Has Anybody Seen My Cat

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I’ve seen this sheet music come and go and I finally grabbed it up. It occasionally turns up in my cat searches and I finally landed on this copy earlier this week. There’s another version with an equally good cover, but very different cover which I will still snatch up given the opportunity.

Pictured on the front between these two great black cats is, I assume, Emma Carus. Emma was a vaudeville performer who was the face and voice for putting this song over. According to the American Vaudeville Museum site (University of Arizona, here) although she was pleasing looking, she generally opened her act with the line, I’m not pretty but I’m good to my parents. However, her songs were incredibly popular and she sold reams of sheet music. She hit the big time as a performer in 1900 so when this sheet music (copyright 1922, but more about that in a moment) she was a well established star and money maker.

This Black Cat Hosiery Cat of the same period at seems to be a kissin’ cousin of the ones on the sheet music.

Emma gets the top credit, followed by Dan Blanco (of whom I find no real tracks) and then J. Walter Leopold. I am not sure I see real evidence of her actual song writing as I read her bio. J. Walter Leopold has numerous song credits, but was also a performer and he and Carus teamed up in 1918 and worked vaudeville until the end of that particular line. He drifts to radio and then manages some bands. She lived hard starting in her teems, has two failed marriages before she is 25, and dies in failing health at 48.

Emma Carus in all her glory in an undated photo, on Ziegfieldfolliesgirls.com

Sadly I cannot find a recording of her singing this song, nor can I find a recording of her singing at all.

While credit is given as above on the front of this sheet music, the internet reveals that the original song was song was British and was written and composed by TW Connor in 1899 for George Beauchamp – probably as a sequel to an earlier successful song Puss, Puss Puss (1897). A 1901 recording of the song can be found here with the slightly different name of Has Anybody Seen Our Cat, but virtually the same lyrics. There are recorded versions going back to 1897 under this name so I don’t know how to make that jibe with the claim of the 1899 authorship above – was it acquired and reacquired multiple times?

The copyright page tells us that Dan Blanco acquired the rights in 1916 and they were transferred to Emma Carus in 1922. So maybe Dan’s only claim to fame is acquiring these rights and selling them.

Children’s Book which claims to have roots in one of the versions of this song.

The song goes on to inspire a Tex Ritter tune, Has Anyone Seen My Kitty, (listen to it here) and eventually a recent children book, Anybody Seen Our Cat by Kenneth Griffin, illustrated by Brandon Weiner.

Below are the lyrics which bear their British roots and age, but produce a chuckle. Enjoy!

I'm upset now; let me tell you why,
Our old tom cat has been and done a guy (run away)
My old gal declares that it's a sign
Somebody's number's up and two to one it's mine
I've been wondering why I am to blame
For sneaking the bacon and the brawn
And the young man lodger's two-eyed steaks (bloater)
When they're missing on a Sunday morn.

Chorus: Has anybody seen our cat?
Has anybody seen our cat?
He's got a bit of black on the end of his tail
And the skin's all off where he's been fighting
Last Sunday morning we missed him from the mat
Puss! Puss! Puss! Meat! Meat! Meat!
Has anybody seen our cat?

How we loved that cat nobody knows
Put butter on his feet and pepper on his nose
When he caught cold gave myself a job
When the toothache troubled him so bad
And I found little Tommy couldn't eat
I tied up his face, put baccy in his ear
And got another cat to chew his meat.

Chorus:

I never thought he'd leave his happy home
Though after the gals he often used to roam
I've sent tripe hounds out upon his track
I'm doing everything to try and get him back
Got two cods heads stuck up on a pole
And nailed up a kipper on the door
And written underneath it ‘Welcome home'
And a promise not to kick him any more.

Chorus:

The Greatest Comic Song Yet

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Pictorama readers know I haven’t posted new cat sheet music in quite awhile, but this one caught my eye and I thought it should join the Pictorama collection. Perhaps I will bring it to the office as a return to Columbus Circle offering later this year. (I have written about the sheet music which adorns my tiny office. Those posts can be found here, here and here.)

Despite being The Greatest Comic Song Yet I will admit up front that I was unable to find any sign of a recording of this tune, The Cat’s Dead. A few of his more popular tunes such as And Her Golden Hair was Hanging Down Her Back and Comrades have left some creaky musical tracks. (Period recordings of these can be found on the DAHR, Discography of American Historical Recordings site here if you are curious. However, a better rendition if you actually want to hear the lyrics is the Youtube recording from a performance at the Metropolitan Museum in 2016, performed in the American Wing. It can be found here.)

Pams-Pictorama.com collection. Featured in a 2017 sheet music post.

According to Wikipedia, Felix McGlennon was born in Glasgow in 1856, the son of an Irish shoemaker. McGlennon, who specialized in comic dance hall and vaudeville songs, settled in Manchester, England where he published his first penny songbooks. He later emigrated to the United States in the mid-1880’s and this song and his others of note seem to be published in the United States in the 1890’s. He took his success and return to England and set up his own music and postcard publishing company there in 1909. He lived until age 87, dying in 1943.

My favorite part of the brief Wikipedia entry claims that he had no musical training and picked his tunes out on a toy piano. I share two quotes from the site below which I gather more or less summed up his philosophy on his music:

Assume, if you like, that what I write is rubbish. My reply is “It is exactly the sort of rubbish I am encouraged by the public to write”… All my life I have tried to produce an article for which there is a public demand. If I visit a music hall, it is with the single object of instructing myself as to the class of thing that is pleasing the public. Then, I try to write it – and write nothing else.

On another occasion, he said: “I would sacrifice everything – rhyme, reason, sense and sentiment – to catchiness. There is, let me tell you, a very great art in making rubbish acceptable.

The Cat’s Dead is considered an American song, published in 1893 by the Anglo American Musical Agency, but it has an English copyright. It would appear that the song and music is by Mr. McGlennon.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Sadly there is no artist credit for the great cat art on the cover which is of course why I purchased it. There is a tiny company credit which reads, NAT PH. ENG Co NY in the lower right corner so presumably it came from an engraving company library of sorts.

The music cost a rather dear forty cents. Google tells me that is about $15 in today’s money.

Our feline fellow has something of the old Confederate soldier about him – something about his vest. He has lost an eye and uses these odd crutches (I like that you can see his claws on his paws), but of course there’s something about him that makes you think he could still do a jig if he had enough liquor in him. I love his face with that sharp toothy grin, whiskers aplenty and the one smiling eye.

The lyrics are sort of awful and I will spare you those – all about the various ways they went about killing the cat who always repeatedly came back – until the end of the song. Although, as we see from the cover, Don’t you believe it!!