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Paul Dresser

Paul Dresser (born Johann Paul Dreiser, Jr.; April 22, 1857 – January 30, 1906) was an American singer, songwriter, and comedic actor of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Dresser performed in traveling minstrel and medicine-wagon shows and as a vaudeville entertainer. He sold his songs through sheet music publishers in New York City's Tin Pan Alley, and became a partner in the music publishing business.

Dresser grew up in a large family (including his brother, novelist Theodore Dreiser) and lived in Sullivan and Terre Haute, Indiana. He had a troubled childhood and spent several weeks in jail. Dresser left home at age sixteen to join a traveling minstrel act and performed in several regional theaters before joining John Hamlin's Wizard Oil traveling medicine-wagon show in 1878. Dresser composed his first songs while working for Hamlin. He settled in Evansville, Indiana, for several years while continuing to work as a traveling performer and musician. Eventually, he became a nationally known talent and traveled with a number of different acts, including The Two Johns, A Tin Soldier, and The Danger Signal, among others. Dresser wrote songs featured in these shows, sold his songs to others acts, and published his music. In 1893 Dresser joined "Howley, Haviland and Company", a New York City sheet music publisher, as a silent partner. He later became an active partner in other music publishing companies. At the height of his success, Dresser lived in New York City as a wealthy entertainer, successful songwriter, and sheet music publisher. He was generous, especially to family and friends, and lavish spending. The turn of the century brought him financial distress when his music fell out of style. In 1905 his music publishing business declared bankruptcy and Dresser's health declined. He died penniless in New York City a year later.

Although Dresser had no formal training in music composition, he wrote ballads that had wide appeal, including some of the most popular songs of the era. During a career that spanned nearly two decades, from 1886 to 1906, Dresser composed and published more than 150 songs. His biggest hit, "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away" (1897), became the second best-selling sheet music of the nineteenth century. Following the success of "Wabash", many newspapers compared Dresser to popular composer Stephen Foster. "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away" became the official song of Indiana in 1913. The Paul Dresser Birthplace in Terre Haute is designated as a state shrine and memorial. Dresser was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

Birth and Death Data: Born April 21st, 1857 (Terre Haute), Died January 30th, 1906 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1896 - 1942

