How Dry I Am!

Arranger unidentified (ca. 1919, Hunleth Music Store Sheet Music and Photograph Collection)

 Sheet music for "How Dry I Am"
“How Dry I Am” (ca. 1919)

The origin of this song is unknown, but its lyrics likely came from Irving Berlin’s 1919 vignette, The Near Future, which depicts a patron’s comical attempt ordering a drink in a dry restaurant. The song’s well-known chorus is a simple melody often sloppily sung with slurred words to depict drunkenness:

 How dry I am!
 How dry I am!
 Nobody knows, 
 How dry I am! 
“How Dry I Am” from The Chronological Classics 1936-1937 by Artie Shaw and His Orchestra. Released: 1996.

This piano arrangement was created to accompany a motion-picture film.  Prior to April 15, 1923, movies lacked synchronized sound so instrumental accompanists were hired to improvise musical soundscapes to accompany the movies.  These musicians typically played recognized melodies to accentuate the drama or antics portrayed on the movie screen.  This melody was used frequently to depict drunkenness for most silent films before 1923.