Friday, July 6, 2007

The Blue Chips - One Hen (1962)

Some people absolutely loathe novelty songs.

Clearly I feel differently, but in most cases I can understand the reaction.

I can't find any info on The Blue Chips, but I suspect that this record may have been something of a one-off production for some studio musicians and vocalists.

The lyrics to this song, sung in a cumulative fashion à la "The Twelve Days of Christmas" or "Eh, Cumpari!" are familiar to many.

What's not quite clear are it's true origins. It's showed up at different times as a campfire song, and one story says that it goes back to New York in the early 1940's, where it was used as a warm-up exercise for radio announcers.

Does it go back further? How has it changed? Are there still kids singing this at camp?

It seems to be like a bit of folklore, with many variations existing, some with very different words.

The long list in this version appears to be:

-One hen
-Two ducks
-Three squawking geese
-Four limerick oysters
-Five corpulent porpoises
-Six pair of Don Alversos tweezers
-Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array
-Eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt
-Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity to procrastination and sloth
-Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who haul, stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the queasy, all at the very same time

Mis-heard lyrics, and lyrics that don't make a bit of sense don't help matters...

A 'chanted' version of it also shows up as 'The Tibetan Memory Trick' on Flo & Eddie's 1974 LP,' Illegal, Immoral and Fattening'.

On the Blue Chips' record, songwriting credits are taken by the production team of Hugo & Luigi, in collaboration with George Weiss.

Do we believe that? Or did they adapt something that had been around for several years prior, as the '1940's announcer's test' indicates?

It was, after all, in 1961, just a year before this recording, that the same team would take credit for writing 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' for The Tokens, which was not, in the strictest sense, exactly the truth.

Answers, anyone? Your own tales of this song? All are welcome.

Listen to: The Blue Chips - One Hen (click for audio)


edlongus said...

This is one of my favorite records of all time. I have yet to ever find this on any record album, have been looking for a stereo copy for many, many years...

Anonymous said...

ed, I would guess that no genuine stereo copy of this recording exists. It was probably mastered in mono, like most early 1960s low-budget novelty songs.

I thought I'd cracked the mystery of "Who were The Blue Chips?", the apparently one-off group responsible for this earwig. My tipoff for my answer came from the voice doing the "six tweezers" line. It reminded me of one of the voices in the Bob Rivers Comedy Group, which also, as fate would have it, directly parodied "The 12 Days of Chrismas" with new lyrics and called it "The 12 Pains of Christmas". I had only a few brief moments of smug revelry celebrating my sleuthing skills until I checked Wikipedia and learned that Bob Rivers would have been about 10 years old when "One Hen" was recorded. BZZZTTTT!

edlongus said...

My wild guess would be that since Groove Records was distributed by RCA Records, there's a chance that this was recorded in stereo?!? RCA was one of the early labels to embrace stereo recording, with their 'Living Stereo' LPs and such.

Rob said...

I can't find any info either and it's making me mental, I must say!
I thought the tweezers line sounded a lot like Stan Freburg.

Eight said...

I found some info !

Freshly-stirred links