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, lyricist

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Berliner 187 7-in. Before Apr. 1899 Just tell them that you saw me George J. Gaskin Male vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Berliner 189[a] 7-in. 4/17/1896 Just tell them that you saw me Artists vary Male vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Berliner 399 7-in. Before Feb. 1899 On the banks of the Wabash far away Mabel Casedy Female vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Berliner 577 7-in. Apr. 1898 On the banks of the Wabash Annie Carter Female vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Berliner 867 7-in. 11/15/1896 Just tell them that you saw me George J. Gaskin ; Mozart Quartet Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet lyricist, composer  
Berliner 1784 7-in. July 1897-Mar. 1898 On the banks of the Wabash Artists vary Male vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Berliner 1936 7-in. 11/29/1895-12/14/1898 Sweet Savannah J. W. Myers Male vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Berliner 3428 7-in. 6/17/1898 On the banks of the Wabash far away Henry Higgins ; Arthur Pryor Cornet and trombone duet composer  
Berliner 4255 7-in. Mar. 1898 On the banks of the Wabash, far away Diamond Four Male vocal quartet composer, lyricist  
Berliner 055 7-in. 3/28/1899 On the banks of the Wabash far away George J. Gaskin Male vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Berliner 0109 7-in. Before June 1899 Sweet Savannah George J. Gaskin Male vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Berliner 01061 7-in. 3/10/1900 The blue and the gray Arthur Collins Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Berliner 01143 7-in. 3/23/1900 The blue and the gray Harry Macdonough Male vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Berliner 01215 7-in. 4/17/1900 The blue and the gray Joseph Natus Male vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Berliner 01218 7-in. 4/17/1900 In good old New York town Joseph Natus Male vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Berliner 01222 7-in. 4/17/1900 Sweet Savannah Joseph Natus Male vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]83 7-in. 6/11/1900 The blue and the gray Harry Macdonough Male vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]164 7-in. 7/21/1900 The blue and the gray Arthur Collins ; Metropolitan Orchestra Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]204 7-in. 9/14/1900 The blue and the gray Street piano "Street" (barrel) piano composer, lyricist  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]515 7-in. 11/15/1900 When the moon comes up behind de hill S. H. Dudley Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]677 7-in. 2/16/1901 There is no North or South to-day Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]677 10-in. 2/16/1901 There is no North or South to-day Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]678 7-in. 2/16/1901 I'd still believe you true Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]678 10-in. 4/29/1903 I'd still believe you true Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]680 7-in. 2/16/1901 Calling to her boy just once again Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]699 7-in. 2/21/1901 Give us just another Lincoln J. W. Myers Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]864 7-in. 6/12/1902 On the banks of the Wabash Steve Porter Male vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]1115 7-in. 11/27/1901 Mr. Volunteer Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1115 10-in. 11/27/1901 Mr. Volunteer Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]1228 7-in. 2/3/1902 Way down in old Indiana J. W. Myers Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1228 10-in. 2/3/1902 Way down in old Indiana J. W. Myers Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]1242 7-in. 2/7/1902 Mr. Volunteer J. W. Myers Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1242 10-in. 2/7/1902 Mr. Volunteer J. W. Myers Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]1856 7-in. 1/9/1903 In dear old Illinois John H. Bieling ; Harry Macdonough Male vocal duet composer, lyricist  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1856 10-in. 1/9/1903 In dear old Illinois John H. Bieling ; Harry Macdonough Male vocal duet composer, lyricist  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3108 10-in. 2/16/1901 There is no North or South to-day Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3109 10-in. 2/16/1901 I'd still believe you true Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3111 10-in. 2/16/1901 Calling to her boy just once again Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3140 10-in. 2/21/1901 Give us just another Lincoln J. W. Myers Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3466 10-in. 6/12/1901 On the banks of the Wabash Steve Porter Male vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Victor A-6 7-in. 4/29/1903 Mr. Volunteer Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor B-6 10-in. 4/29/1903 Mr. Volunteer Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor A-29 7-in. 5/21/1903 The voice of the Hudson Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor B-29 10-in. 5/21/1903 The voice of the Hudson Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor A-30 7-in. 5/21/1903 The boys are coming home today Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor B-30 10-in. 5/21/1903 The boys are coming home today Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor A-237 7-in. 8/4/1903 King of the winds Clarke's Band of Providence ; Claud Spary Band, with trombone solo composer  
