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Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?

MGM·Lion 02 Feb 14 - 10:47 AM
Doug Chadwick 03 Feb 14 - 04:53 AM
Doug Chadwick 03 Feb 14 - 09:39 AM
Doug Chadwick 03 Feb 14 - 09:57 AM
Marje 03 Feb 14 - 10:00 AM
MGM·Lion 03 Feb 14 - 11:02 AM
Newport Boy 03 Feb 14 - 12:16 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Feb 14 - 12:29 PM
Newport Boy 03 Feb 14 - 12:30 PM
Newport Boy 03 Feb 14 - 12:33 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Feb 14 - 01:01 PM
Marje 03 Feb 14 - 01:42 PM
Richard Mellish 03 Feb 14 - 02:37 PM
Doug Chadwick 03 Feb 14 - 06:28 PM
MGM·Lion 04 Feb 14 - 06:16 AM
Doug Chadwick 04 Feb 14 - 12:23 PM
MGM·Lion 04 Feb 14 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,WillPower 25 Feb 14 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,Marianne Hulse 30 Sep 14 - 03:36 AM
GUEST,Marianne Hulse 30 Sep 14 - 03:38 AM
MGM·Lion 30 Sep 14 - 04:17 AM
GUEST 13 Nov 14 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Rahere 13 Nov 14 - 06:08 PM
GUEST 16 Dec 15 - 01:44 PM
GUEST,Colin Bradbury 12 Mar 16 - 12:44 PM
GUEST 15 Nov 16 - 12:49 PM
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Subject: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 02 Feb 14 - 10:47 AM

In a thread named "What was your first tune", Doug Chadwick, on 14 Apr 02, wrote, 'The first tunes I learnt for public performance (singing at neighbours' doors in return for a ride on the milkman's horse and cart when was about 4 years old) were: "What did the poor little moths live on when Adam and Eve were there" and "How can a guinea pig show he's pleased if he hasn't got a tail to wag". I learned these songs at my mother's knee and she, in turn, learnt them from the horn of her uncle's wind up gramphone.'

I found this, as one should before posting, by checking on "Search", and this was the sole result. I was going to ask if anyone knew anything about the second of these, which one of the teachers at my school used to sing at 1st year Christmas parties. His full lyric was

How can a guinea pig show he's pleased
If he hasn't got a tail to wag?
All other animals, you will find,
Have got a little tail stuck on behind.
If they'd only put a tail on the guinea pig,
And finish off a decent job,
Why, the price of a guinea pig would shoot right up
From a guinea to thirty bob.


Does anyone know: is that it, or is there a longer song of which this is the chorus; it has something of the feel to me of the chorus of a Music Hall song -- an impression perhaps strengthened by the reference to "the horn of uncle's wind-up gramophone". Any idea of an author/composer? In fact, any more info whatever?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 04:53 AM

They are the words that I know.

Googling gives a few more hits but no more significant information or additional lyrics. The tune can be heard at How can a guinea pig show he's pleased


DC


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 09:39 AM

I have found a piece by a London Correspondent of The Mail (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 13 February 1926 about a theatre group called the Co-Optemists, who's leader had

       "… no difficulty in getting the whole house to sing a childish ditty like this:"

It then went on to print the lyrics as above.


DC


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 09:57 AM

More on the The Co-Optemists which gave an early platform to Stanley Holloway.

I wonder if the Guinea Pig song was written for the revue?


DC


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Marje
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 10:00 AM

I learned this orally in my childhood in the 1950s, just as printed above. I taught it to my children when they got guinea pigs (with explanations re the currency!) and I think it has now reached the grandchildren, who are also guinea-pig owners.
I've never thought of it as anything other than a complete little song in its own right.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 11:02 AM

Many thanks for those links, Doug. I remember many of the Co-Optimist names from BBC Radio Music Hall & Happidrome & such programmes in the 40s: Dave Burnaby, Harry S Pepper [who I think became a band leader or producer]; Phyllis Monkman & Cyril Ritchard were in early British Hitchcock films, I think; & Ritchard later a notable Captain Hook in a 50s Peter Pan. Very likely the "Guinea-Pig" song originated with this group. Perhaps Mr Burnaby wrote it? From your Adelaide report he certainly seems to have been the one who sang it. & the teacher at my school in the 40s that I ref'd in OP was about of an age to have seen the Co-Optimists 20 years or so before & got the song from them.

