My young nephew Mikey was remarking that some of the 1930s dance music I play is boring as well as a waste of the talents of a hammertone grease bearing Garrard 301, ah, the innocence of youth. I really must play him some George Formby as I think he may like Mr Woo's an Air Raid Warden but this isn't strictly 1930's dance is it.
Unlike this wonderful number I was listening to last night, a firm favourite of mine: -
For those of you who don't know it, She Had to Go and Lose It at the Astor is a 1940 comic song by Don Raye and Hugh Prince and was made famous in 1940 by the British bandleader and clarinetist Harry Roy. Or should I state INfamous for both the BBC and the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers banned it from being recorded or published.
What was so terrible? Why ban it? Well, the song begins with a spoken introduction and tells a story about a young woman losing something at the Hotel Astor and by the use of double entendere and the repeated refrain "But she had to go and lose it at the Astor," the suggestion to the eager listener is that the song is about her losing her virginity to one of the hotel staff until the very end when it is revealed that what she had in fact lost was her sable cape.
To me it is a pricelessly quaint and funny song and I love it and I'll bet the average grandma would not be offended by this risqué piece of dance band hilarity.
Below, I have prepared a little discography and the full lyrics so you can sing along, so do enjoy!
SHE HAD TO GO AND LOSE IT AT THE ASTOR (Don Ray / Hugh Prince)
Johnny Messner & His Orch. (vocal: Messner) - 1939
Harry Roy & His Orch. (vocals: Bill Currie & Harry Roy) - 1939
Pearl Bailey - 1959
The Four Sergeants - 1967
Mrs.Miller - 1971
Peter Skellern - 1974
Also recorded by: Eddie Miller; Larry Vincent; Florence Desmond; Dick Robertson; The McCalmans.
SPOKEN: We'd like to tell you a story about a young girl, about eighteen years old, about five feet two, and about to go out. Now, her Mother, realising it was her first time out with a young man, called her into the bedroom and said...
"Minnie, you're all dressed up in your finery, your very best clothes, and you look beautiful, you're gorgeous, you're alluring (you look swell, baby), and now Minnie I want you to remember everything I've always told you, and above all I want you to be very, very careful.....
But she had to go and lose it at the Astor, she didn't take her mother's good advice. Now there aren't so many girls today who have one and she'd never let it go for any price. They searched the place from penthouse to the cellar In every room and underneath each bed. Once they thought they saw it lying on a pillow. But they found it belonged to someone else instead.
But she had to go and lose it at the Astor, she didn't know exactly whom to blame. And she couldn't say just how or when she lost it. She only knew she had it when she came. They questioned all the bellboys and the porter. The chef appeared to be the guilty guy. And the doorman also acted quite suspicious. But he coyly said, "I'm sure it wasn't I"
But she had to go and lose it at the Astor, it nearly killed her mother and her dad. Now they felt as bad about the thing as she did. After all it was the only one she had. They just about completed all their searching. When the chauffeur walked up with it in his hand. All they did was stand and gape, there was Minnie's sable cape, And she thought that she had lost it at the Astor.
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- Tags: 1930s dance music, george formby, harry roy, jazz, mayfair hotel orchestra, mr woo's an air raid warden now, She Had to Go and Lose It at the Astor, swing