Frank Crumit - The Early Ballads

Frank Crumit - 1929
Meloware's Antique Phonograph Record Archive
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Frank Crumit (26 September 1889 - 7 September 1943)

Meloware presents some of the best ballads Frank Crumit ever produced.
The titles listed on this page are absolutely delightful.

  This Ohio native followed a practical plan in life, by earning a degree in Electrical Engineering.  His real passion seemed to be pursuing his love of music and the old ballads of the 19th century.  By 1913 he was performing on the vaudeville stage, playing his ukulele and singing his favorite songs.

  Frank began making records for Columbia, in 1919.  Numerous titles were issued in the early 20‘s, using the old acoustic, or ‘horn’ method of recording.  Unfortunately, the broad and pleasant overtones of his voice were not suited to this technology.  This all changed after 1925, with the industry‘s introduction of the microphone.

  By this time, Frank Crumit was singing at Victor Talking Machine.  The new recording method was now able to capture the rich tenor sound of his voice, and Frank began producing a series of the traditional ballads he loved, as well as a number of his own compositions, written in the same style as the old time songs.

My Grandfather‘s Clock

  "But it stopped.. short.. never to go again, when the old man died"  This song was written by the famous civil war era composer Henry Clay Work, in 1876.  It is certainly the most famous of Work‘s later songs.  The story tells of the clock, ticking away the seconds of a man‘s life, all the way from his youth to his last hour on earth.

This beautifully faithful verson is sung by Frank, accompanied by a guitar and organ.   Recorded December 22, 1925

Grandfather's Clock - with organ and guitar 12/22/25 2:56

The Parlor is a Pleasant Place to Sit in Sunday Night

  This adaptation by Frank paints a scene of companionship and comfort. The listener is almost able to feel the warmth of the fire, the softness of the sofa, and the company of friends before the beginning of another busy week. The promise ending this scene is that another Sunday will soon return.

Recorded September 3, 1925 with guitar and organ

The Parlor is a Pleasant Place to Sit in Sunday Night - with organ and guitar 09/03/25 2:26

Wake Nicodemus!

  This song, from 1864, is Henry Clay Work‘s powerfully emotional ballad about the emancipation from slavery.

  Nicodemus was an old slave, with the power of prophecy.  He had died many years before, leaving in his legacy, a promise for the future end of slavery.  His dying instructions were to make his tomb in the hollow tree at the swamp, and awaken him on the day of emancipation.

Work would have been very pleased this version by Frank Crumit.  It is the only recording we have ever found of this song, which was issued 63 years after it‘s first publication.  Frank is faithful to the respect and power of this ballad.  This song absolutely should not be forgotten.  It is an important symbol to this period of American history.

Wake Nicodemus! - with organ and guitar 1927 2:46

Abdul Abubul Amir

  This ballad is a story of two great warriors, each from a different culture.  They meet and battle each other over pride. The only result of this senseless conflict is their mutual destruction.

This simple and throughly enjoyable song is complete, with only Frank, and a guitar.  It‘s very possible that this is the type of performance the vaudeville audience was treated to, when Frank was on stage.  Recorded in 1927

Abdul Abubul Amir - with quitar 1927 2:19

A High Silk Hat and a Walking Cane

  The family has struck it rich!  The railroad is buying the back pasture for $20,000 and everybody is ready to throw off their rags with the new fortune.  Frank describes how he will deck himself out with fancy clothes, a wristwatch, and his high silk hat.  With no more money troubles, the family will go to Europe and mingle with the aristocracy.

But Frank promises not to forget his old home.  When the money is gone, and youth is over, you will find him once again in the hills, living at his mountain shack.

This delightful song, largely Crumit‘s own composition, was first offered in the August, 1929 suppliment of the Victor catalog.

A High Silk Hat and Walking Cane - with organ and guitar 1929 3:09

The Mountains Ain‘t No Place for Bad Men

  Revenuers and Highwaymen beware!!   Folks who live in the mountains have their own special way of dealing with undesirables. If you come to live with a good heart and soul, you can expect Heaven‘s joy, but if Satan rules your life, be forwarned!

This is the flip side of "High Silk Hat". Both sides are real winners.  Of course, we are claiming this about every song on this page, but it‘s true.  We absolutely love all of these songs!

This song was also largely written by Crumit.  Both "Mountains" and "High Silk Hat" include Frank, accompanied by the organ and guitar.

The Mountains Ain't No Place for Bad Men - with organ and guitar 1929 2:09

  Frank Crumit married entertainer Julia Sanderson in 1927, and the couple moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts. By 1928 they were performing together on radio, as the "Singing Sweethearts of the Air". In 1930, they had begun their popular quiz show, "The Battle of the Sexes", which ran 13 years until Frank‘s unfortunate death, of a heart attack, in 1943.

  During these last years, Frank still sporadically made records.  Many of these are also quite enjoyable, but were generally different in style from the great ballads listed here.

Just because the time is gone, and the memory is lost, it doesn‘t mean that what was done, has no value today.  We are very fortunate that these recordings still exist, and they are in every way as enjoyable as they were, 75 years ago.  Be sure you treat yourself to some of the songs, performed by the great Frank Crumit!

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