NEEDLE DROP NOTES
July 23, 2017 posted by James Parten

Sing Me A Cartoon 3: Much More Mickey Mouse

It is one thing when the makers and/or distributors of a cartoon try to engage in some cross-promotion by pushing a song out of their films.

Hence Disney was able to push “Minnie’s Yoo-Hoo“, while Walter Lantz saw a sheet-music version of the “Lucky Rabbit” theme song to the “Oswald” cartoons. (This even considering the fact that neither Disney, Lanta, Columbia Pictures nor Universal Pictures had their own music publishing companies–at the time!)

On the other hand, when people who have no connection with the production or the distribution of cartoons write songs about a suddenly-popular character, it can be seen as either a cynical and mercenary attempt to cash in–or as a flattering compliment.

Such is the case with “Mickey Mouse (We All Love You So)“, a 1931 copyright whose composer credits are, as yet, unknown to me.

Only one recording of this tune is known to me at this time–a version cut for the same “dime-store” labels that unwittingly provided soundtrack material for some of Max Fleischer’s cartoons. Click this sound file embed to hear:

Directing the session–which was recorded May 8, 1931–was Wallace Theodore “Ed” Kirkeby. Kirkeby had been leading and managing dance-bands for ten or more years, and was most closely associated with the California Ramblers, one of the hottest dance bands of the 1920’s. Through the personnels of these orchestras had passed such luminaries as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Red Nichols, and the amazing Adrian Rollini.

Musical styles had gotten “sweeter” even before the Stock Market took a tumble in 1929, and Kirkeby’s groups often went along with that trend. But he still got a number of recording dates, and the records came out on a wide variety of labels, with a wide variety of pseudonyms.

This recording, along with its flip side (which we will meet in a future post in this series), is known to exist on the Perfect, Banner and Romeo labels. It may well exist on Oriole, and on one of the last issues to appear under the Regal label. (It is not known to have appeared on Conqueror, the label made for Sears, Roebuck and Company.)

Brought in to sing the “vocal refrains” that were considered essential was a singer whom we have met before–Billy Murray. He is joined in the choruses of the song by two or three of the band members–one of whom might well be Ed Kirkeby himself.

The lyric, like those of so many of these early “Mickey Mouse” songs, describes Mickey as being “tricky”. It’s an obvious rhyme, but it does fit. There is also some hot alto sax played by Bobby Davis, while Ward Lay slaps his bass fiddle for all it’s worth when Davis is reciting.

Tin Pan Alley continued to praise Disney’s ever-popular rodent. What? No Mickey Mouse? (What Kind Of A Party Is This?) was a 1932 copyright, and it confirmed the appeal of Mickey Mouse to all audiences.

Like Mickey Mouse (We All Love You So), this song was not widely recorded. But it was recorded commercially by a veteran bandleader and “all the lads” under his baton.

We will meet Ben Bernie in a future post at this site. Suffice it to say that he was one of the personalities oft the day. But he backed up the personality with solid musicianship, both personally and from his musicians. In Dick Stabile, he had a sax player considered by his peers as one of the finest of his age.

Ben Bernie takes the “vocal” by his lonesome–and while he does not actually sing (he wound rarely hit a note on the button, preferring to talk-sing his vocals, leaving the serious singing to others), he does put the song’s lyric over, assisted by some sound effects and some unison singing by those of his musicians who could carry a tune with their voices, rather than just their instruments.

The lyric refers to Mickey Mouse as “. . . that tricky, wacky-wicky, Bolseviki Mickey Mouse“. I don’t know if Disney would have approved of that description of Mickey Mouse–especially considering Disney’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 (after a lot had happened to Walt and his business). Mickey always struck this observer as rather apolitical.

At least one other performance of this song is known–a vocal quartet rendition which appeared on a transcribed radio program in 1934.

Next Week: Mickey Gets Married. . . on records!

10 Comments

  • I have that Bernie verison on mp3! Who would have guessed that his trademark Yowsah Yowsah would be “meme”‘d in 1977 by the band Chic for Dance Dance Dance (and Chic got “Sampled” themselves for their next hit Good times by Sugarhill Gang,1979/s Rapper’s delight).

    As for Ben Bernie, he has an interesting Disney conneciton to T.Hee caicaturing him for the 1936 WB cartoon (Leon Schlesinger production) “The Coo Coo Nut Grove”..glad to see what that last adjective was..SC

  • i Have a copy of Perfect 15473 the Micky Mouse (We All Love You So) it might be worth mentioning that the other side is the 1 Popeye (The Sailor Man) song – not the famous one used in all of the cartoons but this one was written by Flatow & Kepell) in 1931 ? also, again performed by the same group and this one seems to be the only record of that song also.

    • That was as Ben Birdie, was it not? Plus he had a feud going with Walter Finchell (later Walter Weasel).

  • Interestingly enough, Disneyland/Vista Records would release a cover of “What! No Mickey Mouse?” by Phil Harris in 1968. Though it was slightly altered to remove the “Bolshevik” lyric.

  • HI,

    The Mickey Mouse song was written by Irving Bibo.

  • Amusing that “We Love You So” is laced with mouse squeaks and cat meows, as if somebody assumed Mickey was treated as a “real” mouse. Somewhere I have an old Felix the Cat song that addresses Felix as an ordinary stray being invited invited into a home. Even Rod McKuen’s “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” is off-model, presenting the put-upon loser as an idealized little boy who makes everybody smile.

    “Minnie’s You Hoo” also presents Mickey and Minnie as real mice (Minnie resides in a henhouse). It becomes more puzzling when you see the song is credited to Carl Stalling and Walt Disney himself, both of whom would obviously know the character better. Possibly they decided that making a “generic” mouse song would improve its chances.

  • James, you seem to refer to today’s songs as cases where “…people who have no connection with the production or the distribution of cartoons write songs about a suddenly-popular character…”

    But “Mickey Mouse (We All Love You So)” was actually written for the second edition of _Mickey Mouse Book_ (Bibo and Lang 1930), the first American Mickey Mouse children’s book, produced and marketed with close Disney supervision. The recording’s spoken business of Mickey and Minnie talking about chattering teeth comes from a daily Mickey comic strip by Walt Disney and Win Smith that was reprinted in that book.

    As for “What! No Mickey Mouse?,” it does indeed seem to have been connected to the distribution of Disney cartoons. The 1932 Mickey Mouse marketing catalog published by Disney and United Artists was so excited to shill the song that the sheet music for the chorus was reprinted at playable size within the catalog.

    • Thank you, Mr Gersein.

      IF all you have to go by is the record itself–or the upload of same, in his day and age–you don’t have the information that you have provided.

      If I, through my contributions, can elicit the extraction of information such as yours from the woodwork, then I am doing my job!

  • This would be neat if they bring back Mickey Mouse (We Love You So) in time for Mickey Mouse’s 90th Birthday celebration next year.

  • A Gardner Rea cartoon in the March 20, 1931 issue of LIFE magazine showed a group of wealthy, sophisticated socialites walking out of a movie theater upset and despondent. The caption underneath read: “No Mickey Mouse!” The phrase “What? No Mickey Mouse!” was popular in the early 1930s from those with Depression-era paychecks feeling they were getting shortchanged to see a movie without a Mickey Mouse cartoon.

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