Empty rhetoric

« previous post | next post »

Emptier than usual, I mean:


  1. Mary Bull said,

    August 23, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    This made me smile, so thanks for posting it. But my head's empty of anything but emoticons, when I try to think of a comment. :)

  2. groki said,

    August 23, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

    I've heard singers sing "I don't know the rest of this liiiine" or some such in time to the music.

  3. CWV said,

    August 23, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

    A similar (though more off-color) line from the most-recent season of 30 Rock — Tracy Morgan (hitting on newly hired dancer): "Before you got here, were you an ass scientist? Because your ass blah blah blah, you get the point."

  4. Jerry Friedman said,

    August 23, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

    @groki: Another method is Sarah Vaughan's.

  5. groki said,

    August 23, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

    Jerry Friedman:

    thanks for that. Sarah's version starts as a "mention" then blossoms into a magnificent "use" (pretty post-modern for 1957). and oh, how much sense her nonsense makes!

  6. richard said,

    August 24, 2010 @ 12:17 am

    This kind of thing is far from unusual in the jazz world, where self-commentary (self-quotation even) is comment. For example, Ella Fitzgerald did this in a concert in Berlin, 1960, when she forgot the words to "Mack the Knife." She got through the first three choruses OK, but then got lost, so she commented on her own performance over the next five choruses (my own transcription):
    Oh what's the next chorus to this song now
    This is the one now I don't know
    But it was the swinging tune
    And it’s a hit tune
    So we tried to do
    “Mack the Knife”
    Oh Louie Miller
    Oh, something about cash
    Yeah Miller, he was fillin’ that trash
    And Mack Heath dear
    He spends like a sailor
    Tell me tell me tell me could that boy do something rash
    Oh, Bobby Darin
    And Louie Armstrong
    They made a record, oh but they did
    And now Ella Ella and her fellas
    We’re making a wreck—what a wreck
    Of “Mack the Knife”

    [scat in the style of Louie Armstrong]
    So you’ve heard it, yes we've sung it
    And we tried to, yes we've sung it
    You won’t recognize it
    It’s a surprise hit
    This tune called “Mack the Knife”
    And so we leave you
    In Berlin town
    Yes we’ve swung old Mack
    We’ve swung old Mackie down
    For the Darin fans
    And for the Louie Armstrong fans too
    We told you look out look out
    Old Mackie’s back in town!
    Note that the original lyrics start to emerge in the third chorus, but then she gives up until the very end. I personally find this to be the case with my own song memory–I know how the lyrics to a lot of songs start, and I usually know how they end, but often I have no idea what happens about two-thirds of the way into them. I have no problem remembering entire melodies, but the words often give me trouble.

  7. CS Clark said,

    August 24, 2010 @ 4:01 am

    I'm reminded of this Big Train sketch – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjd1j8Bf6RI

  8. BW said,

    August 24, 2010 @ 1:39 pm


    That is probably a version of the primacy and recency effects: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_position_effect

    The first and last items in a list, first and last slides in a presentation, etc. are usually better remembered than the middle. There is a similar effect for sports that rely on subjective judgements (like figure skating) where the first and last athletes are judged differently.

  9. Stan said,

    August 25, 2010 @ 3:46 am

    Funny cartoon. For some reason, it reminded me of the unusual miming in Everything But The Girl's video for their cover of 'The Only Living Boy in New York'.

  10. maidhc said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 3:04 am

    Louis Armstrong used this technique when he was required to sing songs that he didn't care for. (This happened a lot because he was so good that he could make a hit out of something that would otherwise be a dud. Thus he was given some real dreck.) For example, the song "Shine" has a nice tune and is still played, but you never heard the words any more. They start "Just because my hair is curly, just because my teeth are pearly" and continue through a bunch of racist cliches to conclude with "That's why they call me Shine". When Armstrong recorded it, he did all the words up to "That's why they call me …" and then started scatting.

    He was also asked to record "I'm a Ding-Dong Daddy from Dumas", not a racist song but a pretty idiotic one. In that one he sang the title line, 2 bars out of a total of 32, said "I forget the words" and then started scatting.right away. In an interview he claimed that the music had fallen off the stand.

    I suppose the lyricist of "I'm a Ding-Dong Daddy from Dumas" was consoled by receiving royalties even though Louis Armstrong in effect refused to sing his song.

    [(myl) By the way, that was one of those prohibition-era songs written and recorded by white guys (Phil Baxter and Bob Wills, respectively) that were quite like gangsta rap in the tone and content of their lyrics:

    I'm a ding dong daddy from Dumas baby
    You oughta see me do my stuff
    Wild papa from Polecat Hollow
    I don't wanna get rough

    Purty little momma tried to put me on the run
    But I had to burn her down with a Thompson Gun
    I'm a ding dong daddy from Dumas babe
    You oughta see me do my stuff

    I'm a ding dong daddy baby
    And liquor is my racket
    Lots of times when things are dull
    I deal in other traffic

    I can sell you morphine coke or snow
    Take a little shot and you're raring to go
    Cause I'm a ding dong daddy from Dumas babe
    You ought to see me do my stuff

    Autre temps, memes moeurs.]

  11. Robert Harwood said,

    April 10, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    I don't know where those Ding Dong Daddy lyrics originated, but they are not the ones Armstrong didn't sing – Phil Baxter (and maybe Carl Moore) was the writer of the original song (first recorded in 1927) and these are his lyrics:

    I’m A Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas – Phil Baxter

    I reckon you all don't know who I is
    Because I just got here today
    My hometown is a little town
    Way down Dixie way
    Now, everybody down there from miles around
    All calls me by my name
    Now that I'm up here
    In your big city
    I sure wish you'd all do the same

    Because I'm a ding dong daddy from Dumas
    And you oughtta see me do my stuff
    Why, I'm a clean cut fella
    From Horner's Corner
    Ooh, you oughtta see me strut
    I'm a paper cuttin cutie
    Got a gal called, Katy
    She's a little, heavy lady
    And I call her baby
    I'm a ding dong daddy from Dumas
    And you oughtta see me do my stuff
    Yes, a ding dong daddy from Dumas
    And you oughtta see me do my stuff

    I'm a ping pong papa from Pitchfork Prairie
    Oughtta see me strut
    I'm a ding dong daddy
    Got a whiz bang mama
    She's a Bear Creek baby
    And a whompus kitty
    Just a ding dong daddy from Dumas
    Ooh, you oughtta see me do my stuff
    I'm a cornpone popper
    And an apple knocker
    You oughtta see me strut
    I'm a momma lovin' man
    And I just left Mary
    She's a big blonde baby
    From Peanut Prairie
    I'm a ding dong daddy from Dumas
    And you oughtta see me do my stuff
    Just a rinky dinky daddy from the Dumas
    Who you'll see me doin' my stuff
    I'm a peach pie papa
    From Jackson's Holla
    Ah, you oughtta see me strut
    I'm a honey drippin' daddy
    Got a hard-hearted baby
    She's a sheep shakin' Sheba
    And hallelujah
    I'm a ding dong daddy from Dumas
    And you oughtta see me strut

    [(myl) I transcribed the version in the comment above from the recording on this Bob Wills boxed set. It's on disk 2, which was apparently recorded between 1937 and 1940. This amazon mp3 download seems to be the same version, if you want to invest $0.99 in hearing it.

    I've seen the lyrics you cite — but what's your reason for thinking that that (apparently bowdlerized) version is the one that Armstrong didn't sing?]

RSS feed for comments on this post