2006-10-29 02:33:47 UTC
value the information in the paragraph on my Scott Joplin Festival
symposium session. Mistakes are sometimes made in notetaking.
Although the session centered on correcting misinformation in several
older sources, the review, presents new misinformation.
First, the sheet music cover clearly credits Webb M. Oungst as
lyricist, so we didn't need Carrie Stark, John Stark's daughter-in-law,
to name Oungst. Second, according to Rudy Blesh and Harriet Janis'
They All Played Ragtime and to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch interview with
Carrie Stark, she took credit for the music and the words, admitting
that she used the pseudonym Cy Perkins and that she borrowed the chorus
from a hillbilly song. To the best of my knowledge, Carrie Stark never
credited the lyric to Webb Oungst and, indeed, she seems to have
ignored mentioning the name despite its appearance on the song.
Finally, Stark did not lose money on the sale of its copyright to M.
Witmark & Sons. Although the Witmarks contested the contract, the
courts judged in favor of Stark. There is much more to the factual
account of the song's history, including other errors in previously
published information, but these three points suffice to correct the
If anyone is interested in more detail, the 2002 Missouri Folklore
Society Journal includes my first article on the song and an upcoming
issue, focused on folk music, will include a second. The first article
contains my earlier theory about Webb M. Oungst, which I have since
proven incorrect. That correction will, hopefully, be a subject for
another time and place.