While we’re on the subject of oysters I knew of only one song about the Island’s second favourite mullusk and that was by Cole Porter (more about that a bit later). Now I knew that the Irish had their Molly Malone with her cockles and mussels alive alive-o. But really I mean who would write a song about oysters? (As a sidebar I mention dear Molly not because she is really all that germane to the topic as it would appear oysters were not on her cart, but because it gives me a chance to post a few photos of the statue of her in Dublin. Fondly known as “The Tart with Cart” Molly stands on Suffolk Street with her bronze bosom gleaming in the sun – on the odd occasion when it appears, the sun not her bosom. That gleam is the result of her cleavage being rather crudely fondled by tourist who really must be desperate for a cheap thrill to go groping a bronze statue. And no I did not! However Juan did.)
But I digressed – and they told me oyster were good for the memory!!!
There was a time when oyster sellers plied their wares on the streets of London. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that there is at least one broadsheet song about the young ladies who pedalled their wares down Honeypot Lane. I found several versions of The Oyster Girl that were strictly instrumental as the tune is a rather lively jig but I really think you need the whole story of the lad who was a little too fond of oysters for his own good. So here is the best version I could find of this cautionary tale told here by a British folk duo called Dogwatch. It is a track from their album Bold Nelson’s Praise.
And in my search for oyster inspired ditties I found this paean to our bivalve of choice by Lloyd Vivola. From what I can figure out Mr Vivola is a multi-faceted artist and activist for environmental and aboriginal rights. His YouTube channel has some interesting songs he has composed as well as videos from other sources.
And then there is that Cole Porter song I mentioned. Written for Fifty Million Frenchmen it was sung by Helen Broderick when the show first opened in November of 1929. However by the end of January it had disappeared from the show – more than one critic but particularly the influential Gilbert Seldes felt the song was “disgusting” and dismissed it as a “tasteless song about regurgitation”. Either they missed the point of Porter’s little dig at social climbing in New York or it hit a bit too close to home.
And should your appetite for oyster related melodies not be yet sated I found an entire catalogue of oyster songs over at The Oyster’s My World.
On this day in 1922: Insulin is used for the first time to treat diabetes in a human patient.