsco in the United States and Canadian Music Sales in Canada.
"Sing 'Em, Cowboy Sing 'Em!" contains 60 'songs of the trail and range.' I made a list some time ago, but I can't remember if I posted it. Editor W. J. Glassmacher, Arranger Charles E. Wilkenson.
If I haven't, I will start a thread for these Amsco song books.

This little book also is responsible for setting some kids on that downward path. It has guitar, 'ukulele and harmonica chords and notation, which I presume also were in the Robbins book.


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Subject: Index: American Cowboy Songs (Big 3)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 May 07 - 03:18 AM

OK, so here's something interesting. I have a copy of the Robbins American Cowboy Songs: Enlarged Edition, 96 pages, undated, price 95 cents, with an address for Robbins Music Corporation at 1540 Broadway, New York 36, NY (so it's from back in the days before ZIP codes. A quick look through the book comes up with 1960 copyright renewals on some of the songs.
I have another book, American Cowboy Songs: Revised Edition, also 96 pages, undated, no price, with some songs with 1971 copyright renewals. The publisher of this book is The Big 3 Music Corporation, New York, NY (no address or postal zone). It's basically the same book, but lots of songs are different - the "Cowboy" song that glares out at me is "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

Here are the songs in this book:

    All For The Love Of Sunshine
    Along A Texas Trail

    The Big Corral
    Big Rock Candy Mountain
    Billy Venero
    Bouquet Of Roses
    Buffalo Skinners
    Burning Bridges

    Cigareetes, Whusky And Wild, Wild Women
    The County Jail
    The Cowboy's Dream
    The Cowboy's Lament

    The Dreary Black Hills
    The Dreary, Dreary Life
    The Dying Ranger

    Everybody's Talkin'

    The Gal I Left Behind Me
    Gentle On My Mind
    The Ghost Of Jim Lane
    Good Bye Old Paint

    Hand Me Down My Walkin' Cane
    Hear The Wind Blow
    High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)
    Home On The Range

    I Wish I Was Single
    I'm An Old Cowhand
    I've Been Workin' on The Railroad
    Indian's Death Song

    Jack O' Diamonds
    Jesse James

    Knock Three Times

    Last Long Trail
    The Last Waltz
    Leanin' On The Ole Top Rail
    Leaving on a Jet Plane
    Lonesome Cowboy

    My Love Is a Rider

    Night Herding Song

    The Old Chisholm Trail

    The Quilting Party

    Red River Valley
    Release Me
    The Rio Grande
    Roll Along Prairie Moon
    'Round Her Neck She Wears A Yeller Ribbon

    Sam Bass
    She'll Be Comin''Round the Mountain
    Shoo Fly!
    Snowbird
    Sweet Betsy From Pike

    Taller Than Trees
    Ten Thousand Cattle
    The Tenderfoot
    That Lucky Old Sun
    Today
    The Trail To Mexico
    Turkey In The Straw

    Utah Carroll

    The Wabash Cannon Ball
    When It's Springtime In The Rockies
    When I Was Young And Foolish
    When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain
    When The Work's All Done This Fall
    Whoo-Pee Ti Yi Yo
    Windy Bill

    The Yellow Rose Of Texas

    Zebra Dunn

Looks like most of the added songs are pop songs from the 1960's, not cowboy songs at all. And they replace legitimate cowboy songs, which is a shame [well, I suppose they replace Tin Pan Alley cowboy songs, but I like Tin Pan Alley cowboy songs]. I'd say the earlier book is far better. Who wants to find Engelbert Humperdinck's "Release Me" in a book of cowboy songs (actually, it's a 1954 song, popularized by Humperdinck in the 1960's)

So, did Big 3 buy out Robbins, or just this series of books?
Thanks for starting this thread, Bob.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 11 May 07 - 07:27 AM

Yes, my edition of the Cowboy Songs book had guitar chords in the helpful six-string schematic form. Shore did wear m' fingers out usin' 'em, too.

Joe, that later edition's a real surprise. Never occurred to me they'd update it with "Leavin' On a Jet Plane," etc. I can just picture the buckaroos out on the asphalt of the Abilene airport, tickets in hand, tearfully bidding their horses goodbye.

" ... Oh, Trigger, I hate to go ... "

Seriously, it does sound like a takeover, with the new company anxious to push its own somewhat different catalog, regardless whether it was appropriate to the book or not.

To be fair, they may have thought the only way to sell copies in or after 1967 (the year John Denver wrote "Jet Plane") was to put in contemporary stuff, since by then the market had moved on and the cowboy thing was passe. I'm surprised they issued any cowboy publication in those times. Must have seemed sort of irrelevant by then; I wonder if they sold many copies.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 06:36 PM

Raymond Sutherland -
Please note that I moved your request for "Dainty Shepherdess" to a new thread (click).

-Joe Offer, Forum Moderator-


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Subject: RE: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: GUEST,Value
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 10:54 PM

I came across a music book my mom had and need to know if has any value or not. The title is Fifty Famous Favorites: published by Robbins Music Corp. Copy wrote 1942. Arranged & Edited by Hugo Frey, cost $.60 back then


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Subject: RE: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Aug 10 - 01:29 AM

Hi, Value-
As you can see from Amazon, the book is fairly common and sells for two to five bucks, plus shipping. Nonetheless, all of the Robbins books are fun and have a good selection of music.
Might you be able to post the index of the songbook here, so people will know what's in it?
All the best to you.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 11:17 AM

Hello, out there! Received lots of old music books and origianl sheet music from an estate sale. Have the Robbins Educational Edition , "All-American Song Book" copyright 1942 - great condition.
Will be happy to post content page, if so interested. Thanks! GAPeach


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Subject: RE: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 12:28 AM

Hi, GAPeach-
As you can see, we have lots of work to do on indexing Robbins songbooks. Please do post the index - you'll see how we've been doing it in other threads that are crosslinked above. Scanning and using OCR makes the job easier.

-Joe-


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