"I love a sailor, the sailor loves me, And sails ev'ry night to my home. He's not a sailor that sails o'er the sea, Or over the wild, briny foam; For he owns an airship and sails on high...." So starts Come Take a Trip in My Airship, sung by J.W. Myers--Mr. J.W. Myers. "Just idly sailing and watching the clouds, He asked me if I'd name the day. And right near the dipper I gave him my heart, The sun shines on our honeymoon...." Since gay marriage was not an accepted thing in 1904, what's a guy doing, singing the woman's part? Well, even as late as the 1920s, vocalists weren't necessarily gender-matched, lyrics-wise. I had, or used to have, a male vocalist providing the vocal refrain to The Man I Love. Different times, different traditions.
Which leads to my introduction to Mixed Bags, my Halloween series--one which will see a three-day or so delay after this first bag, but these treats should hold everyone that long, I hope. I'll be offering novelties, mostly, along with sides that simply haven't dated very well, and others that are tacky or inadequate in entertaining ways--pretty much, like many of my blog's usual offerings. The thing is, I've run out of traditional Halloween tracks, and I've mostly been recycling each October. I thought I'd do something different this season. Today's playlist features shellac goodies, save for one vinyl rip.
And the season has hit, of course. I'm lucky to be in an area not experiencing damaging winds and rain--just gloomy skies, drizzle, and a warm-one-day, cold-the-other pattern that keeps my sinuses in suspense. Either my head is less stuffed today (it's mostly clear out), or else I've just gotten used to the congestion. Dunno.
Anyway, I finally landed a restorable copy of Paul Whiteman's The Hoodoo Man, superbly arranged by Ferde Grofe, and it's the one standard Halloween-style track, here--and a great one. The Arkansaw Traveler--Parody by Arthur Pryor's Band is a parody on (you'll never guess) The Arkansaw Traveler. Now, I don't know if Arkansaw was simply an accepted alternate spelling back in the day, or if it was meant for "rube" effect--i.e., to suggest something rustic and primitive (like the outrageously awful-on-purpose Len Spencer Arkansaw Travler, further down in the list). My bet would be that the w was meant to suggest an older, "rube" spelling, but that's just my bet. The 1908 Spencer side is spoken, with fiddle asides (I forget who the fiddler is purported to be), and it dates back to a 19th century stage routine which was longer and possibly cornier. My copy is a 10-inch Victor reissue of an 8-inch side, so I'm sure they had to shave off some of the deliberately (?) terrible punchlines.
God's Elevator is a track I just had to include because of the name. Otherwise, good, ordinary bluegrass gospel--except for that title. The LP was trashed, but Vinyl Studio did miracles with it. And I could have called this playlist A Billy Murray Halloween, since Billy is all over it--two solos, a vocal refrain for Jean Goldkette, and two doses of Billy with The American Quartet. Murray, btw, did his own version of Come Take a Trip in My Airship, and I wish I had that one--though two helpings of that number might be one too many. Anyway, Billy's I Love Me is a novelty masterpiece that I first featured years ago, and Alcoholic Blues--a novelty about Prohibition--is a blog premiere. Murray emotes like crazy on the second title. When it came to selling a song's lyrics, the man never held back.
And we get several vintage country sides. I just have to cite this passage from the first installment of Ken Burn's history of country music, regarding pre-1923 commercial sound recordings: "Most of the music available to (the public) was by 'high brow' artists like opera tenor Enrico Caruso." That's news to Billy Murray, Al Jolson, Henry Burr, the scores of hugely popular quartets, Arthur Pryor, Paul Whiteman, and Ted Lewis. Oh, well, it's just PBS. It's not like their goal is to educate or anything.
Old Timers, by the Bar Harbor Society Orchestra, is a 1922 medley of "old" songs, and someone should send Ken a copy. And, speaking of copies, I wish I had a better one of Goodbye, My Honey, I'm Gone, which is very cool old-timey country by the Pickard Family, with "yellow fellow" ("fella"?) as part of the lyrics, which gives away the song's African-American origins. "Yellow," we'll recall, is a word for a fair-skinned black person. As in The Yellow Rose of Texas, for instance.
You're Bound to Look Like a Monkey (When You Grow Old) has an African-American origin, too--Bob Crosby's superb version was not the first. And it certainly doesn't have to be taken as a racist kind of thing--the lyrics are too hilarious to quibble over. Two 1927 polkas end the playlist, and... what else did I want to note? Oh, yeah--note "I hear the train a'comin'" in the famous Appalachian folk ballad Rovin' Gambler. And notice the Spike Jones/Doodles Weaver-style fake horse race at the end of Georgie Price's Barney Google. And note that the superbly performed The Man from the South was a collaboration between Rube Bloom and Harry (I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover) Woods. Goodies galore--and I've always wanted to type that.
DOWNLOAD: Mixed Bag #1
Come Take a Trip in My Airship--J.W. Myers (1904)
The Hoodoo Man (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Orch., 1924
Arkansaw Traveler--Parody (Lovenberg)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1914
Barney Google--Georgie Price, 1923
I Love Me--Billy Murray, 1923
God's Elevator--Perry Duet, 1970
Queen of Sheba (Lewis)--Ted Lewis Jazz Band, 1921
Golden Slippers--Kanawha Singers, 1927
Ina Step--Louis Katzman's Orchestra, 1934
Alcoholic Blues--Billy Murray, 1919
I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover--Jean Goldkette and His O., v: Billy Murray, 1927
The Green Grass Grew All Around--American Quartet, 1924
Old MacDonald Had a Farm--Same, 1924
New River Train--Kelly Harrell, 1925
Rovin' Gambler--Same, 1925
"Gimme" a Little Kiss, Will "Ya"? Huh?--Jean Goldkette and His O., w. vocal chorus, 1926
The Arkansaw Traveler--Len Spencer--1908
You're Bound to Look Like a Monkey (When You Grow Old)--Bob Crosby's Bob Cats, v: Nappy Lamare, 1940
Hear Dem Bells--Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters, 1927
The Man from the South (Rube Bloom-Harry Woods)--Ted Weems and His Orch., v: Arthur Jarrett and chorus, 1929
Old Timers (Arr. R.H. Bowers)--Bar Harbor Society Orchestra, 1922
Goobye, My Honey, I'm Gone--The Pickard Family, 1929
Podletek--Polka--Kapalka i Jego Orchestra, 1927
Dawaj Buzi (Give Me a Kiss)--Polka--Same, 1927