Dodge Brothers March

Sing a song of old Detroit, for she’s the flashing, dashing pioneer of motor glory …

Dodge Brothers March

Dedicated by Victor Herbert to the Late Mr. Horace E. Dodge in Respectful Appreciation of His Generous Efforts Towards the Advancement of American Music; Published Especially for Dodge Brothers.

I love this march and the history behind it — it is such a typical success story of the early part of the 20th century. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) owes much of its prestige to half of the auto-building Dodge Brothers, John and Horace. It was Horace, the more mechanically-inclined of the two — and a decent enough amateur musician, by all accounts — that helped pay for a permanent conductor hired in 1918 to give the symphony world-class status. More importantly, he contributed $150,000 toward the cost of a new concert hall and led the successful fund-raising campaign for the building. Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, which opened in October 1919.

The Symphony was what finally smoothed the way into Detroit high society for Horace. Prior to that, the brothers were repeatedly blackballed — they were hard-drinking brawlers who didn’t much care what other people thought of them. (Their first major success was in manufacturing parts for Henry Ford’s assembly line. John Dodge was asked why the brothers abandoned that lucrative work to make their own cars. “Think of all those Ford owners who will someday want an automobile,” he snarked.) By the time the brothers suddenly died in 1920 — both from complications of the influenza then raging world-wide, although Horace’s condition was precipitously undermined by John’s death—such was their renown that none other than Victor Herbert paid tribute with “The Dodge Brothers March.”

The Dodge Brothers company distributed both the sheet music and, according to one source, 100,000 recordings of the piece.

Below are the lyrics and sound recording (without voice) of the march:

DODGE BROTHERS MARCH LYRICS

From the hills of San Jose San Jose 
To the lights of gay Broadway gay Broadway
Sing a song of old Detroit
For she’s the flashing dashing pioneer of motor glory
Born of thunder steel and flame
All the world now hails her name hails her name
Here’s to Dodge and old Detroit
We pledge the glory of their fame

From the hills of San Jose San Jose
To the lights of gay Broadway gay Broadway
Sing a song of old Detroit
For she’s the flashing dashing pioneer of motor glory
Born of thunder steel and flame
All the world now hails her name hails her name
Here’s to Dodge and old Detroit
We pledge the glory of their fame

What better way to tap into the soul of an era than through music?  It’s a lot of fun, actually. Click here to download and listen to the Dodge Brothers March 1920.

References:
The Dodge Brothers: The Men, The Motor Cars, And The Legacy
Johns Hopkins University, Levy Sheet Music Collection, Box 075, Item 028
The city of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006.

2 responses to “Dodge Brothers March”

  1. Bill Imboden says :

    My voice teacher gave me a copy of the lyrics of the march a year or so ago. Just a plain photo copy without even a title. It is to be a novelty break in our usual routine and she knew nothing much about the tune or the DB company. She did not even know that I have a ’24 DB touring car which I have been restoring for nearly 50 years. Slowly. I think serendipity is the word. We hadn’t done anything with the tune until now and I decided to see what would turn up if I googled the march – and here you are. If I’d done it a year ago, I wouldn’t have found this entry or your blog. Serendipity, indeed.

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hi Bill, I love serendipity! Very happy you discovered our blog! Thank you for taking the time to visit and share your story.

      And good luck with your restoration!
      Jeanne

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