Harry D. Kerr

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This article is about songwriter & lawyer. For other Harry Kerr's, see Harry Kerr. For the contemporary composer, see Harrison Kerr.

Harry David Kerr (8 October 1880 Santa Rosa, California – 21 May 1957 Los Angeles)[1] was an American songwriter, lyricist, author, and lawyer. Kerr became active in music at age 15 (1895). The practice of law had been his prime avocation until 1920, when he decided to focus on songwriting.[2] But he still continued to use his legal training in music. In 1922, while living in New York City, Kerr prepared the incorporation documents for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), of which he had become one of 90 charter members at its founding in 1914.[3][4][5][6]

Copyright activist[edit]

From February 1900[7] to 1903, he had studied law in the law office of George H. Cobb of Watertown, New York. In May 1905, Kerr received an LL.B. from Albany Law School.[8]

Beginning in 1907 as a young lawyer, Kerr worked for about 18 months with a coalition in Washington, D.C., for the passage of the Copyright Act of 1909, which secured the rights of composers to charge royalties on the sales of sound recordings. While lobbying for it, Kerr was associated with the New York City law firm Dougherty, Olcott & Tenney.[9][10]

The U.S. Congregational Committee on Copyrights began hearings Mary 26–28, 1908, at the Library of Congress, to vet the concerns and proposals of authors and managers. Constituent groups giving testimony were the (i) National Association of Theatrical Managers, (ii) the Allied Copyright Committee, and (iii) the White Rats, an author advocacy group of which Kerr was a member.[11]

In 1909, Kerr also wrote the lyrics to "Get on a Raft With Taft," President William H. Taft's campaign song — a particularly memorable concept given that Taft weighed 300 lbs. Taft signed the Copyright Act into law.

Growing up[edit]

Kerr attended Gouverneur High School, Gouverneur, New York, during the 1899–1900 school-year. He moved to Watertown, New York, sometime after that, but before 1901.

Career before becoming a lawyer[edit]

In June 1901, Kerr moved from Watertown, New York, to Denver to accept an executive and governance position — corporate secretary and director — with The New York Mining and Development Company, of which Ezekiel Hanson Cook, PhD (1845–1907), who from 1994 to 1889 had been the president of Potsdam Normal College, was president.[12] Charles Finding was the Vice President and Charles Love was the Treasurer. The same group of executives simultaneously ran another Denver-based mining company called Mountain Pride Mining Co.

Selected songs[edit]

(publisher unknown)

  • "Whenever I Think of You"
  • "Listen to the Rain"
  • "Send Back Dear Daddy To Me," lyrics & music by Kerr
  • "Sweetheart Days," lyrics by Kerr, music by Homer Tourjée (1866–1943) (1920)
  • "Don't Make Your Sweet Mama Cry Over You," lyrics by Kerr, music by Earl Burtnett, arranged by Vern Elliott (1922)
  • "If I Had a Little Girl Like You," lyrics by Kerr, music by Otto M. Heinzman (1935)
  • "Just You, Dear," lyrics by Kerr, music by Otto M. Heinzman (1935)
  • "I'd Love to Know," lyrics by Kerr, music by Otto Motzan (1880–1937) (1920) OCLC 497638092
  • "If All The Years Were Mine," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry Joseph Tandler (1881–1940) (1920) OCLC 497790450
  • "There's No Other Rose Like You," lyrics by Kerr, music by William Alexander OCLC 499112564
  • "My Rosebud Rosary," lyrics by Hal Billings (pseudonym of Kerr), music by Charlie Straight & Roy Bargy, arranged by Otto Frey (1921)
  • "When Love's the Gondolier," lyrics by Hal Billings (pseudonym of Kerr), music by Henry R. Cohen (1922) OCLC 497294660
  • "I Can't Forgive and Forget," lyrics by Hal Billings (pseudonym of Kerr), music by Joseph Meyer (1923)
  • "Pep," (aka "Yankee Pep") lyrics by Kerr, music by Elizabeth D. Armer, arranged by Homer Tourjée (1866–1943) (1919)
  • "If Solomon Had a Million Wives Today," lyrics and music by Kerr (manuscript)[13]
  • "My Heart is the Harbor to Hold All Your Love," lyrics and music by Kerr (manuscript)[13]
  • "That's Where I Love You the Most," lyrics and music by Kerr (manuscript)[13]
  • "When Your Love Crept Into My Heart," lyrics by Kerr, music by William (Billy) D. Alexander (1919)

Windsor Music Co, Chicago, New York

Willis Woodward & Co., New York

  • "May I Call on You?," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry Arthur Blumenthal (1906) OCLC 60563951

