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The Hut Sut Song
April 7, 2010 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah add a little brawla, brawla too it (YouTube video). It's a song people get obsessed with. Such as this Time writer from 1941. And Kevin Murphy from Mystery Science Theater 3000. The video seems to recognize the fact by literally having its singers (the King's Men; no, not the ones who did "Louie, Louie") driven mad by the song.

Let's unlock its mysteries. Firstly, it was coauthored by Jack Owens, who was quite a creator of earworms, such as these Hawaiian classics.

Another author, Leo Killion, was a Minneapolis native, and the song was inspired by -- and satirized -- the Swedish folk songs he heard growing up. He also helped create "no fault" car insurance, for what that's worth.

The third author, Ted McMichael, won't surprise anybody who is familiar with nonsensical popular songs. After all, McMichael (who cofounded The Merry Macs), was responsible for this equally maddening, equally impenetrable hit song. Also from Minneapolis, by the way.

The Hut-Sut Song proved popular enough for multiple artists to record it. Here's Horace Heidt & His Musical Knights's take on it. And Thore Ehrling & 4 kaytoners, in dialect. Elsie Carlisle sings it. The song even appeared in an animated version of Horton hatches The Egg -- here's the video.

It even inspired a font.
posted by Astro Zombie (38 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Dr. Bob, you can't sing at a time like this!"

"I'm not singing At a Time Like This...I'm singing Hut-Sut Rawlson."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:04 PM on April 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


When I was a kid, Capt. Kangaroo would sometimes lip-sync/dance around to this song. That and Flat Foot Floogie. The Capt. definitely had some quirks.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:07 PM on April 7, 2010


Get out of my head, TheWhiteSkull. I've wondered what Doctor Bob was singing for years.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:11 PM on April 7, 2010


That is so bizarre, I am quite unnerved.

I googled that song just a few hours ago, after I happened to see the font named after it when I was looking for an art deco style font. I recognised the name in the list of fonts because the song was a plot device in an episode of a terrible UK sitcom in the seventies, which for some reason has always stuck in my head. If I thought surgery would get it out, I would consider it.

And then I visit Mefi, and there it is again. I am being stalked by the Hut Sut song. And Astro Zombie is obviously its agent on earth.
posted by reynir at 12:11 PM on April 7, 2010


Our cover is blown. Silence the meddling one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:15 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


1. I'll be damned. For some reason, I remember a passing mention of this song in one of Herman Wouk's World War II books; Pug Henry didn't approve of the song.

2. Also, I was pretty jazzed to see a link to my absolute favorite weird old video off on the side. Check it out! Incomprehensible song, living painting checking out a woman's ass, you can't lose!
posted by COBRA! at 12:26 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Awesome post.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:36 PM on April 7, 2010


*watches FPP video*

*goes insane*

*recovers*

*watches COBRA!'s video*

*goes insane again*

*does not recover*

*tugs on your shirtcuff on the street, asks for change and a watermelon hey hey watermelon*
posted by Skot at 12:42 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


But I thought it was "Hut Sut Ralston", which was the only reason I started eating Chex cereal... does this mean 50 years of breakfast habits are based on a mispronunciation?!?
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:43 PM on April 7, 2010


Fabulous! I'm pretty sure I'll have a medley of "Hut-Sut Rawlson" and "Prisencolinensinainciusol" headstuck to the point of insomnia tonight.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:44 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


My dad, who was born in 1933, used to sing this song all the time on long road trips. My siblings and I couldn't believe it was a bona fide song and not just some gibberish ditty he'd made up and tried to con us kids into believing was the real deal. I've always wanted to find evidence that it was actually an authentic song but had zero luck finding it online, as I had no idea how the hell to spell that crazy string of non-words. And now, this post. Thanks, AZ!
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:49 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Once again I am proud to be from Minnesota.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:54 PM on April 7, 2010


This is one of those cases where I want to make like five different comments. Let's go through them one at a time.

1. Marsey dotes and doesy dotes and liddle lamsey divey! A kiddlee divey too, wudden tue?

2. I too have slowly been piecing together the history of this song subconsciously over the past year or so. In our episode-by-episode run through of the Muppet Show we saw Jim Henson/Rowlf/Dr. Bob's reference to the song, which was exactly the second time I've heard of it (the first being the Horton cartoon). Hadn't reached the point Astro Zombie had yet however.

3. It just goes to show that memes are by no means solely a contemporary thing.

4. Getting thrown into an institution due to singing a song? Does that make Hut-Sut Rawlson a musical counterpart to The King in Yellow? Must we now all guard against the malign influence of Hastur?

5. I have to admit, there are times when I've been in the same kind of position as Orson Welles Hitler. One doesn't always want to hear a funny song over and over again, as I discovered with some roommates some years back.
posted by JHarris at 1:03 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm with oneswellfoop on the "Ralston" part. But I remember it from the Horton Hatches An Egg cartoon.
posted by tommasz at 1:04 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are all mad dogs, who will be hunted mercilessly, driven to the very ends of the Earth. Our pursuits will be fueled by righteous indignation and the knowledge that future generations will have no idea what we have spared them.
posted by aramaic at 1:04 PM on April 7, 2010


Oh, for the days when madmen all thought they were Napoleon and had to taken away to a padded cell at the lunatic asylum by the men in the white coats.
posted by pracowity at 1:15 PM on April 7, 2010




My mom (b1925-d2006) used to sing this, Mairsey Doats, and Yes! We Have No Bananas. My father (1920-1991) would counter with "Oh Ain't We Crazy (Midnight on the Ocean," "Bill Grogan's Goat," and "Peanut on the Railroad Track." Then they'd collaborate on "Who Put The Dungaree's In Mrs. Murphy's Chowder."

