View Full Version : Off Topic: HTOTW#17, For Oldsmobile car buffs.

Terry Porritt
15-05-2004, 11:29 AM
[HTOTW=Hot Tunes Of The Week, Real Audio Player or one of its substitutes is required to listen to most of the tunes featured in this series]

News Item: (acknowledgement to Albert Haim)
"Dead at 106: Oldsmobile.
The last car from America's oldest car company rolled off the line at the end of April 2004 in Lansing Michegan".

So what on earth has Oldsmobile to do with Hot Tunes you may ask.

Well back in the 'olden days', before television even :), going back to the 1900s, 20s and 30s, companies commissioned songs to be written about their products, and also sponsored bands and orchestras.

Many of these bands in the 20s were hot dance bands, mirroring the times of those 'Roaring Twenties', bands such as the Ipana Troubadours sponsored by the Ipana toothpaste company. This band was actually the Ben Selvin band under another name. We may come back to them in another program.

These songs were not just 20 second sound bites or jingles as you hear these days, they were fully fledged tunes by well known composers and lasted a full 3 minutes, ie the playing time of a 78rpm record, and they became popular songs of the day, with the score sheets and records sold in music shops.

One such song was "In My Merry Oldsmobile", composed back in 1905 for the Oldsmobile car company (yes, they did have cars in those days), words by Vincent Bryan, and music by Gus Edwards. The song was issued on the Victor record label.

Now thanks to Sal and Image F1 we can actually see the cover of the music score sheet for this tune here (http://sal.neoburn.net/imagef1/files/oldsmobile1.jpg) (thanks also to Norman Field for the website url)

An extract from the lyrics says;

'You can go as far as you like with me, in my merry Oldsmobile'

....a pretty racy innuendo for 1905, and looking at the picture, rather uncomfortable too :)

The original tune was written in waltz time, but in the 1920s it also aquired a hot flavour.

The Jean Goldkette Orchestra was commissioned by Oldsmobile to record a new version of the tune to coinicide with the release of the 1927 range of Oldsmobiles, and they duly complied with a waltz version recorded on the Victor label on 16th May 1927.

A week later they recorded a hot Foxtrot version arranged by Bill Challis with vocals by Doc Ryker,Ray Lodwig and Howdy Quicksell, musicians in the orchestra.
There was some concern about whether the Oldsmobile management would approve of jazzing up their tune, but it was well received and became more popular than the waltz version.

First though, lets look at another music cover sheet from about that year, and see how the car has developed from the 1905 model, 1927 Oldsmobile (http://sal.neoburn.net/imagef1/files/oldsmobile2.jpg), (thanks to Albert Haim)

Now lets hear the Goldkette Orchestra in 1927, with Bix Beiderbecke on cornet weaving his way through the tune doing his own thing in the background after the vocals, magnificent improvisation.
In My Merry Oldsmobile with Bix (http://www.redhotjazz.com/Songs/goldkette/merryol1.ram).