The Mammoth Music Company, Albany, New York

  • "Put Your Shoes in My Trunk," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry P. Vogel (1906) OCLC 497586583
  • "When Daddy Sings the Little Ones to Sleep," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry P. Vogel
  • "Don't Say Good Bye, Sweet Elinore," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry P. Vogel (1906)
  • "Blue Eyed Mary," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry P. Vogel

Roger A. Graham, Providence

  • All I heard was 'Dance me round again, Bill,' lyrics by Kerr, music by William C. Lindemann (1909); OCLC 499080597
  • Love Is Only A Dream, lyrics by Kerr, music by William C. Lindemann (1909); OCLC 499080615

Metropolis Music Co.

  • "Lull Me To Sleep, That Slumber Melody," lyrics by Kerr, music by Ted S. Barron (1914) OCLC 460205549
  • "My Rosy Love Dreams of You," lyrics by Kerr, music by Ted S. Barron (1914)

M. Witmark & Sons

  • "Drifting Down the Old St. Lawrence," lyrics & music by Kerr (1900) OCLC 497461786
  • "The Ebony-Colored Club; Ethiopian Two-Step," lyrics & music by Kerr (1901) OCLC 497461793
  • "Where Love Alone is King," lyrics by Kerr, music by Ernest R. Ball (1907) OCLC 26004936
  • "In a Little Wigwam," lyrics & music by Kerr (1908) OCLC 497461832
  • "Father Has a Tender Heart," lyrics & music by Kerr (1908) OCLC 497461812
  • "I'm Just a Ragged Newsboy, But My Heart's True Blue," lyrics & music by Kerr (1908) OCLC 497461816
  • "There's a Sunny Smile Waiting For Me," lyrics by Kerr, music by Leo Edwards (1930) OCLC 46440107

Jerome H. Remick & Co., Detroit, New York

  • "Won't You Share a Little Home With Me?" lyrics & music by Kerr (1908) OCLC 497461867
  • "Tell Me the Story of Love," lyrics by Kerr, music by C Sharpe Minor (Charles Sharpe Minor; died 1957) (1920) OCLC 519664060
  • "Some Day the Long Way Will Turn," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry Joseph Tandler (1881–1940) (1920) OCLC 16643124
  • "Years," lyrics by Kerr, music by Otto Motzan (1880–1937) (1920)[14]
  • "Just Keep a Thought For Me," lyrics by Kerr, music by Earl Burtnett & Max Fischer, arr. by J. Bodewalt Lampe (1921) OCLC 27128294
  • "Two Tiny Hands," lyrics by Kerr, Henry Joseph Tandler (1881–1940) (1920)
  • "Manzanilla" (tango), lyrics by Hal Billings (pseudonym of Kerr), music Henry Joseph Tandler (1881–1940) (1923) OCLC 498261140
  • "Counting the Days," lyrics by Kerr, music by Earl Burtnett & Jess Kirkpatrick (1924) OCLC 367765060
  • "Guessing," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry R. Cohen, cover artist William Austin Starmer (1925)

Leo Feist, Inc.

French Version: "Tout ton amour pour moi," French text by A. Bollaert

Victor Kremer Co, Chicago

  • "While You are Mine," lyrics by Kerr, music by W G Powell (1907) OCLC 367825707
  • "While Love and Life Shall Last," lyrics & music by Kerr (1909) OCLC 497461856

Miller Music Publishing Co., Chicago

  • "Ride Me in a Big Balloon," lyrics and music by Kerr (1910) OCLC 499066542
  • "When You Marry a Girl For Looks," lyrics & music by Kerr (1910) OCLC 499066594
  • "Your Love is My Guiding Star," lyrics & music by Kerr (1910) OCLC 499066633
  • "Playin' Honeymoon," lyrics & music by Kerr (1910) OCLC 497461838

Vinton Pub. Co., Boston

  • "Sweetest Mem'ries of Courting Days," lyrics and music by Kerr (1911) OCLC 499066554
  • "I'd Love to Have You Love Me: (as I Love You)," lyrics & music by Kerr (1911) OCLC 499066507

Joe Morris Music Co., New York

  • "We're Ready for Teddy Again," lyrics by Kerr, music by Alfred Solman (1912) OCLC 24205669

Church, Paxson and Co., New York

  • "My Rose in a World of Tears," lyrics by Kerr, music by Jerome Heller (1912) OCLC 367837575
  • "Down Deep in a Submarine," lyrics & music by Kerr (1915) OCLC 497461778

