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Thursday, May 24, 2012

buckwheat cakes!



Here's two minutes of, for me, pure unadulterated joy from an old LP of songs from the Mickey Mouse Club. Buddy Ebsen, just then working on the Davy Crockett series, teams with Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie in a homespun paean to the humble buckwheat pancake. Accordion and pedal steel guitar figure prominently in the accompaniment, along with clarinet, and unobtrusive rhythm.)

Buddy & Darlene:
Buckwheat cakes, buckwheat cakes, along with crispy bacon!
Yes it is your buckwheat cakes that sets my heart to achin'!

(The accordion echoes the word "bacon!" Buddy and Darlene sing in harmony.)

Buddy:
It can't be your chocolate cake, or your Irish stew
It can't be your chocolate cake that makes me fond of you!

(Listen to the warmth Buddy can put into a recital of foods. He twinkles with his voice, just enough that I can feel it in 2012, and not so much as to cloy.)

Both:
It's buckwheat cakes, buckwheat cakes, along with crispy bacon!
Yes it is your buckwheat cakes that sets my heart to achin'!

Darlene:
What about my girlish ways, and my purty hair?
What about my girlish ways, or maybe you don't care?

(Darlene's voice is clear, with a melodious hillbilly accent that doesn't interfere with her diction.)

Buddy:
No, it ain't your girlish ways, or your purty hair.
No, it ain't your girlish ways that makes me set and stare.

(It's not as if he's rejecting her here. He just has different reasons.)

Both:
It's buckwheat cakes, buckwheat cakes, along with crispy bacon!
Yes it is your buckwheat cakes that sets my heart to achin'!

(A sprightly instrumental solo follows, with some tasty work on clarinet and pedal steel guitar. It goes around twice.)

Darlene:
How about my friendly smile, 'specially for you?
How about my friendly smile? I see you're smilin' too.

Buddy:
No, it ain't your friendly smile, or your dimpled chin.
No, it ain't your friendly smile that brings me back again.

(Listen to Buddy: "nnnnNNNO!!" He finds something that's probably not in the music; a little moment where he can make something out of nothing, adding to the song without even slowing the flow. And he doesn't waste it in an early verse, either. The second "no" suggests, but doesn't repeat, the first snap. And it's still playful.)

Both:
It's buckwheat cakes, buckwheat cakes, because I'm only human.
I just love the buckwheat cakes, made by a purty woman!

Buddy:
I just love the buckwheat cakes, made by a purty woman!

Darlene:
(spoken) Aw, Pa, quit your kiddin'!

(And Darlene rescues the song from what could have been seen as creepy by a cynical 21st century listener, putting it back squarely into the heartwarming category. Darlene may be eclipsed somewhat by Buddy's innate talent honed by decades of experience, but make no mistake: these are a pair of pros at the height of their powers. How much time do you suppose they had with this? A quarter of an hour? A half hour, from the time they were given the music to when the director said it was a wrap? I'm guessing closer to the former. This is star power, and it works for me every time I hear it.)

Music, lyrics, performance and recording ©Walt Disney Studios. If you liked this sample, go buy something.

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