A.J. [Arthur J.] Mills (1872–1919)


How Do You Do, Miss SummertimeProlific lyricist born in Richmond, Surrey, A.J. Mills usually teamed up with Bennett Scott. Among his hits were Charles Bignall’s What Ho, She Bumps (with Harry Castling, 1901); Alf Chester’s Why Did I Leave My Little Back Room (with Frank W. Carter, 1901); Marie Kendall’s Just Like The Ivy (I’ll Cling To You) (with Harry Castling, 1903); Happy Fanny Fields’ By The Side Of the Zuider Zee (with Bennett Scott, 1906); Whit Cunliffe’s Fall In And Follow Me (with Bennett Scott, 1910); and Marie Lloyd’s When I Take My Morning Promenade (with Bennett Scott, 1912).

The issue of songwriting credits can be vexatious. From 1914 to 1919, the names of Mills, Scott, and Godfrey appear on a large number of songs. Some hit the mark, such as Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty (1916), one of the two or three most popular British war songs of the era, and Down Texas Way (1917), a favourite with the Canadian Army veterans’ troupe “The Dumbells.” It is impossible to determine each writer’s actual contribution, but it seems fair to note that most of the songs were published by Star Music, the company which Mills and Scott founded in 1906. There is no doubting the songwriting talents of Mills and Scott, but it is interesting that Dorothy Ward, who introduced Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty, attributed the song solely to Godfrey. Ship Ahoy! (All The Nice Girls Love A Sailor), an enormous hit credited to Mills and Scott (1908) and still much loved more than a century later, is one of several songs Godfrey claimed to have written but for which he received no credit.

One can say only that, like many other writers, Mills, Scott, and Godfrey were constantly scribbling down songs and pounding them out on the piano in the hope of selling them to the stars of the Music Hall. Some writers — Mills and Scott, Worton David, Lawrence Wright, Ivor Novello — were astute enough to establish their own publishing companies, to maintain greater control over their copyrights and royalties. Less-businesslike men — Godfrey and Harry Castling among them — as well as the drinkers and gamblers, faced penury or fell upon the charity of friends in the business when their song ideas dried up or tastes changed.

The fate of A.J. Mills has not been ascertained, but given that the partnership was still active on Mills’s apparent sudden demise in 1919, he may have been felled by the great influenza pandemic of that year.

All of the following songs are by Mills, Scott, and Godfrey unless otherwise noted:

1909:
I’ll Saw His See-Saw Down (Mills, Godfrey, and Charles Collins)

1913:
Ring Out, Joy Bells!

1914:
The Honeymoon Train; How Do You Do, Miss Summertime? (Godfrey and Mills); Somewhere In Sometown (Mills, Maurice Scott, and Godfrey); Stop Your Nonsense, Archibald! (Mills and Godfrey); What About That Little Bit Of Love?

1915:
Any More For The Boat-Train?; Arrah! Go On, Now, Miss Emerald Isle (Mills and Godfrey); Follow The Sergeant; Molly McGlory; Hallo, Baby (Introduce Me To Your Nursie); Razzy Wazzy Lou; Sergeant Macadoo (A Little Bit Of French And A Little Bit Of Scotch); Spring-Time Might Have Been Ring-Time (John P. Long, Mills, and Godfrey); They All Did The Goose-Step Home (Mills, Maurice Scott, and Godfrey); Ting! Ting! Tra-La-La; You Get More Like Your Mother Every Day (Mills, H. Worton David and Godfrey)

1916:
Back, Back To Baby Days; Coo-ee! Coo-ee! (The Anzac Boy); I Don’t Care; I Love My Motherland; If You Only Knew; A Little Dutch Heaven For Two (Anna, My Anna); My Little Dutch Doll; Pierrot Parade; Rainbowland; Some Night, Some Waltz, Some Girl; Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty; What A Time We’ve Had, What A Time!; You Gave Me A Rosary; You Gave Me Love; You’ve Got To Go To Bed

1917:
Down Texas Way; We’re All Scotch

 

 

1918:
The Bells Of Tobermory; Dad And Mammy’s Golden Wedding Jubilee; The Little Wooden Chapel (At The Top Of The Hill); My Tennessee, Is That You Calling Me?; Roses Red And Roses White; Stop Making Those Eyes At Me; They All Look Alike In The Dark (Mills, Maurice Scott, and Godfrey); Tonight, By The Firelight Glow; What Did You Want To Make Me Love You For?; When We’re Made One, We Two

1919:
Down In Virginia; Give Me Your Love For Keeps; Hello There Flanagan; Idaho; Jimmy, Take A Chance And Do The Shimmie Dance; When Love Peeps In At The Window; Where’s The Girl You Had Last Year?

Date unknown: On The Other Side; Rosalie (1918?)