Victor B-237 10-in. 8/4/1903 King of the winds Clarke's Band of Providence ; Claud Spary Band, with trombone solo composer  
Victor A-496 7-in. 10/6/1903 In dear old Illinois John H. Bieling ; Harry Macdonough Male vocal duet, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor B-496 10-in. 10/6/1903 In dear old Illinois John H. Bieling ; Harry Macdonough Male vocal duet, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor C-617 12-in. 10/31/1903 When I'm away from you, dear Richard Jose Counter-tenor vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-643 10-in. 11/6/1903 The blue and the gray Harry Macdonough Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor B-898 10-in. 1/12/1904 Your mother wants you home, boy, and she wants you mighty bad Richard Jose Counter-tenor vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor C-930 12-in. 1/18/1904 Glory to God Richard Jose Counter-tenor vocal solo, with organ composer  
Victor A-946 7-in. 1/19/1904 The voice of the Hudson Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor B-946 10-in. 1/19/1904 The voice of the Hudson Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor A-948 7-in. 1/19/1904 There is no North or South today Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor B-948 10-in. 1/19/1904 There is no North or South today Joseph Natus Male vocal solo, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor C-2024 12-in. 12/8/1904 When I'm away from you, dear Richard Jose Counter-tenor vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-2024 10-in. 12/9/1904 When I'm away from you, dear Richard Jose Counter-tenor vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor C-2026 12-in. 12/8/1904 She fought on by his side Richard Jose Counter-tenor vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-2026 10-in. 12/9/1904 She fought on by his side Richard Jose Counter-tenor vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor C-2027 12-in. 12/8/1904 The day that you grew colder Richard Jose Counter-tenor vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-2538 10-in. 5/9/1905 My gal Sal Byron G. Harlan Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-2869 10-in. 11/7/1905 Nigger loves his 'possum Collins and Harlan Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-12676 10-in. 12/5/1912 On the banks of the Wabash American Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-14096 10-in. 11/19/1913 Evalyne Billy Murray ; Will Oakland Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer  
Victor C-16216 12-in. 7/20/1915 Songs of the past, no. 4 Victor Mixed Chorus Vocal chorus and soloists, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor CVE-16216 12-in. 5/11/1927 Songs of the past, no. 4 Victor Mixed Chorus Vocal chorus and soloists, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor C-16218 12-in. 7/21/1915 Songs of the past, no. 6 Victor Mixed Chorus Vocal chorus and soloists, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-25764 10-in. 11/16/1921 My gal Sal Criterion Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-25865 10-in. 12/12/1921 Barndomshemmet Grace Eklund Carlson ; Florence Eklund Reims Female vocal duet, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-26587 10-in. 7/7/1922 Barndomshjemmet August Werner Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-29016 10-in. 11/20/1923 Barndomshemmet Joseph Lycell Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-29498 10-in. 2/22/1924 My gal Sal Ted Weems Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-29883 10-in. 4/16/1924 On the banks of the Wabash Orville Harrold Tenor vocal solo, with violin and orchestra composer  
Victor B-29884 10-in. 4/16/1924 Way down in old Indiana Orville Harrold Tenor vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor BVE-47567 10-in. 9/27/1928 My gal Sal Nathaniel Shilkret ; Victor Orchestra Orchestra, with male vocal chorus composer, lyricist  
Victor BVE-56786 10-in. 10/16/1929 On the banks of the Wabash far away National Cavaliers Male vocal quartet, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor BVE-57535 10-in. 11/8/1929 On the banks of the Wabash far away National Cavaliers Male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer  
Victor BVE-59632 10-in. 3/13/1930 On the banks of the Wabash American Singers Male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer  