Many thanks, Marje, for your recollections. From whom did you "learn it orally" in the 50s? Friends or family? You may well be right that it is a complete song on its own: certainly makes a single cogent point, doesn't it? Anyone else know the song, or anything about it?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 12:16 PM

I learnt this, probably from my father, in the early 1940s. I only remember the last half, but that may be the bit I joined in on.

There's a listing here of the Co-Optimists songs and No 61, credited to Melville Gideon, is 'The tale of a guinea pig'. I can't find anything further about it.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 12:29 PM

Great link, Phil.

Now, M Gideon seems to have been an American who came over here, acc to wikipedia entry ~~

-"Melville Gideon (May 21, 1884, New York City – November 11, 1933, London) was an American composer, lyricist and performer of ragtime music, composing many themes for hit Broadway musicals including The Co-Optimists. He was also a director, producer and performer"-

... tho that 'including The Co-Optimists' seems a bit confusing, as it wasn't a Broadway musical'. In fact it's a slightly confusing entry, appearing in the first clause to suggest that he only composed & performed ragtime, but then implying much wider musical interests and accomplishments.

Still, all these various links & contributions, taken together, do seem to settle the question of origin & composition, which is what I was after.

Very many thanks to all.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 12:30 PM

And there's a recording by the Co-Optimists on an LP - World Record Club SHB 25. According to
this website 6 users have it in their collections.

All you have to do is track one down!

Phil


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 12:33 PM

I've seen Melville Gideon described as 'an early crooner' and he was certainly a performing member of the Co-Optimists, so his field was pretty wide.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 01:01 PM

Great. Thanks again. Here are details of that recording;

http://castalbums.org/recordings/The-Co-Optimists-Original-Casts/19845

Appears to be an LP double-album. Song in question appears on Side C, track 8.

Didn't they do a lot of Irving Berlin! Presumably the 'Always' listed is his famous song... But an eclectic repertoire, it seems to be, doesn't it?, with their own original comic songs like this one cheek-by-jowl with Irving B & Fred Astaire...

I seem to recall having read somewhere, but can't recall where, that the Co-Optimists might have been the inspiration for the eponymous "Good Companions" concert party of J B Priestley's best-selling novel of 1929. Seems plausible.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Marje
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 01:42 PM

MtheGM - I learned it from my Mum, who was Scottish. She had been an infant teacher at one time, so she may have had it in her repertoire of songs for the little ones.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 02:37 PM

Second go at posting this. Preview worked, then Submit went back to the lyrics and knowledge page but without my message.

There is more. All I can remember is the line "When a little dog is pleased, he'll wag his tail", but I'm sure that is part of a series of lines about other kinds of animal. And I think I have heard Stanley Hollway sing it.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 06:28 PM

There is a preview sample from "Highlights From The Co-Optimists" on Amazon.com which starts with

       .... and so, how can a guinea pig ....

which suggests that Richard is right and there is more.

The song is titled "the Tale of the Guinea Pig", as pointed out by Newport Boy, and the composers were Greatrex Newman (words) and Melville Gideon (music).

DC


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Feb 14 - 06:16 AM

Ah! Thank you. Newman doesn't seem to have been one of the Co-Optimists, but associated with their contemporaries the Fol-de-Rols. But he must have had some contact with them if he collaborated with the Co-Optimists' Gideon on what now appears to have been indubitably a Co-Optimist song. Interesting histories of both companies can be googled. The C-O's seem to have been more theatre-based while the F-d-Rs more an end-of-pier troupe, is my impression.

Indeed Doug: that excerpt on the Amazon record linked above does suggest that the "How can a guinea-pig..." passage may well be, as I suggested first-off might be the case, the chorus of a longer song - about various animals?

