JOHN MURRAY ANDERSON'S ALMANAC

AND OTHER BROADWAY-LONDON REVUES

Sung by Hermione Gingold & Cyril Ritchard

with

Billy DeWolfe & Elaine Dunn

After I published webpages on Broadway musicals I had seen and loved, I branched out to Broadway musicals I loved from the original cast albums but had never seen.  Many of these are 50+ years old and while they were very popular in their day and for some time thereafter, very few people of my acquaintance seem aware of them any more, and I wanted to document them for posterity.  

Something all of the musicals I have documented have in common is that the lyrics are very clever.  It seems to me that lyric writing is a lost art; and in what passes for music nowadays the lyrics are often incomprehensible.  Once, lyrics were poetry set to music, beautiful or funny or amazingly insightful.  It is for this reason that I have chosen to do a webpage on John Murray Anderson's ALMANAC.  This is not a beloved old recording I have listened to for decades.  This is a CD I found on Internet when I was idly surfing one day looking for material on Cyril Ritchard.  

Cyril was an elegant and talented performer I first discovered playing Captain Hook on the NBC TV version of PETER PAN (1955).  I saw him on many things on TV and also was lucky enough to see him several times on stage in THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT -- THE SMELL OF THE CROWD (1965) and SUGAR (1972).  

With some Christmas money I sent away for the ALMANAC CD in January, 2000.  I was expecting that I would not like it very much because it is so dated and I never heard of it before; but much to my surprise, I have enjoyed it very much and, in particular, the songs sung by Hermione Gingold.  She is best known to me as a guest on the Jack Paar TONIGHT show when I was a child and, of course, from her most famous film role as the grandmother in GIGI (1958).  I also saw her play another grandmother in Sondheim's A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (1973); she recreated the role for the 1977 film.  Quite apart from the wit of the lyrics below is the amazement that something that was recorded back in the days of mainly monoral long play records could have such a wonderful sound.
The liner notes from the CD reveal that John Murray Anderson's ALMANAC opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on December 10, 1953.  The cast included:

Hermione Gingold
Billy DeWolfe
Harry Belafonte
Orson Bean
Nanci Crompton
Carleton Carpenter
Alice Pearce
Elaine Dunn
Celia Lipton
James Jewell

Although the show ran for only a few months (229 performances), apparently the cast changed, because a program that was kindly Xeroxed for me by Ronald W. Horback lists the following cast:

Billy DeWolfe
Harry Belafonte
Polly Bergen
Orson Bean
Nanci Crompton
Carleton Carpenter
Harry Mimmo
Celia Lipton
Elaine Dunn
Harry Snow
and Hermione Gingold

The CD liner notes indicate Polly Bergen and Kay Medford were also in the show  (and the program has bios and photos of them) and Larry Kert was Harry Belafonte's understudy.  Jonathan Winters was also in the show for a few weeks.  Belafonte won the Tony Award for Outstanding Supporting or Featured Actor--Musical.  In addition to the acting and singing cast, the program lists the following "ALMANAC Beauties":  Monique Van Vooren, Tina Louise, Colleen Hutchins (Miss America of 1951) and Jacqueline Mickles.  The music and lyrics were written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross as well as Richard Addinsell, Arthur Macrae, Cy Coleman, Michael Grace, Joseph McCarthy, Irwin Graham, Henry Sullivan, John Rox and Sheldon Harnick.  The sketches were written by  George Axelrod, Jean Kerr, Sumner Locke-Elliott, Herbert Farjeon, Lauri Wyle and Billy K. Wells.  The entire production was "devised and staged" by John Murray Anderson, but the sketches were directed by Cyril Ritchard.  In other words, Cyril Ritchard did not appear in ALMANAC.  

The CD itself is not a soundtrack of the original cast of ALMANAC but rather a compilation of material originally from several London and Broadway revues culled from two old recordings on the Dolphin label:

An additional thing ALMANAC and the Cyril Ritchard recording have in common is Elaine Dunn.  Her bio in the ALMANAC program reveals that she made her theatrical debut at the age of thirteen in her native Cleveland, Ohio.  She was the winner out of 750 aspirants that auditioned for a dancer's spot on a benefit show sponsored by a Cleveland newspaper.  A dancer since she was a very young child, she worked with equal facility in ballet, modern interpretive and tap idioms.  She made her way to New York in the late winter of 1952 and was booked into the Copacabana as a featured dancer.  She also made recent appearances at Camp Tamiment, one of the country's outstanding incubators of talent, which gave her the opportunity to develop her singing talent as well as her dancing skill.  Her only previous New York stage credit was in a revival of PAL JOEY in which she was a featured dancer.

According to the CD only five of the twenty-two tracks on the CD are actually from ALMANAC!  However, after comparing the songs/skits on the ALMANAC CD with the ALMANAC program, I can identify only two, the song YOU'RE SO MUCH A PART OF ME, and the skit called TRAVEL in the ALMANAC program and EUROPEAN EXPRESS/TEA AND CEYLON on the CD.  

The program lists the ALMANAC running order as follows:

Title

Authors

Role

Performers

Prologue:  HARLEQUINADE Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Harlequin Orson Bean
Puncinello Harry Mimmo
Pierrot Harry Snow
Pierrette Celia Lipton
Columbine Nanci Compton

Page 1

THE CORONATION "Queen for a Day" Richard Adler and Jerry Ross The Four Queens Jacqueline Mickles, Colleen Hutchins, Monique Van Vooren, Tina Louise
The Bridegrooms Larry Kert, Bob Kole, George Reeder, Jay Harnick
Miss Reingold Hermione Gingold

Page 2

BEST SELLER "My Cousin Who?" Jean Kerr David Billy DeWolfe
Butlers Jimmy Albright, Kenneth Urmston
Witch Doctor Dean Crane
Maids Toni Wheelis, Gwen Neilson
Rebecca Celia Lipton
Louise Ilona Murai

Page 3

THE CONCERT STAGE Leslie Julian Jones The Cellist Hermione Gingold

Page 4

TEENAGE "Part of Me" Richard Adler and Jerry Ross The Pierrot of 1953 Carleton Carpenter
The Pierrette of 1953 Elaine Dunn

Page 5

ZIEGFELDIANA "If Every Month Were June" Music by Henry Sullivan; Lyrics by John Murray Anderson; Sung by Polly Bergen The Spring Bride Colleen Hutchins
The Summer Bride Siri
The Autumn Bride Jacqueline Mickles
The Winter Bride Monique Van Vooren
The Bouquet Nanci Crompton
The Train Bearers Imelda DeMartin, Lee Becker, Dorothy Dushock, Gwen Neilson

Page 6

COMMENTARY Orson Bean; The Song "Merry Little Minuet" is by Sheldon Harnick Orson Bean

Page 7

TRAVEL Mrs. A Hermione Gingold

Mrs. B Billy DeWolfe

Page 8

FOLKLORE "Mark Twain" Harry Belafonte Harry Belafonte

Page 9

MUSICALS A LA MODE "Hope You Come Back" Sumner Locke Elliott; Music and Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Meg Polly Bergen
Beth Nanci Crompton
Jo Elaine Dunn
Amy Hermione Gingold
Marmee Kay Medford
Laurie Billy DeWolfe
Father Orson Bean
Friends Harry Belafonte, Harry Snow, Carleton Carpenter and Entire Company

Intermission

Page 1

"Tin Pan Alley" Music by Cy Coleman, Lyric by Joseph McCarthy, Jr. The Song-Plugger Carlton Carpenter
with Ronald Cecill, Jay Harnick, Larry Kert, Bob Kole
"Mammy Songs" Ralph McWilliams and Kenneth Urmston

Page 2

CARTOON Arthur Macrae First Secretary Kay Medford
Second Secretary Coleen Hutchins
The New Manager Orson Bean
Page 3 COLOUR PRINT "La Loge" (Renoir) Herbert Farjeon "Fini" by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross; Sung by Polly Bergen The Man in the Box by Jay Harnick

Page 4

"Health Talk" Hermione Gingold Hermione Gingold
Page 5 CALYPSO "Hold 'Em Joe" Harry Belafonte Sung by Harry Belafonte
Danced by Ilona Murai, George Reeder, Gloria Smith, Monique Van Vooren, Colleen Hutchins and the "Almanac" Dancers

