After the Ball (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Victorian-era song. For other uses, see After the Ball.
Sheet music cover showing songwriter Charles K. Harris (bottom left) and performer J. Aldrich Libbey (main photo)

After the Ball is a popular song written in 1891 by Charles K. Harris. The song is a classic waltz in 3/4 time. In the song, an older man tells his niece why he has never married. He saw his sweetheart kissing another man at a ball, and he refused to listen to her explanation. Many years later, after the woman had died, he discovered that the man was her brother.

"After the Ball" became the most successful song of its era, which at that time was gauged by the sales of sheet music. In 1892, it sold over two million copies of sheet music. Its total sheet music sales exceed five million copies, making it the best seller in Tin Pan Alley's history.[1] It exemplifies the sentimental ballads published before 1920, whose topics were frequently babies, separation, and death.[2]

History[edit]

The song was first interpolated into the musical A Trip to Chinatown, sung by J. Aldrich Libbey, and was later famously used in the musical Show Boat to exemplify the 1890s style of music. There it was performed by Norma Terris.[3] In the 1936 film version of the musical, it was performed by Irene Dunne, and in the 1951 film version, by Kathryn Grayson. Only the first verse and chorus were sung in Show Boat.

It was also sung by Alice Faye in the 1940 biographical musical film, Lillian Russell.[4] The song is also heard in the 1936 movie, San Francisco. In the HBO series Carnivàle, the second episode of the first season is titled "After the Ball is Over," and a fragment is sung at the end of the episode.

Lyrics[edit]

Verse 1

A little maiden climbed an old man's knee,
Begged for a story – "Do, Uncle, please.
Why are you single; why live alone?
Have you no babies; have you no home?"
"I had a sweetheart years, years ago;
Where she is now pet, you will soon know.
List to the story, I'll tell it all,
I believed her faithless after the ball."

Refrain

After the ball is over,
After the break of morn –
After the dancers' leaving;
After the stars are gone;
Many a heart is aching,
If you could read them all;
Many the hopes that have vanished
After the ball.

Verse 2

Bright lights were flashing in the grand ballroom,
Softly the music playing sweet tunes.
There came my sweetheart, my love, my own –
"I wish some water; leave me alone."
When I returned dear there stood a man,
Kissing my sweetheart as lovers can.
Down fell the glass pet, broken, that's all,
Just as my heart was after the ball.

Repeat refrain


Verse 3

Long years have passed child, I've never wed.
True to my lost love though she is dead.
She tried to tell me, tried to explain;
I would not listen, pleadings were vain.
One day a letter came from that man,
He was her brother – the letter ran.
That's why I'm lonely, no home at all;
I broke her heart pet, after the ball.

Repeat refrain

Parody[edit]

The popularity of the song made it a natural for contemporary parody. A common version was:

After the ball was over, after the break of morn,
After the dancers' leaving, after the stars are gone;
Many a heart is aching, if you could read them all;
Many the hopes that have vanished, after the ball.

After the ball was over, Bonnie took out her glass eye,
Put her false teeth in the water, hung up her wig to dry;
Placed her false arm on the table, laid her false leg on the chair;
After the party was over, Bonnie was only half there!

Alternative parody verse 2 of above

After the ball was over, Bonnie took out her glass eye,
Put her false teeth in the basin, corked up a bottle of dye
Put her false leg in the corner, hung up her hair on the wall
And all that was left went to bye byes after the ball.

Alternative parody verse. <poem>

After the Ball is over, see her take out her glass eye, Put her false teeth in some water, cork up a bottle of dye, Hang her false hair in the wardrobe then she takes off her false leg, Half of my rose on the table, the other half in bed. <poem>

Trivia[edit]

In the 1986 made-for-TV movie Circle of Violence: A Family Drama, Charlotte Kessling (Geraldine Fitzgerald) plays the song on the piano and sings a little bit of it at the beginning of the movie.

In the movie Driving Miss Daisy, Miss Daisy (played by Jessica Tandy) sings the refrain of "After the Ball" at the beginning of the movie.

In the Canadian television series Wind at My Back, Grace Bailey (played by Kathryn Greenwood) also sings the refrain of the song in the episode "The Foolish Heart" when preparing for a Valentine Follies play.

Brooke Shields sang the second half of the refrain in one of her famous Calvin Klein Jeans commercials in the early 1980s.

Selected modern recordings and arrangements[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "'After the Ball': Lyrics from the Biggest Hit of the 1890s", History Matters
  2. ^ Smith, Kathleen E. R. (2003). God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. The University Press of Kentucky. p. 91. ISBN 0813122562. 
  3. ^ Kenrick, John. "After the Ball" at Musicals101.com, The Cyber Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre, TV and Film
  4. ^ "After the Ball" at the Tin Pan Alley Project, 2008
  • Booth, Mark W. The Experience of Songs. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981; pp. 159–72.
  • Goldberg, Isaac. Tin Pan Alley: A Chronicle of American Popular Music. New York: Frederick Ungar, [1930], 1961; pp. 90–98 and passant.
  • Harris, Charles K. After the Ball. New York: Frank Maurice, 1926; p. 50 and passant.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Booth, Mark W. The Experience of Songs. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981. ISBN 0300026226
  • Goldberg, Isaac. Tin Pan Alley: A Chronicle of American Popular Music. New York: Frederick Ungar, [1930], 1961. OCLC 687309
  • Harris, Charles K. After the Ball. New York: Frank Maurice, 1926. OCLC 862504
  • Smith, Kathleen E. R. (2003). God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813122562. 

External links[edit]