TWO OF A KIND (1961)

musings by Judy Harris

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I discovered Bobby Darin about the same time everyone else of my generation did.  I had been vaguely aware of his early rock and roll stuff, SPLISH SPLASH, QUEEN OF THE HOP, PLAIN JANE, DREAM LOVER, etc. but hadn't really cared for them.  Then suddenly MACK THE KNIFE burst upon the scene around 1959 (when I was 12), and made the most enormous impression on me (and several million other people).  I still rank BEYOND THE SEA (1958) and LAZY RIVER (1960) two of the best things ever recorded by anyone.

If you have Real Audio, click below for 30-seconds of Bobby singing:

I came much later to an appreciation of Johnny Mercer.  I had stopped listening to the radio around the time the Beatles came out with REVOLVER and RUBBER SOUL and didn't start listening again until the late-'90s, when I discovered WQEW, a narrow band AM New York radio station that played "American Popular Standards".  WQEW would often devote an hour every evening to one singer, lyricist or composer, or intermittently play throughout a weekend the songs of a single singer, lyricist or composer to commemorate a birthdate.  Thus, I became aware of the prodigious talent of Johnny Mercer, and first heard in the late-'90s his 1961 collaboration with Bobby Darin, TWO OF A KIND.

I enjoyed right away the few cuts I heard and luckily was able to track down the CD which, unlike many  recordings of Bobby Darin, was still commercially available.  Darin is famous for being able to perform well any kind of material.  My personal favorites of his are what I think of as "standards" but perhaps it is just as well to define what I mean by a song "standard". What I think of as a standard is a song with understandable lyrics that has stood the test of time by being recorded and sung by many artists over the years (although I also think of as "standards" some songs identified with a single singer; these "definitive versions" seem to show up, generation after generation, on the radio or in movie soundtracks or TV commercials, for example, YOUNG AT HEART by Sinatra, MISTY by Mathis; MONA LISA by Nat Cole).

A standard can be upbeat or slow, sad or happy, it contains lyrics on universal themes such as love, jealousy, longing; songs generally representing an urban, and sometimes a sophisticated, viewpoint.  Songs that project a timeless feeling that is universally understandable and seems to speak directly to each listener.

I'm not even sure anyone is writing "standards" any more.  At one time, Broadway composers used to deliberately pepper their scores with songs that could stand alone, away from the plot of the show, and producers would seek out popular singers to record these songs in the hopes of a cross-over attraction to entice audiences to come and see the shows. Singers such as Matt Munro recorded many of these types of Broadway numbers, such as PUT ON A HAPPY FACE from BYE, BYE, BIRDIE and YOU'VE GOT POSSIBILITIES from IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, IT'S SUPERMAN.  (Bobby did an album of Broadway standards himself, including the title songs to MAME and GUYS AND DOLLS.)  However, with the advent of the "integrated" musical, the tendency away from musical comedy and the sorry lack nowadays of charismatic star performers of the like of Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Robert Preston, etc., Broadway musical vehicles are no longer the once rich source of song standards.

In late 1998, a documentary entitled BOBBY DARIN BEYOND THE SONG showed up on PBS during pledge week.  It contained extensive performance footage of Bobby plus some sound "bites", two of which are appropriate to the topic of standards.  Bobby said, "In the final analysis, it is the song and not the singer.  I do not go in [to a recording session] ever with a song that I don't think is a hit".  In fact, I disagree with this.    Although I understand Louie Armstrong and Jonah Jones recorded MACK THE KNIFE before Bobby, and Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra both did eventually, you can't get more talented than Ella or Frank, but their versions of MACK THE KNIFE are pale imitations of Bobby's definitive finger snapping one.

The other quote from Bobby from this documentary is about why a song becomes a hit:  "It indicates an appreciation for lyric content and a melody in addition to a performance, because both things are embodied in that one record."  So, in the end, it is the singer and the song.

Bobby sang many kinds of songs, some not so successfully in the commercial sense, but I believe he achieved his greatest popular success with "standards", including songs he probably first heard from his "mother", Polly, a vaudeville entertainer, those he wrote himself (THAT'S THE WAY LOVE IS) and those that became identified with him and were not really recorded by anyone else (that I'm aware) such as ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS (1960).

In addition to his protean talent as a singer, Bobby also played the piano, guitar, harmonica and drums.  He wrote or co-wrote 170 songs.  He wasn't a dancer in the Sammy Davis sense of a disciplined hoofer, but he was so connected to music that his every body movement, shoulder shrug, hip swivel, facial tic seemed an embodiment of the beat of the song.  For a person who survived rheumatic fever as a child and knew a short life was inevitable, he seemed to enjoy his life very much, sometimes he appears almost giddy with laughter; even after he started to lose his hair, he still retained a boyish smile that could melt ice; and no one disputes the electricity he generated in performance; his act personified showmanship.

Bobby appeared in several films, including:

He was nominated for a supporting actor award for CAPTAIN NEWMAN, M.D.

Several things strike me about this 1961 collaboration between Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer.  One is that virtually none of the songs on it are what I would consider a "standard".  My knowledge of songs is not encyclopedic, but I have been exposed to a pretty large universe of songs, and prior to hearing this CD, I had only heard of two songs they chose for their duets:  INDIANA and MISSISSIPPI MUD, and I can't really name anyone else who recorded these numbers or regularly used them in TV appearances.  Yet, right on the recording itself, Bobby refers to INDIANA as a "standard".  

