Thursday, February 9, 2006

Oh, How I Love That Crazy Internet

My brother John has found a recording of a song co-written by our grandfather, Redmond Farrar, on iTunes. It is the song I'll Have Vanilla, part of a collection of recordings by Eddie Cantor. Of course I have purchased a copy.

Our mother's father made his living in a variety of jobs in the straight economy, but he was also an active jazzman in the 1920's and 30's. He wrote the music for a variety of jazz popular songs. He wrote with other musicians and lyricists and helped create songs like I'll Have Vanilla, which is a family favorite; Loving You, recorded by Adrian Schubert'’s Dance Orchestra in 1929; and I'll Keep Warm All Winter, published in 1934. I think that last one was also recorded by Eddie Cantor, but I'm not sure.

I love I'll Have Vanilla partly for its quirky jazzy little melody, one of the first things I learned to pick out on a piano and later a guitar, but also for its goofy lyrics. For example:
You can shake
That milkshake
'Till the cow starts to scream.
But I'll wait
For a plate
Of vanilla ice cream.
Mom tells us, and Dad backs her up, that there was a song in the Redmond Farrar output called We Feed the Baby Garlic So We Can Find It In The Dark. I haven't found it, but I haven't given up yet. For a variety of reasons not much of my grandfather's music was been saved and handed down. We have inherited a love for the stuff, however.

In fact, John has inspired me to throw out a fresh Google net to see what turns up.

I've found versions of the Eddie Cantor I'll Have Vanilla for sale on several music services. The sheet music is part of a collection called "80 Years Of Popular Music - The Twenties." I think John already owns this book.

I also found the Cantor recording on and used it to establish an "I'll Have Vanilla" station on the music service Pandora, which uses the "Music Genome Project" to associate different songs with each other based on their characteristics. This has given me music from Danny Kaye, Squirell Nut Zippers, Gary Pucket and the Union Gap, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins, so far. I've added some of these to my Pandora Favorites page.

Maybe my favorite find this evening is a Barbershop Quartet version of I'll Have Vanilla from a group called Yesteryear. It's on a collection of recordings called Let The Rest Of The World Go By. Please listen to a clip of Eddie Cantor singing the song before you listen to the clip available from this group. Please.


jocheryl said...

i ran across your blog on a google search for lyrics to a song my dad always sang to us when we were young. it had that line in it..."we feed our baby garlic so we can find him in the dark" and many many other nonsensical verses...

there are a few other lines i remember. among them... a peepin' through the knothole in father's wooden leg, why did they put the shore so near the ocean? a snakes belt always slips because he has no hips, and onion is a husky veg-e-table...go get the axe there's a hair on baby's chin and a boy's best friend is his mother. who cut the sleeves from father's vest. he had a wooden leg, used thumbtacks for a garter...well they are all disjointed and jumbled up but i do remember the tune well! i would just love to find all the was such a funny funny song and when we were kids it always made us giggle. let me know if you ever run across the words to that little ditty...i always enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

My wife, too, has been searchingfor those words for over 50 years. I just now googled them up at

FredrikT said...

Hello Mike,

I've made a follow-up to your posting in the Bixography Discussion group, listing the songs by your grandfather that I have in my record collection:

In this post I also mention a CD which contains several tunes by Redmond Farrar. You can find more information on that CD here:

Best regards,
Fredrik Tersmeden
Lund, Sweden

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