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The Rags of Charles L Johnson

Featuring Golden Spider Rag (1910) and other Piano Rags by Charles L Johnson

 

By Ted Tjaden

(originally published June 2006 and updated periodically)

 

 

Recommended reading:

 

Cover of The Music of Charles
                                Leslie Johnson: A Collector's Journey by
                                Philip Stewart


Philip Stewart
, The Music of Charles Leslie Johnson: A Collector's Journey (Addison, TX: Aquila Media Productions, 2009). [Amazon.com entry]   


Recommended recording:
CD Cover for Sue
                              Keller, a/k/a Charles Johnson

Sue Keller. a/k/a Charles Johnson
(CD-ROM containing 20 compositions by Charles Johnson).


Charles Leslie Johnson was an extremely prolific composer of ragtime and ragtime-related music. Although not often mentioned in the group of the "Big Three" – Joplin, Scott and Lamb – he deserves serious recognition as a leading ragtime composer, not only due to the volume of his work but the enduring quality of a number of his compositions.

His most famous or interesting rags include Apple Jack: Some Rag (below), Barber Pole Rag (below), Beedle-Um-Bo: A Slow Drag (below), Blue Goose Rag (as Raymond Birch) (below), Crazy Bone Rag (below), Cum-Bac Rag (below), Dill Pickles Rag (below), Doc Brown's Cake Walk: Kansas City Rag (below), Golden Spider Rag (below), Iola: Intermezzo Two Step (below), Melody Rag (as Raymond Birch) (below), Powder Rag (below), Scandalous Thompson (below), Swanee Rag (below), and Tar Babies Rag (below).

This page sets out information on Charles L Johnson divided into the following four topics:

1)  The Life of Charles L Johnson
2)  Sheet Music of Charles L Johnson
3)  Commercial Recordings of Charles L Johnson Compositions
4)  Bibliography

 

1)  The Life of Charles L Johnson (December 3, 1875 — December 28, 1950)    [top]

Set out below is some basic information about Charles L Johnson:

  • Charles Leslie Johnson was born in Kansas City, Kansas, on December 3, 1876, and stayed in the Kansas City area his entire life. As a young child, he started to play piano on his neighbour's piano; by age nine, his parents bought him his own piano: Jasen and Tichenor (1978:38).
  • Johnson took lessons for 3 years with a Mr Kreiser, but quit suddenly when his teacher complained about his playing ragtime music: Jasen and Tichenor (1978:38).
  • Johnson joined several guitar and mandolin clubs and organized several string orchestras that played in the Kansas City area. He also demonstrated pianos and music for JW Jenkins & Sons Music Company who would later publish a number of his compositions, including two of his earlier pieces, Doc Brown's Cake Walk: Kansas City Rag (below) and Scandalous Thompson (below): Jasen and Tichenor (1978:38-39).

     

    Photo of Charles L. Johnson
                                      from cover of Scandalous Thompson
                                      (1899)

    Photo of Charles L Johnson from cover of Scandalous Thompson (1899).

 

  • Blesh and Janis (1966:119) describe Johnson's explanation of the background to Doc Brown's Cake Walk: Kansas City Rag (below) in these terms:

    The number ... was named after an old, eccentric colored fellow who wore a swallowtail coat, carried a cane, and wore a plug hat. He would cakewalk on the street for a nickel or dime. Jenkins photographed him for the cover.

