Thursday, April 23, 2015

EARWORM: Where Did You Get That Hat? by Al Simmons

 I've been a fan of Al Simmons for a long time.  I saw him first at a festival in Canada, where he did a showcase of delightful comedy/novelty songs that I would play in my car and sing along with long before I had a child.  And since I've had a child, I continue to play those songs.

Al is a Canadian performer who tours all over the US and Canada.  His show has a lot of visual comedy, audience participation, (including the hilarious "Don't Make Me Sing Along" which of course, is a singalong), and lots of crazy costumes and props.  Another of his songs that I really like is the eye exam song "I M 4 U" , in which he sings a series of letters and numbers that work out as words also)

I M 4 U
S I M, S I M
G I 1 2 B 4 U 4 F-R  (say them out loud for full effect)

Now sing them fast!  Here's the video to practice!

One of my favorite songs of his is actually not his, as it turns out.  Where Did You Get That Hat is a Tin Pan Alley song first done in 1888 in Joseph J. Sullivan, a blackface comedian and acrobat. Al sings it (and adapted some of the lyrics) and he does a great job with it.

The song lyrics are great, about a hat he inherited from his grandfather, and now everybody wants to know where he got the hat.

The chorus goes:

Where did you get that hat?
Where did you get that tile?
Isn't it a nobby one,
And just the proper style?
I should like to have one
Just the same as that!
Where e'er I go they shout:
"Hello! where did you get that hat?"

When Al performs it, he has a number of crazy prop hats that he wears.

Al also does a number of other songs, including a couple of songs that are all really bad puns- one about vegetables:  ("The Celery Stalks At Midnight")   and another about tailoring ("Sam's Men Wear")

His latest show is all about music and invention.  He talks about the science behind taking junk and turning it into instruments that make music.  The show is appropriately enough called "Sounds Crazy" and the short video clips I've seen are hilarious.

If you have an opportunity, you should see him live.  Your kids will thank you for it! (And you will probably thank yourself also!)

(and here's some of the songs mentioned above, as well as a link to the album on Amazon.)


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