Until I heard (or misheard apparently) Hot Set Ralston on a radio program with my mom shouting "See! I told you!" I thought they made them all up. (Except for the Banana song--I had seen Jerry Colonna sing that one.)

Great post--thanks.
posted by beelzbubba at 1:23 PM on April 7, 2010


Here is Dr. Bob, doing what he does best: not operating.

Thank you TheWhiteSkull.
posted by redyaky at 1:25 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if I should actually thank you for this post, since I had been planning to use my brain today, but what the hell—thanks!
posted by languagehat at 1:51 PM on April 7, 2010


I would think this song would be a gold mine for a linguist.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:55 PM on April 7, 2010


2. Also, I was pretty jazzed to see a link to my absolute favorite weird old video off on the side. Check it out!

Hooray, it's Yehudi!

"Who's Yehudi?" was Jerry Colonna's catchphrase, which he coined during an episode of the Bob Hope radio show when the violinist Yehudi Menahin made a guest appearance. Colonna's character couldn't figure out who the heck he was. The running gag inexplicably took off and "Yehudi" became a Man Who Wasn't There kind of figure (unlike Kilroy, who was everywhere. Man, the 30s and 40s were a great time for nonsense memes.)

There's even a gag in one of the Looney Tunes Hollywood caricature shorts where a cartoon Colonna points to an invisible man (in Claude Rains dark glasses and all that) and triumphantly exclaims "Yehudi!" It's completely incomprehensible today. Nowadays I think most people will remember him as the voice of the March Hare in Disney's animated Alice in Wonderland, singing the Very Merry Unbirthday song along with Ed Wynn. Colonna's the one who holds the crazy high note at the end while the rest of the mad tea party tries to stop him.
posted by Spatch at 2:00 PM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I know this song very well, but have no idea how. Was it on the Wee Sing Silly Songs cassette back in the 80s? It could be because my mom (b1945) had a thing for nonsense songs. Her nickname ever since childhood has been Lambsey due to the song JHarris quotes above.

"Mairsey doats and doesey doats and little lambsey divey. A kiddelee divey too, wouldn't you?" Which I would like to point out is not actually gibberish if you say it slowly.
posted by threeturtles at 2:09 PM on April 7, 2010


Spatch, thank you a thousand times.
posted by COBRA! at 2:10 PM on April 7, 2010


JHarris Orson Welles Hitler
Ha! Brilliantly apt, and unfortunately so. Even though it's Chaplin's too, the toothbrush moustache is Hitler's forever.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:17 PM on April 7, 2010


"Hello there chilllldren, this is Three Dog *AROOOOO* coming to you LIVE from the capitol wastes! That was Hut-Sut Rawlson by the King's Men... more invigorating than Nuka Cola Quantum, more infectious than the ghoul disease and harder to get out of your brain than bloatfly larvae. Well, as long as you can still remember to stay tuned to this station... it's all the same to me. And maybe the next time you face a group of super mutants you could try to sing them this little ditty - they might show their appreciation by killing you quickly and relatively painlessly..."
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:21 PM on April 7, 2010


This thread makes me want a weird radio hits of the 1940s compilation.
posted by thivaia at 2:50 PM on April 7, 2010


There's a “better” version of the video at archive.org: The Hut Sut Song.
posted by scruss at 3:19 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I could have sworn I saw this song/video on MeFi a year ago, but I can't find the link. Did I have a prophetic dream or was there just a glitch in the Matrix?

*carried away by men in white suits*
posted by darkstar at 3:45 PM on April 7, 2010


If Three Dog played this song, I would have to kill myself. The hackin/whackin/smackin song is bad enough; this would send me over the edge.
posted by cereselle at 4:23 PM on April 7, 2010


"Mairsey doats and doesey doats and little lambsey divey. A kiddelee divey too, wouldn't you?"

I think that's phonetic spelling of "Mares eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy. A kid'll eat ivy too, wouldn't you?"

If everyone knew that already, just ignore me.
posted by cereselle at 4:26 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Hutt Song

dear god forgive me
posted by Sparx at 5:31 PM on April 7, 2010


*splutters*

My grandmother used to sing this at random times. Mostly to shut me up, if memory serves. I had forgotten it, buried entirely under the weight of years, until this post dredged it up.

Oh yes, and the "ying ting piddle" song, too. And something about three ittle bitty fishies in a big deep sea?
posted by ErikaB at 5:33 PM on April 7, 2010


And something about three ittle bitty fishies in a big deep sea?

And they fam and they fam all over da dam
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:22 PM on April 7, 2010


JHarris Orson Welles Hitler
Ha! Brilliantly apt, and unfortunately so. Even though it's Chaplin's too, the toothbrush moustache is Hitler's forever.


Was not mine, I got it from Kevin Murphy's Twitter feed (linked in FPP).
posted by JHarris at 6:23 PM on April 7, 2010




Bleh.
posted by darkstar at 6:26 PM on April 7, 2010


Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah add a little brawla, brawla too it

Well mi seh fi big up all di shotta dem
posted by eddydamascene at 7:05 PM on April 7, 2010


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