Page 6

"Elevator" Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Elaine Dunn

Page 7

GOSSIP COLUMN "Dinner for One" Lauri Wylie The Lady Hermione Gingold

The Butler Billy DeWolfe

Page 8

DIPLOMACY "Paisan" Richard Adler and Jerry Ross The Diplomat Harry Mimmo
The Reporters Imelda DeMartin, Lee Becker, Margot Myers, Gloria Smith,
Toni Wheelis, Greb Lober, Gwen Neilson, Dorothy Dushock

Page 9

REVIVAL "The Nightingale and the Rose" (Adapted from the story of Oscar Wilde by John Murray Anderson) "Nightingale Bring Me a Rose" Music by Henry Sullivan Lyric by John Murray Anderson; Sung by Harry Snow The Story Teller Celia Lipton
The Student Dean Crane
The Prince Job Sanders
The  Coquette Margot Myers
The Nightingale Nanci Crompton

Page 10

COMMENTARY The Chinese Monologue was written by Orson Bean and Paul Green Orson Bean

Page 11

WOODCUT "Acorn in the Meadow" Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Harry Belafonte
Page 12 PARIS '90's "La Pistachio" Billy K. Wells Adapted for the "Almanac" by Sumner Locke Elliott Bobo Hermione Gingold
Cornelius Billy DeWolfe
Fifi Kay Medford

Page 13

ASTROLOGY "The Earth and the Sky" Music and lyrics by John Rox; Sung by Polly Bergen Finale Entire Company
Epilogue Hermione Gingold

A contemporary review by John Chapman praises an item written by Jean Kerr called DON BROWN'S BODY, which is "a Mickey Spillane thriller told in the manner of  JOHN BROWN'S BODY with all the folderol about the actors pretending to read and a chorus putting in side remarks."  

Chapman also praised HOPE YOU COME BACK, "a first-class satire on PICNIC".  Writing in the TIMES, Brooks Atkinson praised Billy DeWolfe's caricature of Ralph Meeker in this item.  "Mr. DeWolfe manages to satirize that piece of acting merely by strutting across the stage and somehow throwing his bare chest barbarously out of shape."  Atkinson also singled out for praise Orson Bean's presentation of "a ghoulish rhapsody by Sheldon Harnick, entitled MERRY LITTLE MINUET; although it is written like a madrigal, it celebrates the myriad horrors of the atomic age, and Mr. Bean sings it with well-bred cheerfulness that is gruesomely funny."

A contemporary review in THEATRE WORLD says:  "The great joy of ALMANAC is the sketches - not a poor one among them.  There is an extremely clever take-off of JOHN BROWN'S BODY, the deadly, all-star reading of the Stephen Vincent Benet poem, currently touring the United States; that was so carefully designed to be simplicity itself that it became unbearably pretentious.  The revue version is called DON BROWN'S BODY, a reading of a Mickey Spillane detective story, and it is to be hoped the devastation is so complete that it sends this type of entertainment back to the lecture halls where it belongs.  A good take-off of Daphne Du Maurier's MY COUSIN RACHEL is also on hand by the same author, Jean Kerr, wife of the NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE's drama critic. . .  a neat, naughty blackout by Arthur Macrae, which first appeared in London's THE LYRIC REVUE, a reasonably successful combination of LITTLE WOMEN, WISH YOU WERE HERE and the Pulitzer Prize play PICNIC, with Miss Gingold playing the "pretty one", the most beautiful girl in town; and from her own British successes, the comedienne has brought THE CELLO, the sad saga of the old gal whose posture has conformed to the instrument; WHICH WITCH? and EUROPEAN EXPRESS, the amusing nonsense of two biddies in a train compartment sharing a thermos bottle of port wine.  The great triumph of the evening, however, is the sketch DINNER FOR ONE by Laurie Wylie, which is already being referred to as a comic classic. . .  It is a one-joke sketch, with a wonderfully, sly, bawdy topper, absolutely brilliantly performed by Miss Gingold as an ancient grande dame dining alone with the five vacant chairs of former admirers and Billy deWolfe as the butler, who must fill in for each of them."  A 1963 version of this sketch (with Freddie Frinton as the butler) is available on YouTube.

Where the authors  credited on the ALMANAC CD differ from the authors credited on the original Dolphin LPs, I have used the Dolphin credits, as these also coincide with those mentioned in Hermione's biography. I am indebted to Tom Viktora of Upscale Audio Exchange (www.upscale.net) for Xeroxing the liner notes of LA GINGOLD for me.

Title Artiste Authors Original Show
Introductions Hermione Gingold Zwar-Rudge-Ashton Cafe de Paris (London)
Which Witch HG Melville-Zwar Sky High (London)
Flowers HG Baker-Harnick John Murray Anderson's Almanac
You're So Much a Part of Me Cyril Ritchard & Elaine Dunn Adler-Ross John Murray Anderson's Almanac
European Express/Tea and Ceylon HG  Billy De Wolfe Kerr John Murray Anderson's Almanac
When Am I Going to Meet Your Mother? CR & Elaine Dunn Adler-Ross John Murray Anderson's Almanac
The Borgias Are Having an Orgy HG Jowett-Gordon Sweet and Low (London)
Tit for Tat HG Phillips-Stewart Sweetest and Lowest (London)
The Old Gavotte CR Hamilton-Lewis Three to Make Ready
And Her Mother Came, Too CR Novello A Musical Jubilee (London)
Lizzie Borden CR Brown New Faces of 1952
But the People Were Nice HG Lawrence-Davis Sticks and Stones
Cocaine HG Phillips-Stewart Sticks and Stones
Queen of Song HG Maschwitz-Strachey Swinging the Gate (London)
Color Blind CR Climie-Cass Hippodrome (London)
Turk in the Murkadurk CR Elliott-Reed King and Mrs. Candle (US TV)
Winter in Palm Springs HG and Billy De Wolfe Gingold Sticks and Stones
The Duet CR Wilcox Nine Sharp (London)
Nobody Ever Asked Me HG Davis (uncredited)
Robert the Robot HG Rudge-Zwar Sticks and Stones
Spin HG Phipps-Wright The Gate Revue
Thanks Yanks HG Melville-Wright Sweeter and Lower(London)

Additional material that was in ALMANAC (but not on the CD) included the following sketches:

Writing in AMERICAN MUSICAL REVUE (1985 Oxford University Press), Gerald Boardman notes Hermione Gingold's "superlative material for her American debut" and that she "capitalized on every bit of it, abetted handsomely by a fine American film comedian, Billy DeWolfe.  She won her audience the moment she came on, telling them how awed she was by New York harbor's fine statue of Judith Anderson.  Later she played a frustrated old cellist ('a twang here--a twang there'), grateful for any instrument between her legs."  She and DeWolfe "combined their gifts in a sketch that was immediately hailed as a classic.  'Dinner for One' found Miss Gingold as a ninety-year old grande dame seated at the end of a long, elegantly set dining table.  Her decrepit butler, played by DeWolfe, had set places for four of her long dead admirers.  He moved from chair to chair and in each stead proposed a toast to the lady, then cleared the dishes, reset the table, and started the toasts again.  By the third or fourth course, he was quite woozy and clattering the dishes.  At the end of the multicoursed dinner, he escorted his mistress to her room, though which one was less steady of foot was moot.  It may not sound like much, but it was unquestionably one of the most brilliantly performed bits in all of American revue.  A young monologuist, Orson Bean, was also on hand at times to offer his own brand of wit."

Lee Davis, writing in SCANDALS AND FOLLIES (Limelight Editions 2000), says:  John Murray Anderson scored well "in some departments.  He introduced two new composing and lyric talents to Broadway:  Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.  He brought Sheldon Harnick along to once more produce a showstopping comedy number, this time titled 'A Merry Minuet' that was anything but merry. . . and he peopled his cast with winning comics--Billy DeWolfe, Alice Pearce, Orson Bean and, in her first appearance in America, Hermione Gingold. ... The singing tasks were handled by Carleton Carpenter, Tony Bavaar, Tina Louise and Nanci Crompton, and yet another major talent, Harry Belafonte, was introduced, singing his own calypso shout, 'Hold 'Em Joe,' which launched his meteoric career."  Davis also singled out DINNER FOR ONE as "one of the classic revue sketches of all time . . . in which Gingold has her butler set the table for herself and her four long-dead gentleman friends."