In 1961, Bobby was a mere 25 and Johnny was 52; both were successful songwriters, but Bobby was at the height of his popularity and could probably have done any kind of record, but he chose to do these somewhat obscure and even countrified numbers with someone 27 years older than himself.  The thing that most impresses me about their collaboration is how much fun they sound like they're having.  There is a lot of kibitzing during the recording, comments by one on a lyric sung by the other, and mistakes are made, but the zest and joy they bring to the recording makes these lyrical hiccups part of the fun.  In an interview Stephen Sondheim mentions that the reason most original cast Broadway LPs are not perfect is that the entire thing has to be recorded in one day in an extremely long session for which the cast is paid the equivalent of one week's salary.  So there is a great deal of pressure to get a lot of material recorded quickly, and not generally the luxury to do something over and over until it's perfect.  I can't help thinking this is not the case with TWO OF A KIND, that whoever the decision makers were at this recording session (presumably Bobby and Johnny themselves and possibly musical director Billy May and/or producer Ahmet Ertegun), they deliberately decided to leave in the takes even with the one or two flubs, because they are otherwise perfect examples of two performers at the peak of their powers having a great time together.

In fact, this is borne out by an excerpt from a 2003 biography of Johnny Mercer written by Philip Furia entitled SKYLARK:  "Both [Bobby and Johnny] had done a television show in New York called THE BIG PARTY when Steve Blauner, Darin's manager, thought of having them do an album together.  Years later [in 1961] when Darin and Blauner were in California, Blauner arranged a three-day recording session with Billy May, who had done so many swinging albums with Sinatra [and incidentally had worked for Johnny back in the days when he started Capital Records]....[Blauner] wanted to do an album of all Mercer tunes, but Johnny did not want to do that. ... "In those days all albums were done in three sessions," Blauner explained.  "You do four songs a session, three different days and you would have your album, twelve songs.  So we do the twelve songs, we got the album.  Then both of them come over to me after the last session and say to me, 'Listen, we have to do another session."  I said 'Why?'   Their response was 'Because we don't have the album yet!'  I said, 'Of course, we have the album.'  They insisted, 'No, no.'  Then I realized, why am I carrying on?  They were having such a good time together singing that they wanted to do another session together.  So we did three more songs.

Blauner recalled the camaraderie between the two singers.  "They had such a great time working together, and they would crack up, you know, and they would have to do another take or they would have to stop the band."  Blauner decided to leave their clowning--even some of their flubbed lines--on the album to capture the spontaneity of the sessions.  The singers trade scat solos; sing in accents and falsetto; do imitations of Groucho Marx, W.C. Fields and [Dean Martin]; improvise lyrics; and banter between and during the songs.  In BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA, while Darin sings the original line about "moonlight on the Wabash," Mercer follows up with an interjection about things being "peachy on the old Ogeechee."  Darin snaps "Where's that?" but then, as Mercer says, "Savannah," Darin makes up his own line about the Hudson River, and Mercer rounds off with "We all know where that is."  "As I remember the album," Blauner said, "there is one time that Bobby just bursts out laughing and they keep trying to top one another with the asides.  When you listen to the album, it is more spontaneous than any album you're used to hearing."  TWO OF A KIND is a magnificent time capsule of two singers, from different generations, joining in a celebration of classic American song.

Bobby Darin talked about how much he loved working with Mercer.  "He is such a pleasure to watch," he said.  "When a song starts to feel good to him, he puts his hands over his head, in a sit-up exercise position, and smiles.  And all the tracks you hear, most of them you hear were done while his hands were over his head, and he sings that way.  That's great!  My hands are usually in my pockets."

I also don't know of any performer, other than Bobby Darin, who drops impressions into his songs so seamlessly (and yet without reason or rhyme).  There certainly have been other performers who were multitalented.  For instance, Sammy Davis could tap dance, play the drums, do impressions, sing and act but you don't hear these impressions generally on his records.  (I am informed that Sammy performed a number of impressions in a recording of the song BECAUSE OF YOU, but he did not randomly drop these impressions into his other songs.)  In the 13 numbers on this recording (if you consider TWO OF A KIND twice, since it is done in two different versions), Bobby does 8 different impressions (W.C. Fields, Groucho Marx, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, Jimmy Durante, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley and Chico Marx) and does some of them so well, you would think it is Dino or Durante.  (There might be a 9th impression, if you consider the prizefighter in BOB WHITE is Maxie Rosenbloom, but it may just be a generic punchdrunk fighter, the way Johnny does a generic drunk, asking to hear MELANCHOLY BABY in ACE IN THE HOLE.)

I pause here to digress and express lamentation at the absence of impressionists today.  I grew up when variety shows were plentiful on TV and Ed Sullivan had a weekly TV series that showcased the creme de la creme of live performers. One of the ways I became aware of older performers who were before my time or no longer active is that impressionists kept alive their memories by "doing" them in their acts (and in the process perpetuating phrases which the performers never actually said, such as "Judy, Judy, Judy" [Cary Grant] and "Play it again, Sam" [Humphrey Bogart]).  I can't remember when the last time was I saw the great impressionists:  Fred Travelena, John Byner, Rich Little, Frank Gorshin, Maurice LaMarche, David Frye, Kevin Pollak, etc.  Jim Carrey does a devastating Sammy Davis; Tim Thomerson does a dynamite Charles Bronson.  With the exception of Carrey, Pollak and Thomerson, these are performers whose entire career was devoted to impersonating politicians or celebrities, but this talent for impressions was just one string to Bobby Darin's bow.

