Oftentimes song lyrics can be used to tell a story. Lyrics can be fun and entertaining, somber and nostalgic, or sweet and romantic. This series features songs with lyrics that use the themes and context of dance to convey a story to the audience.
For more information on each piece click on the specific image.
Title: Buck Dance Bill
Date: Circa 1912
Composer: Edgar Leslie
Lyrics: At a ball in a hall Where the couples were a swayin’ Stood Buck Dance Bill. Like a boob, like a rube Who was forced to pay his way in Stood Buck Dance Bill. No one there seemed to care Till the band had finished playin’ Then Buck Dance Bill Heard a gal named Anna play pianer Who yelled so shrill: Oh Bill! Oh Bill! Better let ‘er go Bill! Like a rabbit give ‘em all the habit. Sand your tracks while I’m a beatin’ time, Look Bill! Look! Why they’re fallin’ right in line! Oh Bill! Oh Bill! When you heel and toe Bill Gee! I can’t keep still. Keep it up! Keep it up! Buck! Buck! Buck! Buck! Oh you Buck Dance Bill.
Title: Stop That Bearcat Sadie
Date: Circa 1912
Composer: Gene Greene
Lyrics: Since Sadie Cohn, Has come back home, From San Francisco town, She ain’t the same old Sadie, ‘Cause she don’t act like a lady, She talks and sings, and does such things, That makes me pull my hair, She calls me Kiddo, and her mother Chicken, And she dances the Grizzly Bear, So like a father I said Sadie dear, Please quit your Frisco habits, listen here. Sadie, Sadie, Sadie, stop that Bear Cat Dance Stop it quick! I say you should have better sense, Ev’ry time you move your shoulders to the ceiling, I forget you are my daughter, and I get a nervous feeling, Ev’ry day I hear you sing a Rags time song, Like brass band Alexander, come along, come along, In the night I get a scare, When you holler “It’s a Bear,” Sadie, be a lady, stop that Bear Cat Dance.
Date: Circa 1915
Composer: Carlo Neve
Lyrics: You’ve heard that Life is but a dream of sweet illusion, And love awakes at times to find it’s all delusion. Sometimes a heart may care and beat alone so lonely, ‘Till sweet illusion makes the unrequited love seem real. He takes her in his arms Enraptured with her charms They waltz in sweet illusion, like lovers all do. One sweet and long embrace That time cannot erase It gladdens them, and brings joy to their hearts, their hearts so filled with love’s rapturous Sweet Illusion making life worth living, Oh! sweet Illusions makes one happy and forgiving. Those castles in the air you build while you are dreaming, Their sweet Illusion seems to bring you near to Paradise.
Title: Hesitate Me Around Bill
Date: Circa 1914
Composer: Malvin M. Franklin
Lyrics: Billy McCreery, each night with his dearie, Took in all the dancing cafes. His cute little Daisy for spieling was crazy, She knew how to dance many ways. The Waltz, “Hesitation,” was her pet vocation; And once she was out on the floor, While doing a motion, like waves of the ocean, To her Billy Boy she would roar: “Hesitate me around, Bill, Hesitate me around! We’ll bend and we’ll dip like the rock of a ship, Rosin your shoes and prepare for the trip. While you’re Hesitating around, Bill, Off to heaven you’re bound You can read all the sighs in my eyes, if you’re wise, While we’re Hesitating around.”
Audio file taken from the Library of Congress. Click here to view the original site. Lyrics of the audio file are slightly different as a duet.
Title: Will You Dance With a Friend of Mine?
Date: Circa 1906
Composer: James B. Mullen
Lyrics: Did you ever go out with your sweetheart, To a picnic, a party or dance? They may say two is company, but when you call, There’s a friend of her’s there by chance: Of course you can dance with but one girl, And just as the band starts to play, You look ‘round the place and you then spy the face of a pal and to him you will say: Will you dance with a friend of mine, She is quite anxious to meet you, She can polka and two step fine, And with a smile she will greet you: She’s a friend of a friend of mine, I want her to have a good time She’s a nice young gal, you’ll oblige, old pal, Will you dance with a friend of mine?
Title: The Kiss Waltz
Date: Circa 1911
Composer: Ivan Caryll
Lyrics: I have kisses in plenty, But, if you please, I give various kisses in diff’rent keys, Warm, sweet kisses that kindle, and cold that freeze: I can give both kinds with ease. If I ever decide you deserve such bliss, I’ll bend nearer and nearer to you, like this! And the world in eclipse, All my love on my lips, I will give you my best and my warmest kiss.
Title: Won’t You Dance With Me?
Date: Circa 1914
Composer: George A. Spink
Lyrics: In the ballroom lights are shining, Hearts are all aglow, Beautiful maids and handsome suitors, Dancing a waltz that’s slow. In the moonlight near a window, A youth and a maiden stand, And he softly whispers to her, As they listen to the band. Won’t you dance with me, Won’t you dance with me, My senses are swaying, The music is playing a strain divine, Won’t you dance with me. Won’t you dance with me, For it fills my soul with delight, Won’t you come and dance with me.