Melodic Mystery

The other day, Husband played a CD of Borodin’s 2nd String Quartet. We have been listening to a lot of chamber music lately, and this is a CD we had for a while but hadn’t played before.  I had never heard this quartet before.  When the 2nd movement, (Scherzo) of the quartet played, I knew I had heard the tune before, and exclaimed “That is that is Buttons and Bows”!  I am somewhat prideful of the fact that I have a really good auditory memory, and once I hear a tune I rarely, if ever, forget it.  This is what it sounds like:

Husband protested, saying that Buttons and Bows was a very different tune. Being a Boomgaarden, (someone who is never wrong), I set out to solve the mystery. and turned to the internet  to prove my point.

Well, Husband was right. This is Buttons and Bows:

What, then was I remembering? I found that the 2nd movement of Borodin’s 2nd String Quartet was used in the song Baubles, Bangles, and Beads from the musical, Kismet. I never in my life saw that musical.  The song from the musical was quite popular in the 1950’s, however,  and was recorded by Miss Peggy Lee and by Frank Sinatra. I assume I heard the tune on some occasion as a small child and it stuck with me.

Well, Husband allowed that since the titles all were replete with B’s, I could be forgiven for confusing them. I am glad the mystery is solved.  I really like Borodin and think he is a seriously underrated composer.

What have you researched lately? What are some of your earliest musical memories?  How do you deal with being proved wrong? Ever seen Kismet?

61 thoughts on “Melodic Mystery”

  1. I’m sure, if you were to suggest popular songs from the early ‘50s I would be able to provide the melody and partial lyrics of some of them but the songs I distinctly and spontaneously remember all turn out to have been introduced in 1957 and ‘58 and all of them are songs you might call novelty songs:
    Black Slacks
    Short Shorts
    Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
    White Sport Coat
    (I’m sensing a sartorial theme)
    But also:
    Flying Purple People Eaters, and
    Witch Doctor

    Besides researching when these songs were popular, I have been doing a little research in connection with my participation in the transcription of mid-nineteenth century correspondence between abolitionists for the Boston Library. While I have previously done reading in this area and am familiar with people and events on the American side, many of the letters are to British counterparts and I am less familiar with them, so I have had occasionally to step away from my transcription to ascertain the correct names of people and places—things you can’t guess from context.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Also the Elvis versions of Hound Dog, Blue Suede Shoes and Tutti Fruiti. I realize, when thinking about it, that when I remember hearing these songs, I also associate them with specific locations where I heard them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. renees back! 4 questions !
    researching … mask specifications and record albums all genres
    early musical memories were rusty in orchestra land and peter and the wolfe and then the 50’s 60s musicals oklahoma my fair lady king and i west side story flower drum song singing in the rain and a heavy dose of wizard of oz and disney tunes and show boat south pacific and later sound of music and mary poppins mame and so many others
    bouncing on my studio couch in the basement by the hour
    then off into herman’s hermits beatles dave clark 5 eric button and the animals elvis and the shoo wap bands like the mills brothers and the shondels dinah shore doris day and patty page dion the temptations and frankie vali
    i’m real familiar with being wrong. opinions lead to that and i have lots. plug it into the memory bank and factor the new reality into a modified opinion and continue…
    yes i saw kismet and liked it
    lots of musicals at that time that had good stuff but not enough good stuff
    same with tv shows and movies of the era wanted dead or alive , my little margie the millionaire the danny thomas show, ozzie and harriet they came but 45 episodes a year made them look thin unless they had the best writers

    week memories of early 50’s and 60’s stuff
    they used to steal a snippet of a classical tune without giving credit at all

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I couple of years ago I went to an event at Landmark Center in St. Paul. Dan Chouinard and the Rose Ensemble, I believe it was. At one point Dan Chouinard introduced a pair of songs that he said had melodies that were borrowed from other songs, and invited the audience to think about what the other songs were. The first one sounded familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. The second one I knew instantly, from the first line.

