Sailing through the Panama Canal


The construction of the Panama Canal, its opening to traffic in early 1914, and the Panama Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco in 1915 to celebrate the completion of the canal, all inspired a wave of songwriting in the United States. The most notable of the compositions honoring the canal was “The Pathfinder of Panama,” written by the military march composer John Philip Sousa in 1915. This was also a time in which American popular sheet music publication was enjoying a golden age of sorts. Songs were published with cover art and accompanying illustrations that often overshadowed the quality of the compositions themselves, most of which are long forgotten. Shown here is the sheet music for “Sailing through the Panama Canal,” a song for voice and piano published in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1914, with music by Adelaide M. Merrill and words by Cecil E. Donovano. The song has two verses, the first of which reads: If you love me, / If you are true, / I will tell you what to do; / You must not tease me, / But you must please me, / Honey this is what I ask of you. / Let’s take a trip. / Here comes the ship. / Honey I just think its grand. / Under the moon / Dear we will spoon. / We will dance the tango to this tune.

Last updated: January 8, 2018