On the Old Fall River Line
On the Old Fall River Line is a song composed in 1913 by William Jerome (words), Andrew B. Sterling (words) and Harry Von Tilzer (music) set on a steamship of the Fall River Line of steamships between New York and Newport, Rhode Island, which connected with trains from Newport to Boston. Von Tilzer had often traveled the line and was inspired by honeymooners "stirred to romantic depths by the alliance of shadowy darkness, twinkling stars, softly lapping waves and stately moving ships." Popular during World War I, especially among New England soldiers, it was also "much parodied." It is a cheerful, up-tempo ditty, but, typically of its time, "there is a final twist to married bliss with the final chorus line of: 'But I wish "oh Lord" I fell overboard, On the old Fall River Line.'" Described by the New York Times as "a popular song of a quarter century ago" in 1937, its full chorus was used that same year in Time Magazine's article on the passing of the old steamboat line. Although still garnering a place in Billboard's 1949 listing of "Harry Von Tilzer's Best Known Songs" as late as 1949 and being described as "a famous verse" by The Christian Science Monitor in 1950, a dozen years after the last ship had sailed, it is less remembered today, although not completely forgotten. Modern-day performers have included Steve Martin and Tiny Tim.
On the old Fall River line
On the old Fall River line I fell for Susie’s line of talk
And Susie fell for mine
Then we fell in with a parson
And he tied us tight as twine
But I wish ‘oh Lord’
I fell over board
On the old Fall River line
- Billy Murray, recorded 1913-08-06, Victor Talking Machine Co. B 13673. According to the Fall River Historical Society, it was "recorded entirely on location in Fall River, Massachusetts". From January 1914, appeared on US Billboard for three weeks, charting as high as #6.
- Arthur Collins and Byron G. Harlan, 1913, Columbia A1419 (see Arthur Collins, 1910s discography). From January 1914, appeared on US Billboard for four weeks, charting as high as #5.
- The Melody Men, on Barber Shop Favourites, Solitaire Manhattan Record SRO-452.
- Victor Military Band, recorded 1914-02-05, Victor 35334.
- Library of Congress. Copyright Office (1913). Catalog of copyright entries: Musical compositions, Part 3. Library of Congress, Copyright Office. p. 952. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- "Andrew B. Sterling Biography". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- "BILLY MURRAY DISCOGRAPHY: Victor Records (1903-1913)". THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF BILLY MURRAY (1877-1954). Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- McAdam, Roger Williams (1937). "The Age of Elegance". The Old Fall River Line: being a chronicle of the world-renowned steamship line with tales of romantic events and personages during its ninety years of daily service and accounts of the last voyages by the famous Sound steamers. Stephen Daye Press. p. 79.
- Behrman, S. N. (1947-01-18). "My Romance With Eleonora Sears". The New Yorker. pp. 28–30. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- Federal Writers' Project (1938). "Popular Music". New York Panorama: a comprehensive view of the metropolis, presented in a series of articles prepared by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in New York City. Random House. p. 250. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- "The Gift Of Music, The Sylvia English Collection". Parlor Songs Historical American Sheet Music Collection. The Parlor Songs Association, Inc. www.parlorsongs.org. December 2003. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- "NEW YORK; Old Fall River Line' Campaign of Confusion Men in Uniform WATERFRONT NOTES". The New York Times. 1937-07-25.
- "Transport: Last of a Line". Time Magazine. 1937-08-02. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- "Harry Tilzer's Best Known Songs and Recordings Available". Billboard. 1949-04-09. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- "Peabody Museum Gets Old Sea Songs". The Christian Science Monitor. 1950-09-26.
- Walker, Morris Wayne (2001). Steve Martin: The Magic Years. SP Books. p. 63. ISBN 9781561719808.
- Kerr, Bob (1993-12-02). "Tiny Tim plays City Hall steps, opens for Santa". The Providence Journal. LIFEBEAT: E-02.
- Kerr, Bob (1996-12-04). "Tiny Tim leaves us with more than just the tulips". The Providence Journal: B.01.
- "Song artist 163 - Billy Murray". The World's Music Charts. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- "Song artist 353 - Arthur Collins & Byron G Harlan". The World's Music Charts. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- "The Melody Men - barber shop favourites". cdandlp.com. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- "Solitaire Long Playing Records advertisement". Calgary Herald. 15 December 1950. p. 22. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- "On the old Fall River line". National Jukebox. Library of Congress. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- "Victor Discography: Matrix C-13945. On the old Fall River line / Victor Military Band". Victor Library. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- Sheet music: verses and chorus
- Full lyrics: mudcat.org
- Variant lyrics: Steve Martin bio
- Lyrics with chord progressions: "On the Old Fall River Line" from Sailor Songs, sea shanty lyrics, sea shanties
- On the Old Fall River Line at the Internet Music Database • QuickTime trailer from YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15PMnYEUEW0
- Fall River Historical Society 
- An especially fine capsule description of the song and each of the three songwriters can be found at Parlor Songs Association, Dec 2003 Issue