The release of Make Mine Music must have left the members of the Music Department at the Walt Disney Studios with mixed feelings.
Oh some of the songs featured in this cobbling of animated elements would have been the intellectual property of Disney. These might have included “Two Silhouettes”, “All The Cats Join In”, and the arrangement of “Casey (The Pride OF Them All)”
But the mix also included a romantic Mexican ballad, which followed the trail blazed by Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.
And here was a jazz standard, written back in 1918, and beloved by most jazz and swing musicians of he time. And–betting in the lead-off position, yet!–there was a decade-old pseudo-hillbilly novelty song.
“The Martins And The Coys” was written by Al Cameron and Ted Weems. Weems had been leading a dance orchestra for almost fifteen years when he penned this novelty. He had developed a base of popularity in the Middle West, and had lengthy engagements at such venues as the Aragon and Trianon Ballrooms in Chicago.
There were a plentitude of vocalists in the Weems organization, including a relative newcomer–a former barber from Pennsylvania who got the romantic ballads. His name was Perry Como.
“The Martins And The Coys” was given to Elmo Tanner, a singer who was best-known for his accomplished whistling–as demonstrated on the famous recordings of Weems’ unique arrangement of “Heartaches”.
When Weems began featuring this song on broadcasts, he did not have a recording contract. By the time he had one with Decca Records, there were already covers of the song on lower-priced marques.
The “dime-store” labels of the American Record Company had a version by friendly-voiced singer Chick Bullock, with a studio band billed as “his Levee Loungers”. And the Bluebird label–the low-priced label of the mighty RCA Victor concern–had a version billed under the pseudonym of the Chicago Rhythm Kings. Uncredied vocal on that one was by the prolific, versatile Dick Robertson. Here’s a link to that.
This song became, if not a standard, one that got revived whenever an act needed some special material. Australian country singer Tex Morton recorded a fleet version of this piece in 1938, down in Sydney. The Jesters–a popular vocal that specialized in novelty songs–recorded it for Decca in 1941. There is also a film of them doing it (possibly from a Soundie) – and here it is:
As recently as the late 1960’s, Ed McMahon (!) sang it on a broadcast of Hee Haw, assisted by he cast of that hillbilly hoe-down.
The King’s Men, who supplied the singing on he soundtrack of “Make Mine Music” got to sing it on a broadcast of “Fibber McGee And Molly”.
And there was a “party record” – and even a sequel written. Ted Weems also introduced “The Young’uns Of The Martins And The Coys” in 1939. He recorded it, as did a novelty combo known as the Hoosier Hos Shots, who were featured regularly on “The National Barn Dance:” over WLS (Chicago) and the NBC Blue Network.
All this continuing to promulgate the idea that folks in the Southern mountains wold reach for their shootin’ irons if they got into a dispute with a neighboring family. Which happened often enough in real life!
Here’s the Disney version: