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Dear citizens of the land of nod,

Today’s entry comes to you courtesy of UC Santa Barbara’s fabulous Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project–an archive of music from the early 20th century, when songs were recorded on hard wax cylinders. You could literally spend hours here building your ITunes playlist.

Just imagine wooing your sweetheart with such ethnically-sensitive tunes as Irving Berlin’s “Sweet Italian Love,” sung in dialect by the prolific vocalist Billy Murray. Looking forward to the lyrical ingenuity of “When the moon hits your eye,” Murray sings, “When you kiss-a your pet/And it’s-a like-a spagett/Dat’s Italian love!”

Of course, Italians aren’t the only ones who know how to set a romantic mood. Here Ada Jones sings “Hottentot Love Song,” about, you guessed it, a Hottentot man in love with a “Zulu maid.” As Jones croons, “If my skin ain’t white/I’ve a heart that’s white/and it’s all for you.” (You can view the sheet music here from Mississippi State University’s Templeton collection).

And last but not least, listen to Murray and Jones sing the anti-sentimental duet “Pet Names” from George Cohan’s 1908 musical, “The American Idea”–a “satire on international marriage,” in the words of the New York Times.

Be sure to check out the archive’s curated exhibits, too!

Until next time!

Yours romantically,

Stephen

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