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Lyr Add: Kickin' the Gong Around (Koehler/Arlen)

GUEST,Phil d'Conch 23 Sep 18 - 02:41 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 23 Sep 18 - 02:46 AM
Jim Dixon 23 Sep 18 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 23 Sep 18 - 10:28 PM
Jim Dixon 24 Sep 18 - 07:42 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 06 Nov 18 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 09 Nov 18 - 02:05 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: KICKIN' THE GONG AROUND (Koehler/Arlen)
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 02:41 AM

Kickin' the Gong Around
(Arlen-Koehler, 1931)

It was down in Chinatown,
All the cokies laid around,
Some were high and some were mighty low;
Countin' millions on the floor,
When a knock came on the door,
And there stood old Smokey Joe.

He was sweatin', cold and pale,
He was lookin' for his frail,
He was broke and all his junk ran out;
As he stood and looked around,
Nobody made a sound,
And then you hear old Smokey shout:

"Tell me where is Minnie?”
(Where is Minnie?)
“Whoa, I want my little Minnie!”
(He wants his Minnie.)
“Has she been here,
kickin' the gong around?"

"If you don't know Minnie,
(You don't know Minnie.)
“Oh, she's tall and she's skinny.”
(Tall and she's skinny.)
“She gets her pleasure
Kickin' the gong around!"

"You just tell her Smokey Joe
Was here and had to go."
And as he departed,
(As he departed)
The curtains parted,
(The curtains parted.)
And there was Minnie
kickin' the gong around!

Brunswick – 6511, 10”, 78RPM, 1931, flip side Minnie The Moocher (The Ho De Ho Song).
Brunswick – 6209, 10”, 78RPM, 1931, flip side Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea (also Arlen-Koehler)

Cab Calloway & His Cotton Club Orchestra - YT: Kickin' The Gong Around

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kickin' the Gong Around
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 02:46 AM

“Though most whites and non-musicians didn't know it, songs about “vipers” or “kickin' the gong around” were about marijuana or opium smokers. An entire secret language developed, perpetuated now in the popular song literature of the thirties.”
[Schuller, Gunther, The Swing Era, (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1989, p.332)]

“Secret language” – Arlen-Koehler. Don't go together.

*Kick the gong around
Ring your bell. Toot your horn. Do the town. Party like it's 1899.

It's a foot gong, not a “Chinese” gong or an opium pipe even. The kick is a downward stomp. One chime when pressed, another on release. Bing-bong! Kickin' the bong around however, is a big no-no.

“A Bermuda carriage bell is a bowl-sized bell with a pleasant tone. It is rung by means of a plunger button stemming from the center top of the bell. Originally, the bell was mounted on the floor of a vehicle and operated by foot as a warning for pedestrians.” [Bermuda Bell wiki]

Foot gongs:
“Gongs are present on rail vehicles, such as trams, streetcars, cable cars or light rail trains, in the form of a bowl-shaped signal bell typically mounted on the front of the leading car. It was designed to be sounded to act as a warning in areas where whistles and horns are prohibited, and the "clang of the trolley" refers to this sound. Traditionally, the gong was operated by a foot pedal,...” [Gong wiki]

YT: Bermuda Bell

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kickin' the Gong Around
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 09:10 AM

The University of Wisconsin has the sheet music; description here. The pages are not viewable online, but I found an image of the cover only at another site.

Words, Ted Koehler; music, Harold Arlen; ©1931.

On cover: "The Cotton Club presents Rhyth-Mania"
First line: It was down in Chinatown all the hopies laid around
First line of chorus: Tell me where is Minnie!

Bowling Green State University gives an identical quote of the first line. So does Brigham Young University

Another song from “Rhyth-Mania” [sometimes spelled “Rhythmania”] was BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, also by Koehler & Arlen.