G. Schirmer

  • "Wonderful Love of My Dreams," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry Joseph Tandler (1881–1940) (1919) OCLC 498898946

C. C. Church & Co., Hartford

  • "My Yukon Rose," lyrics by Kerr, music by William D Alexander (1920) OCLC 367893425

New Amsterdam Music Corporation, New York

  • "I'm an American, That's All," lyrics by Kerr, music by Johann C. Schmid (1870–1951) (1915) OCLC 232282987 and 726909815

Gillick Co., San Francisco

  • "When Lola Pedals on the Pianola" (1917) OCLC 499066574
  • "You've Certainly Opened My Eyes," (1917) OCLC 499066606
  • "When My Alimony Ship Comes In," lyrics & music by Kerr (1917) OCLC 499066585

Joseph W. Stern & Co.

  • "She's a Rose in the World of Smiles and Tears," lyrics by Kerr, music by Alfred Baldwin Sloane (1905) OCLC 498202743
  • "I've Had Many a Sweetheart But None Like You," lyrics & music by Kerr (1907) OCLC 497461824
  • "Make Me a Boy Again Just for Tonight," by music & lyrics by Kerr (1917) OCLC 499066523

Chas. E. Roat Music Co., Battle Creek, Michigan

  • "Your Heart is in the Rose," lyrics & music by Kerr (1917) OCLC 499066616

Edward L. Ballenger Music Publishing Co., Los Angeles

  • "You Can Always Come Back to Me," lyrics & music by Kerr (1917)
  • "In My Garden of Eden," lyrics & music by Kerr (1917)
  • "In A Rosy Cosy Arbor (There's A Harbor For Our Love)," lyrics & music by Kerr (1918)
  • "That's Why Heaven Sent Me You," lyrics & music by Kerr (1918)

Shapiro, Bernstein & Co.

Pace & Handy Music Co., Memphis

Artmusic, Inc., New York

  • "Two Big Brown Eyes," lyrics by Kerr, music by Otto Motzan (1880–1937) (1918) OCLC 224050688
  • "Love Is Like a Precious Pearl," lyrics by Kerr, music by Otto Motzan (1880–1937) (1919) OCLC 499107360

Broadway Music Corp.

Los Angeles Music Publishing Co.

  • "Dinah Lee," lyrics by Kerr, music by George J. Hayes (1919) OCLC 367782312
  • "Gypsy rose," lyrics by Kerr, music by Constance Loeser (1919)

T. Presser, Philadelphia

F. B. Haviland Pub. Co.

  • "While the Stars in the Heavens Shine," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry W. Petrie (1941) OCLC 499162780
  • "Comrade O' Mine," lyrics by Kerr, music by Elizabeth Thomas (1919)

C. Arthur Fifer Music Co., Quincy, Illinois

  • "Sailing Down Manila Bay," lyrics by Kerr, music by C. Arthur Fifer (1919)
  • "When You're Lonely, So Lonely, Just Drifting," lyrics by Kerr, music by C. Arthur Fifer (1919) OCLC 28203641 and 224051305
  • "Wonderlove," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry Joseph Tandler (1881–1940) (1919) OCLC 224051598
  • "I've Got a Little Home in the Country," lyrics by Kerr, music by C. Arthur Fifer (1919) OCLC 497751628

L.F. Collin, Melbourne (distributor for C. Arthur Fifer Music Co.)

Wright Music, Seattle

  • "When Love and the World are in Tune," lyrics by Kerr, music by William D. Alexander; Harry D Kerr (1919) OCLC 503006014

A.J. Stasny Music Co.

  • "If Tears Could Tell You All," lyrics by Kerr, music by Evans Lloyd (1920) OCLC 75275158

J.W. Jenkin's Sons Music, Kansas City, Missouri

Maurice Richmond (1880–1965), New York

  • "Tenderly" (fox-trot) lyrics by Kerr, music by George A Little, Jack Stanley, & Harold A Dellon; orchestrated by Mornay D Helm (1921) OCLC 41248173
(aka "Share Your Heart" & "Will You Share Your Heart With Me?")
  • "Somebody's Heart Is So Lonely," lyrics by Kerr, music by Otto Motzan (1880–1937) (1919)

Nacio Herb Brown, Los Angeles

  • "Love To Think of You," lyrics by Kerr, music by Nacio Herb Brown & Gene Rose (1922)
  • "Heathen Lullaby," lyrics by Kerr, music by Nacio Herb Brown (1922)
  • "Persian Nights," lyrics by Kerr, music by Nacio Herb Brown, arranged by Vern Elliott (1922)
  • "The Sneak," lyrics by Kerr, music by Nacio Herb Brown, arranged by Vern Elliott (1922)

