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Lyr Add: What Is a Home without Love? (C K Harris

Jim Dixon 01 Sep 10 - 09:40 AM
Jim Dixon 01 Sep 10 - 11:53 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: WHAT IS A HOME WITHOUT LOVE (C K Harris
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 09:40 AM

This song was requested in the thread "Lyr Add: Songs of the Louvin Brothers." A version of this song does appear on the Louvin Brothers' album "Tragic Songs of Life" (2003), but since the song is much older than the Louvin Brothers, and many others have sung it, and because it was written by a songwriter who is significant in his own right (BREAK THE NEWS TO MOTHER; ALWAYS IN THE WAY; FOR SALE, A BABY; AFTER THE BALL; WOULD YOU CARE; and THE ORGAN-GRINDER'S SERENADE are all posted at Mudcat) I decided not to classify it as a Louvin Brothers song.

From the sheet music, which is viewable at The Maine Music Box:


WHAT IS HOME WITHOUT LOVE? (according to cover)
WHAT IS A HOME WITHOUT LOVE? (according to first page)
Words and music by Charles K. Harris
New York: Charles K. Harris, Music Publisher, 1900.

1. One night alone in a mansion,
No one to love or caress,
Sits a man, noble and handsome,
No loving wife's lips to press.
She married him for position.
No love was in her heart.
Sad and alone, in his grand home,
He looks around him and says:
   
CHORUS: What is a home without baby,
Just to love and to tease and adore?
What is a home without sweet wife,
Who will kiss you at night by the door?
What is a home without sunshine,
As it sheds its bright rays from above?
You may have wealth and its pleasures,
But what is a home without love?

2. Down the street he walks one evening,
Passes a cottage so neat,
Stops and looks in at the window,
Sees there a picture so sweet:
Husband and wife and a baby,
Laughing and kissing too.
He turns aside, his tears to hide,
While from his heart come these words: CHORUS


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHAT IS HOME WITHOUT LOVE (Monroe Bros.)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 11:53 AM

Since this version illustrates how the folk process has worked on this song, I have boldfaced the differences between it and the sheet music version above.

My transcription from the recording at The Internet Archive:


WHAT IS HOME WITHOUT LOVE?
As sung by the Monroe Brothers / Bill Monroe (*), 1936.

1. Sad and alone in a mansion,
No loving heart to caress,
Sat a man, sad and lonely,
No loving wife's lips to press.
She married him for position.
No love was in her heart had she.
Sad and alone, in his fine home,
He looked all around him and said:

CHORUS: What is a home without a baby,
Just to love and to tease and adore?
What is a home without a sweet wife,
To kiss you each night at the door?
What is a home without sunshine,
To spread its bright rays from above?
You may have wealth and its pleasures,
But what is a home without love?

2. Walking down the street he walks one evening,
He passed by a cottage so neat,
He stopped and looked in at the window,
He saw there a picture so sweet:
A husband, a wife, and a baby,
Just a-huggin' and kissing too.
He stepped aside, his tears to hide,
And from his lips came these words: CHORUS


* The Internet Archive credits Bill Monroe, but I think it should be "The Monroe Brothers," that is, Birch, Charlie, and Bill Monroe. I don't know which of them sang lead vocal.

Is anyone else disconcerted by the lack of a rhyme between lines 6 and 8 of each verse? I thought at first this had to be a mistake introduced by the folk process, but no, there is no rhyme in the original sheet-music version, either (although the words have change somewhat).

There was a wax cylinder recording by George J Gaskin in 1899.

The Online 78-rpm Discography Project lists recordings by -
J. W. Myers, WHAT IS HOME WITHOUT LOVE, early 1900s?
Roy Harvey N. Carolina Ramblers, WHAT IS HOME WITHOUT LOVE, February 16, 1928;
Arkansas Woodchopper, WHAT IS A HOME WITHOUT LOVE?, November 13, 1931;
Monroe Brothers, WHAT IS HOME WITHOUT LOVE, February 17, 1936
Collins Brothers, WHATS HOME WITHOUT LOVE, March 11, 1938.
Rambling Duet, WOMAN'S ANSWER TO WHAT IS HOME WITHOUT LOVE, 1938.

WorldCat.org lists LP recordings by:
Louvin Brothers, "Tragic Songs of Life," 1957.
Unidentified artist, "Missouri Folk Songs," Folkways Records, 1959.
Bill Monroe, Charlie Monroe, & The Monroe Brothers, "Feast Here Tonight" 1975.
Lulu Belle and Scotty, "Tender Memories Recalled. / Vol. 2," 1989.

Allmusic.com lists CD recordings by
The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover, "On the Radio 1952-1953," Rounder CD 1109, 2002;
Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson & Ricky Skaggs on "Three Pickers," Rounder CD 610526, 2003;
Ricky Skaggs on "Solo: Songs My Dad Loved," Skaggs Family Records CD 01009, 2009.

Music publishers have been inconsistent about inserting or omitting "A" before "HOME."


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