MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Comic Songs

Comic songs in the Leach collection were often written for British music hall, variety or vaudeville productions, or for British or Irish stage productions (e.g., Mush, Mush). Many local witty or satiric songs about local events were written by Johnny Burke (1851-1930), known as the Bard of Prescott Street. Jamie Fitzpatrick notes his "sharp eye for detail and deft touch with wit and satire" (www.heritage.nf.ca/arts/johnnyburke_article.html ). The best known Burke song on the website is "Kelligrew's Soiree."   He published his songs on broadsheets that sold for two to five cents a copy. Beginning in 1881, he wrote and staged musical comedies.

The "lyric" songs in this collection are sometimes labeled, parlour songs, are named because they were published as sheet music that was oriented to a middle class Victorian population.   Some are sentimental waltzes, such as "Old Married Couple" or "Be Home Early Tonight." Other sentimental songs include "Roarin' Fire" and "My Little home Across the Sea." Most of these have refrains. As a genre, the distinction parlour songs and American popular songs such as those published in Tin Pan Alley (an area of Manhattan where music publishers were centralized), beginning in the 1890s, are overlapping repertoires.