Another thing that strikes me about this collaboration between Johnny Mercer and Bobby Darin is that, despite some of the lyrics being what I consider mean spirited ("I wouldn't give you a piece of pie to save your soul"), the songs are presented in a light hearted manner, and all the ad libs are generally very sweet natured.  I find this extraordinary because it has been my experience in the real world that most people's idea of joshing is to put the other person down.  This type of humor certainly is rampant in sitcoms.  A prototypical duet, for example, is Irving Berlin's ANYTHING YOU CAN DO I CAN DO BETTER, in which the two competing sharpshooters try to top each other and score "zingers" off each other.  While this works very well and is undoubtedly humorous in the context of ANNIE, GET YOUR GUN, I personally do not find putdown humor generally very funny or endearing.  However, I do encounter putdown humor all the time, and so I find its absence on this recording really refreshing, for example:

Three of the numbers on this recording had lyrics by Johnny Mercer:  BOB WHITE, IF I HAD MY DRUTHERS and LONESOME POLECAT.  Mercer completely rewrote the original 1937 BOB WHITE lyrics for this duet with Bobby; IF I HAD MY DRUTHERS is from the Broadway show L'IL ABNER and, indeed, "druther" is a word that used to show up often in the Al Capp comic strip that inspired the Broadway musical.

LONESOME POLECAT is from the 1955 film SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, and is sung in the film by 6 of the 7 brothers, in a mournful manner, after they discover the opposite sex and are pining for female companionship. (I discovered that Lonesome Polecat is also the name of a character in L'IL ABNER, but I guess that's a coincidence unless Mercer had this lyric left over from that Broadway musical.) In terms of lyrics, if not minutes, it is the shortest number on the recording and contains no ad libs, so other than the enjoyment of some of the lyrics (such as the wonderful internal rhyme of "little gal owl fowl"), it is one of the minor songs on the recording.

And, of course, there is the title number, on which Bobby and Johnny collaborated (to which Johnny refers by saying, "Oh, they're playing our song"); in lyrics and arrangement, this number is quite opposite to the other "countrified" numbers, yet somehow the entire recording presents a unity, and I believe this is because of the generally upbeat, fast tempo arrangements of Billy May and the infectious good spirits of the two performers.

Click here for an image file of the publicity photo of Johnny and Bobby from the 1961 recording.

1.   Two of a Kind -

In late 2012, a portion of this number showed up in a TV commercial for Apple's iPad Mini.  If you have Real Audio, click here for 30 seconds of TWO OF A KIND.
Bobby:
Two of a kind
For your information
We're two of a kind.
Johnny:
Two of a kind,
It's my observation
We're two of a kind.
Bobby:
Just like peas in a pod,
Johnny:
And birds of a feather
Both:
Alone or together, you'll find
That we are two-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
Of a Kind.
Johnny:
Wait a minute.  What are they playing your song for?
Bobby:
My song?  Don't blame it on me.
Johnny:
Oh, they're playing our song.
Bobby:
They certainly are.  I think we ought to do a standard, John.
Johnny:
Yeah, I think we ought to get to work.
Bobby:
All right.  Billy?
Johnny:
William?

2.   Indiana - By Ballard MacDonald and James  F. Hanley.  If you have Real Audio, click here for 30 seconds of INDIANA.
Johnny:
Back home again in Indiana
Bobby:
Oh, talk about the South!
Johnny:
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight still shinin' bright
Through the sycamores for me
The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance
Bobby:
You know ‘bout that jazz.
Johnny:
From the fields I used to roam.
Bobby:
I'm a Yankee myself.
Johnny:
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash
Then I long for my Indiana home.
Bobby:
Sounds like it could be fun.
Back home again in Indiana
Johnny:
Way out west!
Bobby:
And it seems that I can see
Johnny:
See what?
Bobby:
The gleamin' candlelight
Johnny:
One watt.
Bobby:
Still shinin' bright
Through the sycamores for me
The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance
From the fields I used to roam.
Johnny:
Roamin' in the gloamin'
Bobby:
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash
Then I long for my Indiana home.
Johnny:
When the meadowlark is singin' in the springtime
Bobby:
I want to sing a little swing.
Johnny:
I got the key, just follow me.
Both:
scat sing
Johnny:
When things are peachy on the old Ogeechee
Bobby:
Where the heck is that?
When they start to shiver on the Hudson River.
Johnny:
I know where that is!
Bobby:
Yeah!
Johnny:
I dream of my Indiana
Bobby:
New York and old Savannah
Both:
Dream of my Indiana home.

