Sunday morning music

For a complete change of pace, how about some music hall?  This was a mainstay of British entertainment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and some of its songs and acts crossed the Atlantic to America as well.  Its songs were popular up to World War I, after which it morphed into variety shows and music.  Both were contemporaneous with musicals, and influenced (and were influenced by) them.

There are so many songs from the music hall era that it’s impossible to list them all here.  (See this list of major British performers, just for a start!)  I’ve therefore selected just a few songs.  I should note that I’m listing them for historical reasons, as much as for entertainment.  Music hall was a very different music genre to more modern ones, and most listeners today don’t find them either funny or attractive.  Nevertheless, our grandfathers and/or great-grandfathers certainly did, so I think it’s worth recalling them.  My own father (born a century ago this year, God rest him) used to sing or hum several of these songs when working on a household project.  That’s where I first heard them, as a young child.

To begin, here’s Harry Champion with “Boiled Beef and Carrots”.

Here’s a rare 1909 recording (on an Edison Amberol phonograph cylinder) of George Formby Sr. singing “Plink Plonk”.

Next, Charles Penrose with his biggest hit, “The Laughing Policeman”.

From the end of the music hall era, here’s “Ain’t It Grand To Be Bloomin’ Well Dead?” by Leslie Sarony.

Finally, here’s the great Stanley Holloway‘s hit “With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm”.

A simpler, slower, less pressured age.  I wonder what the people of that era would say of ours?  I don’t know that they’d think us any happier, to be sure.

If you’d like to hear more from the music hall era, YouTube has a pretty good selection.



  1. My grandparents were in British music hall before mom was born. Granny would say, to preface a story, we were on the stage you know.

  2. We have a local play each summer, and for many years, one of the actors doing olios before the show proper has sung "With her head tucked underneath her arm." He died last year, so I don't know if it will be sung this year by another.

  3. This gives a fairly good idea of what Tolkien had in mind when putting together the hobbits' favorite songs.

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