Monday, April 26, 2021

"Home Sweet Home at Twilight" - "Trees" Johnson and Virgil Welsh

Went to an estate sale last month, and while I didn't find much, I did spy a box of beat-up looking sheet music. I didn't have time to sift through the box, so I called up my friend (and extreme sheet music collector) Tom Merry

Tom is not only a wonderful friend, but he's also my extra set of eyes. We have a mutual beneficial relationship, where if we see something in our respective collecting interests, we always let the other know.

So Tom shows up and goes through the pile, and pulls out this fantastic piece from Colorado, "(When You Hear Them Playing) Home Sweet Home at Twilight."

In fact, he pulls out three of them!

That'll teach me to make time to go through a box of tattered looking sheet music (grin).

"(When You Hear Them Playing) Home Sweet Home at Twilight" was written by "Trees" Johnson and Virgil Welsh. It was published in 1939 by the Knight Campbell Music Company of Denver. Guitar, banjo, accordion chords are noted by Bill Brooks.

Knight Campbell Music Company - 1625 California Street (year unknown) - Photo courtesy of the Denver Public Library (Side note - 1625 California Street would later become the NBC building and the home of KOA radio. In 1965 the building was demolished, to make way for a parking lot / garage - see below)

The popular country group Ozie Waters and the Colorado Rangers are shown on the front cover. I couldn't find any notation that a the band recorded this song. Of note, Waters worked on the "The Ford Ranger Show" on KOA, before becoming a western movie actor. He acted in at least sixteen westerns, including most of the 1940s Durango Kid movies, alongside Charles Starrett, as well as with William Boyd (aka Hopalong Cassidy), before moving back to Colorado, and becoming a long-time performer at the Silver Slipper Saloon in Central City.

"Trees" Johnson was actually one Forrest H. Johnson, who was the long-time silent film organist for the Alpha Theatre on Colfax (which is now a parking lot). Records indicated that he was born in 1897 and passed away in 1971.

I found a Bill Brooks listed on my 1976 Colorado Polka-Thon LP (with Hal Pierce), but no clue if this might be the same, who appears on the sheet music.

October 15, 1919 - Denver Jewish News

Virgil Welsh is a bit of a mystery. I couldn't find much on this composer. I did find that he was born in 1911, or possibly 1910, and passed away in 1964. He is buried in Arvada Cemetery. I found no other record of any other composition he wrote.

There's something that I'd like to ask you, concerning an old old refrain.
I'm blue when I heart it at twilight, and wondering if you feel the same.
When you hear them playing Home Sweet Home at Twilight, do you dream of the long, long ago.
Do your "thots" to straying far away at twilight while the stars up above softly glow.
Do the tears start to burn, as you long to return to some spot on this earth that you know.
When you hear them playing Home Sweet Home at Twilight, do you dream of the long long ago.
When you go. 
The back of the sheet music shows another composition by Johnson, along with Ida Klein, "Starlight and You"  (published in 1932). The piece indicates that the two has also worked together on the songs "California I'll Be There" and "Share Your Love." It appears "California I'll Be There" was recorded by Cally Holden and his Orchestra, but I also noted that Johnson was not listed in the songwriting credits.

The flipside of this record was "Share Your Love," which does note co-songwriting with Johnson.


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