I have been able to track down the lyrics to MERRY LITTLE MINUET, for which the music and lyrics were provided by Sheldon Harnick:
There are days in my life
When everything is dreary
I grow pessimistic
Sad and world weary.
But when I am tearful and fearfully upset,
I always sing this merry little minuet.

They're rioting in Africa.
They're starving in Spain.
There's hurricanes in Florida,
And Texas needs rain.

The whole world is festering
With unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans
The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs
South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much.

In far away Siberia
They freeze by the score
An avalanche in Switzerland
Just got fifteen more.

But we can be tranquil
And thankful and proud
For man's been endowed
With a mushroom shaped cloud.
And we know for certain
That some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away.

They're rioting in Africa.
There's strike in Iran.
What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.

ALMANAC ran for 229 performances, and Hermione received the Donaldson Award for the best musical comedy debut, when suddenly Anderson died and the show closed.  I am indebted to Ronald W. Horback for photocopying the ALMANAC program, from which the following biography of John Murray Anderson originated, supplemented by information I found on Internet and some library books about revues:

JOHN MURRAY ANDERSON (1886-1954)

Born in St. John's, Newfoundland, Mr. Anderson spent his formative years in Edinburgh, where he first fell in love with the theatre, ever since he saw Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry play KING CHARLES I, Beerbohm Tree and Maud Jeffries in TWELFTH NIGHT and William Gillette in SHERLOCK HOLMES.  Later he went to school in Lausanne.  In London he studied at Tree's Academy of Dramatic Arts, worked on voice with Sir Charles Santley and dancing with Louis d'Egville.  He directed the 1932 London revue BOW BELLS starring Binnie Hale and Billy Milton.  Murray, as he was known to his intimates, moved to New York and set up shop as an antique dealer.  Later, he became a ballroom dancer, and shortly after he was in cabaret revues and went on to staging and producing the first GREENWICH VILLAGE FOLLIES (1919) which was produced until 1924. He also produced WHAT'S IN A NAME (1920) and his own John Murray Anderson's ALMANAC (1929 and 1953). He also directed such musicals as:

HERMIONE GINGOLD

I was able to amass enough material on Hermione Gingold and the various revues she appeared in that I felt obliged to spin this off onto a separate webpage.  Click here for a link to Hermione's bio and information on THE GATE REVUE, SWINGING THE GATE, RISE ABOVE IT, SWEET AND LOW, SWEETER AND LOWER, SWEETEST AND LOWEST, SLINGS AND ARROWS, CAFÉ DE PARIS, STICKS AND STONES and FROM A TO Z.

CYRIL RITCHARD

I have also been able to collect enough material on Cyril Ritchard that I felt I should spin it off onto a separate webpage.  Click here for a link to Cyril's bio and career information.

Click here for a webpage on the Leonard Sillman NEW FACES revues.

Introductions

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of INTRODUCTIONS.

This is a song (written by Charles Zwar-Myles Rudge-Clary Ashton) Hermione sang at the Cafe de Paris in London where she followed Marlene Dietrich, who had a different celebrity introduce her every night.

Ladies and gentlemen, I must apologize
For having no one here to introduce me,
To warm you up and then, ta da, produce me.
Miss Dietrich pulled a neat trick,
But she pulled it much too far:
She used up ev'ry famous name and wore out ev'ry star.
Had I got, dear sir or madam, someone you don't know from Adam
To present me, it would leave us all precisely where we are.

For who would introduce the introducer?
For the introducer must be introduced.
And who would introduce the introducer's introducer?
To give whoever's following the necessary boost

And if the introducer's introducer is someone of whom no one's ever heard,
We should need an introducer's introducer's introducer's introducer,
Which, to me, seems quite absurd.

So the hell with introducer's introductions
And the jokes which they invariably tell.
I'd not only have to give introduction'ry instructions,
But I should have to give them dinner here as well,
Still he who introduces might perhaps have other uses
Far beyond his introductive repartee

So if there is a steaming cup
Who's dining here ce soir, whose got a yacht and lots of currency,
Who feels convinced that as an introducer he'd go far,
Well, would he kindly introduce himself to me?


Which Witch

An Alan Melville-Charles Zwar song sung by Hermione.  Click here for a 30-second excerpt from WHICH WITCH.

It's many a year since I launched my career
In Shakespeare:
Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?
(Rather nice, eh?)

At a most tender age I first tottered on stage
As a page.
Now, I first acted, let's see, when would it be?
It was twenty-three.

And although it seems queer in the very next year
I played Lear; ah, those were the days,
And I thought they had gone
But some weeks ago a young man called John,
It think it was Gielgud, yes, yes, I'm quite sure,
He rang me up and invited me out on a tour
For fifty-two weeks as a witch in MACBETH --
Well, a prospect I thought little better than death,

So I said, Mr. Gielgud, my dear,
There's one point on which I'm not clear;
We fixed up the sordid finance, so to speak,
And I'm working for practically nothing a week,
But in which part am I to appear?

Which witch?  
Is it first witch or second, or which?
As one who's played Lady Macbeth in her day,
I must be the witch who has most lines to say.

Now, the tall scraggy thin one would not interest me;
I must be the hag with the gag in Act Three.
If it's the first witch, then I should love it,
But if it's the second, you know where you can shove it.

I will not be the one who just croaks in the shade;
I must have the lights on my face, I'm afraid;
So to avoid any last minute hitch,
Would you kindly inform me which witch?

Which witch?  
Is it Ethel or Fanny or which?
Now, don't think I insist on a part that is huge
But I've never in forty-two years been a stooge.

The part must be one in which I'll get my teeth;
Not the hag who keeps shouting "all hail" on the heath.
When we're grouped 'round the cauldron
And watching it bubble,
Well, I must be well lit or else they'll be trouble.

We can fix up these things when we start to rehearse,
But I must be the witch who has got the best curse.
So before I pack one single bag,
I just want to know, dear, which hag?

When I 'd done, Mr. Gielgud said, "Blast,
I will not have that witch in the cast"
And I found that I'd quite queered my pitch
So I never discovered which witch.


Flowers

A David Baker-Sheldon Harnick song sung by Hermione.  According to the liner notes on the CD LIVING WITH PLEASURE (SONGS FROM BRITISH REVUES OF THE 50s AND 60s) Adrian Wright indicates this number was originally written for Ben Bagley's SHOESTRING REVUES where it was sung by Dody Goodman.  Click here for a 30-second excerpt from FLOWERS.  In her autobiography, Hermione mentions how often people mispronounce her name.  The introduction to this song is an example of  this, as Hermione mispronounces her own name:  chez Her-me-OWN JON-gold.

Somebody's sending me flowers;
Oh, what a nice thing to do!
Every day brings another bouquet,
And I don't know who to say "thank you" to.

Sometimes they're thrown through the window,
Or down through the chimney they fall.
Sometimes at night when I turn out the light
They come through a crack in the wall.

Now that my house is a garden,
Bursting with blossoms and blooms,
I stand there for hours admiring my flowers,
And I'd like to sit down, but there just isn't room.

Somebody's sending me flowers,
More than I ever have had;
And it's adorable stuff
But enough is enough;
And if I see another bouquet, I'll go mad.

Flow'rs are the language of love, I'm told;
A language divine.
Each pretty little blossom has a message to unfold,
That's all, except mine.
Now, if flowers are the language of affection,
Well, how can I interpret this collection?

He started by sending me bluebells;
Strangely enough, they were grey.
Each little bloom had a horrid perfume,
And besides being grey, they were papier mache.

There followed a large pot of fungus;
Then as an added surprise,
He sent me a plant that proceeded to pant
And later began catching flies.

Oh, the cactus corsage touched me deeply,
A beautiful plant in its prime,
And I felt much the same when the rock garden came,
One rock at a time.