  • According to Blesh and Janis, the publisher of Doc Brown's Cake Walk JW Jenkins arranged for Sousa's band to play the piece when Sousa was passing through Kansas City.
  • According to Jasen and Jones (2000:61), Johnson helped to arrange the composition Peaceful Henry, written by his friend Harry Kelly, although there is no indication on the sheet music that Johnson was the arranger (the sheet music for Peaceful Henry is available here from the Maine Music Box).
  • Dill Pickles Rag (below) was so-named when Johnson was working at Carl Hoffman Music Company. Apparently, while composing the piece, the company's bookkeeper asked Johnson what the piece was called; the bookkeeper was carrying a carton of pickles for his dinner, which prompted to Johnson to say "I'll call it Dill Pickles Rag": Jasen and Tichenor (1978:39). According to Blesh and Janis (1966:120), Dill Pickles Rag was Johnson's favourite piece. According to Hasse, Johnson's Dill Pickles Rag appeared 31 times on 78 RPM recordings alone.
  • Johnson earned $30,000 for his song Sweet and Low (below), which was his biggest money-maker: Jasen and Tichenor (1978:39).
  • According to Jasen and Jones (2000:60), four of Johnson's rags sold over 1 million copies during his lifetime. Blesh and Janis (1966:120) indicate that Johnson sold his entire catalogue (i.e., compositions published by his company) to Rossiter in Chicago for a "fine price."
  • Johnson's "Indian" hit Iola was first published as an intermezzo (below) with lyrics added to the song (below) after it became a hit. The irony is that the composition was initially named after a town in Kansas (Iola, Kansas) and not an Indian (Jasen and Tichenor 1978:39).
  • Even though James Scott (1885-1938) and Charles L Johnson (1876-1950) both lived in the Kansas City area most of their entire lives, they apparently never met: Blesh and Janis (1966:119).
  • Pseudonyms: It is believed that Johnson used the pseudonym "Raymond Birch" for a number of his compositions (see below). Recent research by Bill Edwards, however, has shown that Fannie B Woods, previously thought to have been another pseudonym for Charles L Johnson, is in fact a real (female) composer. As such, the composition called Sweetness previously attributed to Johnson is instead composed by a real person named Fannie B Woods. Likewise, Bill Edwards (and Nora Hulse) are currently conducting research that would suggest that Ethel Earnist, another pseudonym previously attributed to Johnson (for the composition Peanuts: A Nutty Rag (1911), available here from the The Lester S Levy Sheet Music Collection), is also a real (female) composer. As such, I have removed the entries that were below for Sweetness and Peanuts from this essay.
  • Jasen and Jones (2000:60) discuss Johnson's willingness to advertise his services as an arranger for rank amateurs, selling his services to those who asked for them, despite his commercial success as a composer in his own right. One example they provide is the French Auto Cylinder Oil Waltz written by Johnson at the request of an oil company in Marshalltown, Iowa.
  • At the time Blesh and Janis were researching They All Played Ragtime (first published in 1950), Johnson was still alive, for the authors have this to say about him at that time (Blesh and Janis 1966:119):

    He is a respected member of ASCAP, and today, at seventy-four, maintains an office at 806 Grand Avenue in the Missouri City, where he is busy with composing and arranging.

 

Photo of
                                    Charles Leslie Johnson in his later
                                    years

Photo of Charles L Johnson in his later years.

Source: Kansas City Public Library

 

2) Sheet Music of Charles L Johnson   [top]

Set out below are lists of all known compositions by Charles Johnson, including (free) links to online versions of his sheet music, divided into the following 5 categories:

a)  Instrumental piano compositions
b)  Songs
c)  As publisher
d)  Additional compositions (print versions)
e)  Unpublished compositions

 

a)  Instrumental piano compositions

Alabama Slide: Fox Trot Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Alabama Slide: Fox Trot. Chicago: FJA Forster, 1915.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

All the Money: March and Two Step
                                Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. All the Money: March and Two Step. Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Apple Jack Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Apple Jack: Some Rag. Williamsport, PA: Vandersloot Music Publ Co, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: The E Azalia Hackley Collection, Detroit Public Library  [top]

Barber Pole Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Barber Pole Rag. Denver, CO: Hal G. Nichols Co, 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy from Center for Popular Music  [top]

