How to dance the Hokey Cokey

60670Found- some sheet music for the song The Cokey Cokey which later became the song (and dance) the Hokey Cokey. This is what it is all about… There are many theories about its origins – dealt with at Wikipedia and in a Mental Floss piece on its ‘dubious origins.’ Possibly the name came from the magician’s ‘hocus pocus’. This version was written in 1942 by Jimmy Kennedy (1902-1984). Jimmy Kennedy states that his version is based on ‘a traditional action song known long ago in the mining camps and saloons of the Canadian West. The word ‘Cokey’ means a dope fiend but what this has to do with the dance is not at all clear!’ As he says – it then came over in World War 2 with the Canadian troops. He explains on the back of the sheet music exactly how to do the dance:

This is one of the simplest dances ever. You hold your partner in the normal way and while the verse is being played you may fox-trot using any steps you like.   When the chorus starts, that is, on the words, ‘Left arm out’, you put your left arm in line with your shoulder, continuing on the words ‘Left arm in’ by bending the left arm in and touching your shoulder, then ‘Left arm out’ as before.  You hold your partner with the other arm. ‘Shake it all about’ explains itself —you simply shake your hand and arm with a circular motion. On the next line ‘You do the Cokey Cokey and turn around’ the appropriate action is to place the forefinger of the right hand pointing downward on top of your head and do a complete turnaround. ‘That’s what it’s all about’ ends the actions and you take hold of your partner in the normal way. Then the chorus starts over again with the right arm, then left foot and then the right foot etc., It should not be taken to fast..

This dance, since its introduction here by the Canadian forces, has caught on like wildfire and bids fair to out-rival some of the most sensational dance successes of the past.

Note: Alternatively the dance maybe performed by partners facing each other in line as in the Palais Glide and on the words ‘That’s what it’s all about’ both hands are spread out palm upwards. SEE?

The tragic death of a famous Savoyard

Savoyard Luscinia tribute 001Found— an envelope crammed with an intriguing collection of newspaper cuttings and Velox snaps, most dating to 1931. The majority of the cuttings concern the failing health of forty three old Bertha Lewis, the famous ‘Savoyard’, who at the height of her singing career with the D’Oyly Carte Opera, was badly injured when a car driven by fellow singer, Sir Henry Lytton, veered off the road and rolled down an embankment during a violent rainstorm between Huntingdon and Cambridge.

The couple were returning from Manchester, when, according to Lytton, the front wheels of the car skidded on a patch of oil. After somersaulting, the vehicle came to rest the right way up. Lytton sustained injuries to his legs and kidneys, but Lewis was rendered unconscious and had serious spinal injuries. Both were rushed to hospital, but while Lytton was discharged after a few days, and later returned to work, Lewis, according to the bulletins which were issued daily to the newspapers, gradually succumbed to her injuries and died after five days.

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The 25 Favourite Sinatra Songs

Found among Peter Haining’s  papers a typed sheet, possibly from a 1980 newspaper article, listing the results of a poll of Frank Sinatra’s most loved songs. It is possible he was planning a book on Sinatra…

Frank_Sinatra_in_Till_the_Clouds_Roll_ByThe 25 Favourite Sinatra Songs

In 1980, Frank’s public relations firm, Solters and Roskin, conducted a poll to establish the singer’s most popular recordings. A total of 7600 fans from more than 11 counters were polled, and replies came from Britain, Canada, Australia, America, Japan, Brazil, France, Sweden, West Germany, Holland as well as various other place. In all 587 individual Sinatra titles were selected by fans, but the eventual winner proved to be a 25 years old recording, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” with words and music by Cole Porter, released by Capitol in 1956! (Note; It has been suggested that the number 3 song on the list given as “Chicago” should, in fact, be “My Kind of Town”.)

The list, with dates of recording, is as follows:

1. I’ve Got You Under My Skin (January 26, 1956)

2. The Lady is a Tramp (November 26, 1956)

3. Chicago (August 13, 1957)

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A musical genius in Tottenham Court Road

This account of an amazingly talented musician (reminiscent in some of his skills of Percy Edwards) occurs in various forms in trivia collections of the 19th century. This version is from the 20 volume Percy Anecdotes published by Berger in London in 1852.

It is related of a gentleman who resided in London some years ago, that he possessed such extraordinary musical talents, that he could play upon two violins at one time, and imitate the French horn, clario- net, organ, and trumpets, in so astonishing a manner, as to make them appear a whole band, with the sound of different people singing at the same time. The pieces of music which he played were principally from Handel's oratorios. His imitative faculty was not confined to musical instruments. He could imitate a carpenter sawing and planing wood, the mail coach horn, a clap of thunder, a fly buzzing about a window, a flock of sheep with dogs after them, a sky-rocket going off, the tearing of a piece of cloth, the bagpipes, and the hurdy-gurdy. He generally finished his performance with the representation of beating a dog out of the room, which was accounted the most difficult, and, at the same time, the most natural imitation of all.

In The Entertaining Companion (1805) the same story is told with further information. It states the man is 'now living in Tottenham Court Road' and is an 'extraordinary genius in the musical  line, a person of independent fortune who has the most wonderful powers of voice of any man in the kingdom yet he is under 5 feet high…' The account concludes -'...what a pity it is, that his abilities were not given to a poor man; for such a one might have made a fortune by them.'