Somebody madly adores me.
I don't know who to suspect,
And I can't afford to be madly adored;
Oh, I do wish he'd stop sending flow'rs collect!


You're So Much a Part of Me

A Richard Adler-Jerry Ross song sung by Cyril and Elaine Dunn.  Click here for a 30-second excerpt from YOU'RE SO MUCH A PART OF ME.

This song  illustrates how when people are close, they can finish each other's sentences.  First Cyril sings the chorus, then Elaine Dunn sings it; eventually they alternate every other word.

You're so much a part of me,
A part of me, a part of me
So deep within the heart of me
The two of us are one

When you get too much exercise
I start losing weight.
And when you take your vitamins
Why, darlin', I feel great!

'Cause (chorus).

What a way to go daffy,
What a way to be;
We do everything half-y
I guess we must be a split personality.

'Cause (chorus).


European Express/Tea and Ceylon

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from TEA AND CEYLON.

TEA AND CEYLON is a sketch (credited to Jean Kerr) about two dotty old ladies (one of them is Billy De Wolfe in drag); he goes on and on about Ceylon and Hermione likewise prattles on about her sister.  The punchline is the revelation that he doesn't even believe there is such a place as Ceylon and she doesn't even have a sister.   I am informed by Ray Stanley of Australia that Hermione and Dame Edith Evans performed this sketch at the NIGHT OF 100 STARS and Hermione Baddeley recorded it on the LP, A TASTE OF HERMIONE BADDELEY (Prestige Lively Arts 30002).  Although it is also called EUROPEAN EXPRESS on the ALMANAC CD, this skit does not appear on the CD.  It apparently originated in the London revue SWINGING THE GATE under the title ORIENT EXPRESS written by Orford St. John, where it was performed by Hermione and Hedley Briggs (in drag).


When Am I Going to Meet Your Mother?

This is an Richard Adler-Jerry Ross number sung by Cyril and Elaine Dunn.  Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of  WHEN AM I GOING TO MEET YOUR MOTHER?

Cyril:

Elaine:

When I am I gonna meet your mother?
When am I gonna meet your dad?
When am I gonna meet your brother?
If he resembles you, I know that he's a handsome lad.

None of us really know each other.
After all, we met an hour ago.
When am I gonna meet your mother?
If we wait another hour or so,
I'm going to walk through her front door,
The proudest guy you ever saw,
And meet my mother-in-law.

Tonight's her night to play canasta.
Meetin' him could mean disaster.
Can't ya see you're rushin' me
'Cause I'm so shy?
Take it easy.

Did you say your name was Billy?
Don't you think you're actin' silly?
I give in
You win.


The Borgias Are Having an Orgy

This is a song with lyrics by John Jowett and music by Robert Gordon sung by Hermione.  In a 1979 radio interview on her career for the BBC, Hermione says she was mystified that the American G.I.s who came to the SWEET AND LOW revues were able to understand this number which included a parody of Margaret Lockwood and Stewart Granger.  The number was originally performed in SWEET AND LOW (1943) by  Hermione, Walter Crisham, Ilena Sylva and Bonar Colleano and then carried over into SWEETER AND LOWER (1944).  According to Alan Melville, in his autobiography, MERELY MELVILLE, this number consisted of four members of the Borgia family anticipating with relish the dinner-party they were throwing that evening.  I suspect that the parody elements Hermione referred to were in the costumes and makeup; the lyrics alone, as performed by Hermione, are sufficiently witty without having to appreciate that some long gone stars were being parodied.

This cheerfully sadistic number reminds me of the tone of the Tom Lehrer song, POISONING THE PIGEONS IN THE PARK or an Edward Gorey poem.   Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of  THE BORGIAS ARE HAVING AN ORGY.

The Borgias are having an orgy;
There's a Borgia orgy tonight,
And isn't it sickening
We've run out of strychnine;
The gravy will have to have ground glass for thickening.

The poison Chianti is terribly scanty
But everything else is all right.
There's ars'nic mixed in the mock turtle soup.
I've hidden an asp in the iced cantaloupe,
And straight Benzedrine in the apricot coupe
At the Borgia orgy tonight.

Our guests are exclusively chosen
From people who give us a pain.
The creme of the joke is the knowledge
That they won't come here again.

We'll all be most frightfully hearty
At the Borgia orgy tonight.
For the Duke's eldest son
There's a monstrous cream bun
Soaked in hot prussic acid;
It's all good clean fun.

The tank in the ladies will blow them to Hades
If anyone turns on the light.
The bodies will fall through a trap door below
To the Tiber and drift out to sea on the flow.
We think we can promise a jolly good show
At the Borgia orgy tonight.

We revel in giving a party,
A fete or a fancy dress ball.
There's always a nice game of bingo
And a good time had by all.

The Borgias are giving an orgy;
There's a Borgia orgy tonight.
I've poison ptomaine that will wrack them with pain.
We've nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

We're pushing some people
We know off a steeple;
It should be a wonderful sight.
We've bricked up some cousins of ours in a wall;
Their agonized cries won't disturb us at all
As we sit here sipping our wormwood and gall --
(It's delicious!)
At the Borgia orgy tonight.

We've got all the nobles of Naples
For the Borgia orgy tonight.
The soup minestrone is frightfully phony,
And laudanum reeks in the stewed macaroni.
We're feeling no pain when they eat the henbane
In the third tangerine from the right.

When the butler flings open the dining room door
There's a cunning contraption concealed in the floor:
We wonder who'll sit on the circular saw
At the Borgia orgy tonight.


Tit for Tat

This is a Neville Phillips-Robb Stewart song sung by Hermione in response to the famous 1933 Noel Coward song, DON'T PUT YOUR DAUGHTER ON THE STAGE, MRS. WORTHINGTON and is sung to the same melody, more or less.  Coward and Hermione were childhood friends, having appeared together in a stage show called WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS; he always called her Boodles.  Presumably Eliot and Fry are the well known playwrights T.S. Eliot and Christopher Fry.
I found a webpage wherein the author, Gerald Jonas, declaimed:  [MRS. WORTHINGTON] was never part of any stage production. Coward wrote it in 1936 as "a genuine cri de coeur to deter those dreadful eager mothers" from pushing their untalented offspring onto the stage As such, he reported with sadness, it was a total failure -- but audiences around the world loved it.
Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington;
Don't put your daughter on the stage.
The profession is overcrowded
And the struggle's pretty tough
And admitting the fact
She's burning to act,
That isn't quite enough.
She has nice hands, to give the wretched girl her due,
But don't you think her bust is too
Developed for her age?
I repeat
Mrs. Worthington,
Sweet
Mrs. Worthington
Don't put your daughter on the stage

Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington;
Don't put your daughter on the stage.
She's a bit of an ugly duckling
You must honestly confess,
And the width of her seat
Would surely defeat
Her chances of success.
It's a loud voice, and though it's not exactly flat,
She'll need a little more than that
To earn a living wage.
On my knees,
Mrs. Worthington,
Please
Mrs. Worthington,
Don't put your daughter on the stage.

Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington;
Don't put your daughter on the stage.
Thought they said at the school of acting
She was lovely as Peer Gynt,
I'm afraid on the whole
An ingenue role
Would emphasize her squint,
She's a big girl, and though her teeth are fairly good
She is not the type I ever would
Be eager to engage,
But no more buts,
Mrs. Worthington,
NUTS,
Mrs. Worthington,
Don't put your daughter on the stage.

Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington;
Don't put your daughter on the stage.
One look at her bandy legs should prove
She hasn't got a chance,
In addition to which
The son of a bitch
Can neither sing nor dance,
She's a vile girl and uglier than mortal sin,
One look at her has put me in
A tearing bloody rage,
That's sufficed,
Mrs. Worthington,
Christ!
Mrs. Worthington,
Don't put your daughter on the stage.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of  TIT FOR TAT.

Mr. Coward has sent me a play
And he hopes that I think it was gay.
I'm returning it to him today
With a note and here's what I shall say:

Don't write any more plays for Miss Agnes Worthington;
Please don't write me any more plays.
You may recall when I was still quite a tender age
You told my mother not to put her daughter on the stage.
She did and I am pleased to say that I became the rage.

