27 December 2008

Popsicles in Paris

A while back I blogged about a 1951 Coca Cola ad that used an image of globalization. Now here's a song about globalization from 1964. The little I can find out about Popsicles in Paris is that it was written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick for the show To Broadway With Love. I came across it as a version by the excellent J's With Jamie, posted on the WFMU blog. Since the song doesn't show up on allmusic.com, that may have been one of very few recordings made. I have transcribed the lyrics myself, which was fun except for one annoyingly difficult to catch word at the end of the 'Strudel in Seattle...' line.

Popsicles in Paris, shish kebab in Shanghai
Sweet potato pie in Rome
Crackerjack in Cairo, curry in Caracas
Alka-Seltzer back at home

The other night I took a flight and had me a ball
Flying high and low
Around the world I found the world like man is it small
Smaller than we know

Strudel in Seattle, jello in [Vermichi??]
That's the way the world is now
What about tomorrow? Which way will it go?
Smaller, smaller until 'Wow!'

19 December 2008

Shuzai goes dating

Click to image if you read Chinese!
Back in the day, Cantonese opera and Hong Kong popular music were pretty much the same thing. But in 1930, the owner of New Moon Records, Chin Kwong Yan, came up with something a bit different, recording an album of Cantonese melodies in an American dancing style. The recordings featured trumpet, trombone, saxophone, violin and piano and were played by a pick-up band from two Cantonese opera theatres. This is the songsheet for a song called Saujai Goes Dating, which was recorded by Wong Sau Lin, a Hong Kong comedian who was known for his language play. We haven't actually heard this recording - New Moon recordings are almost impossible to find now. And because Chinese characters are read differently in different dialects, we don't know exactly how it was sung. But it looks like it was mainly Cantonese, with a few phrases from northern dialects thrown in. As you can see, there are also bits of pidgin English (chow chow = food, amah = maid, kamshaw = gift) and even a bit of pidgin French (com pan li vu = comment allez vous???). As far as we know this is the earliest example of a Cantonese song to include English in the lyrics (something that is now quite normal).

Here is Alice's translation. As the Chinese uses four syllable phrases, we've used some translator's licence to try to keep it four beats to the bar.

There is a girl, melon-seed face
She's in the east, I'm in the west
We are apart, what a pity
Call her right back, to see my face

You want honey, I want cents
Blow the whistle, blowing peep peep
Two houses TALKEE, choose a date

SHE WILL LOVE ME, she does love me
What's the trouble, it means WHAT FOR
April 24th, APRIL 24TH

GO TO PAREE, go to Paris
COM PAN LI VU, come over here
BEAUTIFUL DOLL, beautiful doll
Let me buy it, for you to see

WHO'S YOUR FATHER, who's your father?
He's my father, he's called BILLY
Your father-in-law, he's my daddy
He's got WHISKER, just like a sheep

He is stingy, STINGY FELLOW
POCKET EMPTY, empty pockets
THIRTY CENTS, buy a roast goose
And have a meal, don't be hungry

TOO MUCH CHOW CHOW, eat too much
Belly too small, what should I do?
Pray to sky god, he will bless me
Give us baby, as a KAM SHAW

GET ONE AMAH, hire a maid
Care for baby, grow up quickly
Wash milk bottles, don't break any
Close the door, CLOSE THE DOOR

If I sing wrong, please forgive me
No education, I don't know much
Listen to this, just for a laugh
HAPPY NEW YEAR, Happy New Year

The song appeared in the September 1930 issue of New Moon Collection and is reproduced in Andrew Jones (2001) Yellow Music: Media Culture and Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age (Duke University Press). The original is in the Harvard-Yenching Library.

17 December 2008

Harmonious family

At the conference I presented a survey in which HK secondary schoolkids reported that they spend an average of 64 hours a week using different kinds of media devices (which means they probably use more than one device at the same time, or they are not very accurate in estimating the time they spend on different activities). They also reported that they spent a lot more time chatting with their family and friends than their teachers did. When I came to present, there was a surprise slide in my Powerpoint. This is from Apple Daily last Friday - "When everybody has their own game console, MP3 player and mobile phone, there will be no arguments".

Painting the eye on a lion

Not much here recently because I have been pretty much occupied with our conference on popular culture in education. It's over now and was a great success with contributions from wonderful people from all over the world. This is me enacting a bit of HK popular culture of my own. The Hong Kong Tourist Board was kind enough to send along a lion dance team to open the conference and I am painting the eyes on the lion to bring it to life.

07 December 2008

Rebecca Pan x at17 x Jazz

Rebecca Pan now has more than 50 years in Hong Kong showbiz, starting out at the Showboat in North Point in 1957 as one of the first nightclub singers to build up an English repertoire. This weekend she did three shows with at17, which meant that either she would be strumming on a guitar in her jeans or at17 would have to dress up a bit. Which they did, and the less said about that the better. Ellen sang a Cole Porter song called 'Your the Top' (grammatically more correct than the original?) and Eman sang quite a few. Rebecca sang all her old hits and they all got together and did a Latin rock out. Alice reminded me that I always complain about about the talking that breaks up the rhythm of a lot of shows. Rebecca did talk quite a bit and so did Eman. As far as I remember Ellen didn't say a word, which I liked a lot. Chet Lam was guest. Great show for Rebecca and also for 82-year-old Berry Yaneza, who was cheered every time the trumpet touched his lips and for Joey Villaneuva, who showed that he is an incredible jazz guitarist.