Beedle-Um-Bo: A Slow Drag Sheet
                                Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Beedle-Um-Bo: A Slow Drag. Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Belle of Havana Waltzes Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Belle of Havana Waltzes. Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins, 1899.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Blue Goose Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L (using the pseudonym Raymond Birch). Blue Goose Rag. Chicago: Forster Music, 1916.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

The Blushing Rose Serenade Sheet
                                Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. The Blushing Rose Serenade. Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Butterflies Caprice Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Butterflies: Caprice. Chicago: Forster Music, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Coud Kisser Rag Two Step Sheet
                                Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L (as "Raymond Birch"). Cloud Kisser Rag – Two Step. Kansas City, MO: Johnson Pub Co, 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal photocopy  [top]

Crazy Bone Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Crazy Bone Rag. Chicago: Forster Music Publisher Inc, 1918.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Cum-Bac Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Cum-Bac Rag. New York: Jerome H Remick & Co, 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Dill Pickles Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Dill Pickles Rag. Kansas City, MO: Carl Hoffman Music, 1906.

[view sheet music]

Source: Duke University: Historic American Sheet Music    [top]

Dixie Twilight: Characteristic
                                March Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Dixie Twilight: Characteristic March. Boston, MA: Walter Jacobs, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920 (from Duke University)  [top]

Doc Brown's Cake Walk: Kansas City
                                Rag

Johnson, Charles L. Doc Brown's Cake Walk: Kansas City Rag. Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins' Sons, 1899.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal copy  [top]

Dream On Waltzes Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Dream On: Waltzes. Chicago: Forster Music Publisher, 1914.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Fairy Kisses Waltz Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Fairy Kisses Waltz. Chicago: Harold Rossiter Music Company, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Lester S Levy Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Fawn Eyes: Intermezzo and Two Step
                                Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Fawn Eyes: Intermezzo and Two Step. Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection [top]

Fine and Dandy Two Step Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Fine and Dandy: Two Step. Chicago: Arnett-Delonais Co, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal copy  [top]

Golden Hour Reverie Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Golden Hours. New York: Jerome H Remick, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Digital scans provided by Adrien Le Gallo  [top]

Golden Moon Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Golden Moon. Chicago: Forster Music Publisher, 1916.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Golden Spider Rag Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Golden Spider Rag. Williamsport, PA: Vandersloot Music, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

The Harvest Hop: Charles L.
                                Johnson's Barn Dance

Johnson, Charles L. The Harvest Hop: Charles L Johnson's Barn Dance. Chicago: Harold Rossiter Music Company, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal copy  [top]

Heart Fancies: Waltzes

Johnson, Charles L. Heart Fancies: Waltzes. Cleveland, OH: Sam Fox Publishing, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Hen Cackle Rag: A Barnyard
                                Disturbance Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Hen Cackle Rag: A Barnyard Disturbance. Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Honeysuckle: Tango Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Honeysuckle: Tango. Chicago: Forster Music Publisher, 1914.

[view sheet music]

Source:York University Libraries, Sheet Music Collections  [top]
Iola: Intermezzo Two Step Sheet
                                Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Iola: Intermezzo Two Step. New York: Jerome H Remick, 1906.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Kissing Bug Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Kissing Bug Rag. Louisville, KY: Keith Music Co, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Colorado Digital Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Lady Slippers (Two Step Rag) Sheet
                                Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L (as "Raymond Birch"). Lady Slippers (Two Step Rag). Chicago: Harold Rossiter Music Company, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal copy  [top]

Melody Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L (using the pseudonym Raymond Birch). Melody Rag. Kansas City, MO: Johnson Pub Co, 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Pansy Blossoms Rag Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Pansy Blossoms Rag. Chicago: American Music Publishing Co, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Colorado Digital Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Pigeon Wing Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Pigeon Wing Rag. Chicago: Will Rossiter, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal copy  [top]

Porcupine Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Porcupine Rag. New York: M Witmark & Sons, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Colorado Digital Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Powder Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L (using the pseudonym Raymond Birch). Powder Rag. Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson & Co, 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Queen of Fashion Waltzes Sheet
                                Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Queen of Fashion Waltzes. Kansas City, MO: Johnson Pub Co, 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection [top]

