February 9, 1918
Page 41
Fourteen Years of Hardships and Then—“A Perfect Day”

Carrie Jacobs Bond Toiled Early and Late for Means of Subsistence-”—I Am Simply a Writer of Melodies,” Says This Composer Whose Best-Known Song Is Heard at All Hours in the Tommies’—Trenches- Never Expected to Be Known Outside of Janesville (Her Birthplace) —Has Generous Words for Her American Contemporaries

CHICAGO , Jan. 29. —Somewhere in France there are four blind British Tommies, who go about among their more fortunate comrades and sing songs to them. They call themselves the Shrapnel Quartet, for they lost their sight when flying fragments of exploding shells found lodgment in their eyes. They refused to accept their discharge from the army, but returned to the firing line to cheer their companions in arms, for songs are a necessity in the life of the soldiers. The Shrapnel Quartet made their own instruments, boring holes into gun barrels for fifes and fashioning their own rude fiddles. They play on these instruments and they sing songs to their own accompaniments. There is little demand for “Tipperary” and the multifarious war songs now on the market, for the soldiers prefer the more tuneful, homey melodies. The blind Tommies of the Shrapnel Quartet sing to them the songs of Carrie Jacobs Bond.
Every place the British Tommy goes the songs of Carrie Jacobs Bond are heard. “A Perfect Day” is more popular in the army than all the war songs that have been written. The Tommies sing it behind the trenches, or wading in the mud, or at lunch time, in the snow and the cold, and they always sing it at the end of the day and after returning, wet and tired, from raids on the German lines. One cartoon, sent to Carrie Jacobs Bond by the Tommy who drew it, shows a kilted Highlander, the hairs standing out on his bare knees from the cold as he stands ankle deep in the trench mud, the rain pouring down upon him, trying to fry an egg over a smoky fire on a ledge scooped out in the side of the trench to protect it from the rain, while a German shell is bursting overhead, and he is singing: “ This is the end of a perfect day.”
It is the same in the American expeditionary forces in France. Carrie Jacobs Bond is an American woman, and she has written melodies that sing themselves over in the mind. General Pershing has written to Mrs. Bond telling her how much her songs mean to them all, adding that “A Perfect Day” is his favorite song.
How “A Perfect Day” Was Written
Mrs. Bond after her first trip to the top of Mount Rubidaux at Riverside, Cal., went back to the Mission Inn and hurriedly wrote the words of “A Perfect Day” to use as a greeting at a dinner party that night. Several months later, riding across the desert in the moonlight with another party of nature-loving friends, she began humming a tune to these words. One of her friends remarked: “Why, you have a new song, haven’t you?” She said, “I didn’t know it, but perhaps it is.” That night she composed the music to the song. The song was published within the next few months. Its sale has reached enormous proportions, more copies of it having been sold than of any other song, and its popularity is constantly growing. Since the war began it has repeated its American popularity in England, being sung throughout the British Isles. An American soldier recently sent Mrs. Bond a postcard from Folkesgate, England, telling her that in that city he had seen two store windows filled with her songs. Their popularity with the army and the civilian population of England is growing by leaps.
It is hard to get Mrs. Bond to talk about herself. She takes the attitude that her songs belong to the people, but that her struggles, her hopes, her life, are too intimate to share with the public. They belong to her, and not to the world.
She has been chosen to write the official song for the National Federation of Musical Clubs. I tried to get Mrs. Bond to talk about this honor that has been conferred upon her, but her remarks were entirely in keeping with the unassuming womanliness of her nature.
An Unassuming Composer
“I am not a representative American composer,” she said. “I am simply a writer of melodies, and I do not see just why this honor has been given to me, although I prize it highly. But we have composers, such as Henry Hadley, Charles Wakefield Cadman, Mrs. H. H. A. Beach and many others, who are doing ·beautiful work, and we do them all too scant honor. Mr. Hadley’s tone-poem, ‘Salome,’ which the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played recently, is a marvelous composition. I believe in American music, and I believe in the American composer, if he is only given a chance.”
Mrs. Bond’s life is a lesson in fortitude and perseverance. She went through years of privation and suffering before she succeeded, but she kept the great idea always in her mina that some day she would be a song writer. She had composed songs as a child, for she has the gift of melody, and to hear her improvise at the piano, when she does not know that she has listeners, is something to hold in memory a long time.
“I knew in my heart,” she says, “that I would be a song writer, for that was my dream, but I never expected to be known or recognized outside of Janesville, my birthplace. The tremendous success of my songs has been a surprise to me, but I am thankful and grateful for it all.”
Mrs. Bond’s Struggle
Mrs. Bond was the wife of Dr. Frank L. Bond, and they lived in the mining town of Iron River, Mich. His patients were poor, and for four years he carried their accounts without keeping them in a book. Because of the closing of the mines, when he died Mrs. Bond found herself face to face with the world, not knowing how to support herself, and with a young son to take care of. She moved to Chicago, where for fourteen years she painted china and embroidered waists to pay for the publishing of her songs. All her hardships could not destroy her dream, and at last the dream was realized. Chicago is home to her, for there it is that she struggled, there it is that she found fast friends who believed in her and stood by her during her years of privation, and there it is that she finally won recognition and success. And in Chicago is the particular joy and pride of her life—the Bond Shop.
Mrs. Bond wrote her own words to her songs, because she was too poor to pay for verses. She drew her own designs and adopted the wild rose as her emblem. The wild rose figures in many of the beautiful designs on her early songs, and her first group, which contains “Shadows” and “Just Awearyin’ for You,” she called “Seven Songs, as Unpretentious as the Wild Rose.” She paid for the printing of them by painting china.
The Bond Shop started about seventeen years ago in a hall bedroom, and the first stockroom was the hall bedroom closet. To-day the Bond Shop is a large, beautiful establishment. Mrs. Bond loves her winter home, Nestorest, in California, where she is obliged to spend several months every year, for her health is not of the best; she loves her beautiful home near the lake in Chicago, but the apple of her eye is the Bond Shop.
The Bond Shop is the culmination of Mrs. Bond’s dream. She, who had never spoken a piece or sung a song in public before she was forced to do so by dire necessity; she, the unassuming woman who had studied music simply for her own joy, has become, through her songs, a comfort and solace to millions in the armies and at home, and it is through the Bond Shop that her songs go out to the world.
“There are three or four great events in my musical career,” says Mrs. Bond, “events that are red letter days in my memory. One was when I sang my songs at the White House. Another was the two days set aside at the exposition in San Diego as Carrie Jacobs Bond Days. Another was Homecoming Week in Janesville, Wis., when the town where I was born and passed my girlhood welcomed me back after many years of absence. These are the happiest days of my career. The most terrifying day was when I sang in London before royalty. I was frightened almost to death, and I don’t know how I got through the program. The late Ambassador Choate came up to me after it was over and told me that he had enjoyed my singing. I did not see how it was possible, but I was grateful to him, for I really needed a friend, and my definition of what constitutes a friend is ‘the person who comes in after everyone else has gone out.’” —FARNSWORTH WRIGHT.


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