Sunday, October 16, 2016
SHG: Allan Sherman: "Hello Mudduh! Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)"
Allan Sherman: “Hello Mudduh! Hello Faddah! (A Letter From Camp)”
Entered the chart on: 8/10/63
Peaked on: 8/24/63
Weeks at #2: 3
Songs at #1: “Fingertips—Pt. 2” by Little Stevie Wonder and “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels
“You know, it is so sad! All your knowledge of high culture comes from Bugs Bunny cartoons!”
Perhaps I should explain.
You see, the melody to this song is not original. We’re in “based on classical” territory again. This is from the “Dance of the Hours” mini-ballet sequence from Ponchielli’s opera La Gioconda. Over in the UK, this melody was transformed into the hit ballad “Like I Do” by Welsh songbird Maureen Evans. On our side of the pond, we used the same melody as the basis of a silly comedy routine about a kid’s miserable experience at summer camp.
Like our friends over in the UK, I’ve always found summer camp to be a strange and foreign concept. My summers were spent with my family, going on camping trips or weekend jaunts to the beach. “Summer camp” was this thing I only saw in the movies or on TV. And the kids always seemed to be having a dreadful time. I thought “summer camp” must be for parents who didn’t like their kids, and I felt a bit sorry for kids who were subjected to it.
But enough about me. What does Mr. Sherman have to say?
This is almost a bait-and-switch. The first 15 seconds lure you into thinking this is a straight classical adaptation. Then Allan comes in with his smoke-ravaged voice, and an overly enthusiastic audience reacts to his rendition of this child’s tale of woe. He hits all the targets and then some, escalating from poison-ivy rashes and food poisoning to alligator-infested lakes, malaria and a search party to find lost campers. Not all the references have aged as well; I didn’t “get” the reference to Ulysses that the audience found so hilarious (We are talking James Joyce, right?).
And after all this, we get the surprise that the kid’s only been at camp a day as he composes his letter. Followed by the “twist” ending in which the rain clears up, he sees how much fun the other kids are having, and exhorts his parents to “kindly disregard” his letter. Wait, did he send it or not?
Good Lord, I am over-analyzing a goofy novelty song!
Well, it’s entertaining. Slight, but entertaining. It’s a comedy routine, what more do you want?
But seriously, could someone explain the Ulysses reference to me? Please?