Noho Banjo & Ukulele Musings

BRUCE’S UKULELE MUSING NUMBER 19: 11 MAY 2019—ONE FOR THE LITTLE ONES, “ON THE GOOD SHIP LOLLIPOP”

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One of the songs hidden in the back of our Yellow Book hasn’t been asked for that often–”On the Good Ship Lollipop.”  This might be a good tune when we have children in the audience.

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Anyway, “Lollipop” was the signature song of child actress Shirley Temple (1928-2014) who first sang it in the 1934 movie “Bright Eyes.”

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The song was composed by Richard A. Whiting (1891-1938, composer of “Hooray for Hollywood,” and “Ain’t We Got Fun”) with lyrics by Sidney Clare (1892-1972, credited in 1934 with the earliest usage of the term “rock and roll”).  In the song, the “Good Ship Lollipop” travels to a candy land.

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Contrary to general belief, however, the “ship” referred to in the song is an airplane—for your aviation buffs, it was an American Airlines DC-2.

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Shirley Temple:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLLSqpYyPD8

In addition to Temple’s film performance, 400,000 copies of the sheet music were sold and a recording by Mae Questal (the cartoon voice of Betty Boop)

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sold more than two million copies—a quintessential kid’s song from two or three generations back.

Mae Questal:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q7ybTGzaHQ

We often forget that Shirley Temple Black served her country in vastly different ways. As a child star in the late 1930s, she cheered up a nation suffering the effects of the Great Depression, making 20 movies by the time she was six years old.

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As an adult she became a businesswoman and then a diplomat when President Nixon appointed her as a delegate to the United Nations.

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President Ford named her ambassador to Ghana in 1974, and later as his Chief of Protocol, the first woman to hold that job.

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In 1989, President George H.W. Bush named her ambassador to Czechoslovakia—quite a career move up from the good ship Lollipop!

Now for the hard part. 

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In the 1935 Civil War themed film “The Littlest Rebel,” six-year-old Shirley Temple  appeared in blackface briefly.  Not enough, in my opinion, to tarnish the reputation of a beloved child star who became a respected diplomat in adulthood—certainly not enough to tarnish a tune–from a different, earlier movie–as innocent as “Lollipop . . .”   

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Also, in my opinion, Tiny Tim—while forever tarnishing the reputation of the ukulele as a serious musical instrument—gives us this falsetto version of “Lollipop.”  

Not as bad as you might imagine:  

Tiny Tim:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klwUGSScs0s

Back to ukuleles for those of us with a sweet tooth.

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Stay tuned!

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Author: NohoBanjo of Northampton, Mass.

Hi Fellow Strummers. These “musings” are based on my interest and study of Banjo and Ukulele history, lore, and music. My goal is to both educate and enlighten by sharing what I have learned within a broad musical and historical context—with honesty and, at times, a bit of humor. These are my personal thoughts, not those of any group or sponsor. Needless to say, your thoughts and comments are, as always, welcome.

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