July 1, 2018 posted by James Parten

They Also Sang The “Song of the South”

Of course, there were other versions of the Song of the South tunes besides the ones that were cited as top sellers in the “Billboard’ and “Cash Box” charts. And they did not all come from itty-bitty labels.

Columbia–no small label–had good sales with Woody Herman’s version of “Uncle Remus Said” (37162), and with Les Brown’s version of “Sooner Or Later” (37153). But they could not put the Modernaires over with their version of “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” (37147).

Decca had it even worse–although they tried good and hard. “Sooner Or Later” went to Gertrude Niesen, a night-club entertainer with an international reputation. But the market wouldn’t put Decca 23715 onto the charts.

“Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah” was handed to Connee Boswell, who had featured in some Max Fleischer cartoons when she worked with her sisters. But Decca 23748 didn’t sell, at seventy-five cents plus tax.

And “Uncle Remus Said” was thrust into the laps of Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians (23799). That didn’t sell well enough to make the charts, either.

Of the smaller labels, which were springing up like weeds, Majestic only concerned itself with ‘Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”. George Olsen and his Music got this one. Olsen had been a big name in the 1920’s and early 1930’s–but he wasn’t a particularly big name in 1946.

Mercury, which was trying to establish itself in the record field, also gave some space to some of the pieces from “Song of the South”. Frances Langford–a name associated with Bob Hope’s endless tours–got to wrap her chops around “Sooner Or Later”.

And Dick “Two Ton” Baker got to handle both “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “Uncle Remus Said”, on separate Mercury releases. Baker’s record of “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah’ was even issued in France on Polydor.

Of the songs from “Song of the South”, the one that comes closest to being a standard is “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”. Proof of this came in 1962, when a slowed-down, rocked-up version came out on the Philles label.

The label credited “Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans” Actually, it was some of the singers and musicians regularly employed by Phil Spector, then something of a wunderkind in the music business.
This record demonstrates Spector’s “Wall of Sound” technique, producing a very big sound from the Gold Star studio in Hollywood.

All told, Disney’s music department must have been in their laughing place when the results came in.
Three hit songs, . . several successful recordings. . . and one of them becoming a standard.

Not bad to come out of one movie, eh?


  • Darlene Love & Company.

  • According to Joel Whitbur’s Pop Memories book, the Mordernaires Zip-A -Dee Doo-Dah was a hit and Uncle Remus was not.

  • Don’t forget this elaborate set! And Tony Pastor did additional versions of these songs with the Clooney Sisters on Lang-Worth transcriptions.

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