Sample Lyrics
"The Band Played On"
Words by John F. Palmer
Music by Charles B. Ward
"Dedicated to the New York Sunday World"

It may seem strange to see a popular song dedicated to a newspaper, but such publicity-minded gestures were common in the late 1800's. "The Band Played On" was popularized by variety artist and vaudeville inventor Tony Pastor. Many prominent singers performed this sentimental favorite over the years, and it inspired the Warner Brothers film The Strawberry Blond (1936) starring James Cagney. 

This is the lyric as it appears in the 1895 sheet music edition published by the New York Music Company. The verses are in 2/4 time, but the refrain is a 3/4 time waltz.


Verse 1
Matt Casey formed a social club
That beat the town for style,
And hired for a meeting place a hall.
When pay day came around each week
They greased the floor with wax.
And danced with noise and vigor at the ball.
Each Saturday you'd see them
Dressed up in Sunday clothes,
Each lad would have his sweetheart by his side.
When Casey led the first grand march
They all would fall in line.
Behind the man who was their pride and joy. For . . .

Chorus
Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde,
And the band played on.
He'd glide cross the floor with the girl he adored,
And the band played on.
But his brain was so loaded it nearly exploded,
The poor girl would shake with alarm.
He'd ne'er leave the girl with the strawberry curls,
And the band played on.

Verse 2
Such kissing in the corner
And such whisp'ring in the hall,
And telling tales of love behind the stairs.
As Casey was the favorite and he that ran the ball,
Of kissing and lovemaking did his share,
At twelve o'clock exactly they all would fall in line,
Then march down to the dining hall to eat.
But Casey would not join them although everything was fine,
But he stayed upstairs and exercised his feet. For . . .

Chorus
Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde,
And the band played on.
He'd glide cross the floor with the girl he adored,
And the band played on.
But his brain was so loaded it nearly exploded,
The poor girl would shake with alarm.
He'd ne'er leave the girl with the strawberry curls,
And the band played on.

Verse 3
Now when the dance was over and the band played home sweet home,
They played a tune at Casey's own request.
He thank'd them very kindly for the favors they had shown,
Then he'd waltz once with the girl that he loved best.
Most all the friends are married that Casey used to know,
And Casey too has taken him a wife.
The blond he used to waltz and glide with on the ball room floor,
Is happy missis Casey now for life. For . . .

Chorus
Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde,
And the band played on.
He'd glide cross the floor with the girl he adored,
And the band played on.
But his brain was so loaded it nearly exploded,
The poor girl would shake with alarm.
He'd ne'er leave the girl with the strawberry curls,
And the band played on.

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