    After the songs ended, he asked how many people in the audience recognized one of the songs, and most people raised their hands, myself included. Then he asked how many people recognized both. No one raised a hand. He called for the audience to identify the first one, and lots of voices called out “Old Dan Tucker!” Then he called for the second one, and there was a brief moment of silence before I called out “Rosin the Bow.” Chouinard looked a bit surprised – apparently he had expected no one was going to know it.

    I have a Clancy Brothers album with Rosin the Bow on it, so I was surprised that others would think the melody was obscure. Made me feel a tiny bit smug.

    But I should have recognized the first one, too. Pete Seeger sang it, and I may have seen this when I was small:

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I remember going to a production of “Look Homeward Angel” at Concordia College in St. Paul years ago. Embedded in the dialog were two songs, “Pony Boy” and “Just a Baby’s Prayer at Twilight (For Her Daddy Over There)”. Nobody involved in the production knew the melodies associated with either tune, since they sang sort of tentative, atonal renditions. I was especially surprised about Pony Boy, but if they had bothered to ask me, I could have given them a couple of verses of Baby’s Prayer as well.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Andy. Daughter watches that every afternoon so I’ve heard that too. My memory isn’t great on artists or titles. I may know I’ve heard it but can’t tell you who. Using Siri’s “What is this song” is wonderful.


  4. Rise and always be right, Baboons,

    Goodness. I have never had the experience of being wrong so I just cannot answer this question.

    OK, maybe not. When I am wrong I usually just feel angry for awhile, then I try to let it go until the steam in my head builds again. Then I have to go through the process of letting go again. I have had far more experience with this than I have ever wanted to have.

    All my research the last few days has pertained to making face masks and how to get needed materials, which became an adventure yesterday as I stood outside the Edina Joann Fabric in 28 degrees, waiting to get in. They only allow 25 people inside the store at a time now. I ordered things online, but they cancelled the entire order after 2 days. So if I wanted fabric, this was the option. You cannot scare up elastic or a hair tie anywhere. I am using shoelaces to tie the mask on.

    I am appalled to say I am getting requests from medical providers for the masks—word is getting out quickly that I make them.

    Barb, I am wondered how your mask-making is going.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m kind of slow – have just made about 14 so far. Getting to the end of my 1/4″ elastic, so am cutting 1/2″ down the middle. Then I’ll go to ties – someone gave me a bunch that she had cut out and didn’t need, they just need to be stitched. I’ll email you…
      Who knew we should have been buying stock in elastic?

      Liked by 4 people

  5. My project has been to rank the best films ever made about cooking and eating. Had to take a second look at some of them.

    My list:
    1) Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
    2) Big Night
    3) Babette’s Feast
    4) Chocolat
    5) Like Water for Chocolate

    It had no cooking, but a great eating scene was the pub bacchanal in Tom Jones.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I hate being wrong with Husband (and my sister and a few others), and will hang on to my version way longer than I should at times. Most of the time, though, I’m easy going about it, and apologize readily when I realize my mistake.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. When my dad’s ship came in when I was in seventh grade, one of the things that changed in our house was the acquisition of season tickets to the Municipal Opera in St. Louis. For those of you who haven’t been there the Muni is a huge outdoor amphitheater and they do musicals all summer long. The Muni is great because there are hills behind the seating areas where people can go for free. You can’t see much from back there but you can hear so it was very nice to actually have seats for a change. One of the very first musicals that I remember seeing there was Finian’s Rainbow. I still have a soft spot for many of the songs in that show.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. We watched the movie ‘The Post’ last night. I then had to research Watergate and the Post and those related things.

    I remember listening to the local AM radio station. And my parents playing ‘The Statler Brothers’ records. And the Broadway musical records that came in the mail. Sort of a kids record club type thing. And that’s why I learned ‘SuperCaliFragilisticExPialiDotious’ so young.

    “Once again, you were right. I was less right.”

    Not familiar with ‘Kismet’.

    Remember ‘Name that Tune’? I thought of it yesterday with the news of Bill Withers passing. And they played “Lean on Me” with that opening piano chord.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If I’m not careful, today’s blog could lead down several rabbit holes. Since I don’t have anywhere to be at a certain time, what the hell.

