LIVE LONG enough and a blip from the past can trigger memories from more than half a century ago, This happened to me when I was reading the Dec. 3 issue of The New Yorker magazine, a special food issue.
In an article on sausage-making . Writer Mimi Sheraton explained:
“Our refrigerator always contained an age dried salami: mahogany-red beef dotted with white fat, releasing the taste of garlic and pepper as the firm slices were slowly chewed. I was never daunted by the gory warning in the lilting folk song:
Now all the rats and pussy cats will never more be seen,
They’ll all be ground to sausage meat in Dunderbeck’s machine.
I recognized this verse from an album my children enjoyed in the 1960s.
AND IT called for some research on the worldwide web to refresh my memory.
I learned that the album’s name was On Top of Spaghetti.
Ah, yes, I recall that the title song was sung to the tune of On Top of Old Smokey, a hit tune of the times. Tom Glazer and his banjo were accompanied by a choir of kids, singing,
On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.
The meatball rolls out of the door and into the garden, where it grows into a tree that sprouts meatballs and tomato sauce.
From answers.com I learned that Glazer, who died in 2003 at the age of 88, was a pioneering entertainer for young people, specializing in ballads.
He gets credit for helping to popularize folk music during the 1940s, along with such performers as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, and others who paved the way for the folk revival of the early 1960s.
GLAZER introduced Americans to the traditional songs Greensleeves and The Twelve Days of Christmas, among others. He was an author, editor, adapter and educator.
And as a songwriter, Glazer composed music for radio, television and film as well as for recording artists.
He wrote lyrics for several pop hits, recorded by such singers as Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como, and the Ink Spots, and for folk recordings by artists like Bob Dylan, the Weavers, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. He wrote the lyrics for two standards, More and Melody of Love.
BUT I will remember him best for Dunderbeck, which includes these memorable verses:
Now, one fine day, a little boy came walking in the store.
There was a pile of sausages lying on the floor.
While he was a-waiting, he whistled up a tune,
And all them little sausages went dancing around the room.
One night, the thing got busted, the darn thing would not go.
So, Dunderbeck, he crawled inside to find what made it so.
His wife she had a nightmare, she was a-walking in her sleep.
She gave the crank one big yank, and Dunderbeck was meat!
Oh, Mr. Dunderbeck, how could you be so mean?
Aren’t you awful sorry now you invented that machine?
It seems that the On Top of Spaghetti album is out of print on vinyl or CDs, but you can still get the title tune in a MP3 version.
I’ve not really gotten into these new-fangled electronics, but I remember the melody, and will be content to sing Dunderbeck myself—as long as no one else is around,