Singing a New Technology of Car Riding: Jitney-Bus Songs, 1915-1917

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Using personal cars for private taxi services gave rise to the jitney bus a century before Uber and Lyft. Songs with titles such as “Take Me Out in a Jitney Bus (and Pose as a Millionaire)” (Ruddy and Garrahan) provide a body of sheet music on a cultural issue of the early twentieth century that has striking similarities to issues in the early twenty-first century. In this way, they provide insights into how ideas, tropes, and memes are circulated in both eras and demonstrate a parallel communicative function between early sheet music and today’s social media.