3.   Bob White  By Johnny Mercer and Bernie Hanighen.

This song is charming but what is it about?  It's very impressive Johnny Mercer managed to include the names of 14 different birds (and make each of them rhyme!) but to what end?  The song seems to be about show business, talking about playing to an "empty house" and "bucking and winging", which are dance steps.  (A buck is a dance step with fast forward movement; a wing is a dance step with fast sideways movement; both usually done with hard sole shoes)  Finally, there is a baffling reference to Lawrence Welk, whose "square" kind of music is very much the opposite of this very hip tune (it's all the more baffling because it seems to be a non sequitur; on the one hand "moose and elk", on the other hand, "Lawrence Welk" - it just doesn't make any sense to me, like the rest of the song).  I guess you just have to forget about imposing any sense on the lyrics and just enjoy this number for the clever rhymes, bouncy beat and smooth, engaging performances.

I am indebted to Steve Taksler (webmaster of the Johnny Mercer Educational Archive at http://www.johnnymercer.com) who kindly provided me with a copy of the sheet music of the original BOB WHITE (1937) in which the singer is exhorting "Bob White" to get with the times and "swing" instead of sticking to his old fashioned sound.  As you can see, none of the original lyrics (which can be heard on the CD AN EVENING WITH JOHNNY MERCER recorded in 1971 as part of the "Lyrics and Lyricists" series presented by the 92nd Street "Y" in NYC) survive in the 1961 version:

Mister Bob, don't you know things have changed?
You're behind time with the melody you always sing,
All the birds have their songs rearranged,
Better get smart, whatcha gotta do today is swing;

I was talkin' to the whippoorwill
He says you got a corny trill,
Bob White! 
Whatcha gonna swing tonight?

I was talkin' to the mocking bird,
He says you are the worst he's heard,
Bob White!
Whatcha gonna swing tonight?

Even the owl
Tells me you're foul,
Singin' those lullaby notes,
Don't be a bring-down,
If you can swing down
Gimme those high notes!

There's a lotta talk about you, Bob,
And they're sayin' you're "off the cob",
Fake it, Mister B.
Take it, follow me,
Bob White! 
We're gonna break it up tonight!

If you have Real Audio, click here for 30-seconds of BOB WHITE.
Bobby:
Just listen to the Bob White
He never could sing right.
Johnny:
You should hip him to the latest sound
And the talk that's goin' ‘round.
Bobby:
Well, I was talkin' to the parakeet
He said, man, now about that beat.
Johnny:
How about that beat?
Bobby:
Bob White
Ain't you gonna swing tonight?
Johnny:
Several people heard the albatross
Bobby:
Yes.
Johnny:
Whisper Robert is on the sauce.
Bobby:
I know for a fact he's on the wagon.
Johnny:
Bob White
Nothing but a neophyte
Bobby:
John, what does that word mean?
Johnny:
Amateur!
Bobby:
Even the pheasant found it unpleasant
Hearin' you hit that flat note.
Johnny:
Whereas the sparrow
Froze to his marrow
When he heard that note.
Bobby:
The opinion of the tufted grouse
Is you'll play to an empty house.
Johnny:
Could happen to anybody!
Bobby:
Yeah, it could.
Both:
Get up off that pad
Shape up, make it, Dad.
Bob White
You gotta sing it out tonight.
Johnny:
Take a letter to the meadowlark
In reply to his rude remark:
Bobby:
Well, the mails must go through.
Johnny:
Bob White
Invites you to a bash tonight.
Bobby:
My tux isn't even pressed.
Take a wire to the nightingale
Tell him Bob ain't begun to wail
Bob White's
Gonna put him down for spite.
Johnny:
Circulate the word:
Call up the catbird
Tell that old fat bird
He's gonna sing a storm up.
Bobby:
Hip the canary
It'll be scary
After the warmup.
Johnny:
Man, he's even gonna gas the goose
He'll be looser than Dr. Seuss.
Bobby:
Wait a minute, John, do I detect a note of meaning that he's gonna be right
in tune?
Johny:
Man, I'm tellin' you he's gonna be on the moon!
Bobby:
I see.
Both:
Bob White
He's gonna ball it up tonight.
Johnny:
Oh, he's in there.
Bobby:
Ah, he whistles pretty.
Johnny:
Yeah, like a bird!
Bobby:
What?
Johnny:
Hear the wire from the albatross:
Bobby:
Sounds urgent.
Johnny:
It reads Robert is still the boss.
Bobby:
Well, thank you very much, folks.
Johnny:
Bob White
He was in the groove tonight.
Bobby:
I quote directly from the whoopin' crane
He says, man, it was like insane
Bob White
Reelin' for a groovy fight
I thought I had him dead in the third round.
Johnny:
Old pappa redbird
Who is the head bird
Said you were in there swingin'
Bobby:
He was tryin'.
Even a jackdaw
Flew out the back door
Buckin' and wingin'.
Johnny:
You instigated such a swingin' gig
That all them quadrupeds want to dig.
Bobby:
Hear, hear, you mean...
Johnny:
Here comes the moose and elk
Bobby:
There goes Lawrence Welk!
Both:
Bob White! Bob White! Bob White!
You really sang it out tonight.
Bobby:
Ah, it's for the birds.

4.  Ace In The Hole by James Depsey & George Mitchell

This song , about professional gamblers, is done in a kind of vaudeville patter, with Bobby initially putting on a vaguely Damon Runyonesque thug voice.

A "hole card" is a card that is dealt face down so that only the person to whom it is dealt knows the value.  An "ace in the hole" is, obviously, the card of highest value.  When you bid on your hand, you could be bidding on the real value of the card in the hole, or you could be bluffing in order to make your opponents think you have a card that will fill in your straight or flush or whatever.

