Historic Hood River
“How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm”
World War I brought great changes to the country, as this image from the Alta Walter album highlights. The women are holding sheet music to two popular songs of the period: “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm (When They’ve Seen Paree)” and “Sweet Kisses”. They were both hit songs of 1919, the latter from the Ziegfeld Follies of that year.
The war took boys from farms all over the country and shipped them to Europe where they saw everything from the horrors of mechanized warfare to the cities and old world culture they could scarcely imagine. It certainly seems reasonable to wonder how a doughboy returning from the war who had been to Paris would fare when he returned home to his family farm in Oregon. These worldly soldier contributed to the “roar” of the “Roaring Twenties”.
The jazzy “Sweet Kisses” shows the changing social standards of the decade, with lyrics and musical style which would have been unimaginable ten years earlier.
It’s hard to believe sales of sheet music were once a significant revenue source for composers and songwriters, but before musical broadcasting or streaming was a thing, revenue would come from selling records, selling sheet music, or on the rare occasion selling rights to use a song in a movie (after they added sound).