January 16, 2016 marks the 96th anniversary of the passage of the Volstead Act and the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, better known as Prohibition. That noble experiment lasted for thirteen years, ten months, nineteen days, seventeen hours, thirty-two minutes, and thirty seconds, before it was repealed by the 21st Amendment, passed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on December 5, 1933. To commemorate that occasion, here’s a record with two topical tunes, one for the Volstead Act, one for the end of the First World War, sung by two popular personalities of those days.
Victor 18537 was recorded February 14 and 27, 1919 in Camden, New Jersey by Billy Murray and Arthur Fields, singing two topical songs about current events of the day. Both sides feature an orchestra directed by Josef Pasternack.
On what is actually the “B” side of the record, that consummate vaudevillian Billy Murray laments the ratification of the 18th Amendment with “How Are You Goin’ to Wet Your Whistle” (When the Whole Darn World Goes Dry)”.
On the “A” side, Arthur Fields, in his vaudevillian element, sings one of his better remembered songs, “Hot Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm? (After They’ve Seen Paree)”, referring to the homecoming of our boys from the Great War.