Bedelia: The Irish Coon Song Serenade

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Full Title: Bedelia: The Irish Coon Song Serenade, March and Two-Step.

Lyricist: William Jerome

Composer: Jean Schwartz

Published: New York, 1903

Description: This "Novelty Song of the Century" this nostalgic, upbeat serenade sold over three million copies by 1904. The simplistic premise of a love song is marred by the use of a slur in the title, one that was normally used against African-Americans. The use of the word here is jarring and strange, and there are a few possibilities for why it was included in the title. Perhaps the song itself mimics minstrel music of the time, or perhaps it is a sign that the Irish were viewed with similar contempt and thus could also be associated with the slur. Regardless of the intent, its usage reminds us that this was not created by and for Irish-Americans, and perhaps their presence in the song is what makes it a "novelty"-- the presence of the other.