Scandalous Thompson Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Scandalous Thompson. Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins' Sons Music Co, 1899.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

School Life: March and Two Step
                                Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. School Life: March and Two Step. Cleveland, OH: Sam Fox Publishing, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Silver King Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Silver King Rag. Chicago: Thompson Music Co, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: Charles H Templeton Sheet Music Collection (MSU)  [top]

Silver Star: Intermezzo Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Silver Star: Intermezzo. Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins' Sons Music Co, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Sneaky Pete: Characteristic Two
                                Step Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Sneaky Pete: Characteristic Two Step. Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins' Sons Music Co, 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Snookums Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Snookums Rag. Chicago: Forster Music, 1918.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy from Center for Popular Music  [top]

Southern Beauties: March - Two Step
                                Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Southern Beauties: March – Two Step. Chicago: Forster Music, 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal copy  [top]

Summer Breezes
                                Waltzes Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Summer Breezes Waltzes. Chicago: Forster Music, 1914.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Sunbeam Intermezzo Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Sunbeam: Intermezzo. Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson & Co, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Swanee Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Swanee Rag. Cleveland, OH: Sam Fox, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy from Center for Popular Music  [top]

Tar Babies Rag Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Tar Babies Rag. Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson, 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy from Center for Popular Music  [top]

Teasing the Cat Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Teasing the Cat. Chicago: FJA Forster Music Publisher, 1916.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal copy [top]

Tobasco: Rag-Time Waltz Sheet Music
                                Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Tobasco: Rag-Time Waltz. New York: Jerome H Remick, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy from Center for Popular Music  [top]

Under the Southern Moon Two-Step
                                Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Under the Southern Moon Two-Step. Kansas City, MO. Charles L Johnson, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal copy  [top]

Wedding of the Fairies Waltz Sheet
                                Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Wedding of the Fairies Waltz. Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson & Co, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

A Whispered Thought: Novelette
                                Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. A Whispered Thought: Novelette. Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins' Sons Music, 1904.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

With Fire And Sword: March &
                                Two Step Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. With Fire And Sword: March & Two Step. Kansas City, MO: Carl Hoffman Music Co, 1901.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Yankee Bird: March and Two Step
                                Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Yankee Bird: March and Two Step. Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson & Co, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

 

b)  Songs  [top]

Beautiful Island of
                                  Dreams Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Beautiful Island of Dreams (lyrics by Milton Harsha). Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson, 1918.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

By The Silvery Nile Sheet Music
                                  Cover

Johnson, Charles L. By The Silvery Nile (lyrics by Jack Yellen). Chicago: Forster Music Pub, 1921.

[view sheet music]

Source: UCLA Archive of Popular Music  [top]

By the Winding Tennessee Sheet
                                  Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. By the Winding Tennessee (lyrics by Malcolm Nicolson). Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins' Sons Music Co, 1899.

[view sheet music]

Source: UCLA Archive of Popular Music  [top]

Colorado and You Sheet Music
                                  Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Colorado and You (lyrics by Carson Jay Robison). Chicago: Forster Music, 1922.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Croon Time Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Croon Time (lyrics by James Royce Shannon). Chicago: Forster Music, 1916.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Deep in my Heart, Beloved
                                  Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Deep in My Heart, Beloved (lyrics by Addison Madeira). Chicago: Ted Browne Music Co, 1920.