Oh, Mr. Coward, Oh, Mr. Coward,
Take it from me that prophesy never pays,
And don't bother to send me any more plays.

Mr. Coward may tell me, of course,
That the part is a  great tour de force
He forgets he once called me a horse
And that horse is a little bit cross.

So don't send any more plays to Miss Agnes Worthington;
Please don't send me any more plays.
You said my bust was far too large
And dropped a cruel hint
That I would not get anywhere because I had a squint.
Well, squint or not that tiny tot
Has made herself a mint.

Ah, Mr. Coward, Oh Mr. Coward,
Both Eliot and Fry are writing for me these days,
So don't bother to send me any more plays --
'Cause I won't read them --
Don't bother to send me any more plays.


The Old Gavotte

This is the song (by Nancy Hamilton and  Morgan Lewis) that sounds closest to the Cyril Ritchard I remember from PETER PAN, a piratical number with his trademark chortles.   This is a charming song about an overprotective mother and her bloodthirsty child, and it also manages to poke fun in the way Cyril sneers at the two interlopers who try to inject a word into his tale.  It wouldn't surprise me if this song inspired some of the Captain Hook numbers from PAN, with its mixture of elegance (fingerbowls) and viciousness and Cyril's musically nasal giggles.  In particular, he sings the chorus with great gusto.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of  THE OLD GAVOTTE.
Cyril: Silence!  I spoke that not with accustomed gusto.
My lips so wont to curl, but curled not.
Come boys, a sprightly air to lift me brooding,
To bring me cheer:
Let's hear the Old Gavotte!

A gently born mother, she could have been mine . . .

Second Man: Or mine?
Elaine: Or mine?
Cyril: Not quite.

Was sitting at dinner, the flowers the wine,
The children, the cloth, all white.
She glanced at her first born; it could have been me.

Second Man: Or me?
Elaine: Or me?
Cyril: You think?

His jacket was velvet and lace filigree;
His collar and cuffs were mink.
Her thoughts were most sad: for this delicate lad;
The world would distress him no doubt;
When in came a footman with duck on a tray,
And the lad began to shout:

Rip up his anchor and down his hatch
And nip his nibs in the bud,
Then pass the fingerbowl, Charlie,
We'll all dip our hands in the blood.

One morning he sat at his pale mother's knee. 

Second Man: What for?
Elaine: What for?
Cyril: Advice.

This lad was in training for pirate-to-be
But still he was much too nice.
He put up a plank with the help of a friend
In hopes that he'd learn the knack,
But each time the friend went out to the end,
The lad always cried "come back".

He simply was jeered when his mother appeared,
And he knotted her hair to a tree;
But people thought twice, as he drew out his knife
And cried with childish glee:

Rip up her gusset and down her sash
And slash her aft and fore,
Then pass the fingerbowl, Charlie,
We'll all dip our hands in the gore.

Not two minutes later, it might have been three . . .

Second Man: Or five?
Elaine: Or six?
Cyril: Not more.

This overtrained pirate had gone off to sea;
He couldn't have gone before;
But now there was no one at home to take care of
For he'd taken care of them all:
His father he'd fashioned an overstuffed bear of;
His brother he'd hung on the wall.

This house, you would say, was quite cheerless by day
But at night it distinctly is not,
For each family ghost gives a toast to the lad
As they sing this Old Gavotte:

Rip up his anchor and down his hatch
And nip his nibs in the bud,
Then pass the fingerbowl, Charlie,
We'll all dip our hands in the blood, the blood, the blood!
Yo ho!


And Her Mother Came, Too

A quaint Ivor Novello/Dion Titheradge song sung by Cyril.  This was his audition song for Florenz Ziegfeld.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of  AND HER MOTHER CAME, TOO.

I seem to be the victim of a cruel jest.
It dogs my footsteps with the girl I love the best
She's just the sweetest thing that I have ever known,
And yet we never get a chance to be alone.

My car will meet her, and her mother comes too.
It's a two-seater, yet her mother comes too.
And when they're visiting me,
We finish afternoon tea.
She loves to sit on my knee
And her mother does too.

We buy her trousseau and her mother comes too.
Asked not to do so, still her mother comes too.
She simply can't take a snub.
I go and sulk at the club,
Then have a bath and a rub,
And her brother comes too.

There may be times when couples need a chaperone,
But mothers ought to learn to leave a chap alone.
I wish they'd have a heart and use their common sense
For three's a crowd and more, it's treble the expense.

We lunch at Maxim's, and her mother comes too.
How large a snack seems when her mother comes too.
At Ciro's when I am free, we finish supper or tea;
She loves to tango with me,
And her mother does too.

To golf we started, and her mother came too.
Three bags I carted when her mother came too.
She fainted just off the tee.
My darling whispered to me:
"Tom, dear, at last we are free!"
But her mother came to.


Lizzie Borden

Although it is has a very bouncy tune (by Michael Brown) and Cyril sings it very jauntily, it's hard to believe this song was ever "politically correct".  I suppose in 1952 when the song made its debut, the Fall River murders were so long ago, 60 years old, they could be made fun of, but I can't help thinking I wouldn't find very funny a song like this about O.J. and the murder of his wife no matter how many years go by.  In the film version of NEW FACES OF 1952, this is a big production number involving most of the cast, sung by Ronnie Graham.  I note some differences in the lyrics; instead of the "tractor" lyrics in the seventh verse, Graham sang:

They really made her hustle
And when all was said and done
She removed her mother's bustle
When she wasn't wearin' one.

Michael Brown also wrote a entire revue called MR. WOOLWORTH HAD A NOTION which was put on for a single performance on June 16, 1965 at the Biltmore Hotel Ballroom and was recorded in a limited edition LP.  This revue about the F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 cent stores contained the following songs:  WHAT A NOTION, WHEN IN ROME, I LOVE THE RAIN, SHOPPING AT A WOOLWORTH STORE, THE WOOLWORTH MANAGER'S WORK SONG, WOOLWORTH'S COUNTRY, WE'D JUST DIE and FINALE.  The cast included Ellen Martin, Lisa Ackerman, Dorothea Alfred, John Baylis, Vivienne Cooke, Joy Franz, Leo Morrell, Steve Skiles, Gary Sneed, Lesley Stewart, Barbara Strouse, Tom Urich, William Wheless and Brook Winsten.  

I've also found reference to a 1987 recording (on the Painted Smiles label, PS-1332) of a production called DIFFERENT TIMES that premiered at the Anta Theatre in 1987 and ran for 24 performances from May 1, 1972, for which Brown contributed the music, lyrics and book.  The cast included Patti Karr, Jose Masiell, Jamie Ross, Mary Jo Catlett, Joyce Nolen, Barbara Williams, Ronald Young, Karin Baker, Candace Cooke, Dorothy Frank, Ronnie DeMarco, Terry Nicholson, Mary B. Phillips, Sam Stoneburner and David K. Thome.

In addition, I discovered a TV special called HE'S FOR ME, on Alcoa Theatre, July 21, 1957, an original musical written by Michael Brown starring Larry Blyden, Joan Hovis, Elaine Stritch and Roddy McDowall.

Finally, Michael Brown wrote the song THIRD AVENUE EL for Ben Bagley's THE LITTLEST REVUE which opened at the Phoenix Theatre on May 22, 1956 and starred Joel Grey, Tammy Grimes, Charlotte Rae and Larry Storch.

Out of the blue, in March 2004, I had an email from Mr. Brown.  He writes about the LIZZIE BORDEN lyric:

There was never any objection -- at least none that I heard -- that the number was about a brutal double murder. Time seemed to tidy up all the blood.  Even so, Leonard Sillman asked me to replace the original final chorus, which read:

Liz went back into the kitchen,
Back to baking mincemeat pies,
And in ev'ry one she baked
She put a special, big surprise.

Now, they never did find all
Of either Papa or of Mum,
And the folks who ate her mincemeat
Took to looking kinda glum.

Apparently Sillman thought murder was okay but cannibalism went a bit too far (this was long before "Sweeney Todd").  Actually it was good thing that he was squeamish about it, because the replacement was better.