"Ace in the hole" also has the meaning of something kept in reserve that is not obvious to other people.   For instance, these lyrics refer to the old folks at home or friends on the old Tenderloin as an ace in the hole; this means a source of ready cash if you blow all your money gambling.  The dictionary defines "tenderloin" as a district of a city largely devoted to vice.  In other words, in more puritanical times, this would be the "red light district" where gambling dens, brothels and saloons were clustered.  (There was a 1960 Broadway musical set in this milieu  (old time New York) called TENDERLOIN with a score by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, where the song ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS originated.)  On April 18, 1999, the NY TIMES wrote that the Tenderloin was between 24th and 42nd Streets and Fifth and Seventh Avenues.  During the heyday of Tammany Hall a century ago, it had the greatest concentration of saloons, brothels and gambling dens in the city, and was called the Tenderloin because it was the preferred assignment among police officers seeking graft.

I don't know if the phrase "your name will be mud" is much used nowadays, but it once meant that your reputation would be ruined.  I believe this came from Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who treated John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln, and thereafter lost his good name for treating such an infamous criminal.  A "chump playing stud" is a fool playing a particular kind of poker (stud poker).  The sense of this particular rhyme doesn't stand close inspection; it seems to be saying, you would lose your good reputation, like a fool playing stud poker, if you lost your outside source of income.   Losing one's good name doesn't seem like much of a threat if you are a professional gambler! 

I'm not sure exactly what Metropole refers to in the lyric.  It could be generically any big city or it could refer to the name of a specific, actual club or gambling establishment.  As Bobby says, if I knew what that meant, I would agree with him!

If you have Real Audio, click here for 30 seconds of ACE IN THE HOLE.
Johnny:
This town is full of guys
Who think they're mighty wise
Just because they know a thing or two.
Bobby:
You meet them night and day
Strollin' up and down Broadway
Telling of the wonders they can do.
Johnny:
Oh, sing it, Bobby boy!
Bobby:
I just did!
Johnny:
There's conmen and there's boosters
Bobby:
There's card sharks and crapshooters
Johnny:
They congregate around the Metropole.
Bobby
If I knew what that meant I would agree with him.
They wear flashy ties and collars
Johnny:
Yes, but where do they get their dollars?
Both:
They all have got an ace down in the hole.
Johnny:
Yes, some of them write to the old folks for coin
And that is their ace in the hole.
Bobby:
And others have friends on the old Tenderloin;
That's their old ace in the hole.
Johnny:
Why they'll tell you of trips
That they're going to make
From Florida to the North Pole.
Bobby:
The fact is their name would be mud
Just like a chump playin' stud
Both:
If they lost that old ace in the hole.
Johnny:
Oh yes, some of them write
You'll find a lot of them write to the--
Bobby:
(as W.C. Fields) Just a minute, just a minute, let the man play his
piano solo.
Johnny:
But I want to sing tenor!
Bobby:
I don't really care if you sing ten or twenty minutes, after he's through
playin' piano.
Johnny:
Listen to ‘em, I think I make it better than he does.
Bobby:
(as Groucho) That's the nastiest remark I've ever heard.
Johnny:
Listen now, if you don't like the way I sing, why don't you sing -
Sing Melancholy Baby! Sing something!
Bobby:
(as Dean Martin) Why they tell you of the trips they're going to make
Over Florida all the way up to the North Pole
Johnny:
Oh it's sad, sad.
Bobby:
Volare!
Johnny:
But their names would be mud.
Bobby:
Like a chump playin' stud
Both:
If they lost that old ace
Ace in the hole.
Bobby:
Have another drink.

5.   East Of The Rockies - By Sid Robin & Lou Singer.  If you have Real Audio, click here for 30 seconds of EAST OF THE ROCKIES.
Johnny:
I left my baby east of the Rockies
North of the Rio Grande
West of M'sippi
South of Dakota land
When you hit Texas
Take Route 33
Turn right at Dreamy Valley
Left at Lover's Alley
Standin' ‘neath the apple tree.
I make a little trip for my uncle
But I'll return, I know
And I'll remember just where I has to go
East of the Rockies
North of the Rio Grande
West of M'sippi
South of Dakota land
Just think of Texas
Route 33
Dreamy Valley
Lover's Alley
Stop and see the apple tree
Find my baby waitin' there for me.
Bobby:
I left my baby east of the Rockies
North of the Rio Grande
West of Missouri
South of Dakota land
When you hit upon Texas
Take Route 33
Turn right at Dreamy Valley
Left at Lover's Alley
Standin' ‘neath apple tree.
My boat is shoving off and I'm sailin'
But I'll return, I know,
And I'll remember just where I have to go
East of the Rockies
North of the Rio Grande
Hey, west of M'sippi
South of Dakota land
Just think of Texas
Route 33
Dreamy Valley
Lover's Alley
Stop and see the apple tree.
Both:
I'll find my baby waiting'
I ain't procrastinatin'
My baby's waitin' there for me.

