Requiem For “My Mammy”

 

I was just running an errand, and on the Sirius XM 60’s Channel they were playing the top 40 songs from this date in 1967 (my favorite year). And what should come on but The Happenings, the Four Seasons-imitating group best known for “See You In September” and the whitest group in history, singing “My Mammy,” the Al Jolson trademark song that he originally sang in blackface.  (I apologize for using the non- “Jazz Singer” version of Jolson singing the song, but an article about blackface got Ethics Alarms banned from Facebook, and I don’t want to give them provocation to have me shot The video above also has another Jolson standard, “April Showers.” There’s nothing wrong with more Jolson; he was one of the great ones.)

I had forgotten that The Happenings had a mild hit with it as the follow-up to “I Got Rhythm.” “My Mammy,”music by Walter Donaldson and lyrics by Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis, is a terrific, tingles-up -the-spine song and performance piece (“I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles!”), but I assume it is now impossible to present because of its blackface connotations.

The loss of “My Mammy” isn’t  a great tragedy, but it’s still a tragedy. Big chunks of our culture are going to be torched before this insanity burns itself out, if it ever does. I have a feeling that I’ll be fighting this battle for the rest of my life.

4 thoughts on “Requiem For “My Mammy”

  1. Just read Jolson’s wiki page. Where would American music of all styles and flavors be without Russian Jews and their children and grand children? Amazing. How do they do it?

    I’ve never known what to make of Al Jolson. I’ve never really “gotten” what he does. But I have to say it’s original and powerful and incredibly engaging.

    • He was an original, and by all accounts, including my Dad’s, he worked an audience better than anyone. It is no coincidence that Judy Garland borrowed hos whole repertoire.

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