Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Mood Music

My birthday is in mid January and usually I celebrate it in the late Spring.  January is a month when some sad things have happened for me in years gone by,  but this year I decided to take a different attitude to this miserable month and celebrate in January after all.   My family have asked not to be shown in my blog, or I'd post some pictures, so you will have to take my word for it that it was really fun! K. made me this orange and polenta cake, as the recipe had caught her eye, and I can tell you it was DELICIOUS!  

In fact, January has delivered some good days this month.  On Sunday we went to help with one of V's performances, involving over an hour in the car with the twins and one of their friends. London is a terrible place to drive, but this was a complicated cross-city journey after the show that involved dropping the friend home somewhere out-of-the-way.  So after a very exciting show, we loaded the kids into our car.  They both suffer from car sickness so had to be dosed up with anti sickness pills first.  Luckily, Friend didn't get car sick.  

Actually she was Girl Twin's best friend until she moved away, so the two of them were having a great time and slightly leaving Boy Twin out, which irritated him,  and so he started teasing them, which irritated them too.   Added to this, Google had problems with the complicated route and began issuing crazy commands along the lines of "Turn left and then turn right and then turn left and turn left and turn left...."   So as the noise level rose in the back and I tried to find our way and T tried not to swear in front of the little ones. I finally grabbed a couple of old CDs which have been sitting in the car for years, and put them on.  Silence fell as these elderly CDs worked their magic and we all settled down to listen to the likes of "Boom Ooo Yatatatafrom Morecambe and Wise,  In case you don't know them, they were a traditional variety comedy act who were exceptionally popular on TV, and their Christmas Special was a centrepiece of the  UK's Christmases until 1977.   As soon as the track began, the kids stopped quarrelling, started listening and eventually began to sing along. At the end, they wanted it over again to sing along to it again.   


After we'd heard that a few times we went on to Bernard Cribbins'  "Right, Said Fred."   This dates from 1962 and Youtube has a well choreographed film to go with the song. It's good but I like to listen to the audio on its own, to figure out exactly what the piece of furniture is that Charlie  is trying to move, with its legs and handles and candles. It's different every time I hear the song. 


None of the kids like the modern "Alvin and the Chipmunks" movie, but our CD tracks included a much gentler, older Chipmunk "Christmas Song" with Ros Bagdasarian (stage name David Seville). He was the first one to spot the true potential of speeded up tape recordings in the mid 1950s. The kids thought this song was very cute, and so it is.   


About half the songs were American, and next up was the slightly more challenging  "The Railroad Runs Through the Middle of the House"  with Alma Cogan - challenging because it ends in mid bar as, presumably, the train roars in and obliterates Alma. (In fact, Girl Twin did just check afterwards if she had survived, although she didn't seem that worried.)  

And of course we had to hear "The Runaway Train" whose words mystified them, since they are American, not British words for things to do with a railway. Still they got the general idea.



Nonsense songs seem to have been particularly popular between the 1920s and 1950s, and "Crazy Words, Crazy Tune" is irresistible if you like to sing along with nonsense.  The Johnny Marvin version on our CD was just right for this.  


And of course everyone knows "I Taut I Taw A Puddy Cat"


I was sorry to find we were missing the CD which had Frankie Howerd's "Three Little Fishes" - which is so peculiar that it usually grabs the interest of even the most worldly wise child.  If you don't know it, here it is..... 


And "The Laughing Policeman" from the 1920s always seems to go down well, but we didn't have the CD with that one either.  I have known this song all my life, but have no memory of first hearing it.  I like to imagine it was on some elderly relative's antique gramophone, perhaps even the version recorded in 1922,  before it became so famous.  No reason to suppose that idea is true, but this Youtube film shows such a lovely gramophone, that I thought I would put it on anyway.  I always feel a pang when even the very best of these old gramophones starts to go flat as it reaches the end of its 78 rpm record.  


There don't seem to be many simple humorous songs around now, (other than Yellow Submarine, which is fifty years old, so not exactly new....although this is possibly my favourite animated film of all time so please let me give you a clip... 


