'Mairzy Doats,' 'Rag Mop' silly songs for our time

June 22, 1994|By MIKLE ROYKO

Here it is, only June, and I've already taken care of most of my Christmas shopping.

It happened by chance, when I flipped through an obscure magazine in a doctor's waiting room.

A full-page ad happened to catch my eye. The big black headline said:

" 'Mairzy Doats' plus 43 More Wacky Hits from the Fun '40s. The Original Hits! The Original Stars!"

"Mairzy Doats"? It had been many decades since I last heard the stupid lyrics to that song, one of the jukebox hits of my childhood.

I am cursed with the kind of mind that never completely forgets a really stupid song. I have trouble remembering my own phone number, my children's birthdays and the names of people I've met a dozen times.

But all I had to do was see those words "Mairzy Doats," and out of some long dormant cells in a dark corner of my brain, the rest of the lyrics erupted and the incredibly stupid song began racing through my mind:

"Mairzy Doats and Dozee Doats and Little Lamsydivy, akiddleetivytoo, wouldn't you, hoo, akiddleetivytoo, wouldn't you?"

(That might not be the precise spelling but it is the way I remember it sounding.)

Just then, the nurse sent me in to the white-haired doctor's office, where he took my blood pressure.

"It is kind of high," he said.

"Of course it's high," I said. "I am agitated because I just spotted the words 'Mairzy Doats' and now the lyrics are stuck in my mind. 'Mairzy Doats and Dozee Doats . . .' "

"Stop!" he cried, covering his ears. "Now it will be running through my mind."

"Well, don't blame me; it's your waiting room magazine."

Then I resumed singing: "If the words sound queer/ and funny to your ear/ a little bit jumbled and jivy/ sing 'Mares eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy'/ Mairzy Doats and Dozee Doats. . . .' "

When I left, the doctor was twitching and grinding his teeth.

I snatched the magazine on my way out, thinking I might bring a lawsuit against the record company for disrupting my mental processes.

But when I had a chance to study the ad further, I realized that I had come across a remarkable musical collection.

Someone had put together some of the most amazingly idiotic songs in the history of recorded pop music.

The collection includes:

* "Civilization." ("Bongo, bongo, bongo/ I don't wanna leave the Congo/ oh no, no, no, no, no.")

* "Three Little Fishes." ("In an itty-bitty brook." . . .)

* "Too Fat Polka." ("I don't wan' her/ you can have her/ she's too fat for me/ hey/ she's too fat for me. . . .")

* "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth."

* "Rag Mop." ("Rag Mop, do-dee-do-dow-dee-dowdy.")

* "Cement Mixer." ("Cement Mixer, puttee-puttee.")

And many more than I can list here: "Aba Daba Honeymoon," "Chickery Chick," "Woody Woodpecker," "The Thing," "Open the Door, Richard," "I'm a Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch," "The Maharajah of Magador."

I cursed my brain cells because I could remember some, or all, of the lyrics to these tunes. Not my very own ZIP code, but "Open the Door, Richard."

Why, I thought, would anyone want to do this? These are songs that should be buried in a concrete time capsule, to be opened in 200 years when people want to study ancient and goofy cultures.

So I called the Good Music Record Co., in Katonah, N.Y.

Ed Shanaphy, the owner, said: "We started selling the 'Mairzy Doats' collection about four years ago."

But why?

"My philosophy is that people like to remember when they were silly, when songs were silly. There was a time when nobody was afraid to do a pratfall. It's all like comedy, really. These songs are like comedy routines. People need some silliness in their lives.

"At first, I just called it 'Fun Hits of the '40s,' and it didn't go anywhere. Then I changed the name to 'Mairzy Doats,' and we've sold 125,000 sets of the collection. It's one of our biggest winners. I guess 'Mairzy Doats' says it all."

This is one of those companies that don't sell in stores. It depends on a huge customer database and ads in magazines that appeal to the elderly.

"We go for the mature audience," Shanaphy said. "Our customers are retired, primarily living in retirement, with discretionary income. We've also released a D-Day collection and another one called 'Stage Door Canteen,' with World War II songs. That sold 300,000 copies already. We just keep putting different handles on the '40s hits, and they sell."

Why didn't I think of that? I could be rich. And like Ryne Sandberg, I could blink away my tears and retire to my home fitness center.

But I will do the next best thing. I'm ordering a stack of these songs and will give them to all of my friends and relatives, young and old.

Then all I will have to do is hum "Mairzy Doats and Dozee Doats and Little Lamsydivy" and watch the panic sweep across their faces as the song infects their minds.

Actually, it is a fair swap. I've been trying to understand contemporary rock music for years, and most of the time I can't understand a nasal word that is being shrieked.

And much of modern hippity-hop and rappity-rap music contains f-words and m-words I prefer not to understand.

So while there may be little social significance in "Cement Mixer, puttee-puttee," you can sing it in a schoolyard and you won't be arrested. Nor do you need a gold ring through your nose.

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