[Ads-l] Antedating of "Torch Song," "Carry the Torch"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 27 20:45:08 EDT 2021


I've always read it as more passive; holding the torch so the other can find their way back.
________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
Sent: Monday, September 27, 2021 6:49:36 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Subject: Re: Antedating of "Torch Song," "Carry the Torch"

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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
Subject:      Re: Antedating of "Torch Song," "Carry the Torch"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JL: My interpretation was always that the carrier is searching everywhere,
even
in the middle of the night, for the elusive beloved.

The world's most famous torch-carrier was, of course, the Statue of Liberty=
.

GAT:
And before her, there was Diogenes.


On Mon, Sep 27, 2021 at 7:51 AM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
wrote:

> John, I've never heard of "torch" in the claimed sense of "beloved."
>
> But cf. "flame."
>
> My interpretation was always that the carrier is searching everywhere, ev=
en
> in the middle of the night, for the elusive beloved.
>
> The world's most famous torch-carrier was, of course, the Statue of
> Liberty.
>
> JL
>
> On Sun, Sep 26, 2021 at 10:56 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > These links might help, from 1928.
> >
> > "Carrying a torch" is to have a broken heart, or to bemoan the lack of
> > feminine co mpany.
> >
> >
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttps-3A__lantern.mediahist.=
org_catalog_photoplayvolume33435chic-5F0054&d=3DDwIBaQ&c=3DslrrB7dE8n7gBJbe=
O0g-IQ&r=3Dv2Wtu7DQZxSBMSJv-oEMNg&m=3D-KoDR6qzMY8uwzaLrBkiyNJSXj2hHYv00amKY=
wv2q4w&s=3DcSHJxqZB8NDtDZpW6JFN6--O7qBn3sxoNqTw4Rg-eio&e=3D
> >
> >
> >
> >
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttps-3A__archive.org_detail=
s_photoplayvolume33435chic_page_n54_mode_1up-3Fview-3Dtheater&d=3DDwIBaQ&c=
=3DslrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=3Dv2Wtu7DQZxSBMSJv-oEMNg&m=3D-KoDR6qzMY8uwzaLrB=
kiyNJSXj2hHYv00amKYwv2q4w&s=3DOiW690IpOcLhOekRcPEpjZdw1FKV2JTmMfvPpjY2358&e=
=3D
> > ________________________________
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> > Baker, John <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
> > Sent: Sunday, September 26, 2021 5:33:11 PM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Subject: Re: Antedating of "Torch Song," "Carry the Torch"
> >
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
> > Subject:      Re: Antedating of "Torch Song," "Carry the Torch"
> >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
------
> >
> > Thinking about this further, I'm still curious about the word "torch" i=
n
> > bo=3D
> > th "torch song" and "carry a torch."  Damon Runyon's column, based
> > primaril=3D
> > y on a letter from the singer Tommy Lyman, asserts that both terms are
> > base=3D
> > d on the word "torch," which in the "Roaring Forties" came to mean the
> > obje=3D
> > ct of one's affections.  Is there any other evidence that "torch" ever
> had
> > =3D
> > that meaning?  Even if it did, "carry a torch" seems to refer to the
> > frustr=3D
> > ated lover, not the object of the lover's affections.  Green's Dictiona=
ry
> > o=3D
> > f Slang suggests that "the 'light of love' is still burning, even if it
> is
> > =3D
> > unreciprocated."  I suppose that makes more sense, but it isn't clear
> what
> > =3D
> > evidence there may be for this analysis.
> >
> > It turns out to be really hard to search for "carry a torch."  There is=
 a
> > f=3D
> > ar greater number of literal examples of torch-carrying than I would ha=
ve
> > s=3D
> > upposed.  "Carry a torch" was indeed included in the lyrics of the song
> > tha=3D
> > t Runyan said Lyman wrote, known as When You Carry the Torch and variou=
s
> > ot=3D
> > her names.  The lyrics include the lines "Ev'ry tear seems to scorch,
> When
> > =3D
> > you carry the torch And the gang's gone home," according to the website
> > quo=3D
> > ted below.  However, I don't know how early the full lyrics can be
> > confirme=3D
> > d, and in any case it seems to be unresolved whether Lyman created both
> > ter=3D
> > ms, or named "torch song" after an existing phrase.
> >
> > I suppose that "Roaring Forties" is a mistake for "Roaring Twenties,"
> the
> > =3D
> > decade of the 1920s.  "Roaring forties" is the original term, but refer=
s
> > to=3D
> >  stormy areas of the ocean between 40 and 50 degrees north latitude.
> >
> > Here is the discussion of When You Carry the Torch, from the website