Part of KICKIN’ THE GONG AROUND was include in a cartoon called “Fly Frolic” (1932)

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kickin' the Gong Around
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 10:28 PM

I should have been clearer about the “typical” part of my first post. The whole stage production was redone in 1933 with maybe a half dozen audio recordings, no two exactly the same.

Zaz Zuh Zaz is also a part of Calloway's Smokey Joe & Minnie series. I'm still slogging through the Minnie links and wondering if the missing songs are worth individual threads or all-in-one index. Pity the mods:

w. Cab Calloway, m. Harry White

Now, here's a very entrancing phrase,
It will put you in a daze,
To me it don't mean a thing,
But it's got a very peculiar swing.

(scat chorus)

Now, zaz-zuh-zaz was handed down
From a bloke down in Chinatown;
It seems his name was Smokey Joe,
And he used to hi-de-hi-de-ho.

(scat chorus)
(scat solo)

When Smokey Joe came into town
And he kicked the gong around,
Any place that he would go
Minnie the Moocher she was sure to go,
With her zaz-zuh-zay!

(Scat chorus)

It makes no difference where you go,
There's one thing that they sure do know.
There's no need for them to be blue,
Cause zaz-zuh-zaz will always see them through.

(Scat chorus)

Cab Calloway and His Cotton Club Orchestra, Zaz Zuh Zaz/I Learned About Love from Her, Victor – 24557, 10”, 78RPM, 1934.

Note: Harry White was Calloway's regular arranger at the time. That should be him on saxophone as well.
w.Mitchell Parish, m. Frank Perkins (flip side) are also Tin Pan Alley A-team.

Lyrics transcribed from YT. Couldn't confirm the year:
YT: Cab Calloway - Zaz Zuh Zaz (1933)

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE SCAT SONG (Cab Calloway)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 07:42 PM

This is the only Cab Calloway song for which I can find sheet music that is viewable online; it’s at Temple University. (It seems like it should still be under copyright, but who am I to argue?):

Words by Mitchell Parish; music by Frank Perkins & Cab Calloway. ©1932.

VERSE: Many words in Webster’s dictionary
Are so very, very ordinary
If you can’t express your thoughts in that way,
You can always do it in the scat way:

CHORUS 1: When your sweetie tells you that it’s gonna be all okay,
  Just skat ‘n’ skeet ‘n’ hi de hi, and skattle attle at da day.
When you feel like shoutin’, advertise it in just this way:
  Just skat ‘n’ skeet ‘n’ hi de hi, and skattle attle at da day.
Say, don’t you give a hang what words you use at the time.
Sing that silly language without reason or rhyme.
When you face the preacher, there is only one thing to say:
  Just skat ‘n’ skeet ‘n’ hi de hi, and skattle attle at da day.

CHORUS 2: What’s the good of sighin’ when you’re down in the mouth and blue?
  Just skat ‘n’ skeet ‘n’ hi de hi, and skattle attle at da doo.
Don’t start “me oh myin’;” it’s the worst thing that you can do.
  Just skat ‘n’ skeet ‘n’ hi de hi, and skattle attle at da doo.
Say, keep on blowin’ rings and make believe it’s a dream.
When you wake up, things won’t be as tough as they seem.
Though you think you’re dyin’, there’s a long life ahead of you.
  Just skat ‘n’ skeet ‘n’ hi de hi, and skattle attle at da doo.

You can hear a recording by Cab Calloway and His Cotton Club Orchestra at The Internet Archive. It is quite different from the sheet music. It has a different intro; when he sings the verse, instruments take the place of the scat lines (which are indented above). After singing one verse, he indulges in free-form scatting for the rest of the record, interspersed with instrumental lines. Nothing he sings quite resembles the scat lines in the sheet music.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kickin' the Gong Around (Koehler/Arlen)
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 06 Nov 18 - 04:06 PM

Minnie the Moocher's Weddin' Day

“Here's some news that'll get you,
It's made to order for you.
I just bet it's a cinch you'll
Follow up this red hot clue.

