This hit was written by Irving Berlin in 1911. The belief is the song refers to the then “new ideas” of standard music that was popping up, from ragtime to the blues and jazz.
Vaudeville singer Emma Carus introduced the song and helped make it popular.
By the time the Titanic sailed in April 1912, the song was very popular and passengers recalled hearing it played many times on that fateful voyage. The song is known to be in the White Star Line Songbook and heard to be played in the early moments of the ship’s sinking.
Numerous performers have recorded this song, which kept it on the charts for five straight decades.
In 1938 the musical Alexander’s Ragtime Band was made, which was loosely based on this song.