Name rhymes

Heard recently as music accompanying an NPR show: Cab Calloway performing “Everybody Eats at My House”, rhyming (or half-rhyming) food names and personal names, beginning:

(1) Have a banana, Hannah
Try the salami, Tommy
Get with the gravy, Davy
Everybody eats when they come to my house

(Four-line verses, with three that rhyme food names with personal names, plus a constant final line. The verse form should probably be called a Calloway.)

Here’s a recording from 12/11/48:

Some of it is hard to make out, and in any case Calloway apparently never sang it the same way twice, so if you look for lyrics on the net, you’ll find a huge variety of food-person pairings. And others (like John Lithgow) have recorded versions.

(My daughter and grand-daughter point out that it’s fairly easy to invent personal names to fit food names, but much harder to invent (or alter) food names to fit personal names, That would be my daughter Elizabeth and my grand-daughter Opal.)

Verse (1) has straightforward full rhymes, but later lines get more creative, in line with the Zwicky & Zwicky generalization “Patterns First, Exceptions Later” (.pdf file here).

Verse (2) sticks right to the pattern, with

(2) Have a tomato, Plato
Here’s cacciatore, Dory
Have some baloney, Tony

(but note that all three lines require the dominant American pronunciations for the food names).

Later verses go further afield, both in the names and the rhymes. Some examples, in no particular order:

Pastafazoola, Talullah
Oh, do have a bagel, Fagel
Don’t be so bashful, Nashville

Pass me a pancake, Mandrake
Have an hors-d’oeuvre-y, Irvy
Look in the fendel, Mendel

Oh, do have a knish, Nisha
Pass him the latke, Matke
Chile con carne for Barney

But then some kind of closure can be achieved with a return to everday names and full rhymes:

This is a party, Marty
Now don’t be so picky, Micky
You get the cherry, Jerry

A less internally constrained form (lines ending in rhyming words, the second of which is a personal name), but with invariant wording, comes in Paul Simon’s “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover”, with the refrain:

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free

Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

(Nice half-rhyme discuss much about three-quarters of the way though.)

Again, three lines with rhymes, plus an essentially constant final line.

A performance here:

One Response to “Name rhymes”

  1. Lee Sebastiani Says:

    Gruyere, Hilaire?
    Take some chrusciki, Ricky
    Want a pierogi, Gogi?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: