NEEDLE DROP NOTES
September 9, 2018 posted by James Parten

It’s ‘Melody Time’ for the Kiddies

Ever since the early 1930’s, theater owners have noted the appeal that cartoons have for the younger audience. So, naturally, the Walt Disney Studios threw the little darlings a couple of juicy bones in the stew known as Melody Time.

Both “The Legend of Johnny Appleseed” and “Little Toot” had songs attached to them. The reaction of “Tin Pan Alley” is interesting — and, perhaps, notable.

“The Legend of Johnny Appleseed” featured a song based upon a Swedenborgian hymn. For some reason, the music industry ignored “The Lord Is Good To Me” entirely. You would think that, at the very least, RCA Victor would have sent Dennis Day into their studios to cut the tune. After all, he is featured in that segment of the picture.

Later, RCA would cut a “storyteller’ set for their Little Nipper series, in which Dennis Day played the role of Johnny Appleseed. Even later, Day would cut another Johnny Appleseed storyteller for a Cricket album. This would not feature any of the songs associated with the segment of Melody Time. But that is more a subject that Mr. Ehrbar and his expertise in the field of children’s discs. (His coverage of the Disney soundtracks is here).


The other segment of Melody Time aimed at the younger set was “Little Toot”. This had a song attached, too. And the music industry did pay some attention to this one. (Greg Ehrbar wrote about the Disney soundtracks here.)

RCA Victor — which seems to have invested heavily in songs from Melody Time — gave “Little Toot” to Sammy Kaye’s swing-and-sway aggregation. We have met Sammy Kaye before in earlier posts in this series.

M-G-M records also covered “Little Toot”, giving it to the King’s Men, a vocal quartet that we have also encountered before.

The biggest surprise is that one of Decca Records’ most popular acts did not cut “Little Toot”–even for a kiddie record. The Andrews Sisters were featured in the film, as they had been with “Make Mine Music”. But Decca Records did not bother covering “Little Toot” – Go figure!

The kiddie record field was burgeoning at the time. And there were kiddie discs telling the tale of “Little Toot”. There appears to have been a second “Little Toot” song, which pretty much follows the story line of the cartoon–and of the children’s book on which the cartoon is based. No doubt the kiddies were pleased with both these segments . . as were their parents.

NEXT WEEK: Blue Shadows On The Trail

3 Comments

  • Possible modern versions of these ‘toons are fake news. There are no plans for Johnny Round-Up,even with the obvious western theme of a traveling cowboy ropin’ and killin’ weeds and causing cancer.
    Also,with the passing of Duke,the Bush Beans mascot dog,there are no plans on making Little Toot the next spokesboat of beans. It would however,make a great Geico ad. Don’t mess with that toot-toot!

    • Uh, What?

    • More posts like this! Less about “original titles”.

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