But funny music hasn't disappeared - it's just different and often includes film and other visuals, which is only to be expected.   Here's Big Shaq (comedian and rapper Michael Dapaah) in "Man's Not Hot" forced to help his mum w
hile he's supposed to be living a hot glamorous life.  So he's not hot.  Which is why he wears that huge roadman coat all the time...


And  Psy's "Gangnam Style" which was a global sensation in 2012. Now that's really impossible to classify, I'd say, and he's never managed to repeat his success.  But that's what makes a real classic, I suppose.

Anyhow, to get back to our trip in the car, I always thought "The Teddy Bears Picnic" sounded a bit creepy in our CD's 90 year old recording by Henry Hall (below). Its extremely slow pace and low pitched accompaniment suggest to me that something awful might be about to happen, specially since it is "safer to stay at home."  But the kids didn't seem to mind all that. It seemed to calm them down after their very exciting day and there was no quarrelling at all for the rest of the trip.  So hurrah for vintage funny songs! 

 

By the way, T, who used to work for the BBC, had a bit of broadcasting folklore about this version of "Teddy Bear's Picnic".   It was the test disc for the 78 RPM players that the BBC used (and possibly still does use, since its older archive recordings have been recorded on shellac discs. )   The crucial bit is the xylophone, which apparently sounds all wrong if the machine isn't perfectly adjusted.  So now you know. 

Do you have any special funny songs? 

42 comments:

  1. Well, happy birthday to you!
    I loved those songs...took me back years! And I too thought that recording of the Teddy Bears picnic was sinister...and vaguely remember a student days spoof of it involving violence which will probably surface in the early hours of the morning

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    1. Thank you! I thought of you when I was posting them, of course, since you so often put up interesting Youtube clips that jog my memory too, and/or give me a new angle on things I already know about.

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  2. Happy birthday! Brilliant inspiration for diverting attention!!

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    1. Thank goodness! Thank you for the birthday wishes!

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  3. Several of these I had never heard (maybe because British?) but many I had and a few surprised me by sparking very, very old memories totally forgotten! Like Teddy Bear's Picnic. Until I heard it again I would have said I had no clue what it was...but then I did! LOL! A fun post. I imagine the kids thought these were very funny. :)

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    1. Isn't it funny the way that songs can linger in your mind and then spring to life again! Kind of reminds me of those seeds you read about, which are found in glaciers, and sprout and bloom after goodness knows how many milllion years! LOL !

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    2. Yes! Yes! Love that little miracle! :)

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  4. Yes, happy birthday, Jenny. I cannot find this song the least bit sinister, but put that down entirely to how I heard it. My father had it in his collection of "odd" songs. Saturdays he put it on. Housecleaning day. And he would sing and cavort while we swept and dusted. This was during the forties.

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  5. I wish you many happy returns of the day! You did a wonderful thing, using such music to entertain the young ones through the trip. I enjoyed listening to them, too!

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    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes! And I'm really pleased you enjoyed listening to the songs.

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  6. Happy birthday! I knew only three of these songs (The Chipmunks, Tweety, and Gangnam) so the rest of these I'm hearing for the first time. They're all delightful, especially the older ones. If anything, I think the primitive recording techniques of "The Laughing Policeman" and "The Teddy Bear Song" add to the humor.

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    1. Thanks, Kirk. I do find that I notice the recording styles more than I used to- I decided against using any remastered versions I came across. I wish I knew more about some of these old artistes.

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  7. Happy Birthday, dear Jenny!
    It won't surprise you to read that the only song in this list that I know is Gangnam Style - I have often danced to that when it was new, and RJ and I were still a couple and went dancing almost every Saturday night.

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    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes, Meike! I find Gangnam Style really quite fascinating, and it makes me want to dance, for sure. There are many funny parodies of it on the internet, including one from NASA

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  8. Happy birthday, Jenny, and another coincidence. At Christmas I gave my six-year old grandson a set of five CDs containing 100 favourite songs for children, including such gems as 'You're a Pink Toothbrush, I'm a Blue Toothbrush' (Max Bygraves), Arthur Askey's' Bee Song' and grandson's favourite, 'My Brother' (Terry Scott). I found it so ridiculously entertaining that I ordered another set for myself.
    P.S. And what about Charlie Drake's 'My Boomerang Won't Come Back'?

