Monday, April 1, 2013

"Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On The Bedpost Over Night)"

When I was a kid I listened to all sorts of radio shows. Radio used to be awesome, with all the local management and variety that seems to be harder and harder to find. Anyway back in the Eighties there was a weekly "Flashback" show on Saturday nights on KSLQ-98 (if I'm remembering correctly) and there were a few "Oldies" AM stations. Somewhere along the line I heard this song and fell in love with it. Because today is April Fools' Day, I figured I'd talk about one of my all-time favorite "novelty songs."

It turns out that "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On The Bedpost Overnight)" is by a bonafide star in the UK, Mr. Lonnie Donegan. He had more than a dozen Top Ten hits and atleast four Number One songs in the UK. When artists that we now consider "super-stars" were asked who THEIR musical heroes were, Lonnie Donegan was often mentioned. John Lennon and Paul McCartney idolized him. Roger Daltry from The Who has said Donegan is the reason that he (Daltry) wanted to become a musician.

Lonnie Donegan was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1931. He banged around as a musician for several years until he started to make a name for himself in the early Fifties. He played with the Chris Barber Jazz Band, then eventually become the leader of the Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Band. "Rock Island Line" and "Gamblin' Man" were huge hits for him in the United Kingdom. Go to youtube and search for Lonnie Donegan and you'll be amazed at what you can find. Or search "Rock Island Line" and you'll find a duet by George Harrison and Paul Simon singing it. Then you'll begin to understand just how influential Lonnie Donegan really must have been. Do you know ANY of the songs listed on this "Greatest Hits" album jacket? I didn't!

So it's a little sad that the only thing he is known for in the US is a little ditty called "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour?" The song was originally written by Billy Jones and Ernest Hare, known as The Happiness Boys, in 1924. You can listen to their version here. The title originally used the trade-marked name "Spearmint," but in the UK songs are not allowed to use trade-marks in song titles because the BBC considers these advertisements;  pronounced ad-VER-tiz-ments :-). So somewhere along the line "Spearmint" was changed to "chewing gum." (Note: this is the same reason why Paul Simon's US hit "Kodachrome" was not released in the UK.)

According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong, right?) this song was recorded on December 13, 1958. It was released to the UK in the summer of 1959. It eventually made its way to the US, where it was a #5 song in August 1961. It kept company on the charts with Pat Boone, Ricky Nelson, and Bobby Lewis "Tossing and Turning."

As far as I can tell, Lonnie Donegan never charted in the US again. He passed away in 2002 at 71 years old.

I'm not sure where this video comes from. It's obviously not the original 1958 recording. However, it's LIVE, so I figured it was more fun than just a video somebody made to go along with the song. It looks like some dinner theatre show from the late Seventies. This begins with "Putting On The Style," then segues into "Does Your Chewing Gum...."


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