Words & Music: Charles K. Harris (1891)

Lyrics

After the ball is over,
After the break of morn,
After the dancers’ leaving,
After the stars are gone,

Many a heart is aching –
If you could read them all.
Many the hopes that have vanished
After the ball.

Background

“After the Ball” is a popular classic waltz. In the song (in the verses that we do not sing), an older man tells his niece why he has never married. He saw his sweetheart kissing another man at a ball, and he refused to listen to her explanation. Many years later, after the woman had died, he discovered that the man was her brother.

“After the Ball” became the most successful song of its era, which at that time was gauged by the sales of sheet music. In 1892 it sold over two million copies of sheet music. Its total sheet music sales exceed five million copies, making it the best seller in Tin Pan Alley’s history.

Performances

Here is a lovely rendition by Kate Smith (of “God Bless America” fame):

And here is a remarkable video recording of Charles K. Harris singing his own song. The chorus start at 1:55 in.