The Folk Revival, Skiffle and Protest Songs of the early 1960s

Found in the Haining archive - part of a typed article, possibly never published, by the writer and folklorist Leslie Shepard. He was particularly interested in street literature and broadsides and this piece is inspired by what he saw as a revival of broadside literature which came with a renewed interest in folk music in the early 1960s, also the time of Skiffle…

Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group with Nancy Whiskey*
Twentieth Century Ballads - Leslie Shepard. The Arts in Society

At the dawn of the twentieth century even the broadsides had disappeared, while the countryman had little to sing about. In a more material age people read prose newspapers instead of the verse broadsides and studied practical affairs instead of a romantic past. Both traditional and printed pieces became museum relics, of interest to scholars, country parsons and antiquarians rather than to a modern world - until the folk song revival of barely ten years ago.

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Mr. Presley Sheds Some Mannerisms

Found in an old book, a press-cutting from November 10th 1960 about Elvis. The style and look is of The Times but it is not stated.They regard the movie G.I.Blues as 'nothing' but seem (in a very stiff manner) to have fallen under Elvis's spell.. On the back is stuck another cutting, tabloid in style, stating that Sandra Dee does not like Elvis ('he acts a little undignified when he wiggles…') and  noting Hollywood's Louella Parsons remarks about the King - 'I'm  glad I put my money on Elvis Presley in those early days when so many people were ridiculing him -in GI Blues he sings well without wiggling and acts in a perfectly natural way...'

Mr. Presley Sheds Some Mannerisms

Style of his own in 'G. I. Blues'.

The young popular entertainer, especially if he is singer, is apt to be judged less by reason than by prejudice - and prejudice derives its impulse largely from the accident of age. A large and enthusiastic tick will be placed opposite his name by the vast majority of those who have yet to experience the joy of being 21; crabbed middle-age, and all on the wrong side of it, will draw through it a thick line, eloquent of disgust and disapproval.

Mr. Elvis Presley had had considerable experience of both kinds of treatment, but even those most determined to condemn must, it they are at all fair-minded, have second thoughts after seeing 'G. I. Blues', directed by Mr. Norman Taurog and now to be seen at the Plaza Cinema. The film itself, one of those American service comedies which so painfully stress the licentiousness of the soldiery, is nothing, and serious criticism would soon lose itself in the vast wastes of vulgarity that are its natural home, but Mr. Presley himself is a different matter.

As Tulsa, a tank gunner serving in western Germany, he is an acceptable person. Gone are the "side-boards" that were such an offence to the conservative, and gone, too, are those convulsive jerks of the body, making him resemble a jelly in a high wind, which used to accompany his singing. He has in this film a considerable number of songs, some of them above the average in tunefulness, to sing, and he sings them pleasantly. He has an unmistakable style of his own, yet there are moment when the ghostly image of the youthful Bing Crosby flickers across the screen.

The famous composer who worked in a shop

Invoices bearing letterheads can often be found among boxes of ephemera at auctions, but rarely does one come across an invoice on which a letter has been appended, especially one signed by a famous Italian composer. But when that composer is also the part-owner of probably the most famous piano retailers in Georgian London, you’ve got something rather special.

Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) composed around 110 piano sonatas and was greatly admired by Beethoven. In 1798 he became a partner with Collard and Collard in a company that boasted the patronage of both the Royal Family and the East India Company. With a manufactory in Tottenham Court Road and a shop at 26, Cheapside, Clementi, Collard and Collard were for many years the best know musical instrument makers in London and as such were the go-to establishment for well heeled musical amateurs throughout the Empire.

This particular invoice, which was for 'An elegant new Piano Forte of 6 Octaves…with round corners on six legs', is  addressed to 'John F Halahan, MD, Assistant Surgeon, Royal Artillery, Montreal', and is dated August 17th 1824. It reveals that the full cost, with packing case included, came to 42 guineas, but this was reduced to £31 10s for cash. Additional expenses included freight charges of a mere £1 2s 6d and insurance at £1 11s 6d. Dr Halahan had already handed over 30 guineas cash as a down payment, leaving a balance of £14 6s 6d.

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A scrap of Cole Porter

Cole Porter (1891 – 1964) is arguably the greatest popular songwriter of the twentieth century. I read somewhere that he composed around 1,000 songs, not all of which are as brilliant as ‘Night and Day’, ‘I get a Kick out of You ‘ and ‘Anything Goes ‘. One is called ‘Ours ‘and was written for the rather forgotten comedy musical of 1936 ‘Red Hot and Blue ‘, in which Bob Hope, Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante starred. Somehow or other, along with some unrelated letters, I acquired a tiny fragment of the original manuscript which the maestro had given to a lady to give to a young man he had taken to. This information was typewritten on a slip of paper that came with the fragment. Here are the words on it:

‘Inclosed (sic) is the original hand writing of Cole Porter…This is a number that Cole Porter gave to Mother to give to one of her pupils, whom Cole Porter was particularly interested in. Mother knows him, and was out to his Beverley Hills home on an interview for this same pupil. Cole Porter is a great artist, and as modest and unassuming and sincere as all artists be.

I know nothing of this Mother, the child who typed the slip, the mysterious male pupil, or whether Cole Porter’s interest in him was purely professional or romantic. It would be nice to solve this little mystery and perhaps trace the remainder of the musical manuscript. I presume that the pupil allowed Mother to cut off the heading as a keepsake of the great man.[R.H.]