Cylinder of the Month

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A vaudeville skit from 1908, Pat O'Brien's Automobile by Steve Porter.

Pat O'Brien's Automobile
Company Edison's National Phonograph Company
Cylinder # 9970
Category Street scene
Title Pat O'Brien's Automobile
Performed by Steve Porter
Circa October 1908
Announcement "Pat O'Brien's Automobile, by Steve Porter.  Edison record."
Steve C. Porter (photo, 'Edison Re-creations 1922')

Steve Porter, who in earlier years established himself as a fine baritone, was by the mid-1900's more often identified with comic songs and skits – typically, with an Irish-ethnic slant.   He was well known for his minstrel recordings and Flanagan series of comic skits (see the Cylinder Music Shop, Vaudeville and Minstrelsy volume), however here he experimented with a different character – still Irish – who experiences some technical difficulties with a new car.

When this recording was made, most gasoline-powered automobiles on the road utilized hand crank starting instead of powerful cranking batteries.   But the idea of a crank, which today seems odd, fit in perfectly with the 1908 mindset of what people would expect with mechanical devices such as grinders, clocks, and musical devices such as hand-organs, and the household phonograph.

To hear Pat O'Brien's Automobile  —

For help playing these sounds, click here.

To hear Steve Porter in another comic setting, see Carrie Nation in Kansas.

To hear another 'automotive' recording, see In My Merry Oldsmobile.

— This cylinder is from the collection of Tyrone Settlemier —


To hear other examples of wax cylinders, see the

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