"On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away" was among the best-selling songs of the 19th century in terms of sheet music sold. Written and composed by American songwriter Paul Dresser, it was published by the Tin Pan Alley firm of Howley, Haviland & Co. in October 1897. The lyrics of the ballad reminisce about life near Dresser's childhood home by the Wabash River in Indiana. It remained popular for decades and the Indiana General Assembly adopted it as the official state song on March 14, 1913. The song was the basis for a 1923 film by the same title. Its longtime popularity led to the emergence of several different lyrical versions, including an 1898 anti-war song and a Swedish version that was a number one hit.
The song was composed during a transitory time in musical history when songs first began to be recorded for the phonograph. It was among the earliest pieces of popular music to be recorded. Dresser's inability to control the distribution of phonograph cylinders led him and his company to join other composers to petition the United States Congress to expand federal copyright protections over the new technology.
Dresser's ballad was the subject of some controversy after his death in 1906. His younger brother, novelist Theodore Dreiser, publicly claimed to have authored part of the song; the validity of his claim was never proven. The ambiguity of United States copyright laws at the time and the poor management of Dresser's estate left the song vulnerable to plagiarism. The 1917 song "Back Home Again in Indiana" borrowed heavily from Dresser's song, both lyrically and musically, and led to a dispute with Dresser's estate that was never resolved.
hearing aids comparisons