Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: About 20 years ago, my aunt played a song for me that had some old-time words of wisdom sayings, but with a slight twist. I do remember that the singer is a woman.

In the one example I recall, they took "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" and made it "two in the bush is better than one in the hand."

It was brilliant, and unlike any song I've ever heard. 

Who sings this and what other sayings do they use? 
- Ellen Fields, Kodiak, Alaska

DEAR ELLEN:  Perhaps you remember that phrase because it is the only one heard three times in the song, plus the title really is "Two in the Bush Is Better Than One in the Hand."

By Saffire (the Uppity Blues Women) - Gaye Adegbalola, Andra Faye McIntosh, and Ann Rabson — this is the lead track on their 1991 LP, "Hot Flash" (Alligator AL-4796).

Here are Saffire's versions of some of their ancestor's adages:

I placed all my eggs in one basket so many times before
They've been scrambled, boiled, and fried
Even dropped upon the floor
I found out in the long run, it's a poor hole that's got one rat
Life's a hard road to hoe
I'm a harder nut to crack
You ask me for commitment but you don't understand
That two in the bush is better than one in the hand

Gonna have my cake, I'm gonna eat it too
That's the way the cookie crumbles
Don't bite the hand that feeds you
Put your money where your mouth is
Don't let my cat get your tongue
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth
Don't count your chicks before they come
You ask me for commitment but you don't understand
That two in the bush is better than one in the hand

Well, I jumped out of the fire and into the frying pan
Gotta strike while the iron is hot with any bright-eyed, bushy-tail man
If you can't lick 'em, join 'em
Can't fix what is not broken
I advise you to get outta the kitchen now
Now there's fire where there was smoke
Don't put your big foot in your mouth
Don't start what you can't finish
I need a horse of another color
And the sea is full of fishes
If you can't fit don't force it
In my back don't stick a knife
Lay it right on the tip of my tongue
Variety's the spice of life
You ask me for commitment but you don't understand
That two in the bush is better than one in the hand

DEAR JERRY: Every year around Valentine's Day a song flashes through my mind that I have never been able to identify. Unfortunately, no one I have ever asked recalls it.

People always ask if I mean "My Funny Valentine," which of course is not the one I want.

The best clue I have is that it is by a male group, and they begin with their bass man, then switch midway through to the tenors. Similar to "Green Eyes" by the Ravens, it's even from around the same time. 
- Arnie Copeland, Mentor, Ohio

DEAR ARNIE: Unless you associated this group with the similarly named snack food, I would not have expected you to remember them.

The tune tugging at your head, and perhaps your heart, is "Paper Valentine," by the Crackerjacks (Kapp 106).

That "Green Eyes" clue was the clincher, and those two have even more in common than you realized.

"Paper Valentine" came out in the summer of 1954, long after Valentine's Day. "Green Eyes" (Jubilee 5203) was issued in the summer of 1955.

The booming bass voice of the Crackerjacks belongs to Thurl Ravenscroft. Hitting the low notes for the Ravens is Jimmy Ricks.

Each basso profondo is prominently featured in the first minute or so before giving way to the other singers, though Ricks is credited by Jubilee whereas Kapp fails to mention Ravenscroft.

As good as both of these tunes are, neither appeared on any of the national charts.

Oh yes, there is one more particular peculiarity that can't be overlooked: the first six letters of Ravenscroft spell Ravens.

IZ ZAT SO? That Thurl Ravenscroft was not credited on "Paper Valentine" is, unfortunately, the rule rather than the exception.

It's not too far-fetched to say that nearly everyone has heard Thurl's voice somewhere, sometime, without knowing his name.

For over 50 years, Ravenscroft was the mysterious voice of Tony the Tiger in TV commercials for Kellog's Frosted Flakes. No doubt Thurl earned more for saying just two words, "They're Grrrrrreat," than for any of his other jobs.

He is heard but not credited on countless hit records by other artists, and in dozens of films, especially ones for the Disney organization.

Among those are a few familiar titles:

Alice in Wonderland
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Cat in the Hat
Halloween Is Grinch Night
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Lady and the Tramp
Lilo and Stitch
Man from Button Willow
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Mary Poppins
One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Paul Bunyan
Peter Pan
Rose Marie
Sleeping Beauty
Snoopy, Come Home
Sword in the Stone

Unlikely as it seems, if you've never been exposed to any of the above, but have been to one of the Disney theme parks, you have certainly heard Thurl. His voice is used on many of their most popular attractions.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.  Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368  E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition. 

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