Three Weird Sisters
It’s not surprising that many of the songs in the Knott family record collection concern women. Of these three songs, one is about an actual woman, one is about a fictional woman, and the third is not about a woman at all.
Stephen Foster wrote “I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” while estranged from his wife Jane. As an early example of a modern woman, when left to fend for herself and child, Jane made a career as a telegraph operator for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Here, Bing Crosby croons about Jeanie in 1940:
“Peg of My Heart” was written for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1913. It was inspired by a play of the same name. The song has enjoyed several revivals. In 1947, Buddy Clark took it to number four:
“Alice Blue Gown” is not about a person but rather the color, Alice blue. Alice Roosevelt, Teddy’s daughter, had her debutant ball at The White House. Her ice blue gown set off a fashion fad and was the beginning of her illustrious career in the gossip columns. A dress of that color was later celebrated in the Broadway show Irene in 1919. They waltzed to Glenn Miller’s version of ‘Alice’ in 1940.
Both ‘Jeanie’ and ‘Alice’ were oldies by 1940 and may have been recorded because they wouldn’t run afoul of the ASCAP boycott that threatened the record industry that year.
Bing Crosby (1940)
A: “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”
Buddy Clark (1946)
“Peg of My Heart”
Glenn Miller (1940)
A: “Alice Blue Gown”