Grant Clark and Edgar Leslie / Maurice Abrahams: He’d Have to Get Under – Get Out and Get Under (1913) – Early adopters of technology have always had to become self-taught experts. The first motorists were no exception, as this popular novelty number demonstrates. It was a hit for Bobby North, Al Jolson and Billy Murray (pictured), among others. Murray was an early adopter himself, although in his case the technology was sound recording. Grasping the commercial potential of records (pronounced “re-CORDS” in the early days) before many of his contemporaries, Murray cranked out hundreds of cylinders and discs for every major company. With a sharp tenor voice and impeccable diction, he was the ideal performer for the early days of the medium.
Ida Emerson and Joe Howard: Hello, Ma Baby (1899) – Howard and Emerson were a vaudeville team who had great success with this number about the early days of the telephone. The sheet music sold over one million copies – a stunning achievement at the time. Other hits by the team include “Good Bye, My Lady Love” (1904) and “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now?” (1909). This is another one that required minor lyrical surgery to avoid offending a contemporary audience. Chuck Jones fans (and you know who you are…) will recognize it as the theme song of Michigan J. Frog in “One Froggy Evening”.