Victor CVE-59834 12-in. 3/19/1930 My gal Sal Coca Cola Topnotchers Radio broadcast : Orchestra, with male vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Victor BS-77834 10-in. 10/2/1933 My gal Sal Johnny Rock Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-83820 10-in. 8/3/1934 My gal Sal Perry Bechtel Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer, lyricist  
Victor BS-014611 10-in. 10/4/1937 My gal Sal (They called her frivolous Sal) The Old Timer's Orchestra ; Jimmy Ray Instrumental ensemble, with male vocal solo composer  
Victor BS-044593 10-in. 1/11/1940 My gal Sal (They called her Frivolous Sal) Harlan Leonard ; Rockets Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BS-073854 10-in. 4/28/1942 On the banks of the Wabash Freddy Martin Orchestra ; Martin Men ; Clyde Rogers ; Stuart Wade Jazz/dance band, with male vocal duet and male vocal ensemble lyricist, composer  
Victor BS-073855 10-in. 4/28/1942 My gal Sal Freddy Martin Orchestra ; Martin Men Jazz/dance band, with male vocal ensemble lyricist, composer  
Columbia 3213 10-in. ca. Jan.-Sept. 1905 Jim Judson! from the town of Hackensack Arthur Collins Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Columbia 46036 10-in. 9/20/1915 On the banks of the Wabash Columbia Mixed Quartette Mixed vocal quartet, with orchestra composer  
Columbia 46203 10-in. 11/16/1915 On the banks of the Wabash Broadway Quartette Male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Columbia 77865 10-in. 5/31/1918 On the banks of the Wabash far away Artists vary Xylophone solo, with orchestra composer  
Columbia 77882 10-in. 6/12/1918 Songs of your childhood days Signor Hurdi-Gurdi "Street" (barrel) piano, with orchestra composer  
Columbia 78736 10-in. 10/14/1919 On the banks of the Wabash Columbia Stellar Quartette Male vocal quartet, unaccompanied composer, lyricist  
Columbia 79854 10-in. 5/17/1921 My gal Sal Columbia Stellar Quartette Male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Columbia W144168 10-in. 5/18/1927 My gal Sal Charleston Chasers ; Red Nichols Jazz/dance band composer  
Columbia W145451 10-in. 12/29/1927 On the banks of the Wabash far away Shannon Quartet Male vocal quartet, with piano composer, lyricist  
Columbia W151275 10-in. 2/5/1931 My gal Sal Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Columbia W98296 12-in. 8/6/1926 Studio stunts Columbia Artists Vocalists, comic duo, saxophone soloist, and jazz/dance band lyricist, composer  
OKeh S-71616 10-in. June 1923 My gal Sal Gerald Griffin Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
OKeh W81413 10-in. 9/1/1927 My gal Sal Little Molers ; Miff Mole Jazz/dance band composer  
OKeh W400804 10-in. 6/19/1928 Just tell them that you saw me Andrew Jenkins ; Carson Robison Male vocal duet, with instrumental trio lyricist, composer  
Brunswick E16255-E16256 10-in. 8/27/1925 On the banks of the Wabash, far away Criterion Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Brunswick C2467 10-in. 10/22/1928 My gal Sal (They called her frivolous Sal) Danny Altier Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Brunswick LAE254 10-in. 8/28/1928 My gal Sal Tom Gerunovich Roof Garden Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Brunswick E33126 10-in. 6/16/1930 On the banks of the Wabash Robert A. Gardner ; Lester McFarland Male vocal duet, with guitar, mandolin, and harmonica lyricist, composer  
Brunswick E37342 10-in. 10/30/1931 Just tell them that you saw me McCravy Brothers Male vocal duet, with instrumental quartet composer, lyricist  
Brunswick E2778-E2779 10-in. 4/16/1926 Just tell them that you saw me Uncle Dave Macon ; Sam McGee Male vocal solo, with banjo and guitar composer, lyricist  
Brunswick E7170-E7171 10-in. 2/25/1928 My gal Sal (They called her frivolous Sal) Five Pennies ; Red Nichols Jazz/dance band composer  
Brunswick E22556-E22557 10-in. 4/21/1927 Just tell them that you saw me Buell Kazee Male vocal solo and whistling, with violin, guitar, and piano lyricist, composer  
Brunswick E26004-E26005 10-in. 1/13/1928 On the banks of the Wabash far away Kanawha Singers Male vocal quartet, with 2 violins, banjo, and piano lyricist, composer  
Edison 9533 10-in. 5/26/1924 On the banks of the Wabash, far away James Doherty Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Edison 18469 10-in. 5/4/1928 My gal Sal Winegar’s Penn Boys Jazz/dance band composer  
Edison 19310 10-in. 7/20/1929 On the banks of the Wabash far away American Singers Male vocal quartet lyricist, composer  
Edison N-235 10-in. 5/4/1928 My gal Sal Winegar’s Penn Boys Jazz/dance band composer  
Edison N-1033 12-in. 7/20/1929 On the banks of the Wabash far away American Singers Male vocal quartet lyricist, composer  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Dresser, Paul," accessed October 16, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108958.

Dresser, Paul. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 16, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108958.

"Dresser, Paul." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 16 October 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108958

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