June 2019 - "In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree"
“In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree” is a popular song dating from Tin Pan Alley era of American pop music. The music was written by Egbert Van Alstyne (1882-1951), with the lyrics by Harry Williams (1879-1922). It became the best selling song of the year when it was published in 1905, selling over 700,000 copies of the sheet music in less than 4 months, which was a record at the time. The songwriting team is credited with producing over 700 published songs, including such hits of the day as “Navajo”, “When You Were Sweet Sixteen”, and “Sunbeam”. The two also collaborated to score a number of Broadway musicals. But none of their other songs has had the same lasting popularity as “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree”. It has been recorded many times by musicians like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and The Mills Brothers, and Bing Crosby. The melody also made a “cameo appearance” in the apple orchard scene from the 1939 film classic, “The Wizard of Oz”. As is true of many songs from that era, it originally included both a verse and a chorus, but it is only the chorus that has survived in popular culture today.
The world lost another folk music icon recently when Dickran Gobalian “crossed the delta for that beautiful shore” at the age of 69. Better known to his fans by his officially changed name of Leon Redbone, he was a musician of inscrutable individuality who seemed to inhabit the past in his concerts and recordings, playing and singing early 20th century American pop music. He first appeared on the folk music scene in the 1970s, and appeared as if he had strolled straight out of the 1920s. He was a virtuoso fingerstyle acoustic guitarist, and sang in a deep, guttural voice that seemed to have come from a traveling medicine show, vaudeville or the back alleys of old New Orleans. Always appearing in a coat and tie, hat and dark glasses, he seemed at first glance to be something of a costumed caricature. But his presentation of that genre of music was true to the era in which it had been produced, and endeared him to audiences around the world. He had a particular delight and unearthing and presenting old classic songs from the Tin Pan Alley era. He included “In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree” on his 2001 album “Any Time”.
This arrangement is in the key of G out of D-A-d tuning, accomplished by capo’ing at the 3rd fret. This is because there are a few critical “chromatic” notes in the tune that lay out well using both the 6 and 6+ frets out of the key of G.