Music: History in Doggerel

Fifty years before Tin Pan Alley became a business machine, the U.S. learned and sang its songs in rowdy taverns, stuffy parlors, minstrel shows, free-and-easies. It got many of them from anonymous buskers who worked for throw money, known only as "the old geezer with the dulcimer" or "the lame fellow who plays the accordion in Franklin Square." It bought most of its sheet music (words only) as penny broadsides, hawked by old men & women on street corners, or in dime songbooks. As the nation's customs, styles, manners and morals changed,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!