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A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I got a gal at the 40th International Congress on Medieval Studies

Well, and after talking about Your Hit Parade and great or lousy songs, it occurred to YHB that one distinction some would make (and I failed to) is between melodic and lyric stupidity. When I presented my case that there was bad and stupid music a-plenty before 1957, I’m afraid I was thinking pretty solidly about lyrics. “Elmer’s Tune” is a stupid song, but it’s pretty catchy despite the Tin Pan Alley lyrics, and although I still can’t make the case for it being any more impressive than “Blue Suede Shoes”, I’m afraid I was probably too harsh on it. The problem is that I know nothing whatever about music (much as I like it), and my excessive fondness for lyrics overwhelms my judgment.

Take, for instance, Harry Warren. Harry Warren (born Salvatore Guaragna) had 42 songs on Your Hit Parade, the closest competitor was Irving Berlin, with only 33. So why don’t I know his name, and why don’t I immediately associate it with the big hits? It’s because he wrote the music. He teamed with various lyricists over the years; I know those names. Johnny Mercer wrote “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”, “Jeepers Creepers”, and of course “Atchison, Topeka, And The Santa Fe”. Al Dubin wrote “You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me”, “We're In The Money” and “Lullaby of Broadway”. Mack Gordon wrote “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”. Jack Brooks wrote “That’s Amore” (OK, I didn’t know that). But I forget that Harry Warren wrote the music to all of those.

And, of course, if I like those songs (and I do, even “Jeepers Creepers”), I have to give a good deal of credit for it to Mr. Warren. P.G. Wodehouse said, more or less, that if it were up to him, he’d wind up writing all his lyrics with eight beats to the line, with rhymes at the end, four lines to a verse. All the songs would sound exactly the same, and they would all be incredibly dull. With somebody writing the music, though, he would use internal rhymes, lines and verses of different lengths, and generally be more interesting. With that in mind, try to imagine these lyrics (by Mack Gordon) being somehow separate from the melody and rhythm.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H
I got a gal in Kalamazoo
Don’t want to boast but I know she’s the toast of Kalamazoo
(Zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo)

Years have gone by, my my how she grew
I liked her looks when I carried her books in Kalamazoo
(Zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo)

I’m gonna send away, hoppin’ on a plane, leavin’ today
Am I dreamin’? I can hear her screamin’
"Hiya, Mr. Jackson Everything’s OK”-A-L-A-M-A-Z-O-

Oh, what a gal, a real pipperoo
I’ll make my bid for that freckle-faced kid I’m hurryin’ to
I’m goin’ to Michigan to see the sweetest gal in Kalamazoo
(Zoo, zoo)
(Zoo, zoo, zoo, Kalamazoo)
K (K)
A (A)
(Oh, oh, oh, oh what a gal, a real pipperoo)
(We’re goin’ to Michigan to see the sweetest gal in Kalamazoo)
(Zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo)

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,