6.   If I Had My Druthers By Johnny Mercer & Gene DePaul

One of the great pleasures of this song is Johnny Mercer's clever lyrics at the end, using Dogpatch slang that manages to rhyme "Why sure" (why sho'), "Yes, boy" (yebo) and "Encore" (enco').  Click here for a 30-second soundbyte.
Johnny:
If I had my druthers
I'd druther have my druthers
Then anything else I know.
While you'd druther hustle
Accumulatin' muscle
I'd druther watch daisies grow
While they're growin' slow an'
The summer breeze is blowin'
My heart is overflowin' and so
If I had my druthers
I'd druther have my druthers
Than anything else I know.
Robert, you think you could agree with that kind of philosophy?
Bobby:
Agree? I live it!
If I had my druthers
I'd druther have my druthers
Then work anywheres at all.
Johnny:
Don't nobody call.
Bobby:
It ain't that I hates it
Why, in fact, I even contemplates it
While watchin' raindrops fall.
I sits there for hours
Developin' my powers
Of figurin' how flowers gets tall.
If I had my druthers
I'd druther have my druthers
Then anything else at all.
Johnny:
If I had my druthers
To choose from all the others
I'd druther be like I am.
Bobby:
I like you just the way you are.
This thing called employment
Detracts from my enjoyment
And tightens my diaphragm.
Johnny:
Oh, you poor lamb!
Whilst I'm doin' nary
A thing that's necessary
I'm happy as a cherrystone clam.
Bobby:
Some of my best friends are clams!
If I had my druthers
To choose from all the others
I'd druther be like I am.
Both:
If we had our druthers
We'd druther have our druthers
Than anything else we know.
Our forefathers wrote it
And often times we quote it
Whenever we're feelin' low.
Bobby:
Monsieur John?
Johnny:
As direct descendants
Bobby:
We figure independence
Both:
Ain't only in Missouri and so
If we had our druthers
We'd druther have our druthers
Than anything else we know.
Johnny:
Why sho'.
Both:
Than anything else we know
Bobby:
Yebo'
Both:
Then anything else we know.
Enco'
Than anything else we know.
Bobby:
Goodnight.
Johnny:
Leave a call.

7.   I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jellyroll By Spencer Williams & Clarence Williams

 Click here for a 30-second soundbyte.
Johnny:
I ain't gonna give nobody none of my jellyroll.
Bobby:
How ‘bout your short'ning bread?
Johnny:
Oh, I wouldn't give you a piece of pie to save your soul.
Bobby:
I guess that's what you said.
Johnny:
My ma told me today
When she went away
Bobby:
To buy groceries
Johnny:
To be a good boy
She'd give me a toy
‘Cause I'm my momma's
Pride and joy.
There ain't no use of anyone to keep a hangin' ‘round.
Bobby:
Maybe I'm waitin' on your ma.
Johnny:
You don't know my ma
She'd really put you down.
Bobby:
Put me down?
Johnny:
Ma's bakin' up a storm
And her oven is still warm.
I know you want it but you can't have it
And I ain't gonna give you none.
Bobby:
You dirty boy.
I ain't gonna give nobody none of my jellyroll.
Johnny:
Oh such a stingy chap!
Bobby:
I wouldn't give you a piece of pie to save your soul.
Johnny:
How ‘bout a zuzu snap?
Bobby:
Her cherry pie is fine, her layer cake divine
But I'm tellin' you twice
You can't get a slice
Unless you're extra special nice.
Now there ain't no use of you to just keep a hangin' ‘round
Johnny:
Oh, pretty please!
Bobby:
I love you but I hate to put you down.
Yeah, my jellyroll is sweet
Johnny:
That it is!
Bobby:
It sure is hard to beat.
Well, I know they want it
Johnny:
But they can't have it.
Both:
Whoa, Miss Nelly, I need my jellyroll!
Johnny:
Dibs on the dishpan.
Bobby:
I got seconds.

8.   Lonesome Polecat by Johnny Mercer & Gene DePaul

 Click here for a 30-second soundbyte.
Bobby:
I'm a lonesome polecat
Lonesome, sad and blue
‘Cause I ain't got no
Feminine polecat
Vowin' to be true.
Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
Can't make no vows
To a herd of cows.
Johnny:
I'm a mean old hound dog
Bayin' at the moon
‘Cause I ain't got no
Lady friend hound dog
Here to hear my tune.
Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
A man can't sleep
When he sleeps with sheep.
Both:
I'm a little old hoot owl
Hootin' in the trees
‘Cause I ain't got no
Little gal owl fowl
Here to shoot the breeze
Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
Can't shoot no breeze
With a bunch of trees.
Why I can't I lose
These lonesome polecat blues?