~M~


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Subject: Lyr Add: TALE OF A GUINEA PIG (Newman/Gideon)
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 04 Feb 14 - 12:23 PM

I downloaded the track and found an introductory verse that Richard was referring to:

If a little dog is sad
He'll whine and wail
When a little dog is glad
He'll wag his tail
All the Pekingese and Poms
Wave their little to's and from's
But one animal I know
Has no tail to wag, and so,

How can a guinea pig show he's pleased
When he hasn't got a tail to wag?
All other animals, you will find,
Have got a little tail stuck on behind.
If you'd only put a tail on a guinea pig,
And finish off a decent job,
Then the price of a guinea pig would go right up
From a guinea to thirty bob.


The chorus is then played on the piano in ragtime, sung again in an upbeat style and then played once more by a jazz band, perhaps reflecting Melville Gideon's "…. wider musical interests and accomplishments"

DC


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Feb 14 - 02:02 PM

Magic! Many thanks again, Doug!

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: GUEST,WillPower
Date: 25 Feb 14 - 07:54 AM

I think there's at least one more verse. My grandmother used to sing it to me, and told me she won a talent competition when she was a child singing it on a boat from the US to the UK in the early 20's. The only two extra lines I can remember were when the guinea pig tried to propose, and it all went wrong with:

"She'd return his ring with thanks
When she found out he was Manx"

I'd love to find out the rest!

W


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: GUEST,Marianne Hulse
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 03:36 AM

If a little dog is sad
He'll whine and wail
When a little dog is glad
He'll wag his tail
All the little Pekes and Poms
Wave their tiny to's and from's
But one animal I know
Has no tail to wag, and so,

How can a guinea pig show he's glad
If he hasn't got a tail to wag?
All other animals, you will find,
Have got a little tail stuck on behind.
If they'd only put a tail on a guinea pig,
And finish off a decent job,
The price of a guinea pig would go right up
From a guinea to thirty bob.

If a guinea pig should fall in love one day
On his lady love he'll call but sad to say
She'll return his ring with thanks
When she finds that he is Manx
So he'd have to go through life
Minus tail and minus wife.

How can a guinea pig show he's glad
If he hasn't got a tail to wag?
All other animals, you will find,
Have got a little tail stuck on behind.
If they'd only put a tail on a guinea pig,
And finish off a decent job,
The price of a guinea pig would go right up
From a guinea to thirty bob.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: GUEST,Marianne Hulse
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 03:38 AM

This song is a family tradition for us.


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 04:17 AM

Lovely, Marianne. Many thanks.

≈Michael≈


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Nov 14 - 05:56 PM

No idea about origins but I do know it must date back to or before the 1930s because, improbably, it was sung at an International Brigade Christmas Party during the Spanish Civil War.
"Dr Bradsworth of Birmingham who has done such valiant service in Spain insisted on singing "How can a guinea-pig show he's pleased when he hasn't got a tail to wag"
Later in the proceedings Under the Old Apple Tree, Nellie Dean and Frankie and Johnnie were also sung.
You want to watch these internet forums, people come up with the strangest information!


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 13 Nov 14 - 06:08 PM

I refer to the thread on f'ing bunnies. Have his species revenge?


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Dec 15 - 01:44 PM

How lovely to find someone who knows this song. My mother sang it to me - but none of my friends or colleagues have heard of it. I am now 62 - and I did sing it to my daughter when she was a little girl. Cheryl


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: GUEST,Colin Bradbury
Date: 12 Mar 16 - 12:44 PM

I learnt this song as a child,and discovered this site whilst looking for some words I'd forgotten. As no-one seemed to have posted the tune, I sat down at the piano and made an mp3. You can find it at www.lazarusedition.co.uk/extras/guineapig.mp3


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Subject: RE: Origins: How can a guinea pig show he's pleased?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Nov 16 - 12:49 PM

Chris Bennett..15 Nov 2016
Here are the second and last verses (as I remember them!)

2nd: Just imagine how it hurts, each pig to find
Even little flannel shirts have tails behind
You should hear them laugh and scoff
When the laundries tear them off
Then that pig to show his glee
Wags his....where his tail should be
Last: m
If a guinea pig should fall in love one day
On his lady love he'll call and sad to say
She'll return his ring with thanks
when she finds that he's a manx
Then that pig will go through life
Minus tail and minus wife.


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