Sunday, March 6, 2011

"One Meat Ball" - Depression Era Songs

This is the Josh White version of the song "One Meat Ball" which was recorded during the Depression and chronicles the troubles of a man who has only 15 cents for a meal. His heart is set on meatballs, but he only has money enough for one. Unfortunately for him, " get no bread with one meatball..." There are several versions of this song. The first time I heard it was on a 78 RPM when I was about 4 years old. I believe it was by the Andrew Sisters.

(L. Singer / H. Zaret)

Little man walked up and down,
To find an eatin' place in town.
He looked the menu thru and thru,
To see what fifteen cents might do.

One meat ball,
One meat ball,
One meat ball,
All he could get was one meat ball.

He told that waiter near at hand,
The simple dinner he had planned.
The guests were startled one and all,
To hear that waiter loudly call.


Little man felt so ill at ease,
He said: "Some bread Sir, if you please."
The waiter hollered down the hall:
You get no bread with your one meat ball.

Little man felt so very bad,
One meat ball is all he had.
And in his dreams he can still hear that call
You get no bread with your one meat ball.

I've been cruising You Tube looking at, and listening to, some of the old songs that my parents had in the house. Kind of a trip down memory lane. "She Had To Go and Lose It at The Astor" is another record that I remember, and though I didn't know who played the song, through the magic of You Tube I have found it and am posting it here below. This song concerns a young society lady who stays out all night, much to the chagrin of her family. And when she does come home, she has lost the one thing most important to all young ladies of good breeding. Just who took it from her is the mystery.

(Don Ray / Hugh Prince)

Harry Roy & His Orch. (vocals: Bill Currie & Harry Roy) - 1939

SPOKEN: We'd like to tell you a story about a young girl, about
eighteen years old, about five feet two, and about to go out. Now,
her Mother, realising it was her first time out with a young man,
called her into the bedroom and said, "Minnie, you're all dressed
up in your finery, your very best clothes, and you look beautiful,
you're gorgeous, you're alluring (you look swell, baby), and now
Minnie I want you to remember everything I've always told you, and
above all I want you to be very, very careful.....

But she had to go and lose it at the Astor
She didn't take her mother's good advice.
Now there aren't so many girls today who have one
And she'd never let it go for any price

They searched the place from penthouse to the cellar
In every room and underneath each bed.
Once they thought they saw it lying on a pillow
But they found it belonged to someone else instead.

But she had to go and lose it at the Astor,
She didn't know exactly whom to blame
And she couldn't say just how or when she lost it
She only knew she had it when she came.

They questioned all the bellboys and the porter
The chef appeared to be the guilty guy
And the doorman also acted quite suspicious
But he coyly said, "I'm sure it wasn't I"

But she had to go and lose it at the Astor
It nearly killed her mother and her dad
Now they felt as bad about the thing as she did
After all it was the only one she had

They just about completed all their searching
When the chauffeur walked up with it in his hand
All they did was stand and gape, there was Minnie's sable cape,
And she thought that she had lost it at the Astor.

These old recordings take me back to my earliest years, when I had no cares of any kind, at least none of which I was aware. One day blended into the next with a certainty that can never be described to those who have not felt that way. My parents had stacks of old 78's which I devoured by the time I was 6. These songs were the stories which gave voice to the images in my mind. I saw, rather than merely heard these songs.

Listening to these old recordings reminds me of one of life's great truths; that though those days may be long gone, the sounds and memories, and the songs themselves, will live for a long, long time. Because they just don't write them like this anymore...

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