9.   My Cutey's Due At Two-to-Two Today

According to Stanley Green's liner notes, this number was composed by Albert Von Tilzer (and Irving Bilbo) with lyrics by Leo Robin, and contains new lyrics by Bobby, presumably the ones he sings about his girlfriend on the DC2.  According to Leonard Sillman's 1959 biography, HERE LIES LEONARD SILLMAN, this number was written for GREENWICH VILLAGE FOLLIES (1919).   Click here for a 30-second soundbyte.
Bobby:
Sounds like a train song, if you ask me.
Johnny:
My cutey's due at two-to-two
She's comin' through on a big choo choo
Bobby:
That should be train.
Johnny:
She's been away for months
Bobby:
Pity.
Johnny:
But I haven't cheated once.
Bobby:
Oh, come, come, now, John.
Johnny:
Stayed home nights, didn't dance
Bobby:
Got two left feet anyway.
Johnny:
I wasn't takin' any chance
Didn't flirt
And you know that hurt
But I just couldn't do my cutey dirt.
Bobby:
You're an honorable lad.
Johnny:
Days were blue
And nights were black
But I just knew
She'd come back
‘Cause I love her and she loves me,
And say,
Bobby:
I would say that she's a very good girl.
Johnny:
Don't think there ain't no Santa Claus
I know darn well there is because
My cutey's due at two-to-two today,
Bobby:
You tell a wonderful story, John, you really do.
My cutey's due at two-to-two
She's comin' through on a DC2.
Johnny:
You got a girl in space!
Bobby:
I met each Boein' jet
But she hasn't shown up yet.
Johnny:
Try the airport!
Bobby:
Stayed home nights at the pad
It was awfully lonesome, dad
What I mean
A nothin' scene
Just me and the TV screen.
Oh, the price was right
Most every night
(as Walter Brennan) And how those western stars can fight.
But now she's comin' everything's OK.
Johnny:
That do make it OK.
Bobby:
It sure do.
My TV set is stayin' dark
And if you don't dig the last remark
My cutey's due at two-to-two today.
Johnny:
Bye! I'm off to meet that old choo choo.
Bobby:
And I'm kind of late for the DC2.
Both:
My cutey's due at two-to-two today.

10.   Paddlin' Madelin' Home/Row Row Row

Words and music for PADDLIN' MADELIN' HOME were written in 1925 by Harry M. Woods.  ROW, ROW, ROW was written by William Jerome in 1912.  This particular number features a quodlibet. What the heck is that? By a coincidence I find amazing, I happen to be reading a book called COMING UP ROSES by Ethan Mordden in which he defines a quodlibet as two separate melodies performed successively and then, to the ear's delight (he says), simultaneously. Mordden claims the quodlibet was virtually an Irving Berlin trademark, citing YOU'RE JUST IN LOVE from CALL ME MADAM as well as OLD FASHIONED WEDDING from ANNIE, GET YOUR GUN.

I have to admit I loathe quodlibets. Why? Well, first of all I like to sing along with my records, and I can only sing one lyric at a time; secondly, when two people are singing two different sets of lyrics simultaneously, it is hard to figure out what they are saying.

Anyway, quodlibets are not going away. I can remember when Barbara Streisand appeared on Judy Garland's TV show, she sang HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN while Judy simultaneously sang GET HAPPY; and certainly Stephen Sondheim features quodlibets in his scores.   Click here for a 30-second soundbyte.
Bobby:
(as Jimmy Durante) Doodly do do doot
Doodly do do doot
Doodly do do doot doo.
Johnny:
Gee, when we're paddlin' Madelin' home
Hey, when we're paddling' Madelin' home
First we drift with the tide
And pull for the shore
I hug her and kiss her and paddle some more
Then I keep paddling' Madelin' home.
Bobby:
(as Durante) You're doin' it in the water!
Johnny:
Until I find a spot where we're alone
And she never says no
So I kiss her and go
Paddlin' Madelin'
Sweet, sweet Madelin'
Paddlin' Madelin' home.
Bobby:
And then he'd row, row, row
Way up the river
He would row, row, row
A hug he'd give her
Then he'd kiss her now and then -
She would tell him when -
(as Billy Eckstine?) And then he'd fool around and fool around
And kiss her then again.
And then he'd row, row, row
A little further
He would row, oh how he'd row.
(as Louis Armstrong) Well, he'd drop both his oars
And take a few more encores.
Yeah, yeah.
Johnny:
Like when I'm paddlin' Madelin' home
Hey, when I'm paddlin' Madelin' home
Oh some times we'd fall in
But it never gets dull
‘Cause Madelin' yells
Hey, you're out of your skull
So I keep paddlin' Madelin' home
Until I find a spot where we're alone
And she never says no
So I kiss her and go
Paddlin' Madelin'
Sweet, sweet Madelin'
Paddlin' Madelin' home.
Bobby:
(as Durante) Your job is hangin' by a t'read.

11.  Who Takes Care Of The Caretaker's Daughter By Chick Endor and Paul Specht

 Click here for a 30-second soundbyte.
Bobby:
Who takes care of the caretaker's daughter
While the caretaker's busy takin' care?
Johnny:
Careful!
Bobby:
Gee oh gosh oh gee,
That's really what worries me
Johnny:
I see.
Bobby:
I know the caretaker he must take care
While he's taking care she's alone somewhere
But who takes care of the caretaker's daughter
While the caretaker's busy takin' care?
Brother John?
Johnny:
Who makes time with the timekeeper's daughter
While the timekeeper's busy keepin' time?
Bobby:
Don't ask me.
Johnny:
Who makes every scene
While he's windin' his Longine?
Bobby:
I've no idea.
Johnny:
You know that the timekeeper must keep time
And someone's gotta make her ticktock chime
So who makes time with the timekeeper's daughter
While the timekeeper's busy keepin' time?
Bobby:
Who gets tense with the tentmaker's daughter
While the tentmaker's busy making tents?
Of course, I'm talkin' about Omar Khayyam...
Johnny:
Yeah, well, that's exactly who I am!
Bobby:
I didn't recognize you without your shirt on.
You know Papa Khayyam, he must make tents
While he's makin' tents
Tell me who's makin' sense?
Johnny:
Yes, who gets tense with the tentmaker's daughter
While the tentmaker's busy makin' tents?
Bobby:
(as Elvis) Who rolls rocks for the rockroller's daughter
While the rockroller's busy rollin' rocks?
Just atwangin' his guitar
And bein' most rectangular
Now we know that the rockroller must roll rocks
But while he's rockin' and rollin;
Who supplies her yocks?
Who rolls rocks for the rockroller's daughter
While the rockroller's busy rollin' rocks?
Johnny:
Who plays house with the housekeeper's daughter
While the housekeeper's busy keepin' house?
Bobby:
I'm usually out myself.
I know they can't afford a maid
And they can't call up the ladies' aid.
Johnny:
Yes, but you know that the housekeeper must keep house
Bobby:
And that child ain't busy readin' Mickey Mouse.
Both:
So who keeps house with the housekeeper's daughter
While the housekeeper's busy house?
Bobby:
I mean while the rockroller's busy rollin' rocks?
Johnny:
Yes sir!
Both:
While the caretaker's busy takin' care?

