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Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Mickey’s Son and Daughter

Gorilla by The Bonzo Dog Band


In January 1971 (fifty years ago!), I went to Westfield College in London for the weekend to a friend’s twenty-first birthday party. Among his records, I noticed Gorilla by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, a humorous and quirky group of musicians in which Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes were the best-known names. It was so entertaining I went out and bought it myself as soon as I got home. Even my dad liked it. One of its most memorable tunes is Mickey’s Son and Daughter.

Records usually get played for time and then put away and forgotten, which is what happened to Gorilla, but years later I heard Mickey’s Son and Daughter again, surprisingly at a ceilidh. The band had started off with Gallopede or some other dance in cut time, but then, as is the practice, they swapped to a second tune which I recognised as Mickey’s Son and Daughter. It fitted unexpectedly well. “The stork has brought a son and daughter to Mister and Missus Mickey Mouse”, I sang along to the future Mrs. D. while simultaneously attempting to impress her with my reeling skills. “It’s by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band,” I tried to explain.

As mentioned recently, our present-day folk band in which we play guitar and bassoon are currently meeting only through Zoom, and one of the regular agenda items is ‘Tune of the Week’. Anticipating my turn coming up again soon, I started to put Mickey’s Son and Daughter into MuseScore, and searched around for more information.  

Sheet Music - Mickey's Son and Daughter (Lisbona-Connor)

I had always assumed it to be written by Neil Innes or Vivian Stanshall like most of the other tracks on Gorilla, but, no, it wasn’t. It was written in 1935 by songwriters Eddie Lisbona and Tommie Connor, and first recorded by Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra. Other orchestras, including the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, included it in their Christmas concert programmes that year, drawing complaints in the press that it was not the sort of music leading classical orchestras ought to be playing. Nevertheless, it proved very popular.

Of the composers, Eddie Lisbona wrote dozens of songs for top performers, such as Gently (French Jolie) for Elvis Presley and Petula Clark (1961). Tommie Connor is best known for I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1952) and the English lyrics to Lili Marlene (1944). 

The Henry Hall and Bonzo Dog versions are very different. I used ideas from both in putting together this MuseScore version. Here it is arranged for guitar and bassoon with default piano chords. It plays just once without the repeat. 

And to encroach on the territory of Immortal Jukebox, here are the Bonzo Dog and Henry Hall versions, and another recorded for the Woolworth's Crown label by The Rhythm Rascals. 

 

The Rhythm Rascals: Mickey's Son and Daughter

If the above videos do not appear for some reason, then the links are: 


For the record, the full lyrics on the sheet music are:

A million million people are happy, bright and gay,
The bells are ringing the steeple, it’s a public holiday.

All the world is so delighted, and the kids are all excited,
‘Cos the stork has brought a son and daughter to Mister and Missus Mickey Mouse.
All the mayors and corporations, have declared such jubilations,
‘Cos the stork has brought a son and daughter to Mister and Missus Mickey Mouse.

Pluto’s giving a party and before the fun begins,
He’ll present a Gorgonzola to the father of the twins.
Mister Preacher’s eyes are glist’ning, and he’s fixing up a Christ
ning,
‘Cos the stork has brought a son and daughter to Mister and Missus Mickey Mouse.

The news is quickly spreading, the Christening day is near,
The town in happiness is heading to the party of the year.

All the cats and dogs are dancing, and the ‘ole grey mare is prancing,
‘Cos the stork has brought a son and daughter to Mister and Missus Mickey Mouse.
All the cocks are cock-a-doodling, all the lovebirds are canoodling,
‘Cos the stork has brought a son and daughter to Mister and Missus Mickey Mouse.

Pluto’s singing a chorus with the tortoise and the hare,
Clarabelle is in the barn dance with a great big grizzly bear,
All the world is so delighted, come along, you’re all invited,
‘Cos the stork has brought a son and daughter to Mister and Missus Mickey Mouse.

