1921: "Make Believe and Smile"
Various Artists

Various Artists: 1921: "Make Believe and Smile"

25 hits from 1921, the year that the Tulsa underwent the worst race riot in American history. Top songs by Paul Whiteman, Campbell and Burr, Al Jolson, Marion Harris, Eddie Cantor, Van and Schenck, Zez Confrey, the Paul Biese Trio and Frank Crumit, Isham Jones, and Vernon Dalhart. 24-page color booklet features detailed notes on the songs, an historical essay, and rare graphics. List price: $16.99  Sale price: $14.44

OVERVIEW

  • Catalogue number: ARCH 9002A
  • UPC: 777215104617
  • Original release date: October 9, 2000
  • Running length: 77:26 / 25 tracks
  • Notes & packaging: Includes a 24-page full-color booklet
  • Tracks recorded: 1920-1921
  • In Archeophone's Phonographic Yearbook series
Tracks and Sound SamplesProduct DescriptionPackage DealsMore by these Artists
 Sample all tracks 
Tracklist
1. Wang-Wang Blues Paul Whiteman and His Ambassador Orchestra 1920
2. O-H-I-O (O-MY! O!) Al Jolson 1920
3. All She’d Say Was “Umh Hum” Gus Van and Joe Schenck 1920
4. Look for the Silver Lining Marion Harris 1920
5. My Mammy Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra 1921
6. Home Again Blues Aileen Stanley 1921
7. Margie Eddie Cantor 1920
8. Song of India Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra 1921
9. Old Pal, Why Don’t You Answer Me? Henry Burr 1920
10. Aint We Got Fun? Gus Van and Joe Schenck 1921
11. Kitten on the Keys Zez Confrey 1921
12. San Benson Orchestra of Chicago 1921
13. Cherie Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra 1921
14. Timbuctoo Biese Trio with Frank Crumit 1920
15. Feather Your Nest Albert Campbell, Henry Burr and Rudy Wiedoeft 1920
16. Make Believe Nora Bayes 1921
17. Say It with Music Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra 1921
18. All by Myself Ted Lewis Jazz Band 1921
19. I Used to Love You but It’s All Over Now Frank Crumit 1921
20. Wabash Blues Isham Jones Orchestra 1921
21. Crazy Blues Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds 1920
22. My Mammy Peerless Quartet (Banjo by Fred Van Eps) 1921
23. Tuck Me to Sleep (in My Old ‘Tucky Home) Vernon Dalhart and Criterion Quartet 1921
24. Bright Eyes Leo F. Reisman Orchestra 1921
25. Palesteena Original Dixieland Jazz Band 1920

The year 1921 is usually described as a time when very little happened, as the newly-elected Harding administration tried to re-establish “normalcy” in post-war America. But there was trouble beneath the surface–while the U.S. was burying the Unknown Soldier and selecting the first Miss America, the country suffered its most violent race riot ever in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When a would-be lynching at the city jail in Tulsa was thwarted by African-American veterans of World War I, tensions erupted between blacks and whites, and for two days in June, the entire African-American neighborhood of Greenwood was leveled in flames and gunfire, leaving hundreds dead. In the essay included in the 24-page booklet that accompanies the hits of 1921, we take a close look at this painful chapter in Ameican history and set it in contrast to the year’s popular tunes.

Look for the Silver Lining

Was it coincidental that several hit songs of the very “normal” 1921 encourage us to keep a stiff upper lip, that times ahead will be better? Jerome Kern’s “Look for the Silver Lining,” sung beautifully by Marion Harris, is joined by “Make Believe,” performed here by Nora Bayes (and featuring a rather lengthy instruction on “bucking up”) in exhorting listeners to weather the storm. Vaudevillians Van and Schenck deliver a similar theme in “Ain’t We Got Fun?” but the biting irony of the lyrics invite a deeper view.

The Year of Whiteman

All the big hits by Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra from 1921 are featured here, the songs to which America danced its troubles away. Whiteman’s band was tightly structured, and the recordings meticulously engineered, without much left to chance–or improvisation. “Wang Wang Blues,” “My Mammy,” “Cherie,” and “Say It with Music” are all here, setting the pace for other dance bands such as Isham Jones’ Orchestra, with their more expressive “Wabash Blues,” and Leo Reisman’s Orchestra on “Bright Eyes.”

Songs of the South and the East

Popular songwriting in 1921 comes back full circle to the sunny South, and songs such as “Tuck Me to Sleep (in My Old ‘Tucky Home)” by Vernon Dalhart, “Home Again Blues” by Aileen Stanley,” and “My Mammy” by the Peerless Quartet stood out. These are songs, just like “Swanee” from the previous year and “My Sunny Tennessee” from the following year, that are homecoming songs, ones which sought chiefly to give comfort and solace in times of distress. At the same time, the allure of the East translated into big hits for the ODJB on “Palesteena,” Paul Whiteman on “Song of India,” and the Benson Orchestra of Chicago on “San.”

Mamie is in the House

The second edition of “1921” features one bonus track–perhaps the most important song of the year: “Crazy Blues” by Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds. The players jazzed for real, the singer wailed her heart out, and black consumers bought the record in droves. As a stark contrast to the events of Tulsa, the artistic and commercial achievement of “Crazy Blues” showed that African-Americans were a cultural force to be reckoned with.

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