Songfacts®: You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.
"After The Ball" was the first ever million seller; it is credited to American songwriter Charles K. Harris (1867-1930), although it is possible that it was written at least in part by someone else. The song was probably penned in 1891, and was published the following year, becoming an absolutely massive hit.
In 1893 it was published in London by Howard & Co, arranged by J.Clauder; the following year it was published in Sweden, and as well as being widely recorded has been parodied. "After The Ball" is sometimes credited with beginning the commercial exploitation of popular music or even with the music industry itself.
The story behind the song is that Harris watched two young lovers at a dance in Chicago quarrel and leave separately, which prompted him to make a note "Many a heart is aching, after the ball." Later, although using that same line, he altered the story to that of an old man relating the tragic tale of a lost love to his young niece.
Although it became the biggest commercial hit of the 1890s, it nearly didn't happen. The original singer, Sam Doctor, forgot the words, which can't have gone down well with the audience, but Harris published the song himself and found another singer, baritone J. Aldrich Libby, who sang it in A Trip To Chinatown. It is reputed eventually to have sold over five million copies.
Although Harris was not a performer, there is extant footage of him singing the song himself, shortly before his death. The title has become a cliché, and was used for a 1932 film starring Basil Rathbone and a 1954 musical by Noël Coward. (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2)
Little Big Town
"When seeds that you sow grow by the wicked moon/Be sure your sins will find you out/Your past will hunt you down and turn to tell on you."
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristian talks songwriting technique, like how the chorus should redefine the story, and how to write a song backwards.
Al Jourgensen of Ministry
In the name of song explanation, Al talks about scoring heroin for William Burroughs, and that's not even the most shocking story in this one.
dUg Pinnick of King's X
dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.