[view sheet music]

Source: UCLA Archive of Popular Music  [top]

Dill Pickles Song Sheet Music
                                  Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Dill Pickles Song (lyrics by Alfred Bryan). New York: Jerome H Remick, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Colorado Digital Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Down By The Old Garden Gate Sheet
                                  Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Down By The Old Garden Gate (lyrics by William Clay). Detroit, MI: Jerome H Remick, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Dream Days Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Dream Days (song). Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

I Never Thought I'd Miss
                                  You So (Until You Went Away) Sheet
                                  Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. I Never Thought I'd Miss You So (Until You Went Away) (lyrics by Roberts Spencer). Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson Music Co, 1917.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

If I Only Had A Sweetheart Sheet
                                  Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. If I Only Had A Sweetheart (lyrics by Robert Spencer). Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

I'll Meet You on the Golden Shore
                                  Sheet Music Cover
Johnson, Charles L. I'll Meet You on the Golden Shore (words by William Clay). Chicago: Forster Music Publisher, 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: York University Libraries, Sheet Music Collections  [top]
First Page of Music for I'm
                                  Goin', Goodbye, I'm Gone

Johnson, Charles L. I'm Goin', Goodbye, I'm Gone (song). Chicago: Forster Music Publisher, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Baylor: Frances G Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music [top]

In the Hills of OId Kentucky (My
                                  Mountain Rose) Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. In the Hills of OId Kentucky (My Mountain Rose). Chicago: Forster Music, 1914.

[view sheet music]

Source: Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920 (from Duke University)  [top]

Iola Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Iola (lyrics by James O'Dea). New York: Jerome H Remick, 1906.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box [top]

Little Star Won't You Twinkle
                                  Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Little Star Won't You Twinkle (lyrics by Tell Taylor). Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson Co, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Soure: York University Libraries, Sheet Music Collections [top]

Lucinda's Ragtime Ball Sheet
                                  Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Lucinda's Ragtime Ball. Chicago: Forster Music Pub, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Charles H Templeton Sheet Music Collection (MSU)  [top]

Ma Pickaninny Babe Sheet
                                  Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Ma Pickaninny Babe. Chicago: Forster Music, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920 (from Duke University)  [top]

Meet Me Where The Shadows Fall
                                  Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Meet Me Where The Shadows Fall (song). Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

My Dreamy Rose Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. My Dreamy Rose (lyrics by William Clay). Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins Sons Music Co, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Only A Faded Rosebud Sheet Music
                                  Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Only A Faded Rosebud (lyrics by William Clay). Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Rose of Tennessee Sheet Music
                                  Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Rose of Tennessee (lyrics by Frank Watkins). Chicago: Forster Music Publisher, Inc, 1918.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Shadow-Time Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Shadow-Time (lyrics by James Royce Shannon). Chicago: Forster Music, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

Silver Star Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Silver Star (song). Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins, 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Baylor: Frances G Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music  [top]

Sweet and Low Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Sweet and Low (lyrics by James Stanley Royce). Chicago: Forster Music, 1919.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

The Sweetheart Trail
                                  Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. The Sweetheart Trail (lyrics by Al Neal). Kansas City, MO: Neal Pub Co, 1925.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

That Little Sunny Southern Girl
                                  of Mine Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. That Little Sunny Southern Girl of Mine (lyrics by JE Jeter). Denver, CO: Tolbert R Ingram Music Co, 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Colorado Digital Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Wanda: Fox Trot Sheet Music
                                  Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Wanda: Fox Trot (lyrics by Dan Ashba). Kansas City, MO: Dan Ashba, 1922.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

When Clouds Have Vanished And
                                  Skies Are Blue Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. When Clouds Have Vanished And Skies Are Blue (lyrics by F Restor and William Clay). Chicago: Forster Music, 1923.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

When I Dream of You Sheet Music
                                  Cover

Johnson, Charles L. When I Dream of You (lyrics by William Clay). Kansas City, MO: Johnson Pub Co, 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Charles H Templeton Sheet Music Collection (MSU)   [top]

When the War is Over Sheet Music
                                  Cover

Johnson, Charles L. When The War Is Over (lyrics by Robert Spence). Chicago: Forster, Music Publisher, 1915.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

When The Roses Fade Away Sheet
                                  Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. When The Roses Fade Away (lyrics by Martha Thomas). Kansas City, MO: M.B. Thomas, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection   [top]

When You Dream Of The Girl You
                                  Love Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. When You Dream Of The Girl You Love (song). New York: Ted Snyder, 1914.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