Mr. Brown provided this biographical information:

Michael Brown is a composer, lyricist, producer, writer, director and performer. Born in Texas, he wanted first to be a teacher, but after four universities, two degrees and a Phi Beta Kappa key, he turned his attention to the theatre.

His introduction to show business came as a singer of his own songs at the legendary New York cabaret, Le Ruban Bleu, where he broke the house record with 54 consecutive weeks in his very first engagement. This phase of his career culminated at the Savoy Hotel in London, where the press dubbed him "the American Noel Coward".

Writing for others, he contributed material season after season to Julius Monk’s famous revues at Plaza Nine and Upstairs at the Downstairs, and his first work on Broadway, in New Faces, caused a sensation: the lively "Lizzie Borden", which continues to be revived both here and abroad. Working with Harold Arlen, he gave Pearl Bailey her show-stopping "Indoor Girl" in House of Flowers and then by himself created the score for the English musical Is There Intelligent Life on Earth? A production number for the Carol Channing company of Sugar Babies and the book, music, and lyrics for Broadway’s Different Times led The Hollywood Reporter to call him "a prodigious talent". Largely in recognition of his writing for Broadway and elsewhere, Brown has served three consecutive terms as a Member of the Board of the Songwriters Guild of America.

For the New York World's Fair, he created the concept and then wrote the script, words, and music and also produced and directed DuPont's trail-blazing Wonderful World of Chemistry, a combination of live performers working interchangeably with life-sized actors on film that will probably never be duplicated. Presented by ten companies of singers and dancers for a total of 17,224 performances, it was seen by 5,256,126 people.

Occasionally he returns to cabaret, where The New York Times has called him "polished…urbane... suave... witty…and persuasive" and The Daily News "a most talented man...the very essence of the word cultivated". With his one-man show about American eccentrics, Out of Step, he has gathered such praise from the critics as "one of the most gifted artists in America". His stories of Santa Mouse have now sold more than 3,000,000 copies, and in the Publishers Weekly list of best-selling children’s books of all time, the original story ranks just behind The Little Engine That Could and several places ahead of Stuart Little. He has appeared four times at the New-York Historical Society, presenting in his own stories songs a highly personal view of the city’s history.

Married to Joy Williams, a soloist for George Balanchine in The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, as well as a principal dancer for Roland Petit in Les Ballets de Paris, and the only American member of the Grand Council of the Royal Academy of Dancing, he is the father of three sons and lives in New York City.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of  LIZZIE BORDEN.

One hot day in old Fall River,
Mr. Andrew Borden died,
And they booked his daughter Lizzie
On a charge of homicide.

Some folks say, "She didn't do it."
Others say, "Of course she did."
But they all agree Miss Lizzie B.
Was quite a problem kid

'Cause you can't chop your poppa up in Massachusetts,
Not even if it's planned as a surprise.
No, you can't chop your poppa up in Massachusetts;
You know how neighbors love to criticize.

Now, she got him on the sofa,
Where he'd gone to take a snooze,
And I hope he went to heaven,
'Cause he wasn't wearin' shoes.

Lizzie kind of rearranged him
With a hatchet ,so they say,
And then she got her mother
In that same old fashioned way.

But, you can't chop your momma up in Massachusetts,
Not even if you're tired of her cuisine.
No, you can't chop your momma up in Massachusetts;
If you do, you know, there's bound to be a scene.

Oh they really kept her hoppin' on that August afternoon,
With both down and upstairs choppin'
While she hummed a ragtime tune,
And her maw, when Lizzie whacked her looked an awful lot like paw,
Like somebody in a tractor had been backin' over maw.

But, you can't chop your poppa up in Massachusetts,
And then blame all the damage on the mice.
No, you can't chop your momma up in Massachusetts;
That kind of thing just isn't very nice.

Now it wasn't done for pleasure
And it wasn't done for spite,
And it wasn't done because the lady
Wasn't very bright.

She had always done the slightest thing
That mom and poppa bid.
They said, "Lizzie, cut it out,"
And that's exactly what she did.

But you can't chop your poppa up in Massachusetts,
And then get dressed to go out for a walk.
No, you can't chop your poppa up in Massachusetts;
It's a far cry from New York
A far cry from New York.
Yippee!


But the People Were Nice

A Noel Cowardish-number by Mark Lawrence-Buster Davis sung by Hermione.  

In 2004 I heard from the son of lyricist Mark Lawrence (1921-1991), who informed me his father wrote about 250 songs, produced numerous plays and wrote the score to the film  DAVID AND LISA (1962) .  In addition Lawrence wrote jingles (including "Wouldn't you really rather have a Buick?" and "Thomas's promises english muffins").  He used to play at the Blue Angel in NYC; he and Alice Pearce had a 1949 TV series for which he wrote comedy material.   He also wrote the incidental music for the Broadway show THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT (1964).

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of  BUT THE PEOPLE WERE NICE.

I went to Miami;
The weather was clammy as yesterday's rice,
But the people were nice.

Although it sounds silly my hotel in Chile
Was colder than ice,
But the bellboys were nice.

In the Alps
The husbands and wives,
I discovered, led comfortable lives
Sitting on a chic peak

In Siam a twin
Made a mess of his kin
With a rusty old scythe,
But the people were nice

In Beverly Hills I put on my frills
For the party was formal,
But the people were normal.

In Bombay a fakir I knew
Asked me 'round for an hour or two.
I sat on his couch.  Ouch!

We ascended Mt. Everest
Where they do the cleverest
Things without air,
But no people were there.

We went to Nigeria,
Oh, very inferior holiday fare,
And the Mau Mau were there.

In Tibet we met the young lama
He received us in half a pajama
He was a delish dish.

On a cannibal island the food was quite vile
And a terrible price.

(And I heard one cannibal say to the other at lunch
My dear, I didn't care much for the fish course)

But the people were nice.
Yes, the people were nice.
Oh boy, the people were nice.


Cocaine

A song by Neville Phillips-Robb Stewart sung by Hermione.  Click here for 30 seconds of COCAINE.

Cocaine chases off the blues;
Cocaine; who cares who is whose;
Cocaine, with it I am aglow;
Without it I go insane.

You can take away my kisses and hugs,
But don't take away my dangerous drugs.
My eyes have been so swollen
Since my syringe was stolen
At an orgy with Porgy and Elsie in Chelsea.

It was stolen from my pocket
While I lay on a divan,
Discussing Jean Cocteau and opium
With a man who looked like Orson Welles
And waved a Chinese fan.

By the time it was gone I gave him such a biff
And said some kleptomaniacal stiff
Has stolen my syringe
So now I'll have to sniff cocaine.


Queen of Song

An Eric Maschwitz-Jack Strachey song sung by Hermione.  She was once married to Eric Maschwitz and this was written especially for her.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of QUEEN OF SONG.

Though I was born in Australia,
Known there as Millicent Brown,
No one could call me a failure;
Under I was, but not down.
Millie, I said, you've got plenty of push:
One night of love is worth two in the bush.

Queen of Song, Queen of Song.
I'm the reason that tenors go wrong.
When they're giving a gala at Milan, La Scala,
I pick up my band parts and totter along.

Oh la la, I'm a star,
You can tell by my je ne sais quoi.
One night at the Met I was singing LUCIA
When I screamed at the mad scene so loud and so clear,
That I brought down the house
And the glass chandelier.
Queen of song, tra la la la la.

Now there are princes and kings all around me;
Critics are kissing my hand.
Oh, a fig for the crowds that surround me;
Give me the sound of a band.
Beecham adores me, that's why I was chosen
To sing you "My tiny hand is quite frozen".

Queen of Song, Queen of Song,
And I've been it for ever so long.
Still, thanks to the brandy I always keep handy,
I've plenty of breath and it's wonderfully strong.

My High C's can still please
Though I'm just a bit gone at the knees.
Though no opera record I make ever sells,
I can always sing MIMI at Sadler's Wells.
But I won't sing in LAKME;
Oh, I can't stand "The Bells".
Queen of song, tra la la la la la.

Queen of song, Queen of song,
I'm famous from Rome to Hong Kong.
I could sing you THE RING or the GOTTERDAM thing,
But not with one piano;
And it takes far too long.

