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Saturday, February 14, 2009

And Away We Go

For the last few days I've been particularly enjoying the CD "And Away We Go" - it has a lot of the songs used for the sketch background music from the Jackie Gleason show, plus also some lush arrangements of some classic songs like Shangrila. I'm glad I caught relatively early televisions shows, where the performers and artists had paid their dues and come up the hard way through talent and effort in many different types of entertainment. Nothing like honing skills in front of audiences for years to get timing, etc. "just so." My dad so loved Jackie Gleason, as did the rest of us. Jackie reminded me a little of my dad in sense of humor This album has a fabulous rendition of Jackie doing the classic "Casey at the Bat." Eat your heart out DeWolf Hopper. I think Jackie does it better.
Also on the CD was a new-to-me rendition of his recital of a poem "For I had but Fifty Cents." If you press the link above there are some great samples. I'd always liked the tune "la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la [*]" but never knew its name before!
I quote the version Jackie does of "I had but Fifty Cents" apparently it was originally published by Sam Devere in 1885, with slightly different words.
"I took my girl to a fancy ball;
It was a social hop.
We waited till the folks got out,
And the music it did stop.
Then to a restaurant we went,
The best one on the street.
She said she wasn't hungry
But this is what she ate.

A dozen raw, a plate of slaw,
A chicken and a roast,
Some applesauce and asparagus,
And soft-shell crabs on toast.
A big box stew, and crackers too;
Her appetite was immense!
When she called for pie,
I thought I'd die,
For I had but fifty cents.

She said she wasn't hungry
And didn't care to eat,
But I've money in my clothes
To bet she can't be beat.
She took it in so cozy,
She had an awful tank.

She said she wasn't thirsty
But this is what she drank.
A whisky skin, a glass of gin,
Which made me shake with fear,
A ginger pop, with rum on top,
A schooner then of beer,
A glass of ale, a gin cocktail.
She should have had more sense.
When she called for more
I fell on the floor
For I had but fifty cents.

Of course I wasn't hungry
And didn't care to eat,
Expecting every moment
To be kicked into the street.
She said she'd fetch her family round,
And some night we'd have fun
But I had but fifty cents.

When I gave the man the fifty cents,
This is what he done:
He tore my clothes,
He smashed my nose,
He hit me on the jaw,
He gave me a prize
Of a pair of black eyes
And with me swept the floor.
He took me where my pants hung loose,
And threw me over the fence.
Now take my advice, don't try it twice
If you've got but fifty cents."

Big recommendation!
[And the Library of Congress has a copy of the orginal words and sheet music which you can see here. How cool!]

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