When You And I Were
                                  Sweethearts Long Ago Sheet Music
                                  Cover

Johnson, Charles L. When You And I Were Sweethearts Long Ago (lyrics by George McCrary). Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson & Co, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Where The Lanterns Glow Sheet
                                  Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Where The Lanterns Glow (lyrics by James Stanley Royce). Chicago: Forster Music, 1919.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

With You Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. With You (lyrics by William Clay). Chicago: Forster Music Publisher, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: York University Libraries, Sheet Music Collections  [top]
Why Can't I Make A Hit Sheet
                                  Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. Why Can't I Make A Hit (song). Kansas City, MO: Chas L Johnson & Co, 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

You're The Girl That I've Been
                                  Longing For Sheet Music Cover

Johnson, Charles L. You're The Girl That I've Been Longing For (lyrics by James Stanley Royce). Cleveland, OH: Sam Fox Publishing, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

 

c)  As publisher    [top]

 

Splinters Two-Step Sheet Music
                                Cover

Gilmore, Maude. Splinters: Two-Step. Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson & Co, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

That Irresistible Rag:
                                First Page of Music

Phillips, Lucy. That Irresistible Rag. Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Charles H Templeton Sheet Music Collection (MSU) [top]

The Tickler: Rag and Two-Step Sheet
                                Music Cover

Cox, Frances. The Tickler: Rag and Two-Step. Kansas City, KS: Charles L Johnson & Co, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Kansas City Sheet Music Collection  [top]

 

d)  Additional compositions (print versions):

The following list of compositions was compiled using information from the Charles L Johnson papers at the Kansas City Public Library and other sources. If I am able to obtain copies of any of the compositions below that are in the public domain, I will digitize them and add them to the appropriate tables above (many of the post-1923 works are likely still protected by copyright).

As composer:

  • Charles L Johnson. Adam’s Red Book of Songs (Forster) (Includes 7 of Johnson’s songs)

  • Charles L Johnson. Bungalow Town. (Johnson-Bennett, 1937).

  • Charles L Johnson. Can You Bring Back the Heart I Gave You (Forster, 1924).

  • Charles L Johnson. Carry Me on Old Pardner (Forster, 1939).

  • Charles L Johnson. Come Back To-Night in My Dreams (Forster, 1930).

  • Charles L Johnson. Dear Little Home Sweet Home (Forster, 1916).

  • Charles L Johnson. Dedication: March and Two Step (Oklahoma, OK: Frederickson-Kron Music Co, 1906).

  • Charles L Johnson. Doodle-De-Dum (Johnson, 1916).

  • Charles L Johnson. Down Where the Trail Divides (Reynolds, Larson, 1914)

  • Charles L Johnson. Everybody Calls Her Sunshine (Forster, 1922).

  • Charles L Johnson (with Holtaus). French Auto Cylinder Oil (Marshall Oil Co, 1910).

  • Charles L Johnson. Gaytella Waltz (Jenkins, 1898).

  • Charles L Johnson. Golden Hours Forster Chas. Johnson 1916.

  • Charles L Johnson (with Harsha). Good Bye Susanna (Hoffman, 1905).

  • Charles L Johnson. He’s For Us All (Sentinel, 1936).

  • Charles L Johnson. Henry’s Slip’ry Slidin’ Trombone (Johnson, 1912).

  • Charles L Johnson. In the Good Old USA (Forster, 1939).

  • Charles L Johnson. Jubilee in the Sky (Johnson-Bennett, 1930).

  • Charles L Johnson. The Louisiana Purchase (RA Saalfield, 1904).

  • Charles L Johnson. Love Token (Jenkins, 1899).

  • Charles L Johnson. Lovey Dovey March & Two Step. Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson, 1907. Sold to and re-issued by Jerome H Remick as Southern Beauties March – Two Step. New York: Jerome H Remick, 1907. Sheet music available in Stewart, Rags and Other Riches 2009).

