My husband and I were looking for antique nightstands when we came across our first piece of vintage sheet music. The cover read “YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY! (What did I do?)” The sentimentality of it was so ridiculous — hadn’t we said something pretty similar before? I had to have it… but the shop wanted $8 for what amounted to two sheets of paper. I went home and found it online for 99 cents. A big, flat envelope showed up a few days later, I framed it and put it on the wall. Just like that, I became a collector of vintage sheet music.
- At the top of the list of awesome aspects: if you don’t have a lot of money for art, they can easily create a colorful, themed display on your wall for less than the Dali poster you’ve been slugging around since college.
- Sheet music covers a wide array of topics, styles and eras. The covers go from art deco glam to mod-folksy; Western to metropolitan; funny to melancholy-funny; all the way down to legitimately sad.
- Better than a print made yesterday and sold in the thousands, these are folios of history. I should note that there is a pile of offensive sheet music covers out there. I’ve seen plenty of racial, gender, and ethnic stereotypes. But long before I decided to frame covers as hokey graphic wall art, they were used to play the hip songs of the day and are reflective of the values and concerns of their eras. That can go really wrong, but it can also bring you women’s suffrage music like Woman Forever.
- With the topical and visual ground covered by sheet music, they also make original, personal gifts. “Mom, remember how we used to sing “Down by the Old Mill Stream” on road trips? I framed it for you!” My sister is opening a feed store called Cheyenne? Consider it decorated!
- Sheet music usually comes in 8 x 12 or 11 x 14, so they fit into store-bought frames. And if you continue to collect more than you want on the wall at one time, you can switch them in and out of a few frames as you please.
- Sheets are easily themed. I am building one wall dedicated to the cliches and sentimentalities of love — a big theme in sheet music. Well, I guess a big theme in all music and pretty much everywhere else, if I’m being honest about it. So far the collection includes, among others, “I Wish You Were Jealous of Me,” “When I’m Alone I’m Lonesome,” and “How Many Girls Have You Told That To?”
I hate to increase competition for items that I feel lucky to get so cheaply, but I’m not the type of person who can keep splendid things to myself. In return, though, I’d love to know what inexpensive, collectible decor other budget-conscious Homies are sporting!