Looking Back

I’m suffering an old-fashioned case of nostalgia perhaps brought on by the sudden rash of iTunes albums released by Paul Simon, John Fogerty, and, particularly, Bruce Springsteen’s “Old Dan Tucker” and “John Henry.”

I was amazed at the feelings those songs invoked, feelings that got me searching iTunes for other songs from my childhood, especially “Zip a Dee Doo Dah” which, unfortunately, led me to Bing Crosby’s songs.

Both my mother and father loved Crosby, so it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I was raised on his music. I suspect my oldest and fondest memory might well be his classic “Santa Claus is Coming to Down” sung with the Andrew Sisters. Even now I don’t consider it Christmas until I hear that song, and I’m still rocked by the sheer chutzpah of referring to Santa Claus as “You mean the big-fat man with the long white beard?”

Although I don’t like Crosby’s rendition of “Zip a Dee Doo Dah“ as well as the movie original, it was the best version I could find online. In the process, thanks to iTunes suggestions of other songs I might like, I rediscovered a considerable number of songs I still love, but bought only a select few.

Of course, despite the wonders of modern technology, I couldn’t find “Feudin’ Fussing and Fighting” by Crosby and the Andrews sisters, a personal favorite, though I did find the lyrics online and was particularly struck by lines like:

Daughter, baby daughter
Poisoned all the neighbors chickens
Daughter hadn’t oughter
Least ’till she could run like the dickens
They hit her with a shovel
Feuding and fighting and a-fussing
No use a-standing here a-cussing
Let’s give our daughter a pistol now that she’s four
And go feuding and fighting some more

I wonder why I found this passage so humorous, perhaps it’s the clever use of “oughter,” perhaps the rhyme “chickens/dickens,” perhaps the sheer absurdity of thinking children should be dragged into adults’ wars. Most of all, it makes me wonder just how young our sense of humor is determined. Did I like this song because it appealed to my personal sense of humor, or did listening to songs like this when I was so young determine what I find funny?

Perhaps it’s not entirely coincidental that my favorite Crosby song I could find was:

Swingin’ On a Star

Would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a mule

A mule is an animal with long funny ears
Kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
He’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
And by the way, if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule

Or would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a pig
A pig is an animal with dirt on his face
His shoes are a terrible disgrace
He has no manners when he eats his food
He’s fat and lazy and extremely rude
But if you don’t care a feather or a fig
You may grow up to be a pig

Or would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a fish

A fish won’t do anything, but swim in a brook
He can’t write his name or read a book
To fool the people is his only thought
And though he’s slippery, he still gets caught
But then if that sort of life is what you wish
You may grow up to be a fish
A new kind of jumped-up slippery fish

And all the monkeys aren’t in the zoo
Every day you meet quite a few
So you see it’s all up to you
You can be better than you are
You could be swingin’ on a star

Looking back at this song, it’s no wonder I spent so many years in school, and as you can tell if you’re a regular here I

…would like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are.

I was a little surprised, though, that this was the number one Bing Crosby song downloaded on iTunes. I guess there must be a whole generation of old guys and gals overcome by waves of nostalgia.

7 thoughts on “Looking Back

  1. Would you like to swing on a star…starts the tune going in your head as soon as you see the words. Now I’ll have to go spend more money at iTunes. Or emusic.

    But Zip a Dee Doo Dah, oh my, Song of the South. I must confess to being one of those who would wish that Disney release this as a DVD.

  2. I have my name on a waiting list at Amazon to be notified if Disney decides to finally release this movie on DVD, Shelley.

    Brer Rabbit, with the possible exception of Donald Duck, whose temper seemed very similar to mine as a young lad growing up, is my favorite Disney character.

  3. I got “Don’t Fence Me In,” alan, though I’m actually a kind of “fence-me-in” kinda guy, not a wanderer.

    I did like “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” Jame so I added it to my iTunes basket.

    “Hate Bing Crosby?!” Isn’t that like saying you can’t stand Santa Claus, Ron?

  4. I too am trying to find the music to “Feuding, Fussing & Fighting”……I would love to be able to download it.
    If you happen to find it anywhere, please post the addy.

What do you think?