Thursday, January 07, 2010

Theme Thursday : Polka Dots And Moonbeams



Do you remember the first record you really knew. Not necessarily the first record you remembered (I half remember a pile of dusty 78s my parents owned) nor the first record you bought (that had to wait until I had money). But the first record I really knew - knew so well that all the tracks were engraved into my subconscious like grooves in polymer - was one of my brothers' LPs. It was called Buddy Greco at Mr Kelly's and it was a recording of a live performance by the great lounge and jazz singer at Mr Kelly's Club in Chicago. After all these years I could still probably sing all the words of all the songs from the moment when Greco says "Welcome To Mr Kelly's" right through to the last verse of the last song ("Give Me The Simple Life", I seem to recall). It is part of my musical heritage and that means track four of side one (younger readers please note, records used to have sides) is part of my lyrical bedrock. Track 4 on side 1 was Jimmy Van Heusen's song, "Polka Dots And Moonbeams".

It's an odd little song, not your usual love, dove, moon, June affair. It conjures up all sorts of odd images. A country dance for some strange reason is being held in a garden! The singers' beloved is described as "a pug-nosed dream" (the song was written in 1940 in the days before nose-jobs existed). But it is a charming simple song which has the power to transport me back 50 years. As soon as I saw the theme for this Thursday I was mentally playing the song in my mind, listening to Buddy Greco's smooth tones. The lyrics are as follows - if you know the tune you can sing along.

POLKA DOTS AND MOONBEAMS (Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke)
A country dance was being held in a garden
I felt a bump and heard an "Oh, beg your pardon"
Suddenly I saw polka dots and moonbeams
All around a pug-nosed dream


The music started and was I the perplexed one
I held my breath and said "May I have the next one?"
In my frightened arms, polka dots and moonbeams
Sparkled on a pug-nosed dream


There were questions in the eyes of other dancers
As we floated over the floor
There were questions but my heart knew all the answers
And perhaps a few things more


Now in a cottage built of lilacs and laughter
I know the meaning of the words "Ever after"
And I'll always see polka dots and moonbeams
When I kiss the pug-nosed dream.

I tried to find a YouTube video of Greco singing the song but I couldn't. There were several YouTube recordings of the song but none of them came within a mile of Greco's way with the words. So instead, I will leave you with a video of another Greco song, one which featured on that same Mr Kelly's LP. It is perhaps his most famous recording and it is "The Lady Is A Tramp". The video is of historical importance as it is a Scopitone movie (Scopitone was a very early form of video juke box which made use of 16mm film) and therefore represents an early antecedent of modern day music videos.



See how other Bloggers faced up to the Theme Thursday Polka Dot challenge by visiting the Theme Thursday site.

38 comments:

  1. You know what, Alan? I always feel good after visiting your blog. :)

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  2. Funny you should say that Angel, I feel exactly the same about yours.

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  3. Well, I'll have to admit, "Buddy Greco at Mr Kelly's" isn't an album that I really knew! But wow, it's cover is way cool! Fun polka dotty post.

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  4. Sounds like he loved her cute little nose! :) What a cute little polka dot memory you have there!

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  5. Alan, so so so interesting. I jsut had to go check out some of the other versions of this song which befroe today had never heard of. Waht a delightful song though. I love those old masters. Brilliant. Love your post here and funny the first that came to mind was a song, me too but from about 40 years later afraid to say. LOL.

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  6. Alan, that song is mentioned here too:

    http://www.lifewithacocktail.blogspot.com/

    Who would ahve thunk it? Even John Denver id it? Whoa.

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  7. Alan, too good mate! I've a version of this posted( alas not a live audience one, but still ). Or am I dating meself? 'Tis still a popular tune, it is and a great theme taker ;)

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  8. nice. i dont think i hav ever hard the song though the lyrics are fun. nicely done on the theme today alan!

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  9. Wonderful! You made me think of my own album, The Beatles White album. I remember running away from my brother (whose album it was) and locking myself in my bedroom so he couldn't get it back!

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  10. I guess mine must be Deep Purple in Rock.

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  11. Buddy Holly. "Not Fade Away".

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  12. Love, dove, moon, June affair? Gosh, I don't think I have ever listened to one of those!

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  13. I have this song but it's by Oscar Peterson on my CD. Good one!

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  14. I've always liked that song...the Sinatra version in particular.

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  15. I like Buddy Greco! Enjoyed the video even it it wasn't Polka Dots and Moonbeams.
    I am always a SUCKER for the ole "usual love, dove, moon, June affair!"