> > linked=3D
> >  in my previous email, including the lyrics:
> >
> > "The song is called variously:
> > The Torch That Didn't Go Out
> > The Kansas City Torch
> > The Torch of Kansas City
> > When You Carry The Torch
> > and was, allegedly, taught to Turk Murphy by Patsy Patton (cabaret
> > singer and wife of banjo player Pat Patton. We know him from when he
> > came to Sydney on the Matson Line ships). The first 'jazz' version was
> > reco=3D
> > rded by Turk Murphy for a Columbia LP on 19 Jan. 1953. The notes by
> George
> > =3D
> > Avakian to that 'Barrelhouse Jazz' LP says that Turk came to it from th=
e
> > Ca=3D
> > stle Jazz Band (who recorded it later in Aug 1957) via Don Kinch and Bo=
b
> > Sh=3D
> > ort, ex Castle band members).
> >
> > It was composed (music and lyrics) in 1928 by the great Harry Warren
> > (we all know him) using the name Harry Herschel and originally
> > published by Robbins Music Corp.
> >
> > WHEN YOU CARRY THE TORCH
> > [Verse]:When the gang has turned you down,
> > And you wander 'round the town,
> > Longing for someone in sympathy.
> > As you go from place to place,
> > Looking for some friendly face,
> > You can hear the old town clock strike three;
> > Then you wish you had your old gal back again.
> > You're lonesome, oh, so lonesome,
> > And your poor hear cries in vain:
> >
> > [Chorus]:
> > Oh, gee, but it's tough,
> > When the gang's gone home;
> > Out on the corner,
> > You stand alone;
> > You feel so blue
> > With nothing to do;
> > You're cravin' someone's company.
> > The gang leaves you there
> > With an old time stall,
> > While you go home and gaze
> > At the four bare walls.
> > Ev'ry tear seems to scorch,
> > When you carry the torch
> > And the gang's gone home.
> >
> > [2nd Verse]:
> > When you haven't got a friend,
> > And your worries never end,
> > When the future doesn't look so bright.
> > As you sit there in the gloom
> > Of an empty silent room,
> > As the hallway clock ticks through the night,
> > Then you long to hear a knock upon your door.
> > You're weary, oh, so dreary,
> > And your poor heart cries once more:
> >
> > [Chorus]"
> >
> >
> > John Baker
> >
> >
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of
> > Baker,=3D
> >  John
> > Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2021 6:49 PM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > Subject: Antedating of "Torch Song," "Carry the Torch"
> >
> > A torch song is a song of unrequited love, especially of longing for a
> > form=3D
> > er lover, and is thought to derive from the phrase "to carry a torch"
> (for
> > =3D
> > someone). The OED's earliest citations for both terms are from 1927, an=
d
> > th=3D
> > e citation for the former says that the term "torch song" is said to ha=
ve
> > b=3D
> > een created by Tommy Lyman in reference to his song "Come To Me, My
> > Melanch=3D
> > oly Baby." Here is an earlier example from 1926, in a column by Damon
> > Runyo=3D
> > n. Monroe (La.) News-Star (Oct. 29, 1926) (NewspaperArchive). The colum=
n
> > ag=3D
> > rees in giving credit to Lyman for "torch song" and also addresses "to
> > carr=3D
> > y a torch."
> >
> > <<I have a letter from Mr. Tommy Lyman, who is over in that dear Paree =
.
> .
> > =3D
> > . .
> >
> > All persons on Manhattan Island who were carrying the torch invariably
> > woun=3D
> > d up in the good Signor's premises to hear Mr. Lyman sing. Carrying the
> > tor=3D
> > ch describes the sad condition of a person, male or female, who has had=
 a
> > f=3D
> > alling out with their loved one, sweetheart, wife, or husband.
> >
> > Such fallings out produce in the human bosom a terrible burning sensati=
on
> > -=3D
> >  phew, how it burns! - but perhaps I am telling you something you alrea=
dy
> > k=3D
> > new. A man carrying the torch has been known to walk ten miles and not
> > real=3D
> > ize he has gone a block. He is practically unconscious.
> >
> > The object of one's affections has come to be described as a torch in t=
he
> > R=3D
> > oaring Forties. Thus Mr. Doaks is said to have gone to the theatre with
> > his=3D
> >  torch, meaning his wife or perchance his sweetheart.
> >
> > It was Mr. Tommy Lyman who, out of the depths of his great personal
> > experie=3D
> > nce, originated the expression, carrying the torch, to describe the
> > conditi=3D
> > on of mind and body aforesaid. Also Mr. Tommy Lyman wrote the first
> really
> > =3D
> > important torch song.
> >
> > A torch song is the product of a song writer suffering in the manner se=
t
> > fo=3D
> > rth. Some very good torch songs have been written by Mr. Walter
> Donaldson,
