The International Rag (1913)

Vocal Range


Berlin wrote this piece for his appearance at the London Hippodrome Theatre in 1913, where he was billed as the “ragtime king.” The cover lists the title as “That International Rag” but the title page as “The.” Discrepancies between cover information (such as how the name of a composer or author is spelled) and what is listed in the music itself are all too common in this era. By the way, if you're a stickler about grammar, you might want to change the first two lines of the chorus to “London’s dropped its dignity; So have France and Germany” (or perhaps “London dropped its dignity; So did France and Germany”).


What did you do, America?
They’re after you, America!
You got excited and you started something,
Nations jumping all around.
You’ve got a lot to answer for!
They lay the blame right at your door;
The world is ragtime crazy from shore to shore.

London dropped its dignity;
So has France and Germany.
All hands are dancing to a raggedy melody
Full of originality.
The folks who live in sunny Spain dance to a strain
that they call the Spanish Tango.

Dukes and Lords and Russian Czars,
Men who own their motor cars
Throw up their shoulders to that raggedy melody
Full of originality.
Italian opera singers
have learned to snap their fingers;
The world goes ’round to the sound
Of the International Rag.

In ev’ry land, America,
Most ev’ry band, America,
Has started ev’rybody dancing daily,
Prancing daily all around.
There’s syncopation in the air;
They’ve got the fever ev’rywhere.
Each happy, snappy chappy cries “It’s a bear!”