RARA-AVIS: Uncle Sagamore & His Girls

From: Jeff Vorzimmer ( jvorzimmer@austin.rr.com)
Date: 14 Apr 2007

I finally got to around to Charles Williams' Uncle Sagamore in my TBR pile. I enjoyed it every bit as much as Diamond Bikini, but it is a bit of a Shaggy Dog story--one in which you know the end, but you don't how Uncle Sagamore is going to pull it off. The front and back covers promise a much sexier tale than Williams delivers. The tagline on the back reads
"Cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild women--all supplied by Uncle Sagamore," which is an allusion to Red Ingle's hillbilly spoof "Cigareets, Whusky and Wild Wild Women," an old Capitol 78 released in the late 1940s.

So . . . thinking it would make for a good soundtrack to the novel, I dug out the record and played it and the end of the record reminded me of a story I remember from my youth about what was supposedly the origin of the cliché ¯f drunks requesting Melancholy Baby. On the record a drunk keeps demanding the song Temptation and finally Red says, "I'm sorry we don't play that kind of music here."

When I was a kid there was an often-told story that, like Oscar Wilde's
"Don't Shoot the Player" anecdote, was supposedly representative of American society's lack of culture and I was wondering if anyone else on the list had heard the story and maybe had more details.

The story goes that a famous European opera singer was touring the U.S. in the early part of the last century singing famous arias. At one particular concert, a drunk kept demanding she sing "Melancholy Baby". Finally she got so exasperated that she stopped the show and told the drunk, "Sir, I'm afraid we don't play that kind of music here," to which he responded, "Then show us your tits!"


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