"Shine On, Harvest Moon"
is the name of a popular early-1900s song credited to Jack Norworth
and his wife Nora Bayes
. It was one of a series of moon
related Tin Pan Alley
songs of the era. The song was debuted by the composers in the Ziegfeld Follies
of 1908 to great acclaim. It became a pop standard, still very familiar some 40 years later, and continues to be performed and recorded occasionally into the 21st century.
During the time period, songs were often sold outright, and the purchaser would become the songwriter of record. John Kenrick's Who's Who In Musicals credits songwriters Edward Madden and Gus Edwards, while others credit David Stamper, songwriter for 14 Ziegfeld Follies and Bayes' pianist from 1903 to 1908.
Like many old popular songs, the verses are often left out, although the verses for this song are musically quite good and set off the chorus well. Also like many songs of that era, the song has an ethnic undercurrent. The duet of Billy Murray and Ada Jones recorded a popular version of the song. They performed the song in a stereotyped African American style, though not taken to the excess of some other recordings of that era.
- The night was mighty dark so you could hardly see,
- For the moon refused to shine.
- Couple sitting underneath a willow tree,
- For love they did pine.
- Little maid was kinda 'fraid of darkness
- So she said, "I guess I'll go."
- Boy began to sigh, looked up at the sky,
- And told the moon his little tale of woe
- Oh, Shine on, shine on, harvest moon
- Up in the sky;
- I ain't had no lovin'
- Since January, February, June or July.
- Snow time ain't no time to stay
- Outdoors and spoon;
- Shine on, shine on, harvest moon,
- For me and my gal.
- I can't see why a boy should sigh when by his side
- Is the girl he loves so true,
- All he has to say is: "Won't you be my bride,
- For I love you,
- I can't see why I'm telling you this secret,
- When I know that you can guess."
- Harvest moon will smile,
- Shine on all the while,
- If the little girl should answer "yes."
knew his bread was buttered on both
sides, and he did not hesitate to record parodies and other songs that made fun of popular hits, including his own. Today's hits quickly become tomorrow's oldies. At the time this song was popular, Murray recorded a song whose title is the last line, gently poking fun at this "modern" song:
- Oh, I'm sick of all these ditties about "moon" and "spoon" and "June"
- So, will you stand up and sing, for your father, an old time tune?!
By the time Murray was recording "follow the bouncing ball" cartoons in the 1930s, Shine On, Harvest Moon was also very much an "old time tune".