Monday, July 9, 2007

78s fRom HeLL: Stubby and the Buccaneers - Money, Marbles And Chalk (1949)

In my late teens, when I first began collecting 78 RPM records, I soon came to understand that I didn't know squat about a vast amount of the artists and songs I was encountering. How to know which were the gems?

There were the 'giants' of pop music and big band - - Notable names that had 'made the jump' to LPs and modern vernacular - - but there were so many that were just outside my experience altogether.

A general rule of thumb developed; When in doubt, go for the oddball name or strange song title.

It's paid off many, many times, and this record clearly had potential. It was one of my earliest 78 finds, and well worth the 12½ cents that I paid.

In fact, this song kind of mystified me. I wasn't familiar with the 'hit' version by Patti Page, but more significantly, I was not at all familiar with any phrase pertaining to 'money, marbles and chalk'. My ignorance made the song a bit baffling.

I still have yet to actually encounter the phrase in conversation, but by now I feel ready if the occasion arises.

In the context of this song, the gist seems to be 'I have it all, but it feels like nothing since you're gone'.

But when googling the phrase, what comes up most often is the version 'NOT for money, marbles, NOR chalk'.

That correlates with the definition in Charles Earle Funk's book, 'Heavens To Betsy & Other Curious Sayings'...

"Not for any consideration whatever; absolutely not; utterly incorruptible. Although 'marbles' in this expression, could be taken to mean 'slight value', with 'chalk' indicating 'no value', I think it more likely to be a slight mispronunciation of *meubles*, a term of French origin used both in France and England to mean 'personal property'.

"Thus the expression would literally mean, 'not for real property, personal property, nor useless property'."

Picturesque and effective.

Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers were active as a band over several decades, primarily in the midwestern U.S.

In the late 1930's they were one of several 'Kountry Korn' bands popular at the time. Think cowbells, rural whimsy and rustic 'patchwork' instruments.

They and The Hoosier Hot Shots had great professional longevity, while personnel from similar bands like Freddie 'Schnicklefritz' Fisher's and The Korn Kobblers generally seemed to 'trickle down' into either 'straight' bands or Spike Jones and his City Slickers.

Captain Stubby (a.k.a. Tom Fouts) and his Buccaneers were featured on several midwest regional radio programs, and then nationally syndicated shows on radio and TV. They became notable in the world of advertising as well, after creating the Roto-Rooter "Away Go Troubles Down the Drain" jingle in the 1950's.

Listen to: Stubby and the Buccaneers (with vocal by Windy Breeze) - Money, Marbles And Chalk (1949) (click for audio)

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