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'Ann Landers' & 'Dear Abby' in song

PARADISE or Muhlenberg County

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Will Fly 02 Apr 10 - 02:08 PM
pdq 02 Apr 10 - 02:18 PM
Will Fly 02 Apr 10 - 02:21 PM
pdq 02 Apr 10 - 02:22 PM
open mike 02 Apr 10 - 02:35 PM
open mike 02 Apr 10 - 02:38 PM
Susanne (skw) 05 Apr 10 - 10:13 PM
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Subject: 'Ann Landers' & 'Dear Abby' in song
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 02:08 PM

I used to listen to Gene Cotton's version of "Me And The Elephant" many years ago - a sentimental, but pleasant little song. There was a line in it that I couldn't quite make out. I thought it went:

So I wrote to Aunt Landy and dear Auntie Two

which I found out - many years later - was actually:

So I wrote to Ann Landers and "Dear Abby" too

I'm presuming that Ann Landers and "Dear Abby" were Agony Aunts with newspaper columns? Still going? Well known? Just curious...

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Subject: RE: 'Ann Landers' & 'Dear Abby' in song
From: pdq
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 02:18 PM

Advice-givers Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren

July 4, 1918

Esther Pauline Friedman (Ledere) and Pauline Esther Friedman (Phillips) were born seventeen minutes apart on July 4, 1918. The world has come to know them as the advice columnists Ann Landers and Abigail van Buren (Dear Abby). Raised in Sioux City, Iowa, the sisters were in their late thirties before first Esther, then Pauline, entered the advice business. Esther, known as Eppie Lederer, won a contest to replace the original author of the "Ask Ann Landers" column for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1955. By 1993, the Ann Landers column appeared in 1200 daily newspapers with 90 million readers, making her the world's most widely syndicated columnist. The column has also been translated into more than twenty languages.

When Lederer began writing the column, her sister contributed by reading some of the letters and suggesting answers. The Sun-Times, however, forbade the partnership, and Phillips (known as Popo) soon decided to write her own column. "Dear Abby" took off, and soon became the chief rival to "Ann Landers," leading to a brief feud between the sisters.

Both columns were characterized by a straightforward tone, practical advice, and a firm but modern moral sensibility. In a change from previous advice columns, both women used humor, including sarcasm and one-liners, in their responses. "Dear Abby," for instance, once published a letter from a reader inquiring whether a woman could get pregnant under water. Abby's response: "not without a man." With an open-mindedness grounded in practical morality, both columnists won loyal followings. A reviewer writing about a collection of "Dear Abby" columns characterized their author as "just the person you'd want to go to with a problem—the aunt with the wise mouth and the heart of gold." Psychology Today once credited Ann Landers with having a greater effect on the way people deal with their problems than any other living individual. Both women were politically liberal, and used their columns to condemn racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism and to advocate for women's rights.

Esther Lederer died on June 22, 2002. The "Ann Landers" column died with her, but has been replaced in many newspapers by "Annie's Mailbox," edited by Lederer's former staff. Pauline Phillips, ill with Alzheimer's, has retired from writing "Dear Abby." Apparently, advice-giving runs in the family. "Dear Abby" is now written by Phillips's daughter, Jeanne, while Lederer's daughter, Margo Howard, writes the advice column "Dear Prudence."

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Subject: RE: 'Ann Landers' & 'Dear Abby' in song
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 02:21 PM

Well - you learn something every day. Thanks pdq!

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Subject: RE: 'Ann Landers' & 'Dear Abby' in song
From: pdq
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 02:22 PM

...something eat the "r" in Lederer in the first line...

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Subject: RE: 'Ann Landers' & 'Dear Abby' in song
From: open mike
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 02:35 PM

Most famous song...featuring the advice columnist Abby

John Prine's "Dear Abby"

Dear Abby, Dear Abby ...
My feet are too long
My hair's falling out and my rights are all wrong
My friends they all tell me that I've no friends at all
Won't you write me a letter, Won't you give me a call
Signed Bewildered

Bewildered, Bewildered...

You have no complaint
You are what your are and you ain't what you ain't
So listen up Buster, and listen up good
Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood

Dear Abby, Dear Abby...
My fountain pen leaks
My wife hollers at me and my kids are all freaks
Every side I get up on is the wrong side of bed
If it weren't so expensive I'd wish I were dead
Signed Unhappy

Unhappy, Unhappy...

Repeat Chorus

Dear Abby, Dear Abby...
You won't believe this
But my stomach makes noises whenever I kiss
My girlfriend tells me It's all in my head
But my stomach tells me to write you instead
Signed Noise-maker

Noise-maker, Noise-maker

Repeat Chorus

Dear Abby, Dear Abby...
Well I never thought
That me and my girlfriend would ever get caught
We were sitting in the back seat just shooting the breeze
With her hair up in curlers and her pants to her knees
Signed Just Married

Just Married, Just Married...

Repeat Chorus

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Subject: RE: 'Ann Landers' & 'Dear Abby' in song
From: open mike
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 02:38 PM

John Prine gives an intro in this clip

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Subject: RE: 'Ann Landers' & 'Dear Abby' in song
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 10:13 PM

Some more (different) info:

[1993:] I was in Europe, and my first wife and I stopped in Rome for the day. I wanted a newspaper, and all they had was the International Herald Tribune, which is all the tragic news in the world crammed into six pages with no sports results and no comics. And yet here's 'Dear Abby'. She was the only relief in the whole paper. And that's where I wrote most of the song - in Rome, Italy, that is. Years later, somebody took the verse about the guy whose stomach makes noises, wrote it just out of kilter enough so it didn't rhyme, and sent it to "Dear Abby." And she answered it in her column. She suggested that he seek professional help. She got loads of letters from people who knew the song and told her she'd been had. (Notes 'Great Days - The John Prine Anthology')

[1997:] In January 1956, a sassy dame called Pauline Phillips telephoned the editor of the 'San Francisco Chronicle' and told him she could do a better agony column than the one he published. He invited her to call in and found himself facing a middle-aged housewife who had never written professionally but claimed she could write an advice column because all her life people had confided in her.
Now there is a standard drill for dealing with this kind of person - you ask her to write some sample columns. This usually fixes them. But not Mrs Phillips, who wrote some sample material under the pen-name 'Abigail Van Buren' and called the column 'Dear Abby'. Within a few months, it was syndicated across the United States. Now it's on the Net [...] and readers all over the world can see what has kept millions of American readers laughing for decades. [...]
'Dear Abby,' writes Exhausted in Honolulu, 'I've been married for five months to a 58-year-old sex fiend. If this letter makes no sense, it's because I no longer know what a decent night's sleep is. This man is an absolute machine. His demands are exhausting!' Abby advised Exhausted to tell her husband to see a doctor or find a woman who was more his speed, but letters poured in from other readers offering to help out. [...]
Most journalists think that agony columns are money for old rope because the readers write them. Not true. The readers provide the opener, sure, but it's the aunt who has to deliver the punch line. It is her skill at doing this which makes Abby the best thing since Dorothy Parker.
'Dear Abby', writes Gertie, 'I've been going steady with this man for six years. We see each other every night. He says he loves me, and I know I love him, but he never mentions marriage. Do you think he's going out with me just for what he can get?' 'I don't know', replies Abby, 'What's he actually getting?'
Or how about this from 'Annie'? 'Dear Abby, I know boys will be boys, but my "boy" is 73 and he's still chasing women. Any suggestions?' 'Dear Annie', comes the reply, 'don't worry. My dog has been chasing cars for years, but if he ever caught one, he wouldn't know what to do with it.' (John Naughton, Observer, 8 June)

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