A Song My Mother Sang

As I recall, the song that my mother – Avis Louise Foss Sinclair (1914-2001) – sang the most often around the house when I was a kid was “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

“Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you…”

Those lyrics were written by Beth Slater Whitson and the music was composed by Leo Friedman. The song was published in 1910. The first recording was made on February 25, 1911, for the National Phonograph Company in Orange, NJ, and featured vocalist Arthur Clough. It was released on an Edison Record amberol cylinder, #637.

Give a listen!

My guess is that my mother got to know this song from the hit recording of it that Bing Crosby put out on Decca Records in 1934. Mom turned 20 years old that year and was a nursing student at the Exeter Hospital Training School for Nurses in Exeter, NH.

Somewhere along the way, I acquired a copy of the sheet music to “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” The piano/vocal arrangement on my now-very faded copy is in the key of B-flat. It includes chord diagrams  for ukulele (tuned A-D-F#-B, capoed at the first fret and fingered in the key of A).

I made my first attempts at arranging “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” for the guitar sometime in the 1990’s. My Compose Yourself: The Music Nothing Book music notebook has two hand-written transcriptions of the melody of the song’s chorus (the only part my mother sang), one in the key of D and another in the key of C.

This past winter, I tried again. I finally came up with an arrangement in the key of C, but fingered with my guitar partial-capoed at the 4th fret (the 6th string left open) and thus sounding in the key of E.

I recorded this arrangement playing my Epiphone Zephyr Regent archtop electric guitar, running through an original MXR Phase 90 pedal and into my Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue amplifier.


(For those of you surprised to hear a recording of mine sounding like that, well, I’ve been listening to Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell quite a bit over the past year.)

So, thanks, Mom! This one’s for you, with much love.

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1 Response to A Song My Mother Sang

  1. Kathryn Klem says:

    That was beautiful, Eric! Thanks for sharing🤗

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