Sunday, May 10, 2009

I miss "America Sings" !

I've got a gal and you've got none, l'il Liza Jane I've got a gal that calls me [hon], l'il Liza Jane.

This has been driving me crazy for 30 years. I have to get this out of my head! What, you ask? America Sings! I have been obsessed with this Disneyland attraction since I was seven or eight years old. They did away with it in 1988. It was my favorite "ride" before I got into the fast roller coasters. It was a show featuring singing puppets who sang the songs of America's history. My sister says it scared the shit out of her because she pictured being trapped in the ride at night, all alone with the puppets. She pictured their googly eyes looking at her in the dark. Say what? That never crossed my mind! I was too excited to see birds doing the can-can and hens singing gospel. I loved the music! I have the soundtrack on CD and bought a DVD of it online somewhere. My husband patiently sat through the thing because he knew how much it meant to me. Now that is love! Anyway, I have been dying to know more info on the songs since I can remember. I know, I am psycho. If there is anyone else out there who needs that info to be able to sleep more soundly at night, like myself (pops pill), then read on. But first, some pictures:

Down by the Riverside

Sam the Eagle, the MC

Album cover

Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight?

Blossom Nose Murphy- Sweet Adeline (Why do all drunks have to be Irish?)

Billy, the Bad Guy - The Boothill Boys

Polly Wolly Doodle - The Swamp Boys

Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey?

Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay !

A Tiiiiisket a tasket, a brown and yellow basket

Below is a breakdown on all of the songs and some info on each:


Yankee Doodle: Originally a British song from 1758, Southerners during the Civil War added new lines and made it an American song.

Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair 1854 by Stephen Foster, who wrote a bunch of the songs on this attraction, and in America in general- such as Swanee River and Oh Susanna. I love this song.

Pop Goes the Weasel - Ollie and the weasel - This is that children's nursery rhyme. A weasel pops up on every act and says "pop goes the weasel" and laughs. The audience usually laughed too, because it was unexpected.

Act 1 - The Deep South

Let's review the Deep South. It consisted of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina and was the portion of the South most dependant on plantation type of farming, that many slaves performed. The Deep South is also referred to as the cotton states.
Okay, here are the songs America Sings included in their Deep South act:

I Wish I Was in Dixie Popular American song and and probably the best-known song to have come out of black face minstrelsy in the 1850s. I love this song.

L'il Liza Jane- Another black face minstrelsy song. The geese quartet sang this and it was really cool sounding.

Camptown Races- 1850. Written by Stephen Foster. This is a children's classic now.

My Old Kentucky Home 1853. also by Stephen Foster, written about a scene of life on a slave plantation. It used to say " The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,'Tis summer, the darkies are gay", but it was changed to people.

Polly Wolly Doodle 1880. An American folk song, first published in a Harvard student songbook. Considered a children's classic now.

I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again 1907. A song about a wife complaining complaining of hard work in the kitchen,poverty, poor clothes, hungry children, and a husband who steals her money.

Down in the Valley- a traditional American folk song. They showed a character looking all patriotic, then it turned out he was making moonshine and was in the Birmingham jail. It got a laugh.

Down By The Riverside - I can't find background info on this, but it sounds like a gospel song. I love this song. It was used on the finale for the deep south. The whole cast sang like a huge gospel choir. The hens belted out about everybody else. It gave me the chills.

Act 2 - Headin' West:

Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill 1888. American folk song composed by Charles Connolly and Thomas Casey. It is a work song about guys working on a railroad and tarriers is sort of a slur on the workers. It sounded scary when I was a kid.

I've Been Working on the Railroad 1894. an American folk song. The "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah" section is actually an older song from the 1830's that has been absorbed by "I've Been Working on the Railroad".

Fireball Mail- Don't have the date, but it a bluegrass song about a train. The geese quartet sang this when the train was coming and it crashed real loud.

The Old Chisholm Trail- My dad liked this one. I didn't- It was a lazy song that said "Yippee tie yie yippee ippy ay". Sawddle Sore Swanson sang this.

