Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wee Sing Shitty Songs

A familiar ditty played through my head through most of the NZ/OZ trip, mostly because Kristen didn’t pack enough warm clothes for the former half of the trip and my Aunt Jeannie had to lend her a wool jersey. Thus, Kristen had a new jersey. I spent the whole trip trying to remember what the further verses of “What Did Della Wear?” might have been, but couldn’t.

You know the song: It puns a bunch of different state names into really awkward sentence patterns. The answer to the question about Della’s clothes is that she wore her “new Jersey.” That one works well, and there’s a reason people sing that one first. The later puns don’t work nearly as well, and I can’t actually remember hearing any of them before. Here, for better or worse, are what a Google search has yielded as the further verses of “What Did Della Wear?”

According to the Perry Como version, which is apparently the most famous version of the song:
Oh, why did Calla phone ya?
Oh, why did Calla phone?

She called to say “Oh, hi!” Oh!
She called to say “Oh, hi!”
I admit it: I made up the response that puns “Ohio.” The original version, as noted on this transcription of the lyrics and many others, answers instead with “She called to saw ‘How are ya?’ / She called to say ‘How are ya?’” I hate this response, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what state “how are ya” is trying to pun. Hawaii? Some state I haven’t heard of. Total ass.
Oh, what did Mrs. sip, boys?
Oh, what did Mrs. sip?

She sipped a mini soda, sir.
She sipped a mini soda.

Oh, where has Ora gone, boys?
Oh, where has Ora gone?

She went to pay her taxes, sir.
She went to pay her taxes.
I feel bad for Ora, but worse that “taxes” is being passed as a substitute for “Texas.” An alternative version of the response apparently claims that Ora went to her Okla-home.
Oh, how did Wiscon sin, boys?
Oh, how did Wiscon, sin?

He stole a new brass key, sir.
He stole a new brass key.
If you name your son Wiscon, you deserve to have him become a petty thief with little regard for the value of various metals.
Oh, what has Tenna see, boys?
Oh, what has Tenna see?

She saw what Arkan saw, sir.
He saw what Arkan saw.

Oh, how did Flora die, boys?
Oh, how did Flora die?

She died in misery, sir.
She died in misery.
This is easily the best one. Also the darkest one. This should come first, I think. But this is as far as the Perry Como lyrics have gotten me, though I did find a bit more elaboration on some other pages.
Oh, how much did Io weigh, boys?
Oh, how much did Io weigh?

She weighed a washing ton, sir.
She weighed a washing ton.
I think I like this best, not just because Io is fat, but because Io is a cool name that you don’t hear often enough anymore.
Oh, what did Ida hoe, boys?
Oh, what did Ida hoe?

She hoed her merry land, sir.
She hoed her merry land.

Oh, how did Connecti cut, boys?
Oh, how much did Connecti cut?

He cut with his arkan saw, sir.
He cut with his arkan saw.
These are my sons, John, William and also Connecti, whom we hate and named Connecti. And finally:
What else did Della wear, boys?
What else did Della wear?

She wore her north da-coat, sir.
She wore her north da-coat.
Most of these alternative verses I found here, where other people apparently can’t shut up about this song. Some theorize that the idea was to have a verse for every state in the union, though what I’ve assembled here falls way short of including all fifty states. However, stopping here also spares us from verses like “When did Ver gin ya?” and “Why did color ado, boys?”

Funny to me that all of these versions seem to be avoiding the obvious pun of “I don’t know — I’ll ask her,” which could be used as a response to any question, really. Even better: know that I’ve collected the bits of everybody else’s transcription of this miserable song and put it all here, this spot know has more variations on the song than any other place on the internet — or at least under the all-seeing eye of Google. And yes, that’s a rather dubious honor, I know. But how many people other than me can say that?

1 comment:

  1. We actually sang this song in elementary school... I distinctly remember when I was in about 2nd grade all of us sitting around singing this, but we had a verse about the "Hoover Dam" and you were supposed to do this repetion thing that you don't seem to have... an example:

    "She weighed a washing-ton, friends, she weighed a washing-ton...
    Washing! Washing!
    Ton! Ton! Ton!
    Washing! Washing!
    Ton! Ton! Ton!"

    Lame, I know. But, anyway, during the Hoover Dam verse we had to say "flip" instead of "dam" because it might be naughty. Hence:

    "Hoover! Hoover!
    Flip! Flip! Flip!"

    Super lame.

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