“New Year’s Bells” has a timeless feel to it; “Watching the old Year out and the New Year in” feels like a first draft that’s been revised since that was written. The photo of Mr. Hampton is a nice touch, and must have seemed very modern in 1895. In case you’re wondering – as I was – what a description ballad and refrain is like, it’s a musical story with three verses:
(To any musicians in the crowd who want the rest of the score, it’s at the New York Public Library’s digital collection.)
Note that the publisher, M. Witmark and Sons, is on West 28th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. That may not ring a bell (it’s early in the year…the jokes will get better later on) but you may have heard of the nickname for that block: Tin Pan Alley. New York has a lot of small areas where there are concentrations of specific types of businesses – 25 years ago, our office was on the block that was the center for sewing-machine repair – and Tin Pan Alley was once the place for music publishing.