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Play a Simple Melody [song lyrics]

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Song lyrics to Play a Simple Melody (1914) by Irving Berlin
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Song lyrics to Play a Simple Melody (1914) by Irving Berlin

Play a Simple Melody is a song from the 1914 musical, Watch Your Step, words and music by Irving Berlin. The show was the first stage musical that Berlin wrote. The one song from it that is well-remembered today is Play a Simple Melody, one of the few true examples of counterpoint in American popular music. It’s a melody running against a second melody, each with independent lyrics.

The diff’rent lays of nowadays
All set my brain a whirl
They’re not the kind of songs they sang
When mother was a girl
Your spoony rags and coony drags
All made my poor heart ache
Bring back the rhymes of olden times
And just for old times sake

Won’t you play a simple melody
Like my mother sang to me
One with good old fashioned harmony
Play a simple melody.

In days of yore, before the war
When hearts now old were young
At home each night by firelight
Those dear old songs were sung
Sweet melodies, their memories
Around my heart still cling
That’s why I long to hear a song
Like mother used to sing

I don’t care for longhaired musicians
With their classy melodies
They have lots of highbrow ambitions
But their music doesn’t please
Give me something snappy and popular
The kind that darkies play
Lots of rhythm
And I go with ’em
That’s why I say

Jean Stapleton and Fozzie Bear perform Play a Simple Melody

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