Introduction by Barry Drogin
Although I'm an opera composer, I started out as a composer for the theater, and I still feel that that medium has made a major contribution in the comic musical theater song. Outside of the countless examples of creators of musicals that contain comic songs (Noel Coward, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, etc.), a few composers have sought independent careers as comic songwriters. Amongst the more well-known, and still available, are Alan Sherman ("Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah!") and Tom Lehrer ("Poisoning Pigeons").
Harry Ruby, who wrote "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" with Bert Kalmar, collected his songs into a book, "Songs My Mother Never Sang", copyright 1943 and long out of print. Groucho Marx sang a few other songs, including "Father's Day", with Marvin Hamlisch at the piano at Carnegie Hall. Zero Mostel, G-d bless him, committed a number of these songs, in arrangements by Sol Kaplan, to plastic in a long out-of-print Vanguard recording in 1966 (VRS-9229/VSD-79229).
In honor of Harry Ruby, who died in 1974, I reproduce here the words to an unrecorded song from that collection, "Indelible You", a priceless parody of "Embraceable You"and other songs of that ilk. I assume it is in the public domain by now. A copy can be found in the Research Collection of the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.
Sweetie Pie and Sugar Puss
Don't describe you well enough.
They don't seem to tell enough of
How I feel about you.
The impression you have made
On my mind will never fade,
So it's not amiss
For me to call you this:
Sweet Smellable You.
I'm glad that I fell
A slave to your spell,
Sweet Holdable You.
Without you I know
That I would disappear
In a year or two.
You're one thing beneath the sun
I swear by all that's holy,
I would live among the lowly caribou
If you asked me to.
Although I know I own ya,
I would wind up with pneumonia or the flu
If you asked me to.
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