My BOHEME is a dream
And my TOSCA's the creme de la creme.
There's no TRAVIATA who's smarter than me,
Though they say that my BUTTERFLY's more like bee;
Still it's money not honey I get for my fee.
Queen of song, tra la la la la la.


Color Blind

This is a David Climie-Ronald Cass satire (although attributed solely to David Climie on the ODD SONGS AND A POEM recording) sung by Cyril alluding to Senator Joseph McCarthy, the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities and the "Red scare".  I don't know if the phrase "taken as read" is used much nowadays, but it used to mean something that everyone understood tacitly.  Here it is used in an ironic way as a homonym for "red", meaning Communist.  I haven't heard anyone say "getting down to brass tacks" in several decades; this meant getting to basics.  Here it has been cleverly transformed to tin tacks in order to rhyme with syntax.  The second verse is sung to the Rodgers & Hammerstein tune from SOUTH PACIFIC ("I'm in Love With) A Wonderful Guy".  Scarlet runners are beans, what we in America call string beans, making the rhyme "hasbeens" a wonderful pun.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of COLOR BLIND.

Sweet land of liberties,
With some proclivities
To unAmerican activities,
Of thee I sing.

I came here and I learned the language
As American immigrants should;
But if you'll excuse an expression I use,
I have found  I don't talk it so good.

It's not a matter of grammar or syntax;
It's not the accent that's bothering me;
It's only one word, if you come down to tin tacks;
A word they refuse in this country to use,
And I think it's spelt R-E-D.

Oh, thanks to Mr. McCarthy,
There's part of the spectrum in doubt.
Blue, yellow and green are politically clean,
But the rest of the rainbow is out

Though crimson is pretty a certain committee
Considers the color tabu.
All the way from the border to Mexico bay
Our country is purged of its subversive tray
So we're all of us free now to stand up and say,
As I unashamedly do:  three cheers for the shh white and blue.

I feel a draft and there's no need to wonder where.
I've loyally ditched all my shh flannel underwear.

Oh, thanks to Mr. McCarthy,
We know that the country's all right.
We feel in our muscles our shh corpuscles
Will never outnumber the white.

We won't be connected with colors infected
By that unAmerican hue.
But shh blooded men in the modern edition
Now find themselves in the peculiar position
For they can't even feel in the pink of condition,
And, of course, scarlet fever won't do.
Three cheers for the shh white and blue.

Shh sails in the sunset, pray stay 'way from me;
I'm strong for McCarthy and a nice cup of tea.

Oh, thanks to Mr. McCarthy,
We know what democracy means.
Now, shh Riding Hood has been proven no good.
Scarlet runners are strictly hasbeens.
And now it's arranged certain books should be changed
To render them harmless tis said.

Well, the GREEN BADGE OF COURAGE
Sounds perfectly swell,
And PURPLE O'HARA would get by well.
What this country now needs is a BLUE PIMPERNEL
And we'll get it, or maybe instead
All books will be taken as read.
(Oh, dear, what have I said?)
Three cheers for the shh white and blue.


Turk in the Murkadurk

According to the ALMANAC CD, this folk song parody was from the TV production of THE KING AND MRS. CANDLE, which was scripted by Sumner Locke Elliott with music by Moose Charlap and lyrics by Chuck Sweeney.  This 90-minute musical aired on NBC on August 22, 1955 and starred Cyril Ritchard, Irene Manning, Joan Greenwood, Richard Hayden, Theodore Bikel and Donald Mayre.  The plot involves King Rupert of Brandovia who rules his country with an iron fist, while his people are busy exporting bologna and fighting off neighboring Carps and Gloats. A revolution deposes Rupert, and he must learn to live in a democracy. He works at various odd jobs and courts Lily Candle, a dance instructor.   The ALMANAC CD (and the original ODD SONGS AND A POEM recording) credits the song to Sumner Locke Elliott and Susan Reed, not Charlap and Sweeney.  However, there is some doubt that this song is from THE KING AND MRS. CANDLE, as in my research on Cyril, I came across a TV GUIDE with details of this broadcast, listing all the songs, and there was no song entitled TURK IN THE MURKADURK, so its origins remain a mystery.  While this is by no means my favorite number, 9 years after getting this CD, the line "Oh, Gerda, it's murder what you've done to me, Quoth Froth, frostily." sticks in my head as a really funny one.  If someone carved her name in your back with a tusk, you would be boiling mad, so the idea of someone civilly responding "frostily" quite tickles me.  It's a good rhyme too.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of TURK IN THE MURKADURK.

Young Gerda was fair as a prickle pear tree,
And a bandit was she.
She coiled her long hair, sipping porcupine broth,
And she was in love with a swineherd named Froth,

Singing turk in the murkadurk
Musk in the May
Bosk in the fa la la lay.

Young Gerda took Froth to the forest one day,
Five young oxen to slay,
And there by a bog in the gloom and the dusk
She carved her own name on his back with a tusk,

Singing turk in the murkadurk
Musk in the May
Bosk in the fa la la lay.

Oh, Gerda, it's murder what you've done to me,
Quoth Froth, frostily.
They came to a river; he gave a wild moan;
He pitchforked her in and she sank like a stone,

Singing turk in the murkadurk
Musk in the May
Bosk in the fa la la lay.


Winter in Palm Springs

This is a skit (written by Hermione), in which two doddering old people trade "war stories" about a long list of their symptoms, illnesses and operations.  Hermione always trumps, with great pride, Billy De Wolfe's symptoms (her appendix attack was acute; his was "only" chronic) .  She even tries to press one of her X-rays on him; and she and interrupts his every sentence; until, at the end, he has a terrible fall and thinks he's broken his back, which finally wins Hermione's admiration.  Although the ALMANAC CD credits this sketch to STICKS AND STONES, I am informed by Ray Stanley of Australia that it was originally called WINTER IN TORQUAY and originated in THE LITTLE REVUE (1939).  Herbert Farjeon was the author, so the version credited to Hermione is based on this.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of WINTER IN PALM SPRINGS.


The Duet

A 1917 poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox recited by Cyril.  Although he has a wonderful voice, this is my least favorite cut on the CD, and I can't help wishing they had used, instead, PUT IT AWAY 'TIL SPRING (by Peter Nolan and Josiah Titzell) which is from GARRICK GAIETIES (1930).  Even though I've never heard this, it has to be better than this poem.  Perhaps the rights were not available when the tracks from ODD SONGS AND A POEM were incorporated into the ALMANAC CD.  (I am indebted to Scott Henderson of Glendale, California who kindly Xeroxed the liner notes from the original LP so that I could verify the attributions of the composers and lyricists.)   According to a contemporary revue of  NINE SHARP (1938) in THEATRE WORLD, Cyril recited another Ella Wheeler Wilcox poem, A MAN'S REPENTANCE, as a Victorian roué, complete with opera cloak, monocle and protruding teeth.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of DUET.

I was smoking a cigarette;
Maud, my wife, and the tenor McKey,
Were singing together a blithe duet,
And days it were better I should forget
Came suddenly back to me.
Days when life seemed a gay masque'd ball,
And to love and be loved was the sum of it all.

As they sang together the whole scene fled,
The room's rich hangings, the sweet home air,
Stately Maud, with her proud blonde head,
And I seemed to see in her place instead
A wealth of blue-black hair,
And a face, ah! your face,--yours, Lisette,
A face it were wiser I should forget.

We were back--well, no matter when or where,
But you remember, I know, Lisette,
I saw you, dainty, and debonnaire.
With the very same look that you used to wear
In the days that I should forget.
And your lips, as red as the vintage we quaffed,
Were pearl-edged bumpers of wine when you laughed.

Two small slippers with big rosettes,
Peeped out from under your kilt-skirt there,
While we sat smoking our cigarettes
(Oh, I shall be dust when my heart forgets!)
And singing that self-same air;
And between the verses for interlude,
I kissed your throat, and your shoulders nude.

You were so full of a subtle fire,
You were so warm and so sweet, Lisette;
You were everything that men admire,
And there were no fetters to make us tire,
For you were--a pretty grisette.
But you loved, as only such natures can,
With a love that makes heaven or hell for a man.