Grab a taxi and go down,
Chinatown's on a spree,
Let me give you the lowdown,
This is really history.

Whenever folks in Chinatown start acting gay
There's something in the air that makes them feel that way.
Yeah man, I heard somebody say
It's Minnie the Moocher's wedding day!

Old Smoky Joe's so happy he can hardly wait,
He's spent a million dollars for his wedding date,
Yeah man, they gonna celebrate,
It's Minnie the Moocher's wedding day.

You better come on down,
Way down in Chinatown,
Oh, let me take you down
To see them kick the gong around.

A million cokies shouting, "Hay-de-hay-de-hay!"
The king of Sweden's gonna give the bride away,
Yeah man, I heard somebody say,
It's Minnie the Moocher's wedding day!

The king and queen of every nation
Were glad to get an invitation;
The prince of Wales said he would get away
For Minnie the Moocher's wedding day!

They said a hundred thousand hoppies
Went over to China pickin' poppies,
They gonna put them all in one bouquet
For Minnie the Moocher's wedding day!

Oh it's Minnie the Moocher's wedding day!

Yeah man! Why, what's that them boys say?
It's Minnie the Moocher's weddin' day!”

Minnie the Moocher's weddin' day; w Ted Kohler, m Harold Arlen; with ukulele arr. © May 26, 1932; E pub. 30542; Mills music, inc. 1407
[Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Pt. III, Musical Compositions, (Washington: GPO, 1932, p.624)]

Lyrics transcribed from: Cab Calloway, Best Of The Big Bands, Columbia, CT45336, cassette, 1990, trk. A5.

Ytube: 1932 Cab Calloway - Minnie The Moocher’s Wedding Day

Note: As with the other tunes, this one was recorded before and after the two Cotton Club reviews and tours. Lots of variation. One version clues in Walter Winchell in the first verse.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kickin' the Gong Around (Koehler/Arlen)
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 02:05 PM

Earlier background on New York Chinatown's tourist hokum:

“However, there was a decided ambivalence about the public's reaction to opium and the China subculture where it prospered. Riis's uplifting horror was matched by an equally widespread frisson of titillation as Chuck Connors and promoters like him cultivated Chinatown's lurid reputation to attract tourist trade. Since opium was as legal as chop suey at the time, its use was widespread and often innocuous. Olliffe's Drugstore at No. 6 Bowery served as the center of legitimate distribution in the area: believed to be the oldest pharmacy in the United States (established in 1805), it was more of a local landmark than a scandal....”

“Located at 12 Pell Street, in the heart of Chinatown, the establishment was officially known as the The Pelham Café, though everyone called it by the promoter's nickname, “Nigger Mike's,” (Like “coon” the epithet “nigger” was widely used and not considered shockingly offensive, but make no mistake, it still carried a racist sting.) Nigger Mike was no blacker than Izzy Baline; he was a Russian Jew with an olive complexion....”

“At the bottom of the hierarchy came the singing waiters; it was an unassuming job, but Izzy was glad to have it. There is no evidence to suggest that it required a great deal of musical ability; an ingratiating manner and a good pair of lungs were the important elements. Once again he sang a mixture of sentimental Irish ballads borrowed from the Broadway shows (and often written by George M. Cohan), and he displayed a new talent that quickly attracted attention: an ability to devise blue parodies of these songs. This rude but effective brand of showmanship endeared him to the café's patron's, which in turn endeared him to Nigger Mike, for a time.

Occasionally Izzy ran errands for his boss, often to Olliffe's drugstore, to obtain a purgative compounded of calomel and jalap. Mike would give the mixture to an unruly patron, if necessary. At the drugstore, Izzy befriended a clerk, another immigrant Jewish youth, whose name was Joseph Schenck. At the time, Schenck was studying for his pharmacist's degree with the help of a Russian-English dictionary....”
[Bergeen, Laurence, As Thousands Cheer, (New York: Viking, 1990)]

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