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Sheet Music of the Week: For the Beer Lovers

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The following is a guest post from Archivist Contractor Janet McKinney.

"Think of Your Head in the Morning" by Charlie L. Ward. Music Division, Library of Congress.

Whether it is Middle Name Pride Day, Pancake Day, or Talk Like a Pirate Day, it seems like there is a day to celebrate just about anything. International Beer Day? Sure! Although we may dismiss these “holidays” as frivolous, it is an opportunity to learn and reflect on history.

Beer has a long and ancient history: one that intersects with culture, politics, health, religion, science, economics, etc. Of course, music reflects and tells us its story. Here are merely a few instances in the Music Division’s vast collections.

We often associate beer with song, but it is represented in full orchestral score by Simon Pluister’s Rhapsody in Beer-Tonality.

While songs about beer abound, not all lyrics are praising of its existence. These lyrics, found in Charles Fillmore’s Prohibition Songs, are to be sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”:

A lanky dude once came to town,

A lanky dude, a dandy,

He filled himself with lager beer,

And wine and gin and brandy.

But when his money was all gone,

His cronies did forsake him,

He then was kicked from the saloon,

And the police did take him.

Jerry Lee Lewis popularized the song “What’s made Milwaukee famous (has made a fool out of me),” but “The beer that made Milwaukee famous” already inspired another tune written back in 1903 for the musical Mr. Bluebeard. Dan W. Quinn, a famous early recording artist, can be heard singing this song on our National Jukebox:

So if you count yourself among the beer lovers out there, raise a glass today in celebration, but as Charlie L. Ward reminds us in this week’s Sheet Music of the Week feature, “think of your head in the morning!


  1. Yesterday was International IPA Day, so it must be beer week in general. Cheers!

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