Who Shot That Hole in My Sombrero?
This one was considered racist and was changed as well. Something about sancho kissing the guys wife. You could hear bullets flying by this Mexican dog on a donkey.

Billy, the Bad Guy - The Boothill Boys a.k.a the scary vultures, just told this as a story and looked scary.

Home on the Range - 1876. Written by
Dr. Brewster Higley, the song was adopted by settlers, cowboys, and others and spread across the USA in various forms.

Act 3 - The Gay (18)90's: This is the music of the Gilded Age.

The Gilded Age was the time after the civil war when their was a big population growth in America. Everyone had bucks and showed off their wealth with big Victorian mansions and what not. The railroad industry grew wildly, along with industrial factories and coal mines. This was the time of the Vanderbilt's, Rockefeller's, J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie.

Here are the songs that America Sings used to represent that era:

She May Be Somebodies Mother. Cant find info on this, but it said "She may be somebodies mother, please let her go her way"

The Bowery: 1891 song from the musical A Trip to Chinatown. Although Chinatown is in CA, the Bowery is about a seedy section of New York. The geese sang this one "The Bowery, the Bowery, they say such things and they do such things"

After the Ball is Over - 1891. A Waltz. This song is usually associated with the gilded age. I have a book on some banking scandals of that age and it is called After the Ball.

Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight? 1894. Song about a parent looking for their son at the bar

Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey? 1902. Dixieland, traditional jazz song, sang by a woman. She is begging a guy to come home, no matter what she has to do.

Sweet Adeline 1903. A ballad best known as a barbershop standard. It was sang a capella here.

The Old Grey Mare is an old folk song, usually sang for kids

Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage- 1900. Written by Harry Von Tilzer, who was one of the best known Tin Pan Alley songwriters. Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York centered music publishers and songwriters who dominated American music in the late 1800's and early 1900's before radios came around in the 30's. When vaudeville performers played New York City, they would often visit various Tin Pan Alley firms to find new songs for their acts.

Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay, 1891. vaudeville and music hall song. I always loved this one, it was used for the big finale when the birds are doing the can-can.

Act 4 - "Modern Times", which is really not modern anymore, it is just songs of this century, up until the 1960s:

Ja-Da (Ja Da, Ja Da, Jing, Jing, Jing!) 1918. A jazz standard. Meaning, it is a song covered by a lot of jazz bands. One of my favorites, also sang by the geese, who are the best act in all of the portions of the show.

At the Darktown Strutters' Ball 1917. Also a popular jazz standard. They always play it on Tom & Jerry, when Tom is getting ready for a date. This song has been covered by both men and women through the years.

Singin' in the Rain 1929. The song is probably best known today as the centerpiece of the 1952 musical Singin' in the Rain, but it has been recorded by like, a million people.

A-Tisket, A-Tasket 1938. This was a children's song, but became a hit when Ella Fitzgerald recorded it in the 3o's.

Boo-Hoo Big Band song by Mal Hallett from the 40s- not sure of the date on this one. It goes "boo hoo. You got me cryin' for you"

Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar 1940. Boogie woogie piano song written by Don Raye. Popular song during world war 2 and was covered by the Andrews Sisters. The big pig sang this on his piano to an eight count. It goes really fast and makes you want to dance, if you can jitterbug.

Hound Dog \ See You Later Alligator -Hound Dog-Most popular version is the cover by Elvis 1956. Alligator(1955) is by Bill Haley and the Comets and is an iconic song of the 50's.

Shake, Rattle and Roll - This was a 50's rock song covered by Bill Haley and his comets. Elvis also covered it.

Twistin' U.S.A. - sang by two storks on a motorcycle with helmets. This song was by the Juniors in the 1950s- they also sang "At the Hop" and 'rock and roll is here to stay."

Joy to the World - Not the Christmas carol, but the song that says "Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, Joy to you and me!" I think it was Three Dog Knight that was most popular with this version of the song.
If you were not fortunate enough to see this attraction before it closed, here it is on youtube(in two parts, below)