In 1860, the first known recording of the human voice—a ten second performance of the folk song, “Au Claire de la Lune”—was made in France. Around 1888, the recording of a woman reciting the first verse of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” appears to be the first recording intended for sale to the public. Made for a talking doll, it may be the oldest known recording produced at Thomas Edison’s laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. By 1913, the Edison “diamond disc recording” appeared, which later evolved into the 78 RPM record, and the public at large was beginning to buy and collect records. Though only a few music charts existed at the time, those that kept track of record sales were able to chart the top songs of the year.
- What song has been touted as the top selling recording of 1913? (Hint: it’s a song everyone knows!)
- What song, first recorded as a Top Five hit in 1913 by Al Jolson, has also been recorded by Judy Garland, Harry Nilsson, Rufus Wainwright, Patsy Cline, Screaming Jay Hawkins, and many others over the years?
In 1913, it seems there was a flock of Irish-themed music in the air. Songs like “Danny Boy” and “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral” were popular, along with some rather strange-sounding titles like “When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’.” However, the most popular record 100 years ago was a song by Chauncey Olcott, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”
Also topping the available charts and landing in the Top Five (or Top Ten, depending on the source) for 1913, was “You Made Me Love You,” a song made popular by Al Jolson. Along with the many singers already mentioned, it has also been recorded by Aretha Franklin, Doris Day, the Four Freshmen, Barry Manilow, and others too numerous to mention.