I’ve seen A Fish Named Wanda, but I’ve never heard a song named Wanda. I thought of using the Fish Named Wanda movie theme music in this post, but it’s hardly a song, and in any case, too recent (1988) to qualify as an oldie by my picky standards for this series. This illustrates my problem: although there are a number of girls names starting with W, few of them made their way into old song titles. Luckily (?) for you, however, I have managed to dredge up three, the first of which is so old (1906), even I don’t remember it.
ARRAH WANNA tells of an Irish lad named Barney Carney proposing marriage to an Indian maiden named Wanna, after which they “can love and bill and coo in a wigwam built of shamrocks green.” Arrah is an old Irish term; its meaning isn’t well defined, but seems well intended, given the setup as Barney sets a record for blarney because he don’t wanna Lack-a-Wanna. Needing a W song, I decided ‘owl’ play along — it may be a hoot:
Next is a song I do remember, though it’s not the most memorable song in the world (well, maybe it is in Copenhagen):
We close with an oldie so young, I suspect many of you remember it (first recorded in 1964 by the life-is-a-Beach Boys):
To V or not to V…. Verily, I wouldst
say, That is the question; methinks I shouldst
look for those old V gals wherever I couldst.
From what I’ve heard, there were at least three….
including one who’s as inViolate as she can be.
Now I remember “My Song” — will she hear me?
This time of year, many newspapers reprint an editorial which appeared in the New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897 — an editorial which famously responded “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” to a letter written to the paper by eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon. Today I would further respond to Virginia that not only is there a Santa Claus, but Santa assures me that, just as in those indelible childhood days, he is coming back to wherever is home on the night before Christmas — and this time he hopes to stay, if only in spirit:
As for #3: They say it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. Far be it from me to say any such things.
Although R (Part II) brings the number of posts (18) in this series in line with the corresponding letter of the alphabet, I foresee that after S and T, most of the remaining letters are going to present a challenge to staying on course — especially X. The only gal I’m aware of whose name starts with X was Xanthippe, wife of Socrates, but as far as I know, no one back then wrote a song about her….and if they did, they left no record — or even sheet music. Papyrus would have been available, though apparently it was used for different ends, which in hindsight was a good idea on paper, but went to waste in practice.
Meanswhile, back at the R, it’s time to ride:
Red may have had a head start, but Rosetta and Rosalie have their own tales to tell:
In doing research for the posts of this fem song series, I occasionally come across an old tune which not only is unfamiliar to me, but has a ‘trivia’ connection that catches my attention as much as the song itself. Such is the case with my first N song — NINA, recorded in 1931 by Wooding’s Grand Central Red Caps:
Orchestras of that era often adopted the names of venues where they played extended gigs, such as Richard Himber and His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra / Billy Wynne and His Greenwich Village Inn Orchestra. These venues lent a certain prestige to the orchestra and, one assumes, vice versa — though it’s hard to see how Grand Central Station could gain prestige from being coupled with a relatively obscure band like Wooding’s. But beyond that, it seems unlikely that any orchestra would be the ‘house band’ at a train terminal ….even one so grand as Grand Central — unless a night club was ‘on board’ there (which I can find no record of). If anyone can throw some light on the latter, please comment.
Moving on, we have a gal named NELLIE who is also waiting for some light:
The end dame of our N game is NANCY….you know — the one with the laughing face.
In a comment a few letters ago, Don Frankel broached that a Civil War-era ballad titled LORENA be considered for inclusion in my upcoming Lady L songs post. Don’s suggestion now being timely, I am pleased to accommodate it to start L (Part II):
When it comes to songs of that period, no presentation would be complete without input from the “Father of American Music,” Stephen Collins Foster, composer of MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME, JEANIE WITH THE LIGHT BROWN HAIR, OH, SUSANNA and many others. As it happens, none of these is a Lady L….but this one is, twice-over:
Let’s turn now from the Civil War to Harry Warren, who, together with lyricist Al Dubin, comprised one of the great song writing teams of the 1930s-40s. Thanks to them, I was introduced to a lulu of a gal named Lulu. Recently we met again and I asked “Is it true you fell for a Zulu who flew you to Honolulu to woo you but was untrue to you? When you left, I hardly knew you.” Now that she has returned,
I gotta get my old tuxedo pressed
Gotta sew a button on my vest
‘Cause tonight I’ve gotta look my best….
So far in this feminine song series, we haven’t embraced a single Gershwin tune. Let us korrect that egregious omission right now with the title song from the 1926 Broadway musical OH, KAY! OK, it’s true that the hit song to come out of that show wasn’t Oh, Kay!, but SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME….unfortunately, George and Ira didn’t title that hit song Someone To Watch Over Kay, so this selection is what it is — Oh, Kay?
Next, we have a 78 rpm record that I’ve had for many years; I’ve long gotten such a Kick out of it that my Kazatski is Kaputski. Oy vey! That hotski music is too much for me:
From the ridiculous to the sublime, our third (and final) K song is so beautifully sad that you’d swear it’s an Irish ballad….but it was actually written by an American of German ancestry in 1875, when, I might note, sheet music was the only way of taking songs home (even player piano rolls hadn’t been invented yet). Anyway, if you cry easily* — faith and begorrah, there be nothing wrong with that — keep the Kleenex Klose by.
*You may now dry your eyes (I will discretely pretend not to notice).
Let’s talk a bit about the “J” ladies who will join us on this 9th walk into my feminine song series. Our stroll starts with a century-old blues, the title of which has origins lost in haze beyond where the crow flies. Speculation has it that the Crow in the title refers to racist Jim Crow laws in Southern states in those vestigial days, or to the name of a Native American tribe, but no one seems to know for sure. In any case, CROW JANE is a ‘blues J’ that’s a jewel of its genre, performed here New Orleans street-style:
Next, we have a sweet little number from 1930. You’ll love her when you see….
I don’t know about you — I could go for more of this gal. But enough walking. This time, we’ll go by Cab (the fare is quite good):