Chappell & Co., Ltd., London

  • "Kind Words," lyrics by Randal Moreland (pseudonym of Kerr), music by Lou Traveller (1922) OCLC 498086656

Allan & Co., Melbourne

  • "Who Loves You Most of All?," lyrics by Hal Billings (pseudonym of Kerr), music by Henry R. Cohen (1922) OCLC 221716796

J Mills, New York

  • "Love is Just a Flower," lyrics by Hal Billings (pseudonym of Kerr), music by Chris Schonberg & Abe Lyman (1923) OCLC 20597831

Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, Inc.

Sam Fox Publishing Company

Henry Burr Music Corporation, New York

  • "Baby Curls," lyrics by Kerr, music by John Cooper (1921) OCLC 367535810

Forster Music Publisher, Inc., Inc., Chicago

  • "Mem'ries of Love and You," lyrics by Kerr, music by Geoffrey O'Hara (1925) OCLC 367812653

Sherman, Clay & Co., San Francisco

  • "Do You Ever Think of Me?" lyrics by Kerr & John Cooper, music by Earl Burtnett (1920) OCLC 20267162 and 221628305
  • "My Dearest Prayer," lyrics by Kerr, music by Henry Joseph Tandler (1881–1940) (1920) OCLC 19801133
  • "Somebody's Waiting," lyrics by Kerr, music by Chris Schonberg (1920) OCLC 26004351 and 271354740
  • "Have You Forgotten?" lyrics by Kerr, music by Earl Burtnett, John Cooper & Oswald Stevenson (1921) OCLC 798210776
  • "You Won't Be Sorry" (fox-trot), lyrics by Kerr, music by Earl Burtnett & Louis Marcasie, arranged by Harry A. Powell (1922) OCLC 11112172
  • "Don't Be Too Sure," lyrics by Hal Billings (pseudonym of Kerr), music by Henry R. Cohen (1922) OCLC 26010446
  • "Bygones," lyrics by Kerr, music by Irving Abrahamson & Don Warner (1924) OCLC 10328175 and 459764217
  • "That's My Girl," lyrics by Kerr, music by Joe McKiernan (1924) OCLC 18886956
  • "Ships That Pass In the Night," music by W. H. Smith & Earl Burtnett (1925)
  • "Rest In My Arms," lyrics by Kerr, music by Earl Burtnett (1925) OCLC 26011591
  • "Give Me Today," lyrics by Kerr, music Paul Titsworth & Harold Bell (1926) OCLC 367791605

J. Albert & Son, Sydney

DeSylva, Brown and Henderson Inc., New York — selling agents: Crawford Music Corp.

Suttons, Melbourne

R.L. Huntzinger, New York

  • "My Home is a Trailer," lyrics by Kerr, music by Geoffrey O'Hara (1938) OCLC 18607728

William Conrad Polla (1876–1939)

  • "When You are Near," (song, Op. 4, No. 3), lyrics by Kerr (1939)
  • "Shepherd's Call," (song, Op. 4, No. 5), lyrics by Kerr (1939)
  • "Shadows of Evening," (song, Op. 4, No. 7), lyrics by Kerr (1939)

Boston Music

State Theatre Collection, Sydney, Australia (for cinema use)

  • "Love Bound," lyrics by Kerr, music by Carl Rupp (1926) OCLC 271510614

Selected recordings[edit]

Blue Amberol Records

Nordskog Records

Brunswick Records

Victor

  • 1909 — B-7014: In a Little Wigwam, Harvey W. Hindermeyer with orchestra
  • 1917 — B-19876: That's Why My Heart is Calling You, Charles Hart with orchestra
  • 1917 — B-19878: That's Why My Heart is Calling You, Emilio de Gogorza with orchestra
  • 1921 — B-24785: Blue Jeans, Peerless Quartet with orchestra
  • 1922 — B-26415: Wonderland of Dreams, Elsie Baker, Olive Kline (duet) with orchestra
  • 1924 — B-29518: Counting the Days, male vocal with the International Novelty Orchestra
  • 1924 — B-29839: Oriental Love Dreams, vocal duet with the Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra
  • 1925 — BVE-33308: Croon a Little Lullaby, male vocal duet with the International Novelty Orchestra
  • 1928 — BVE-45681: Neapolitan Nights, male vocal with The Troubadours
  • 1928 — BVE-47507: Paradise, Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians
  • 1929 — BVE-49921: Redskin, Helen Clark with orchestra
  • 1920 — [Trial 1920-02-09-02]: Was There Ever a Pal Like You?, George Wilton Ballard with piano
  • 1928 — [Trial 1928-01-23-01]: Out of the Dusk to You, Dan Gridley with piano