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  16. I love that we both came up with the same song! I tried to find Polka Dots and Moonbeams sung by Frank Sinatra but couldn't. Turns out the song is a jazz standard so it's mostly done now as an instrumental.

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  17. Alan,

    This song is wonderful! I love the visions it conjures up. Thank you for sharing this.

    Happy Thursday,
    Jen

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  18. Fascinating! Really. I love (to me) old music. I think the 40s had some of the best.

    Happy TT and thank you for stopping by.

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  19. polka dots and moonbeams probably hasn't been listened to as much as today in years and years....

    personally I think the john denver version leaves much to be desired!

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  20. I really like these lines...
    Now in a cottage built of lilacs and laughter
    I know the meaning of the words "Ever after".
    How sweet!
    I can't remember the first song I knew by heart, but I'm with Tina on the Beatles White album. My sisters & I listened to it so much I knew every song.

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  21. Oh Alan, that was lovely. Hadn't heard of that song - and the images the words conjure are very different! Happy TT

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  22. I wonder if her nose was cold and wet...Heehee!

    ~Angela

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  23. whoa, a retro music video! That guy is smooooth, and the ladys are va va va vooooom!

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  24. Alan, first I have to agree with AngelMay. Visiting your blog always improves my day. The only thing better is when you visit mine and leave a comment as nice as the one I found today.

    As to your polka dot song. Afraid that I do not remember it. But, Greco;s "Lady is a Tramp" has always been on of my favorites.

    While visiting your blog today I got sidetracked when I noticed that you follow a blog from a man in my home town of St. Charles, Mo. so I had to go check it out. I grew up in a small town in St. Charles county and lived in a rooming house in town for several years after getting out of school. Boy, what a small world. Visit a blog in the UK to be taken back to your own home town.

    Thanks for the pick me up today.

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  25. Such a great post....thank you for brightening my day! ! !~Holly

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  26. I guess my first 'memory' of music in our house was Frank Sinatra singing Lady is a Tramp and of course the Beatles. I'd never heard the Moonbeam song until TT posts this week. Then my first album was Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick (haha says something about me!)

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  27. very nice; this polka dot theme as produced such a variety of postings. and interesting twist to think of the first record you really knew as opposed to remembered. Gosh. that would have to be Simon and Garfunkel Bookends. Argh. I'm ancient.

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  28. Wow. First record I ever knew... probably a cassette tape, but I'm at a loss to recall what it would be.

    I'll get back to you on this one.

    Hmm...

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  29. Were there remakes of that song?? I think that I have recently heard that title.

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  30. I do remember my mom playing quite a bit of Sonny and Cher and dad liking some tunes by Roy Orbison. And of course, Elvis.

    Music becomes such a important part of us. It is the soundtrack of our lives - what were we doing at a particular point in time is always easily remembered when thought of in terms of music.

    Happy Theme Thursday. But, I must ask...how do you keep up with all of your blogs?!

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  31. The first record that I remember is Ricky Nelson's single LP titled "Travelin' Man". I can still hear that song clear as a whistle in my head and love it.

    Great TT post. :)

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  32. That truly is a great old tune! A natural for the theme, too.

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  33. I think the first album I can remember is one of the Beach Boys and I still love their songs to this day.

    That sounds like it was a great little song, but I cannot remember ever hearing it before.

    Thanks for sharing the video.

    Happy TT and Happy New Year.

    God bless.

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  34. What a memory you have, Alan! What a fun song too. I guess the first song I really knew was, "Moon River" because it was popular when I was very little. My parent's liked the song and it was played on the radio in our home. I tried to sing it, but the second verse always came out a bit like this:

    "Two dwiftuhs, off to see da wud" and so on. I was a little Elmer Fudd as a tot, apparently.

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  35. He Swings.Pure Gold!
    By the way Alan, I will be posting a "Sepia Saturday" late tonight (Friday) or early Saturday.
    Also, did you hear Alistar Graham being interviewed on BBC 5-Live this afternoon?

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  36. Are you doing Sepia Saturday, Alan? If so, do count me IN. :)

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  37. I vaguely recall Buddy Greco, but Scopitone? Never heard that term. And I loved your line "younger readers please note, records used to have sides." Good one all around, Alan!

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  38. Never heard of that song till I Googled polka dots. I had heard of Buddy Greco thought. He has a wonderful voice.

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