 

The Henry Hall recording has an additional section sung in animal voices. As best as I can make it out (please do let me know if you can get the bits I can’t), it goes:

There
s a crowd around the house of Mister Mickey Mouse
Let’s hear it split the air now lets see who is there
I
m Percy Pig the postman and I bring the telegram
I
m Charlotte Sheep and I have come to see the little lamb
I
m Donald Duck just waiting till my verse I can recite
I
m Henry Horse and I have brought my band to play all night
I
m Gertie Dog the … [cannot make out this line]
I
m Bertie Bleat the donkey, I am a silly ass

But who is this approaching just when all the fun begins
It’s Willy Wolf the wicked man, he’s come to take the twins
(in evil voice) Hello twins. Nice little twins.
(Mickey) Oh save my son and daughter
We
ll spray the sky with water [?]
(wolf) I
ve got more than I ought to
[sounds of a fight]
[cannot make out this line]
The bad old wolf has gone now
And we had to save the son and daughter of Mister and Missus Mickey Mouse.
 

25 comments:

  1. Admirable blogpost and well-researched too. You are so clever - being able to create a new score for this quirky number.

    P.S. I do not recommend playing the three versions at the same time!

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    1. Posing as such. MuseScore needs motivation and time and the cleverest bits of the music are in the 1935 score.

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  2. 'This is Henry Hall and tonight is my Guest Night' That alone brought back fond memories. It is also great to read of somebody so keen on any parrticular kind of music that they get immersed in it. My first husband and I played in an Early Music Group for years - mostly at places like Warwick Castle - and it bcame almost our life. After he died I eventually married my farmer and farm life took its place but it is so good to look back on those days. Incidentally I do remember that song!

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    1. I think I just missed Henry's guest night but I remember people talking of it. I was more Joe Loss Pop Show - presumably a successor.

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  3. I detected 'The sun has got his hat on'. Cheerful and happy on this sad day. Clever rearranging of the music.

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    1. It's that kind of artificially cheery thing. I think the Bonzos played that and everything else (e.g. Jollity Farm) with a touch or irony.

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  4. I've never heard of this song before, but I can see (or rather, hear) why it would be a fun song to play!

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    1. Yes, but by the time I'd got it all into MuseScore I was getting pretty much fed up of it.

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  5. I am not quite with you here but I do remember I'm the Urban Spaceman.

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    1. Urban Spaceman also Neil Innes. He lived until just over a year ago. I also liked the tv programme The Ruttles, a clever musical parody of The Beatles?

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    2. I have never heard of The Ruttles but just looked it up. I lived without television for most of the 1970s so it is unlikely that it would have appeared on my radar as it was of that era.

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  6. Well this is a bit of musical history that had entirely escaped my notice until now!

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  7. I am unfamiliar with this but I love it! Thank you for bringing me up to date on something I missed out on in my past. Now if someone mentions it or I hear it I will know about it thanks to your helpful post!

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    1. The whole of the album Gorilla is fun to listen to.

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  8. Oh, I love the way the bassoon sounds on the MuseScore version. I do not know this particular song, but I do know 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus'.

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    1. You should hear Mrs D play it for real. I'm just doing another tune in MuseScore and it comes out even better. A future post, maybe.

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  9. Thank you. This was in my dad's collection. I gave all those 78's to my son in law. I wonder if he ever cataloged them.

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    1. On 78! Henry Hall maybe? Your dad's collection must have been quite something.

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  10. How fun! The music could perfectly score a cartoon.

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    1. Definitely. I wondered what rights they needed to obtain rights from Disney to use the title and for the sheet music art.

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  11. What a joy to hear a track from Gorilla! Like you, I had to rush out and buy the album (as it was then) when I first heard it. I LOVED hearing the different versions, including yours of Mickey's Son and Daughter! Reassuringly bonkers! I have a CD of Gorilla but, unfortunately, my player is broken and I SO want a Gorilla session. Will have a tinker with it! Thank you for reminding me of a great album.

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    1. Another fan! There are videos of the Bonzos performing some of the songs on YouTube. The one of Jollity Farm reminded me just how potty they were. I read that although Vivian Stanshall came from an ordinary background, his parents made him attend elecution lessons to acquire a cultured accent, which is a big part of the act.

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  12. Thank you for the treat, Tasker! Your own version and the official - so light and gay, the music, and very kind to add the links and lyrics (to me text is as important as the funny little squeak of the rubber-duck in the beginning of the song).
    And I share your surprise that I detect in the sentence in brackets ("In January 1971 (fifty years ago!"). Seemed to be yesterday...
    By the way: 'The Urban Spaceman' managed to appear in the German charts.

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    1. I always listen for the rubber duck too. Unfortunately, MuseScore does not (yet) include the rubber duck among the instrument voices. A pity. If it did, it would be possible to play whole tunes on a rubber duck.

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