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    1. Oh, I should definitely have played "My Brother" specially as Boy Twin was being a bit of a tease - but then to be fair I suppose I would have had to find a song about "My Sister" .... There is a lovely clip of Arthur Askey doing his bee song in the 1930s. The style of humour is very dated but he carries it off so well and it is a real pleasure to watch him move. I always liked him and believe he was a kindly joker off-stage as well as on.

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  9. Happy Birthday Jenny, and thank you for the ride down memory lane. So long since I heard the name of Alma Cogan, and I remember the Railway running through the house. We were fond of the Teddy Bears picnic, as were our own children. Soon we can introduce our little twins to the teddies. They are just two and a bit, but are very aware that our phones hold lots of good singing and funny picture opportunities. Great post.

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    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes - and how nice to be on the verge of introducing the twins to the joys of children's songs! What a different world they live in from ours, they are growing up with what would literally have been magic to us.

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  10. Oh goodness, I remember most of those old songs so well. I'd never heard the Frankie Howerd one though. I was an instant fan of the Ying Tong Song, which was released in 1956. We never had any troublesome car journeys as neither my father or mother were able to drive. Train journeys were fine as my sister and I were kept amused by what the other passengers were up to.

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    1. Ah, yes, of course - How could I possibly forget Ying Tong! Surely I must have a copy somewhere? Now it's running through my head and will probably stay there for the rest of the week!

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  11. Hello Jenny, Happy Birthday! It seems that each age has produced its share of humorous songs. The Teddy Bears' Picnic you supplied is a good version, but my favorite is the instrumental by Arthur Pryor's Band. It seems that the guy who rerecorded this cut down on the growls--on my copy they fairly jump out of the speaker. Definitely more calculated to frighten than to amuse small children!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXymCIPi7HU
    .
    I never heard this recording by Alma Cogan; it oddly predicts how her real life was sadly cut off way too soon.
    .
    One that you forgot of the more sing-a-long, silly type is Chickery-Chick from the 1940's. I recommend trying the version by Evelyn Knight and the Jesters. (The Jesters also recorded a great version of Waltzing Matilda.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2AfkSiFMJo
    .
    --Jim

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    1. Thanks Jim. I must say that your version of Teddy Bears is scarier than my version of Teddy Bears! Even the bears on the graphics are frightening! I didn't know anything about Alma COgan's life, but read it up - very sad. I remember the name "Chickery Chick" but had no memory of the song itself till I checked your link on Youtube. Thanks!

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  12. Chipmunk's, Hula hoop! That version was popular when I was a kid. Thank you for a trip down memory lane.

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  13. Happy Birthday to you. I wish you good health.

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  14. What a fun way to ensure a peaceful journey, Jenny! I remember most of these songs from childhood too. There are some good, funny Dutch children’s songs, but others are a bit macabre. The Dutch have a rather dark humour sometimes!

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    1. I often think that the Germans have rather dark humour too. Never been so scared in my life as at a ghastly doll with two faces in one of the toy museums in Germany. It was like a horror film! :)

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  15. Happy birthday, Jenny. I like looking back history in terms of music. Hearing a song after so long really brings back the old times and the emotion back then. I heard none of the songs except for Yellow Submarine, though a few of videos were impossible to see in my region. You and I heard the Beatles’ songs apart from without knowing each other’s existence, but the song unites us and similar emotion arises in us. In my country there is a saying; songs and the times change together. Thanks for your comment and the talk of cataract surgery which was encouraging. Say hello to T. Wish you and your fmily a healthy, joyful year.

    Yoko

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    1. Isn't it funny, Yoko, how music does return us to the past. The Japanese idea of songs and times changing together is so true. I talk a lot with my grandson about popular music and what it means to him.

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  16. Happy Birthday young lass. Glad you had a good January event! Those do bring back memories of an old wireless, with a wire arial we hung outside the window. The Light Programme, or the Home Service. Our house did not discover the Third programme for many years. By that time we had a gramaphone and the Goons and Hancock were on. Amazing how kids respond to old humour, I suppose to them it is new, even if old fashioned. Kids do not see anything strange in the Teddy Bear song, only adults can see the low voice. It never affected me as a kid, I doubt others today notice it. We had a proper turntable at achool, with a large trumpet and a handle equiring winding ever few minutes. Kids loved winding it up when we were doing the 'Dashing White Sergeant,' even if we had no idea what that was all about. Try the kids on that at a party. Alma Cogan did of course come to a bad end, suicide I believe, quite young too..

