Sunday, April 6, 2014

Songs My Mother Sang Me: 1940s Novelty Songs


When I was a kid Mom was always singing snippets of songs she grew up with in the 1940s. Such as One Meatball by the Andrews Sisters.

One Meatball
A Little Man walked up and down,
He found an eating place in town,
He read the menu through and through,
To see what fifteen cents could do.

One meatball, one meatball,
He could afford but one meatball.
He told the waiter near at hand,
The simple dinner he had planned.
The guests were startled, one and all,
To hear that waiter loudly call, "What,
"One meatball, one meatball?
Hey, this here gent wants one meatball."

The little man felt ill at ease,
Said, "Some bread, sir, if you please."
The waiter hollered down the hall,
"You gets no bread with one meatball.

"One meatball, one meatball,
Well, you gets no bread with one meatball."

The little man felt very bad,
One meatball was all he had,
And in his dreams he hears that call,
"You gets no bread with one meatball.
"One meatball, one meatball,
Well, you gets no bread with one meatball."

Another song I remember her singing was this silly little tune:

Three Little Fishes

Down in the meadow in a
little bitty pool
Swam three little fishies
And a mama fishie too
"Swim," said the mama fishie,
"Swim if you can."
And they swam and they swam all
over the dam

Boop boop diten datem whatem choo
Boop boop diten datem whatem choo
Boop boop diten datem whatem choo
And they swam and they swam
right over the dam

"Stop!" cried the mama fish,
"Or you will get lost."
But the three little fishies
didn’t want to be bossed
The three little fishies
went off on a spree,
And they swam and
they swam right out
to the sea

Boop boop diten datem
Whatem choo
Boop boop diten datem whatem choo
Boop boop diten datem whatem choo
And they swam and they swam
And they got lost in the sea

"Help!" cried the fishies,
"Look at the whale."
And quick as they could,
They turned on their tails
And back to the itty bitty
pool they swam
And they swam and
they swam
Back over the dam

Boop boop diten datem
whatem choo
Boop boop diten datem
whatem choo
Boop boop diten datem whatem choo
And they swam and they swam
Right over the dam

Boop boop diten datem whatem choo
And they swam and they swam
right over the dam
Mom loved Boogie Woogie, and bought a piano book hoping the piano teacher could learn me some jive, but I have no rhythm and it was a failure. I remember she'd sing snatches of this song:
He was a famous trumpet man from out Chicago way
He had a boogie style that no one else could play
He was the top man at his craft
But then his number came up and he was gone with the draft
He's in the army now, a-blowin' reveille
He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

They made him blow a bugle for his Uncle Sam
It really brought him down because he couldn't jam
The captain seemed to understand
Because the next day the cap' went out and drafted a band
And now the company jumps when he plays reveille
He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

A-toot, a-toot, a-toot-diddelyada-toot
He blows it eight-to-the-bar, in boogie rhythm
He can't blow a note unless the bass and guitar is playin' with 'I'm
He makes the company jump when he plays reveille
He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

He was some boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B
And when he plays the boogie woogie bugle he was busy as a "bzzz" bee
And when he plays he makes the company jump eight-to-the-bar
He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

Toot toot toot-diddelyada, Toot-diddelyada, toot-toot
He blows it eight-to-the-bar
He can't blow a note if the bass and guitar isn't with 'I'm
Ha-ha-hand the company jumps when he plays reveille
He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

He puts the boys to sleep with boogie every night
And wakes 'em up the same way in the early bright
They clap their hands and stamp their feet
Because they know how he plays when someone gives him a beat
He really breaks it up when he plays reveille
He's boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B





Mom (Joyce Ramer) and her best friend Doris Waterson
Sometimes Mom would just burst out with a line or two: “Yes! We Have NO Bananas, we have no bananas today!” Or “Shave and a haircut, two bits.”

Now I have to admit I learned this bad habit and have done the same thing. Say I am playing Uno and the card color to play is blue. I would sing out, “It's a blue world without you.” Heaven knows what other songs my son will remember his mom singing as he grew up.

Mom was a real jitterbug era Dancing Queen, never without dance partners at the Project dances. She loved the Big Band music, especially Glen Miller, but also liked Country and Classical. She collected a set of classical recordings from the grocery store, basically classical 'pops" and from those records I learned to love many a orchestral piece. Some of my earliest memories are of Mom paying 45 records when I was not even five. Later in life I identified several of those records as The Poor People of Paris and Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White. I still love that music when I hear it.

So thanks to Mom for teaching me a love of music. And a love of silliness.