This music hall standard has the dubious honor of being known as the world's most famous coon song. Perhaps surprisingly it was written by an Englishman, Leslie Stuart, and was performed in blackface by Eugene Stratton.
The sheet music, thus credited, can be found in the 1937 compilation Sixty Old-Time Variety Songs: Song Book No 2
, which was published by The News Chronicle Publications Department; herein it is referred to as "LILY OF LAGUNA", although it was originally published by Francis, Day & Hunter of London in 1898.
As might be expected, the lyrics have not stood the test of time, and are nothing special anyway, but it should be born in mind that words like coon and "niggar" did not have the same negative connotations as in the age of political correctness, and coon songs invariably painted a benign if not always accurate picture of blacks.
Having said that, it is melody rather than lyrics that makes truly great songs, and Stuart's most famous composition is not lacking in that department. With the lyrics suitably amended, The Lily Of Laguna
has been recorded many times including by Bing Crosby, and lent its name to a film, in 1938 (which did not include the song). It was performed in blackface as recently as 1934 in the film Those Were The Days
, wherein the audience joined in the chorus "She's my lady love".
Alexander Baron - London, England