I was excited to notice in yesterday’s Top 11 In the Muse Posts of 2012 that last year’s Downton Abbey-related “Sheet Music of the Week: Roses of Picardy” post made the list, so I’m back today with another selection featured in last Sunday’s season three premiere! If you are a regular viewer, you will remember that Lady Cora’s mother (played by Shirley MacLaine) arrived at Downton Abbey last Sunday and, during an impromptu indoor picnic, she sang the classic song “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” featured as this week’s Sheet Music of the Week. The music is by Leo Friedman of Illinois (1869-1927) and the words are by Tennessee-born lyricist Beth Slater Whitson (1879-1930), the same team that wrote another famously popular song just one year prior, “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland.” Both songs sold more than five million copies of sheet music each, a phenomenal accomplishment in their time. Though “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” was first published in 1910, it took a while for the song to catch on with the public due to poor promotion; however, the tune eventually caught on and was sung in countless living rooms throughout America (its greatest surge in popularity would come in 1926 as it became associated with Gertrude Ederle’s training and victory as she successfully swam across the English Channel).
So, here we present yet another early 20th-century gem that you can add to your Downton Abbey party mix at your next viewing party. Download the PDF of the sheet music, print it out, and gather around a piano with your fellow Downton Abbey fanatics to create some ambiance before this Sunday’s new episode! And in the meantime, take a listen to this recording from the National Jukebox of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” performed by the International Novelty Orchestra and American tenor Lewis James (1892-1959). Enjoy (whether or not you are a Downton Abbey fan)!