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Love's Old Sweet Song

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Wikipedia article

"'Love's Old Sweet Song'" is a Victorian parlour song published in 1884 by composer James Lynam Molloy and lyricist G. Clifton Bingham. The first line of the chorus is "Just a song at twilight", and its title is sometimes misidentified as such.

The song has been recorded by many artists, including John McCormack and Clara Butt. The song is alluded to in James Joyce's 'Ulysses' as being sung by Molly Bloom.

The song was recorded in 1923 for a two-reel short film made in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process.[https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0014222/ IMDB entry] It also appeared as the theme in the orchestral score in John Barrymore's 1926 picture 'The Sea Beast'.

Notable recordings

*1892 Thomas Bott

*1905 Corrine Morgan

*1920 Chester Gaylord

*1932 Rondoliers and Piano Pals

*1940 The Mills Brothers - recorded March 22, 1940 for Decca Records (catalog No. 3455B).

*1950 Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae

*1954 Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1956 for use on his radio show and it was subsequently included in a CD 'On the Sentimental Side' issued by Collectors' Choice Music (catalog CCM2106) in 2010. Crosby also included the song in a medley on his album '101 Gang Songs' (1961)

*1960 Ruby Murray - included in her album 'Ruby'.

*2011 Celtic Thunder Paul Byrom and Damian Mcginty

Film appearances

*1931 Hell Divers - played on piano by Wallace Beery

*1934 Judge Priest - sung offscreen by an unidentified voice. Played also in the score.

*1935 The Arizonian - played in a show and danced to by Margot Grahame with James Bush and Richard Dix.

*1936 Sabotage - sung a cappella by a man lighting candles

*1938 Storm Over Bengal

*1939 Broadway Serenade - played on piano by Lew Ayres and sung by Jeanette MacDonald and audience in the Naughty Nineties nightclub.

*1940 Rebecca - hummed by Joan Fontaine

*1942 Unseen Enemy - sung by Irene Hervey

*1943 It Comes Up Love

*1946 Demobbed - sung by Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in the garden medley

*1947 Life with Father - played on piano and sung by William Powell

*1950 Cheaper by the Dozen - played by the children on various instruments

*1950 Father Is a Bachelor

*1952 Wait till the Sun Shines, Nellie

*1952 Belles on Their Toes - sung by Myrna Loy, Jeanne Crain, Debra Paget, Barbara Bates, Robert Arthur and Hoagy Carmichael right after the beach barbecue

*1965 The Intelligence Men

*1975 The Wind and the Lion

*1990 Awakenings

*1992 Enchanted April

In popular culture

The song is mentioned in the chorus of 'Moonlight Bay', a popular song written in 1912.

A surreal rendition of the song was performed by comedian Spike Milligan in his series 'Q5'.

A comical abbreviated rendition of the song is performed by Miss Cathcart (Mary Wickes) in the Dennis the Menace TV show episode "Grandpa and Miss Cathcart", first aired on October 25, 1959.

The track 'A losing battle is raging', from The Caretaker's 2017 album 'Everywhere at the end of time (Stage 2)', features an instrumental sample of Chester Gaylords rendition of the song taken from either an Edison Diamond Disc or cylinder record, looped and manipulated in a deliberately disorientating fashion to reflect the fictional protagonist's steadily worsening dementia.

In The Wolvercote Tongue, an episode of Inspector Morse, Morse quotes, or perhaps misquotes, from the song, and mentions its title.

In the Little House on the Prairie series' eighth book, These Happy Golden Years, Pa sings the song to Laura on the night before she is to be married.

In the film Very Annie Mary 2001, the song is sung by Jack Pugh (Jonathan Pryce) at the piano, accompanied by the Mayor of Ogw, South Wales (Radcliffe Grafton) in an early scene, accompanying scenes of Annie Mary running to the local chip shop after having cooked a disastrous meal for her father.

In the first act of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," written in 1947, the character of Ann references the lyric "dear dead days beyond recall" when returning to visit her childhood home.


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