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    1. So your school had a gramophone too! One school I went to at age 6 also had a gramophone, not with a horn, though. We used to do country dancing outside, with the gramophone balanced on a chair, intently watched by a donkey in the next field that really seemed to appreciate scratchy 78s of "Princess Royal" or "Strip the Willow"!

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  17. Can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to take meds to travel. YIKES....I used to go all the time and was in the car driving all around, I would have been lost had I not been able to enjoy that. My sis in law gets that way if she rides in the back. Funny thing, I have a cat and she got sick the one time I put her in the back. Maybe she is like my sis in law. Glad to hear that you faced your bday month straight on. Sometimes it is best to do things like that. Sometimes it takes not doing that for a while before you jump in and take over. Glad its not been bad.

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    1. I used to get terribly car sick as a kid. We didn't have meds when I was young, or else my parents decided not to use them, but we used to need to stop and throw up at least once every journey! Yes, it was good to face up to my birthday in January, and it did work well.

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  18. Belated Happy 🎂 Birthday wishes to you, Jenny, from someone who will be celebrating that annual event next week with the start of a new month. The London trip with the confusing directions and children sounded like it could have been even more distressing until your idea to play the music and silly songs. I have only listened to a couple but plan to click on all the links, many of which I am not familiar with perhaps as someone else said as they are from the UK.

    As far as silly songs I recall listening to, here's a few titles: Dominic, the Christmas Donkey, Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight, On Top of Spaghetti . . .

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    1. Happy birthday of next week, Beatrice! I didn't know Dominic the Christmas Donkey, but I hadn't thought of your last two songs for years, and oh, my! they took me back to when I was a kid and we used to sing them on the school bus!

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  19. What a great post, Jenny! I've listened to a couple of the songs while reading and will listen to them all. It had to be a frustrating ride until you brilliantly thought of that idea! Isn't it fun to hear kids laugh and really get into things -- and then they want to hear them over and over! I'm glad you had back-up! Were you playing these on your phone from youtube or did you have them all together in the car? If so, excellent forward planning! It sounds like they were CDs you had in the car -- humor compilations? That's just great!

    You started me thinking on funny songs I might know and it was hard to come up with any. Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini came to mind, along with Monster Mash and the now politically incorrect Ahab the Arab. Ray Stevens came up with quite a few. Guitarzan was a good one, too -- those were late 50s/early 60s. I loved Allan Sherman -- most all of his were new lyrics to old songs but very clever. (And yes, "Yellow Submarine" rocks!)

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  20. I love your writing, but completely lost the thrust of whatever it was you had to do (bizarrely, I used to enjoy driving across London!), and got immersed in Boom Ooo Yatatata and the Teddy Bear's Picnic. Happy, innocent days? Or maybe sad old bloke! Somewhere, I have a CD of Children's Family Favourites; I will look it up immediately, and play it at the next village disco. Get down!

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    1. I have to say that by the end of the trip I had almost lost the plot too. The idea of enjoying driving across London is a new one to me. Perhaps I've been thinking of it in the wrong way ...but no, actually, I don't think so :) I would love to go to a village disco - please invite me to the next one!

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    2. You're on! Mind you, I'd probably never be allowed to do another if I played that kind of stuff - I get it; it's hard to boogie to Nellie the Elephant.

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  21. I read you post a while ago and again more recently. I was sure I'd commented but obviously only got as far as thinking what to say, I find it so frustrating. Anyway obviously I am of an age when all of the songs are known to me except Michael Dapaar of whom I had never heard and was not tempted to try. The antics of Gangnam Style irritated me beyond reason. Likes and dislike are not rational.

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  22. You should get hold of Chas & Dave, Jamboree Bag #3! Our son loved that 2 set CD. It was on cassette tape when he was really little. I think they influenced him as a musician and singer!

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  23. Thanks for stopping in and saying hello, I always enjoy seeing your comments and reading your posts this is a wonderful and interesting post as well. Happy Birthday to you too and enjoy your week ahead!

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