Neapolitan Nights (Oh, Nights of Splendour)

Filmography[edit]

Hold Me in Paradise (2010 film) — "Do You Ever Think Of Me?" (uncredited)
Episode 8.46 (1963) — "Neapolitan Nights" (uncredited)
  • Tweety's Circus (1955 short) — "Me-ow" (uncredited)
  • That's the Spirit (1945) — "Do You Ever Think of Me?"
  • You're Next to Closing (1939 short) — "Neapolitan Nights" (uncredited)
  • The Lady in Red (1935 short) — "Neapolitan Nights" (uncredited)
  • El cantante de Napoles (1935 film) — "Neapolitan Nights" (uncredited)
  • Alibi (1929 film) — "Your Love Is All" (uncredited)
  • Whispering Winds (1929 film) — "Whenever I Think of You," Listen to the Rain
  • One Stolen Night (1929 film) — "My Cairo Love" (uncredited)
  • A Musicale Melange (1929 short) — "Neapolitan Nights" (uncredited)
  • Musical Moments (1929 short) — "Neapolitan Nights" (uncredited, performed by the The Four Synco-Pets)
  • The Wedding March (1928 film) — "Paradise," (the love theme)
  • Frazil (1928 film) — "Neapolitan Nights" (uncredited)
  • Redskin (1929 film) — "Redskin" on YouTube (uncredited)

Screenplays[edit]

The Motorcycle Kid (1953) (original story)
  • Cheaters (1927 film) (story)

Radio theme music[edit]

Pseudonyms[edit]

  • Randal Moreland
  • Hal Billings

Progressive sociological essays by Kerr[edit]

Family[edit]

Kerr was married twice.

His first marriage was to Harriet Lodge Hastings (maiden; 1883–1946). They married on October 9, 1905, in Albany, New York.[18] His second marriage was to Ruth Eleanor Minter (maiden; 1892–1969). They married on December 20, 1919, in Santa Ana, California, and remained married until his death.

References[edit]

General references

  • Library of Congress
  • Biography of Song Sheets; Sports and Recreations in American Popular Songs: Part IV — Songs of the Silent Film, compiled by Gerald D. McDonald, Notes (journal), Second Series, Vol. 14, No. 4, September 1957

Inline citations

  1. ^ Harry D. Kerr Dies at 76, New York Times, May 22, 1957
  2. ^ Harry D. Kerr, Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Composer-Lawyer Harry D. Kerr Dies, Boston Traveler, May 21, 1957, pg. 34
  4. ^ The ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, Third edition, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (1966)
  5. ^ ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, Fourth edition, compiled for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers by Jacques Cattell Press, New York, R.R. Bowker (1980)
  6. ^ Biography Index, A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, Volume 4, September 1955 — August 1958 H.W. Wilson Company, New York (1960)
  7. ^ Personals, Watertown Daily Times, February 21, 1900, pg. 8, col. 2
  8. ^ Union University Quarterly, Union University, Volume II, Number 1, May 1995, pg. 152
  9. ^ J. Hampden Dougherty, J. Van Vechten Olcott, & Levi Sanderson Tenney
  10. ^ Works to Protect Music Composers — Harry D. Kerr, Formerly of Washington, Wins Out in Washington, Watertown Daily Times, April 30, 1909, pg. 4
  11. ^ Arguments on Copyright, Authors, Managers, and Composers Appear Before Congressional Committee, The New York Dramatic Mirror, April 4, 1908, pg 8, col. 1
  12. ^ Local Paragraphs, Watertown Daily Times, June 21, 1901, pg. 8, col. 1
  13. ^ a b c Von Tilzer / Gumm Collection, Library of Congress
  14. ^ News of the Music Men, Variety, Vol. LIX, No. 1, May 28, 1920, pg. 19, col. 1, paragraph 12
  15. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Volume 2, Part MB, No. 1, Renewal Registrations, January–June 1948
  16. ^ Mary Lansing's Column, Albany Evening News, February 2, 1932, pg. 21
  17. ^ Report of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor Concerning Patents Granted to Officers and Employees of the Government, Under the Provisions of Public Resolution No. 15, March 27 & 29, 1908
  18. ^ Home Wedding, Albany Evening Journal, October 10, 1905, pg. 9, col. 4

External links[edit]

Harry Kerr at Find a Grave