* * * * * *

They have ceased singing that old duet,
Stately Maud and the tenor McKey.
"You are burning your coat with your cigarette,
And qu'avez vous, dearest, your lids are wet,"
Maud says, as she leans o'er me.
And I smile, and lie to her, husband-wise,
"Oh, it is nothing but smoke in my eyes."


Nobody Ever Asked Me

This Buster Davis song about polls sung by Hermione seems quite up to date in the Internet age.  I have been puzzled by many of the obscure references in these songs, and have sought the opinion of my friend John Groushko who has been most helpful.  The most amazing piece of obscure information he managed to come up with was that T.C. Jones was a female impersonator in various Leonard Sillman revues and that "Tallu" is Tallulah Bankhead.  In fact, the liner notes for the CD of the 1957 revue MASK AND GOWN point out that Thomas Craig Jones and Florence Desmond were only two performers who regularly impersonated Tallulah.  (John Groushko further suggests that the "Bea" mentioned in this particular verse is surely Beatrice Lillie.  In fact, John discovered there was a show called AN EVENING WITH BEATRICE LILLIE, which is also referenced in the lyric.  This opened in New York on October 2, 1952 and ran for 276 performances.  Also in the cast were Reginald Gardiner, Eadie and Rack, Zenia Bank, Florence Bray and John Phillip.)

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of NOBODY EVER ASKED ME.

Who's your favorite move star?
Who is the king of Greece?
Who wrote the music for CROSSING THE BAR?
And whoever was Longfellow's niece?
What do you throw in the hammer throw?
And what do you think about Clara Bow, if ever?

They say that twenty percent of the people like
Riding no hands on a motor bike,
And only twelve percent have heard of the Zyder Zee.
A number of people in Iowa said
They much preferred the double bed,
But nobody, nobody ever asked me.

In Boston only ten percent of the people knew
That T.C. Jones was not Tallu
But eighty percent
Had spent AN EVENING WITH BEA.

In Denver they were thrown for a considerable loss
Only twenty-three people had heard of la crosse,
(That's ridiculous - La Crosse - of course, he's the French minister)
But nobody, nobody ever asked me.

They asked my sister, they asked my brother;
They quizzed my totally ignorant mother;
They even questioned my cousin Clint,
But what he said you couldn't print.

They have vital statistics on every known vice.
Ninety percent of the Chinese hate rice,
And three out of four really abhor tea.

In Yale the boys were a little bit hazy
When asked to identify all four parts of a daisy.
Now, all this I could have answered accurately.
But nobody ever, ever asked me.

They asked that mythical man in the street;
They asked my maid, who's never discreet;
They questioned all the famous wits a bit,
But could only publish bits of it.

And what in Kansas attracts a crowd
In South Dakota is not allowed.
Now all this, of course, I knew quite obviously,
But nobody ever bothered to see
To those questions what my answers would be.

Mr. Gallop's poll would have dropped;
Mr. Roper's eyes would have popped.
So, on thinking it over, perhaps it's just as well
That nobody, nobody ever, ever, ever, ever asked me.


Robert the Robot

A Myles Rudge-Charles Zwar song sung by Hermione.  (A wireless is a radio and a Ronson is a cigarette lighter).

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of ROBERT THE ROBOT.

During my stay in the U.S.A.
Much to my surprise,
Uncle Sam put something in my stocking.

Quicker than that, it knocked me flat,
Right between the eyes.
Love walked in and wasted no time knocking.

Cupid shot a soaring arrow,
And I left the straight and boring narrow,
In a manner slightly strange and rather shocking, for . . .

I've had a romance with a robot,
A man made entirely of tin.
It was a rare and electric affair,
A mixture of science and sin.

Although I had firm resolutions
That the calls of the flesh must be sat on,
They instantly fled when sex reared its head,
For that head had the gayest tin hat on.

Now, the name of the robot was Robert,
Though he said when we met, "Call me Bob".
I could see by the sly steely look in his eye
That Bobby was quick on the job.

Now, Bobby I met in my lobby --
Well, of all the improbable places --
For my fridge having blown up,
I lifted the phone up,
And called for assistance from Macy's.

Pellmell came a ring on my doorbell
And the sound like a bee in a kettle.
Then onto the scene came this gorgeous machine:
A god with a bod made of metal.

I must say, he looked quite delicious:
Well built and immensely broad shouldered,
Each valve and each rivet
As bright as a trivet,
All welded and gilded and soldered.

Now, a beautiful friendship developed --
Oh yes, I got quite devoted to Bob.
It wasn't platonic, no, it was more electronic,
Controlled by the turn of a knob.

Built into his chest was a wireless,
Plus two TV sets and a Ronson.
One set was in color and one, which was duller,
Showed old films of Gloria Swanson.

But one simply terrible evening
Something went wrong with his gears.
He started gyrating and madly vibrating
With smoke coming out of his ears.

He then made a certain suggestion
At which I was far from amused,
But the one thing that shocked me
And shook me and rocked me
Was when I refused him, he fused.


Spin

Another folk song parody, this one written by Nicholas Phipps-Geoffrey Wright and sung by Hermione.  (John Van Druten was a well known and highly successful playwright and writer of screenplays.)

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of SPIN.

There now, oh dear, I've gone and pricked my thumb, my thumb,
Just like the fair princess in SLEEPING BEAUTY.
But I'm afraid no handsome prince will come
Unless the second footman is off duty.

Hark, hark, is it a fairy prince who comes awooing?
If he's a fairy, there'll be nothing doing.

Spin, spin, spin, spin.
First in out, then out in.
Up in my attic right under the roof
I sit til the light goes out,
Fiddling about with my warp and my woof
And wearing my distaff out.

Spin spin, it's really a sin:
It halves your allure and it doubles your chin.
I'm at it all day, I've no time to relax
For the cotton is lying around me in stacks.
Oh, it's like old Virginny
(And no dirty cracks).
Spin, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin.

I've had a note from Metro-Golden-Mayer;
They've asked me if I'll spin a yarn for Gable.
I've tried like mad but I am much afraid
To spin for Gable I am quite unable.

And so to Hollywood I shall not get my dainty foot in.
I hear they've sent for Mr. John Van Druten.

Spin, spin, spin, spin,
First in out, then out in.
Oh, you can't imagine how dreary I feel,
Wasting my maiden charms
With nothing to do but to peddle this wheel,
Making pikes for the knights at arms.

Spin, spin, I've no aspirin.
Oh what wouldn't I give for a small glass of gin!

In the last twenty years I've become a recluse
Spinning on at my web til my screws have worked loose;
I'm a black widow spider without any Bruce.

Spin, spin, spin, spin, spin.
Spin, spin, oh, my head,  Oh for goodness sake, please stop.


Thanks Yanks

A World War II song with lyrics by Alan Melville and music by Geoffrey Wright sung by Hermione.

Click here for a 30-second excerpt from the CD of THANKS YANKS.

Thanks, Yanks, for all that you've done,
For each plane and gun,
The ships, and the shells and the tanks;
The least I can say is thanks.

And tanks, Yanks, for just being here,
For spreading good cheer.
The Als and the Joes and the Hanks,
The least we can say is thanks.

From Minnesota to Southern Dakota,
From Memphis, Manhattan and Maine,
We're glad to know ya and for what we owe ya,
We'll say it again and again.

And thanks, Yanks
For creating a boom
In my dressing room,
And then getting up to such pranks,
The least we can say is the slogan today
Is thanks to the Yanks.

And thanks, Yanks, that rather nice boy
From old  Illinois,
Who led an attack on my flanks - oo!
The least I could say is thanks.

And thanks, Yanks,
That Eighth Air Force Ace
Who showed me his base,
And then asked if I'd join the mess,
Well, the least I could say was "yes".

Cooperation and less isolation
Is surely a swell recipe.
I murmur thank 'ee to each charming Yankee
For all that they've done for me.

And thanks, Yanks, to all you GIs,
Ah, you're regular guys,
And I've never drawn any blanks,
So if I don't appear in the theatre next year,
It'll be thanks to the Yanks.


Compiled by Judy Harris

Visit my homepage at http://www.bestweb.net/~foosie/index.htm

or e-mail me at foosie@bestweb.net

internet tracking stats