Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wha Saw the 42nd sheet music

As mentioned in my last post, "Wha Saw the 42nd" has attracted more interest than any other song on this blog to date.  The variation we sing at Camp Ajawah has slightly different words and melody than what I find elsewhere online.  Most of what's available is a version for bagpipes, and the other traditional versions I have found mention nothing about singing it as a round.

So I created sheet music for Ajawah's version. We sing the song three times through, with each group starting the song two beats after the prior group.  You can sing it with any number of groups.  While the audio on my last post may not be clear enough, perhaps you can hear how it starts with "wha saw... wha saw... wha saw" as each group joins in.  And as each group finishes, the song ends with "bramble briar... bramble briar... bramble briar."

If you end up singing our version, please let me know in the comments.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wha Saw the 42nd revisited - with video

Of all the songs I've written about on this blog, the one that received far and away the most comments was "Wha Saw the 42nd," Song #20 (to read them, click on the song's title in the list at the right side of this page).  And the comments have come regularly every few months for 5-6 years.

Last week I recorded the girls at Camp Ajawah in Minnesota singing "Wha Saw."  They use it as a round in the Mess Hall following meals.  I missed the first second or two, and once you have nine tables of eight singing along, it's hard to make out the words and melody.  The occassional loud bang you hear is girls keeping beat by banging their fists on the table at the start of a measure.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Another Musical Mystery: Lifeboat Crew

Google turns up next to nothing on another one of the songs on my list; here are the lyrics in full for this short, lively tune:

Oh, the lifeboat crew are we
And we sail the stormy sea
Oh the ocean waves they roll

We heed our captain's call
Man the lifeboats one and all
And away goes the lifeboat crew

Can anyone solve this mystery or shed a little light upon it?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ickey/Lollipop Song/(I'd Rather Suck on a) Lemon Drop

This song about how a lemon drop is less messy to consume than a lollipop (deep lyrics, eh?) is not widely popular nor is there a great deal of information about it online. But what info I can find shows that people sing and sang it at summer camps and to their children.

The most surprising thing is its first appearance - sung by a German ventriloquist who is going insane.  I am unable to embed the video, so here is a link to the scene from 1929's "The Great Gabbo":

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Musical Mystery Mayhem

I can find a few references to the lyrics of "It's Going to be a Long Summer," but little else - not a performance or anything about the origins.  So I am asking for your help - anyone know much about the song that goes through the four seasons and starts like this?

It's going to be a long summer
and what will the birdies do then, the poor things
They'll fly to the pool to keep themselves cool
and tuck their heads under their wings.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mystery Solved!

In my last post, I asked if anyone had any idea from whence sprang the song sung at Camp Ajawah as "If You Want to be a Boy Scout."  I asked the same thing on the Summer Camp Songs Facebook page and am glad to say someone provided an answer

It came from one state over, as a song played by the University of Wisconsin marching band at football games.  Someone at some point simply substituted the words "Boy Scout" for "Badger."

In 1919, U of W professor Julian Olson wrote the words for IYWTBAB for an alumni dinner and asked the school's musical director, Charles Mills, to set the lyrics to music.  Without further ado, here is an instrumental version...

And a vocal version:


Monday, September 16, 2013

Another musical mystery

Googling a song from my days at Camp Ajawah, I found nothing online other than references to this very website or to Camp Ajawah songbooks.  The lyrics are:

If you want to be a Boy Scout
just come along with me 
and we'll hike by the light
by the light of the moon

If you want to be a Boy Scout
just come along with me
and we'll hike by the light of the moon.

By the light of the silvery moon
Oh, we will hike by the light of the moon
If you want to be a Boy Scout
just come along with me
and we'll hike by the light of the moon.

Oh, the Boy Scouts are coming with a choo-choo rah rah
Choo-choo rah rah
Choo-choo rah rah
Oh, the Boy Scouts are coming with a choo-choo rah rah
Choo-choo hurrah hurrah hurrah Hey! Hey! Hey!

So maybe they aren't the most sophisticated lyrics in the world, but the tune itself is rousing and well suited for group singing.  Not everyone at camp - or even most - were Boy Scouts, but we all hiked.

I searched under the title "If You want to be a Boy Scout" and also tried using various fragments of the lyrics, as it's not unusual for songs to have words altered a bit to fit a different use.  But nothing turned up.

A note: for the line "By the light of the silvery moon" the melody comes from the 1909 Broadway standard of that title, but the rest of the song has a different melody and tempo.

I'll try asking the folks who know Camp Ajawah's history the best if they know from whence came this song, but if you know anything about it, please share your info in the comments.