4, no. 2 (2010).
Supporting a new methodology for the study of classic American popular songs, this article offers a history of both the print editions and recorded versions of “Some of These Days” (1910) by Shelton Brooks. This saga commences with a hitherto unanalyzed precursor to Brooks’s famous song that shares nearly the same opening words and melody, the 1905 “Some o’ Dese Days” by Frank Williams. It continues through nine major print editions and numerous recorded performances, of which this study examines forty-six, including ten as the theme song for Sophie Tucker. Performers are clearly influenced by both performed and printed variations; more surprisingly, print editions are also influenced by performers. Thus, Tin Pan Alley songs are best viewed as products of collaboration within a community of songwriters, publishers, and performers. Brooks fills “Some of These Days” with compositional details that are conducive to effective performance variations. This elusive intrinsic adaptability represents, for 1910, a modern, innovative quality and is central to any understanding of this song genre. Oft-neglected, such early popular standards—poised at the juncture of musical cultures, oral and print, amateur and professional, live and mediatized—help the critical historian pinpoint aspects that make this repertoire valuable.