12.   Mississippi Mud  By James Cavanaugh & Harry Barris

 Click here for a 30-second soundbyte.
Bobby:
Hey, John, you ever been to Mississippi?
Johnny:
No, man, but I sure would like to visit down there.
Bobby:
You would? Well, I'll tell you what then, let us hop on a plane and went.
Johnny:
OK, I hear it's very nice.
Bobby:
It is, it is.
Johnny:
When the sun goes down
The tide goes out
The people gather ‘round
And they all begin to shout
Bobby:
What?
Johnny:
Hey, hey, Uncle Dud,
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud.
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud.
Bobby:
And what a dance do they do
Lordy how I'm tellin' you
Why they don't need no band
They keep time by clapping their hand.
Both:
Just as happy as a cow chewin' on a cud
When the people beat their feet
On the Mississippi mud.
Bobby:
Lordy, how they play it
Goodness how they sway it
There's Uncle George and cousin Jack
Look at those fools
Peckin' on their back
Johnny:
What joy that music thrills me.
Bobby:
It do.
Johnny:
Boy, it nearly kills me
Sister Kate hollers Son
You sure get money
But it's mighty good fun
Both:
When the sun goes down
The tide goes out
The people gather round
And they all begin to shout
Hey, hey, Uncle Dud,
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud.
Bobby:
What a dance do they do
Both:
Lordy, how I'm tellin' you
Johnny:
They don't need no band.
Bobby:
They don't?
Johnny:
They keep time by clapping their hand
Bobby:
I see.
Johnny:
Just as happy as a cow chewing on a cud
When the people beat their feet
And the people clap their hands
On the M I double S I double S I double P I Mud.
Bobby:
An "A" for spelling.

13.  Two Of A Kind

In late 2012, a portion of this number showed up in a TV commercial for Apple's iPad Mini.   Click here for a 30-second soundbyte.
Johnny:
Bobby, I was thinkin' what about the other side?
Bobby:
(as Chico) Whaddya mean, the other side, I was born over here?
Johnny:
No, man, I mean the song we started on the other side.
Bobby:
Do you think the world is ready for it, John?
Johnny:
Yeah.
Bobby:
Billy?
Johnny:
William?
Bobby:
Two of a kind
For your information
We're two of a kind.
Johnny:
Two of a kind
It's my observation
We're two of a kind.
Bobby:
Like peas in a pod
Johnny:
And birds of a feather
Both:
Alone or together you'll find
That we are two-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
Of a kind.
Johnny:
What's so wrong,
Thinkin' life is a song
And reachin' for a star?
Bobby:
Who's to say
If we'll go the whole way?
At least we got this far!
Johnny:
Sharin' our lot
Our vittles and viands,
We're two of an ilk.
Bobby:
Say, what if we've got
Rare chateau briands
Or crackers and milk?
Johnny:
Makin' it plain,
Bobby:
Explainin' it fully
Both:
We're similar-lar-ly inclined
Because we're two-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
Of a kind!
Johnny:
Two of a kind
When he's out of rhythm
I'm singin' off key.
Bobby:
I never heard you do that, John,
Say never you mind,
‘Cause I'm stickin' with him
To C above C.
Johnny:
Easy for me!
Both:
Oh, need we explain when he warbles sweetly
I'm flat and completely behind
Because we're two-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
Of a kind.
Johnny:
I get kicks when I meet the cute chicks
Who hang around this lad
Bobby:
And especially when they whisper to me
Hey, honey, who's your dad?
Johnny:
Two of a sort,
Bobby:
Like two pomegranates
From off the same tree.
Johnny:
I'm with you, sport,
Whatever you plan,
It's a goes double with me.
Bobby:
It's a goes double with you?
Johnny:
Yeah!
Bobby:
I've got a terrible thought,
Johnny:
Most frightfully upsetting
Both:
And yet we are getting resigned
To being two-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
Of a kind.
Johnny:
Yeah, two of a kind
Both:
We like workin' single
Or workin' in twos.
Bobby
Keep us in mind
Give us a jingle.
We got taps on our shoes.
Johnny:
We'll dance!
Both:
We're both of us like
The tower of Pisa:
Bobby:
I'm lean-a like he's-a inclined
Both:
Because we're two-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
Of a kind
Because we're two-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo
Of a kind.

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