Monday, December 04, 2006

The 1940’s, SPIKE JONES & his CITY SLICKERS !



A Spike Jones concert was loud, corny, and irreverent. It was also hysterical and gave a much needed cause for laughter in the war-torn years of the ‘40’s. His orchestra, consisting of 12 to 16 talented musicians, played practically anything that made a loud noise, including cow bells, horns and whistles. A washboard was Spike’s musical choice.

His signature recording was “Cocktails for Two”, a romantically dreamy rendition of the song until he threw in sounds of hic-cups & clinking cocktail glasses. It was very funny but not my favorite.

I loved the way he murdered the classics and, particularly, his version of “The William Tell Overture”. (Da..dadum, Da..dadum, Da..dadum, dum, dum). He turned this serious classic into a frantic and corny horse race entitled “Girdle in the Stretch” and featuring the horse, “Feitlebaum”, who, against all odds runs the entire race as a distant last and suddenly surges ahead to win!

For those who have not heard it, here is a sample of the words being called as “The William Tell Overture” plays softly in the background: “It’s a beautiful day for the race. Stu Chan is the favorite today, Assault is in there, Dog Biscuit is three to one, Safety Pin has been scratched and at twenty-to-one: Feitlebaum. THERE THEY GOOOOOOOOO!...Cabbage is second by a head, Banana is coming up thru the bunch...and Feitlebaum…..etc., etc. Around the turn, heading for home, it’s Stu Chan and Dog Biscuit & Girdle in the stretch, Mother-In-Law nagging in the rear and, OH, OH, OH, here comes Feitlebaum and it’ll either be a photo finish or an oil painting...AND … THERE GOES THE WINNERRRRRRR.....it’s FEITLEBAUM !!”

My other fond remembrance was listening to the Spike Jones orchestra one night as they were playing it fairly straight. All of a sudden a telephone rang and Spike halted the music. The stage was completely silent and we all listened as Spike said. “Hello…you don’t say. (pause) Uh, huh…you don’t say. (pause) Wow...you don’t say! OK, goodbye” As soon as he hung up the phone the entire orchestra rose to their feet and yelled, “Who was it?”. “He didn’t say”, said Spike and they all sat down and proceeded to finish the song as if nothing had interrupted them!

I know...they are corny and slapstick and wouldn’t have a chance on today’s stage, but they were great fun in the 40’s and I thank Alan G. for reminding me of them.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Alan G said...

It's Feitlebaum.....

Boy, as a kid how often did we break out with that song. We use to always apply it to one of our playmates after they screwed up or lost a foot race. Brings back sweet, sweet memories.

I have a CD of some of his greatest hits but unfortunately that one is not on it.

5:19 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Spike was big in the UK in those days. He made me laugh, but then I was just a kid. I don't think that my parents were too keen.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh! I remember hearing this when I was a kid. My mom loved Spike Jones and played some of his records for me! I might just have to find some for her as a gift! What fun!!!

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:40 PM  
Anonymous The Midnight Gardener said...

Hi Ginnie!! Thanks so much for your post to my garden blog--always enjoy hearing from people all over the place! I also was lucky enough to be in a production at college that used some of Spike Jones'greatest tunes as house music...always got us into the right mood backstage...and have since used it in a show I directed. Great stuff...come visit the Midnight Garden again sometime!

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They were brilliant musicians too, let's not forget that. I think his son carried on the routines...

12:07 PM  
Blogger gawilli said...

Believe it or not, there was a show on underground radio in the 60's that played Spike Jones. That is how I got to know his music and it was great fun then, too! We have seen a group called the Asylum Street Spankers that kind of reminded me of his music, although they were a little more risqué. Well maybe a lot more risqué - but fun!

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

I vaguely remember hearing about Spike Jones but I'm not that familiar with him, so I really enjoyed your sharing. I'm afraid you're right though...unfortunately, I guess he wouldn't have a chance today. At least not based on the junk we're subjected to.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ginnie, I so love your memories, you wake up the past and take me back to another time. And what a trip, both poignant and funny. I had all but forgotten Spike and his wild bunch.

3:20 AM  

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