Wednesday, March 20, 2019

MINNIE THE MOOCHER - "Call and Response" (1932 - 1980)

Call and Response, that's what they call it. One person says something, and another person or a whole crowd of people repeat the same word or phrase. It's a tradition notably originating in Africa, then used by the slaves as they toiled in the fields, and as the gospel in black churches.
When I was in the Army in basic training, call and response was used as a means of cadence while we were running, and the most popular verse was "Bo Diddley."
The song  titled "Minnie The Moocher" was written by Cab Calloway and Irving Mills, and was recorded in 1932. It is a classic and fun example of call and response, and that's why we're here!

 Cabell Calloway was an amazing and original American jazz singer, dancer, and bandleader!
Cab calls out the lead lines, and his band does the response!

God's gift to the world,
Cab Calloway was born on Christmas Day in 1907 and passed on November 18, 1994!
He might not still be around, but he left us this short from 1942 to enjoy forever!
Cab Calloway - "Minnie The Moocher"

 Cab Calloway first recorded "Minnie The Moocher" in 1931, and this Betty Boop cartoon featured the song in 1932!

I always thought it would have been funnier if Betty Boop's friend Bimbo was a dumb blonde instead of a dog, but alas, I'm not in charge!

 This version of "Minnie The Moocher" has always baffled me! It starts off with Betty not wanting to eat her dinner. She gets upset with her parents for yelling at her, so she runs away, and Bimbo joins her!

 Betty and Bimbo end up in this haunted cave full of ghostly characters doing a version of "Minnie The Moocher!" It's straight out of left field! The music and vocals are still by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra, but instead of Cab, we've got a walrus ghost calling out the lines.....

 ..........And a number of other strange ghosts doing the response!

 The walrus mimics Cab's dancing maneuvers to a T......

 .......And more weird ghosts respond to each verse!

You just really need to watch it!
Betty Boop - "Minnie The Moocher" 

 My actual first encounter with the song "Minnie The Moocher" was not Cab Calloway's version, but this 78 that my parent's had, by actor, crooner, and comedian Danny Kaye!

 Cab Calloway's version of "Minnie The Moocher" was basically already a novelty tune, but in 1942, Danny Kaye's version took it to a different level, adding verses in fake Chinese and what I'm guessing is Russian gibberish etc. The ending of "Minnie The Moocher" always ends with an extra long line, and once again, Danny Kaye took it to the limit with a very long last verse that is basically unrepeatable!
Here's the place where you can check it out yourself on the Internet Archive!

In the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers," they brilliantly bring back the then 73 year old Cab Calloway for yet another version of "Minnie The Moocher," and he nails it one more time!

 "The Blues Brothers" is not really one of my favourite movies, but I give them a Helluva lot of credit for this killer version of "Minnie The Moocher," and also the scene that features James Brown as the preacher!

 When all the useless politicians are forgotten, I can only hope that the memory of Cab Calloway lingers on forever! It's an olde adage but true, they just don't make 'em like this anymore!

 In this version the call and response is between Cab Calloway and the audience!

 "Minnie The Moocher" was based on another song titled "Willie The Weeper" that is credited to Walter Melrose, Grant Rymal, Marty Bloom in 1904. Both songs are full of drug references!
Cab Calloway - "Blues Brothers" - Minnie The Moocher"
 Many, many versions of "Willie The Weeper," and "Minnie The Moocher" have been recorded over the years! Here's just a handful!
 Dave Von Ronk, Bobby Darin, The Kaleidoscope, Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and The Hillbilly Goats!


Grant said...

I've never been familiar enough with him, but I've always liked Cab Calloway.

Have you ever reviewed the comedy INTERNATIONAL HOUSE? It's the one where he and his band perform "Reefer Man," and of course it qualifies as a SF movie to some degree.

EEGAH!! said...

Good one Grant! No, not familiar with "International House." I'll have to see if I can dig up a copy! Thanx!

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