I was thinking. How is it that someone can think up lyrics like Mares eat oats and does eat oats, and come up with a song like
Now I can understand writing ballads, or blues (I, MYSELF, have written no less than two blues numbers. Henhouse Blues and Wire-bendin’ Blues, but my eldest son — who professes to be a blues afficianado as well as a double bassist — has let me down miserably in this regard. I was counting on him to set my lyrics to music. I’ve now resigned myself to waiting until one or more of the grandsons takes it on.)
Anyway, what was I saying? Yes, well, it’s easy enough to write soppy love songs, or bitter protest anthems; anyone can write my-man-done-me-wrong songs, but lyrics like Mairzy Doats are the work of genius. [Just for the record, I’m not saying that just anyone can write good lyrics, but there aren’t that many of those around anyway; we can’t all be Hoagy Carmichael or Kris Kristofferson or Jim Croce.] (Okay, Hoagy Carmichael wrote the music, not the lyrics, but you couldn’t have written Stardust without that music first!)
I want to know what else goes on in the mind of someone who can write Mairzy Doats. I’m pretty sure it isn’t dangerous, but it must be a little…unusual, shall we say . Like living with Monty Python in your head, perhaps. Same sort of madness.
Mairzy doats was written in 1943, but it wasn’t a time when the whole neighborhood was in a silly mood, so it wasn’t until 1944 that the composers were brave enough to launch it. Perhaps something silly was what the country needed then, as it became an instant hit. Particularly with servicemen, apparently.
One of the writers, Milton Drake, says the song is based on an English nursery rhyme. According to this story, Drake’s four-year-old daughter came home singing “Cowzy tweet and sowzy tweet and liddle sharksy doisters.” It begs the question whether the nutty brains that wrote Mairzy Doats were the geniuses, or the person who first wrote the nursery rhyme. Either way, there was something strange and brilliant going on in that head.
Here’s the original recording of the song in 1944; have a listen.
In case you’re wondering, I will get back on track with my reports on Northern Europe and cruising. My brain just went walkabout this morning, and I thought I’d share my meanderings of a different sort. Just livin’ up to my name… Cheers! MM