> > =3D
> > Mr. Billy Rose, and Mr. Roy Turk, among others. But Mr. Tommy Lyman's
> > torch=3D
> >  song remains to this day the official anthem of the torch carriers. It
> > run=3D
> > s: "Gee, but it's tough when the gang's gone home," etc.>>
> >
> > The headings for the column include "The Torch Singer Writer," in
> > reference=3D
> >  to Lyman's letter, so this is also an antedating of "torch singer" (19=
34
> > i=3D
> > n OED). Runyon subsequently used some of this information in his story
> > "The=3D
> >  Lily of St. Pierre" (1930). There is some information on the song with
> > the=3D
> >  lyrics "Gee, but it's tough when the gang's gone home" at the end of a
> > blo=3D
> > g post at
> >
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttps-3A__jazzlives.wordpres=
s.com_2015_01_26_good-2Dfor-2Dwhat-2Dails-2Dyou-3D&d=3DDwIBaQ&c=3DslrrB7dE8=
n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=3Dv2Wtu7DQZxSBMSJv-oEMNg&m=3D-KoDR6qzMY8uwzaLrBkiyNJSXj2hHY=
v00amKYwv2q4w&s=3DVbiVMXVMBmes3yPGQyJluT4HSNGRWN3A-IlhY2008Vo&e=3D
> > -steve-wright-ray-skjelbred-dave-brown-mike-daugherty-january-24-2015/
> > <
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttps-3A__jazzlives.wordpres=
s.com_2015_01_26_good-2Dfor-2Dwhat-2Dails-2Dyou-3D-2Dsteve-2Dwright-2Dray-2=
Dskjelbred-2Ddave-2Dbrown-2Dmike-2Ddaugherty-2Djanuary-2D24-2D2015_&d=3DDwI=
BaQ&c=3DslrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=3Dv2Wtu7DQZxSBMSJv-oEMNg&m=3D-KoDR6qzMY8uw=
zaLrBkiyNJSXj2hHYv00amKYwv2q4w&s=3D7jewhYakpMTo1kTnbc9jzB-5vb5SaOmM5lFwGr9v=
sek&e=3D
> >
> > <http=3D
> > s://
> > jazzlives.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/good-for-what-ails-you-steve-wright-=
=3D
> > ray-skjelbred-dave-brown-mike-daugherty-january-24-2015
> > <
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__jazzlives.wordpress=
.com_2015_01_26_good-2Dfor-2Dwhat-2Dails-2Dyou-2Dsteve-2Dwright-2D-3Dray-2D=
skjelbred-2Ddave-2Dbrown-2Dmike-2Ddaugherty-2Djanuary-2D24-2D2015&d=3DDwIBa=
Q&c=3DslrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=3Dv2Wtu7DQZxSBMSJv-oEMNg&m=3D-KoDR6qzMY8uwza=
LrBkiyNJSXj2hHYv00amKYwv2q4w&s=3Dv-3EV6ny0t7qVMN0oCHnUdGcwzdQ-3c2DKsiH4OXtG=
s&e=3D
> >>,
> > although the post=3D
> > er thought the song to have been composed by Harry Warren, writing as
> > Harry=3D
> >  Herschel, in 1928. Since Runyon, who thought that Lyman wrote the song=
,
> > wa=3D
> > s quoting it in 1926, it could not have been written by Warren/Herschel
> in
> > =3D
> > 1928.
> >
> > There are earlier examples of "torch song," although these may not be t=
he
> > s=3D
> > ame usage. From the Los Angeles Herald (July 21, 1908) (Newspapers.com)=
:
> > "T=3D
> > he decorations of the house boat, as well as the illuminations used wit=
h
> > th=3D
> > e torch song, form an effective bit of novelty, and the eight or nine
> > membe=3D
> > rs of the company each do a stunt, which is sufficiently good to make t=
he
> > n=3D
> > umber one of the best on this week's bill."
> >
> > From the Sydney (Aust.) Newsletter (Jan. 23, 1909) (NewspaperArchive):
> > "Hel=3D
> > lo, Little Boy. Hello, the electric torch song, was first popularised i=
n
> > Gr=3D
> > eat Britain by Violet Loraine, who made her name with it. It has been
> > featu=3D
> > red in almost every British pantomime this year."
> >
> > From the Boston Globe (Mar. 18, 1915) (Newspapers.com): "Miss Dora I.
> > Brown=3D
> > , dancing exhibition and torch song".
> >
> > From the (Mount Vernon, Iowa) Cornellian (Jan. 25, 1924)
> > (NewspaperArchive)=3D
> > : "Interest and inspiration in songwriting are waxing more intense as t=
he
> > t=3D
> > ime draws near for the Torch song contest to be closed. . . . The
> previous
> > =3D
> > deadline was set for February first, but the Torch has now determined
> upon
> > =3D
> > February 6th as the last day on which songs can be submitted for the
> > contes=3D
> > t."
> >
> >
> > John Baker
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society -
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__www.americandialect=
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> > ericandialect.org>
> >
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--=20
George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
your lowly tomb. . .
L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems.  Boston, 1827, p. 112

The Trump of Doom -- also known as The Dunghill Toadstool.  (Here's a
picture of his great-grandfather.)
http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-gillray/an-excrescence---=
a-fungus-alias-a-toadstool-upon-a-dunghill/3851

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