    One of the most obvious tunes borrowed from the classical repertoire to recognize is Strangers in Paradise, but there are lots to choose from. Yesterday, inspired by a recent Paul Simon posting of American Tune to FB, I posted another version of that great song performed by a female singer, Kim Marie Fragodt:

    The tune is a love song from 1600, by Hans Leo Hassler. About 50 years later Johann Crüger made it into a hymn. It is probably Bach’s best known chorale, is used several times in St. Matthew’s Passion (“O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden”) and in the first part of the Christmas Oratorio.
    And how is this for an evolution of this great melody?

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I used to play the Peter Paul and Mary one on guitar. The lyrics are worth noting, esp. timely is next to last line about the lost year:

        Because all men are brothers wherever men may be
        One union shall unite us, forever proud and free
        No tyrant shall defeat us, no nation strike us down
        All men who toil shall greet us, the whole wide world around

        My brothers are all others, forever hand in hand
        Where chimes the bell of freedom, there is my native land
        My brother’s fears are my fears: yellow, white or brown
        My brother’s tears are my tears, the whole wide world around.

        Let every voice be thunder, let every heart beat strong
        Until all tyrants perish, our work shall not be done
        Let not our memories fail us, the lost year shall be found
        Let slavery’s chains be broken the whole wide world around.

        Liked by 4 people

  10. I spent enough time going down rabbit holes that I don’t even know where to start. Although I did this morning look something up about Abraham Lincoln, because I’m reading a heinous piece of historical fiction about him and was wondering about some of the facts presented in it.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. OT YouTube suggestion. Something which all Baboons enjoy is food. YouTube has many, many food sites. You can use the Search function on the YouTube home page to discover new ones.

    One I especially enjoy is the America Test Kitchen channel. They offer recipes, technique videos and reviews of cooking equipment. I respect the basic way they do things, cooking recipes over and over while experimenting to find the best final recipe.

    This is one we all can use:

    Liked by 3 people

  12. OT YouTube suggestion: There are so many cooking sites, choosing just a few has to be arbitrary. One I find fun is Glen and Friends Cooking. The channel is just as unpretentious as its name. Glen loves food and has an explorer’s sense of fun in duplicating famous recipes or cooking styles. He has worked hard to duplicate KFC recipes. And he enjoys making soft drinks from scratch, such as this one:

    Glen lives in Toronto. One of his specialties is finding good recipes from the 1930s-1960s. He does some vegetarian recipes. I enjoy his relationship with Julie, his wife. Anyone looking for a showy recipe should look elsewhere. Glen is all about great food that is not complicated.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I spent the evening watching an extraordinary film. I don’t recall if it has been mentioned on the trail before. It’s called Life i a Day. Here’s a blurb about it from the Washington Post written by Michael O’Sullivan:
    “Credited to more than 30 directors, and spearheaded by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (“One Day in September”), this crowdsourced 2011 documentary was actually shot by more than 80,000 people — all on a single day: July 24, 2010. Winnowed from more than 4,500 hours of footage, it’s not a collage of cat videos and clips of dancing in front of a mirror, but a breathtakingly profound and beautiful portrait of how we are all connected. That’s needed now, more than ever.”

    I found the film strong, thought provoking, interesting and challenging to watch. I recommend it. Here’s a link to it if you’re interested:


    1. Here’s a bit more information about the film, this written by Megan O’Neill for Adweek:
      “Life In A Day, the amazing YouTube documentary that premiered last January at Sundance and hit theaters over the summer has now found a home on YouTube. Viewers can now watch the breathtaking film for free on the Life In A Day YouTube channel and experience the joy, sadness, excitement and other emotions that this amazing film evokes.

      For those of you that aren’t familiar, Life In A Day is a documentary produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald. The duo called on all YouTubers to submit video footage of their lives on a single day—July 24, 2010. Over 4,500 hours of footage was submitted. Over the next few months, their team cut the footage together to create an amazing portrayal of “life in a day” all around the globe.”


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