  • Charles L Johnson. Lucy Lee (lyrics by William Clay). Kansas City, MO: Johnson Pub Co, 1911.

  • Charles L Johnson. March of the Air Cadets (Comer, 1940).

  • Charles L Johnson. Meet Me on the Santa Fe Trail (Johnson, 1912).

  • Charles L Johnson (with Cassandra). My May Day Fortune (Hoffman, 1906).

  • Charles L Johnson. My Missouri Cabin (Vandiver, 1929).

  • Charles L Johnson (with French). ‘Neath the Skies of California Far Away (French, 1905).

  • Charles L Johnson. One Night in Mexico (Johnson, 1915).

  • Charles L Johnson. Over the Old Back Fence (Forster, 1927).

  • Charles L Johnson. Sly Old Moon (Forster, 1911).

  • Charles L Johnson. Someday You'll Love Me (lyrics by William Clay). Kansas City, MO: Johnson Pub Co, 1911.

  • Charles L Johnson. Spanish Moon (Forster, 1922).

  • Charles L Johnson. Sweet Memories Waltz (Forster, 1918).

  • Charles L Johnson (with Madeira). Sweetheart (Johnson, 1910).

  • Charles L Johnson. A Tally-Ho Party: March Two-Step. Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins' Sons Music Co, 1900.

  • Charles L Johnson. Thelma Waltzes (Jenkins, 1899).

  • Charles L Johnson. When We Shall Meet Again (song). Kansas City, MO: JW Jenkins' Music Co, 1900.

As publisher:

  • Maude Gilmore. Lorelie: A Reverie (Chas Johnson, 1912).

  • Maude Gilmore. Peach Blossom Rag. Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson & Co, 1910.
  • Maude Gilmore. Slivers: Two-Step. Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson & Co, 1910. Also published as Splinters: Two-Step. Kansas City, MO: Charles L Johnson & Co, 1910.

  • D Harlan Drummond. Somewhere Along the Missouri Tonight (Johnson, 1911).

  • Chas A Gish. Twinkles (Chas L Johnson, 1909).

  • Hi Wilson et al. When My Ship Comes in From Sea (Johnson, 1916).

  • Lyle Weaver Sparks. White Feather (Johnson, 1911).

 

As arranger:

  • Walton Process. Merry Widow Valse (?)

 

e)  Unpublished compositions  [top]

The following titles were compiled from the Charles L Johnson Papers at the Kansas City Public Library.

