Anderson, William. Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder (2nd). Anderson, Indiana: Diana Waring Presents, 2014. Print. Photographs by Leslie A. Kelly. ISBN 9781930514492
Music in “Little House” Books
Anyone who has read the “Little House” books has to realize how important music is to the story. Frequent mentions are made about Pa’s fiddle, Mary’s organ, and various people singing. Sometimes the complete lyrics to songs, sometimes bits and pieces, sometimes an oblique mention are all tossed into the story where they can be the most effective. So it’s no surprise that one of the first related books that came out was the Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook by Eugenia Garson (a brilliant work, check it out if you haven’t). There have been several related books that came out since, but this is a great one.
I pulled my 1992 copy out and compared the new and old editions. This one has a much nicer cover. The pages are higher quality paper. I compared them page by page and it’s fairly similar. The shots of early sheet music that used to accompany each title in the information section are gone. Some new photos and Cheryl Harness drawings are added and some of the other ones are cropped differently and several of them are flipped (I don’t know if this was correcting a mistake in the original, or if it was a mistake that they are flipped in this one, or if they just thought they looked better this way, and there are no indicators within the images to check). For example, the photo of the girl in a prairie dress leading a cow appears to lead the cow to the left in one edition and to the right in the other. There are also fewer color images in this one, but I don’t think that hurts the appeal of the book any.
Included for each of the 13 songs is an information section in the front half of the book and the sheet music to the song in the second half. The information for each is just over half a page for most of them. The information sets up what was going on in the books when the song was used and information about the song in Laura’s real life. For example, In the Sweet By and By was played at Pa’s (Charles Ingalls) funeral. Not included is history of the song or information about why this version was picked. For instance, I know there has been quite a bit of debate among “hymnologists” (to use historian Walter Lord’s term) over which version of the several similar songs was meant in The Old Chariot or whether the “Broom! Broom! Broom!” line really belonged in Buy a Broom (they leave them out). None of that is addressed here, but I think most Laura fans are probably a lot more interested in the information about Laura that was given.
The sheet music is treble clef (right hand) only, but would work well for singing accompaniment on an instrument or for a singer. They also have the chords indicated so someone who knows how to chord could play both hands on the piano, etc. They aren’t new recordings, just available now on CD. The music really is nicely done and I enjoyed listening to it and listened to it several times. There is approximately 40 minutes of music on the CD.
Rest of the Series
This book is part of a three book series put out by Diana Warring. The other two being America 1750-1890: The Heart of a New Nation and Westward Ho!: The Heart of the Old West. The other two titles have been republished as well and there are at least some tentative plans to revive the project and do more if these sell well.
If you have purchased this book already, the main reason to buy the new one would be to update your audiotape to a CD, but if you haven’t, consider adding Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder to your collection.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.