My Old New Hampshire Home
|"My Old New Hampshire Home"|
Sheet music cover page
|Songwriter(s)||Andrew B. Sterling|
|Composer(s)||Harry Von Tilzer|
In 1898, Von Tilzer and Sterling were sharing a rented furnished room in New York City on Fifteenth Street. They were three weeks behind on their rent, and used a final rent bill slipped under their door to write the lyrics to a new song. The following day they shopped it to places on Union Square with no luck. Bartley Costello, who was a lyricist himself, told them to take it to new publisher William C. Dunn. They brought it to Dunn, who agreed to take it home for his daughter to play and to pay $15 for it if she liked it. The next day the authors received a check for $15.
The composition sold extremely well in sheet music, as well as in phonograph recordings, and in particular a recording by popular tenor George J. Gaskin. But Von Tilzer and Sterling weren't the ones benefiting. The next year, the Dunn firm was bought by Shapiro and Bernstein primarily to get the rights to the song, and they paid the duo $4,000 in royalties, and made Von Tilzer a partner.
The song was a big hit of its day. It has been reported in a number of sources that the sheet music for the song sold over two million copies. This may be an exaggeration, however. In 1902, it was reported that Von Tilzer had sold two million copies of all his songs to date (which would have included the 1900 hit "A Bird in a Gilded Cage"), including 360,000 copies of "My Old New Hampshire Home". Some sources peg the sales at "over" one million.
Far away on the hills of old New Hampshire,
Many years ago we parted, Ruth and I;
By the stream where we wandered in the gloaming,
It was there I kissed my love a sad goodbye
She clung to me and trembled when I told her,
And pleadingly she begged of me to stay;
We parted, and I left her broken hearted,
In the old New Hampshire village far away.
Now the sunshine lingers there,
And the roses bloom as fair
In the wildwood where together we would roam.
In the village churchyard near
Sleeps the one I loved so dear
On the hills of my old New Hampshire home
In my dreams by the stream last night I wandered,
And I thought my love was standing by my side;
Once again then I told her that I loved her,
Once again she promised she would be my bride;
And as I stooped to kiss her I awakened,
I called her, but she was not there to hear;
My heart lies buried with her 'neath the willow,
In the old New Hampshire home I love so dear.
- Jasen, David A. Tin Pan Alley: An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song, p. 402 (2004)
- Ewen, David. The Life and Death of Tin Pan Alley: The Golden Age of American Popular Music, pp. 138-39
- Wickes, E.M. "Fortunes Made in Popular Songs", The American Magazine (October 1916), p.34 (source of the Dunn daughter story)
- Jones, John Bush. Reinventing Dixie: Tin Pan Alley's Songs and the Creation of the Mythic South, p. 1 (2015)
- Burton, Jack. "The Honor Roll of Popular Songwriters - No. 16 - Harry and Albert Von Tilzer (Part 1)", Billboard (April 9, 1949), p. 44 ("on the strength of this 2,000,000-copy song hit ...")
- Chase, Gilbert. America's Music, from the Pilgrims to the Present, p. 338 (3rd ed. 1992)
- (28 October 1902). More than two million copies ..., Portsmouth Herald ("More than two million copies have been sold of the songs composed by Harry Von Tilzer. Most popular of all is "My Old New Hampshire Home," of which 360,000 copies have been sold.")
- Davis, Ronald L. A History of Music in America Life: The gilded years: 1865 - 1920, p. 191 (1980) ("'My Old New Hampshire Home' (1898) and 'I'd Leave My Happy Home for You' (1899), a novelty 'coon song', were both smash hits, each selling over a million copies.")
- Whitburn, Joel. Pop Memories: 1890-1854, p. 629 (1991)
- "Berliner matrix 068. My old New Hampshire home / George J. Gaskin", Discography of American Historical Recordings, Retrieved 28 November 2017