  • After the Rain Comes My Sunshine
  • Annabella
  • The Army, the Navy, and Marines
  • Baby Doll
  • Because I Love You So
  • Cactus Pete
  • Carlotta
  • The Coppers on Parade
  • The Cowboy’s Lament
  • Dance of the Midgets
  • Dear Little Lady
  • Dear Little Rose
  • Desert Moon
  • Dreamin’ Tonight of My Darlin’
  • Ev’ry-Thing I Do Seems Wrong
  • Forgive and Forget
  • Girls (1923)
  • Goin’ Back to My Hometown in Sunny Tennessee
  • Go’ Long Jasper
  • Good Morning Mr. Sunshine
  • Graceful
  • Gunner Bill
  • Hand in Hand
  • He’s My Pappy
  • Hittin’ the Trail
  • Hold Me in Your Arms
  • Hold Me in Your Arms Again
  • Honey Don’t Be Mean to Me
  • Honolulu Lou
  • I Got a Gal in Arkansaw
  • “I Have No Name for This” (Quote at top of piece)
  • I Love Somebody
  • I Love the Ladies
  • I Never Thought I’d Miss You So
  • I Want a Man (not titled)
  • I Wonder if You Ever Think of Me
  • Idaho
  • I’m a Ho-Bo (not titled)
  • In the Cradle of the Rockies
  • In the Twilight Glow
  • It May Be Just a Notion (That’s All)
  • Jesus Will Welcome You Home
  • Johnny Don’t Be Mean to Me
  • June Time
  • Just a Quaint Old Melody
  • Just a Sweet Old Melody
  • Keep Smiling and You Can’t Go Wrong
  • Let’s Dream Back to the Day We Met
  • Let’s Paint the Old Town Red
  • Lonesome Little Girl Love
  • Mammy Jinny’s Lullaby
  • Maybe
  • Meet Me By the Haystack
  • Memphis Buddy’s Swing-Time Band
  • Midgets on Parade
  • Mississippi Shore
  • Missouri (three parts for male quartet)
  • Mother’s Arms
  • My Heart’s in Dixie Today
  • My Old Home
  • Nancy Jane
  • Oh You Man
  • Old Glory
  • On a Honeymoon (Just We Two)
  • On Our Golden Wedding Day
  • On the Banks of the Winding Tennessee
  • One Kiss, and Then Goodnight
  • Our Battle Song
  • Out in the Golden West
  • Overture
  • Packin’ My Grip, Headin’ for Home
  • Pappy Don’t Care for Onions
  • Peace to the World (Good Will Toward All)
  • Ploddin' Along
  • Roll Deep River Roll
  • Roll on Brothers
  • Rural Capers
  • Send Me a Rose She’s Irish
  • Snooty Little Cutie
  • Soldier’s Farewell
  • Somewhere
  • Somewhere on the Deep Blue Sea
  • Song of the Bride
  • Song of the Soul
  • Spooky Blues
  • Steppin’ On the Gas
  • Sunshine and Moonlight
  • Sweet Girl
  • Sweet Ida May
  • That Jones Girl
  • Tell Your Troubles to the Moon
  • There Never Was, There’ll Never Be
  • Uncle Billy
  • Untitled (Two different works without titles or words)
  • Up in the Air with Sally
  • Voice on the Radio
  • Waltz (not titled)
  • When I Found You When Mother Rocked Baby to Sleep
  • When the Boys Come
  • When the Frost is on the Clover
  • When the Toot-Toot, Toots for Memphis Tennessee
  • While I’m Away
  • Why Did You Leave Me
  • You Don’t Want Me Around Anymore
  • You, Just You (words and melody similar “Just You”)
  • You’re the Sweetest Girl I Know

 

3)  Commercial Recordings of Charles L Johnson Compositions   [top]

I highly recommend the ragtime playing of Sue Keller. Her CD entitled a/k/a Charles Johnson contains 20 compositions by Charles L Johnson. You can sample her playing of these pieces here.

Amazon has an entry for a CD by pianist Miguel Pineda-Van Gelder. The CD is entitled A Ragtime Feast: Forgotten Rags #3, Charles L Johnson (2002).

Warren Trachtman also has MIDI recordings of 4 Charles L Johnson compositions – see http://www.trachtman.org/ragtime/

 

4) Bibliography   [top]

The following resources provide information on Charles L Johnson:

  • Blesh, Rudi & Harriet Grossman Janis. They All Played Ragtime. 4th ed. New York: Oak Publications, 1966.
  • "Charles L Johnson." American Musician and Art Journal (11 June 1909).
  • Hasse, John Edward. "Johnson, Charles." Grove Music Online (ed L Macy) (Accessed 26 May 2006).
  • Jasen, David & Gene Jones. That American Rag: The Story of Ragtime from Coast to Coast. New York: Schirmer Books, 2000.
  • Jasen, David & Trebor Jay Tichenor. Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History. New York: Dover Publications, 1978 at 122-133.
  • Stewart, Philip, ed. Rags and Other Riches. Addison, TX: Aquila Media Productions, 2009. [Amazon.com entry]

  • Stewart, Philip. The Music of Charles Leslie Johnson: A Collector's Journey. Addison, TX: Aquila Media Productions, 2009. [Amazon.com entry]

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This site created by Ted Tjaden. Page last updated: February 2017.