Thursday, 3 November 2011

How half the day gets lost

Iwas listening to a disc of old Artie Shaw radio transcriptions from 1937, including his band's rendition of Raymond Scott's Twilight in Turkey, a piece of ersatz exotica which incorporates that old tune that says: you are in a jokey version of Egypt. You know the one. Sometime it's called 'the snake charmer song.' I thought to myself, did this thing originate with Scott, well known composer of novelties, or is it older? And once I had the thought, I have to go and find out. I tracked it down to an 1895 song titled The Streets of Cairo (link,including sound), written by James Thornton (When you were Sweet Sixteen, My Sweetheart's the man in the moon). Though even at that there seems to be an earlier claim to the tune by Sol Bloom who purportedly put it on at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Anyway, forget all that. while I was looking I found this other thing by Raymond Scott, whose work you must know from a squillion Looney Tunes. It's titled Square Dance for Eight Egyptian Mummies.


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