Another “freebie” day here at m4.
What got me on this particular topic was the song “Winchester Cathedral” by The New Vaudeville Band, which was the basis for Mary B’s latest Battle of the Bands. (And, if you haven’t voted in my Battle of the Bands for this week, what’s holding you up? You have until tomorrow morning to cast your ballot, and the other folks holding battles would appreciate a vote, too.)
Anyway, thinking the song started with whistling (it doesn’t, by the way) got me thinking about other songs that had whistling in them. And yes, I came up with Billy Joel’s “The Stranger,” Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay,” and Danny O’Keefe’s “Goodtime Charley’s Got The Blues,” but then I started remembering songs that had whistling and no singing in them, even though the song itself might have lyrics and there are vocal versions available. And, before I knew what was happening, I had six of them. They’re all short, mostly under three minutes, because, as everyone knows, that’s the longest anyone can whistle before their mouth gets tired. Anyhow, here is my list of songs that have no singing in them, just whistling.
The Dick Haymes Trio, “Moritat (Mack The Knife)” This is the Kurt Weill classic from The Threepenny Opera. If you grew up in Chicago in the Sixties and Seventies, and your parents listened to WFMF (later WLOO), you’ll remember this as the song they played at the top of the hour.
Don Robertson, “The Happy Whistler” From 1956, like me, I found this one as I was playing the last one, and liked it so much I had to include it. Don Robertson was a songwriter and pianist who wrote a number of songs for Elvis Presley, including “Anything That’s Part of You” and “I’m Counting on You,” and wrote “Ringo” for Lorne Greene.
“Colonel Bogey March,” from Bridge on the River Kwai “Colonel Bogey March” was composed in 1914 by Lieutenant (pronounced “lef-ten-ant”) F. J. Ricketts. It’s the regimental quick march for The King’s Own Calgary Regiment, and was heard frequently in Old Blighty during World War II. This scene from the movie gives me chills.
Whistling Jack Smith, “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” This was considered a novelty song when it came out in 1967. It was written by Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, who originally named it “Too Much Birdseed.” This is the most popular version, by Whistling Jack Smith, who might have been Noel Walker (the record’s producer) or trumpeter John O’Neill. It peaked at #20 on the Hot 100.
Jean-Baptiste “Toots” Thielemans with the Boston Pops, “Bluesette” Toots was another victim of 2016. He was a guitarist, harmonicist, and whistler of some merit (it’s why he’s called “Toots”). You might remember his harmonica from Billy Joel’s “Leave The Tender Moment Alone.” “Bluesette” was one of his original compositions. John Williams conducts the Boston Pops Orchestra here, if you don’t recognize him.
Earle Hagen, “The Fishin’ Hole (The Andy Griffith Show theme)” Added this because, if I hadn’t, you’d be all over me. Versions of this with Andy Griffith singing the lyrics are out there, but this is the best-known version.
Can you think of any other songs that are whistled and not sung? There are a lot of songs with whistling and singing, I know, but I’m looking specifically for songs that are just whistled.
That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for March 6, 2017.