"I Love, I Love, I Love My Wife—But Oh! You Kid!"
June 3, 2014 1:09 AM   Subscribe

Ragtime’s slaves-to-the-rhythm weren’t just figments of Billy Sunday’s fevered imagination—and “I Love, I Love, I Love My Wife—But Oh! You Kid!” wasn’t just a novelty ditty. It was, like the other hits of its era, a generational marker, an anthem of changing times and freedom and youth. The old songs sound goofy to us, but a hundred years ago they carried a teenybopper throb and the impish menace of punk rock. Lengthy (6000 words) link-rich article by Jody Rosen at Slate.
posted by cgc373 (17 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
"If anything was lacking—but there it 
isn’t—to prove that New York is the
 biggest yap town in the universe, and
 entitled to the appellation of the rube
 city, it could be found in the acceptance of such slang phrases as “Oh, you kid.”

Get this person a blog! Also, "the [thing]est [thing] in the universe" is surprisingly old.
posted by Erasmouse at 3:08 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love, love, love this post -- especially this coy line: The lyric is cheeky; turn-of-the-century slang dictionaries suggest that I may not be wrong in detecting a saucy pun on the word “but” in the last line of the first verse. (Which is about a precursor song, but even so ... Lolbutts.)
posted by chavenet at 5:45 AM on June 3, 2014

I love, love, love this article. Thanks for posting!

Highlight for me: "It brought scandal to a church in Geneva, Ill., when a prankster altered the hymnal, adding the line “but, oh, you kid!” to the lyrics of the devotional “I Love My God.”"

(The original news article, in all its Main Street America glory: "The choir and congregation went into hysterics, the prospective converts gaped and then guffawed, and before order could be restored the shocked and scandalized pastor dismissed the meeting without waiting for the benediction."
posted by saturday_morning at 5:56 AM on June 3, 2014

In the spirit of Tin Pan Alley I have plagiarized the first sentence of my post from chavenet.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:24 AM on June 3, 2014

This is glorious. I had heard of the phrase "Oh, You Kid!" but had no idea what it meant. (I mean, I had heard that it once was popular, not I heard it when it was popular. I'm not that old.)

Of course, that's the point. The words don't convey the meaning, it's the waggle of one's eyebrows when one says it that conveys the meaning. :)
posted by edheil at 6:33 AM on June 3, 2014

Love the article but it will be incredibly difficult not to append "oh you kid" to EVERYTHING today.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:01 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

"..adding the line “but, oh, you kid!” to the lyrics of the devotional “I Love My God.”

I have never felt such a connection with people living 100 years ago. I would absolutely have been moved to do this exact same thing.

(And so much wittier then the manic scratching and tearing I want to do during the "prayer to stop abortion" at the end of Mass)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:03 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know "Oh, You Kid!" from cartoons, mostly (Tom And Jerry, "The Zoot Cat" and Bugs Bunny, "Oh, you kid! 23 skidoo! Chicken inspector!" for ex), but my grandmother (b. 1899) sometimes used it affectionately. (She also said "Hell's bells" and "hotter than Billy-be-damned.")

Grebt article. You can't touch this. Now I know where the beef is.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:20 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sounds like the inspiration for the song Maurice Chevalier sings in the 1932 musical One Hour with You

I love Colette -
I'm crazy for Colette,
But, oh, that Mitzi!

I kiss Colette,
And I get all upset,
But, oh, that Mitzi!

To stay or go I really can't decide,
But this I know: we can't all three be satisfied.

I love Colette,
I haven't weakened yet,
But, oh, that Mitzi!

Some girls are slow,
Some even answer "no,"
But, oh, that Mitzi!

Some girls are cool,
And others only fool,
But, oh, that Mitzi!

There's no mistake about the way she clings;
Why, she could make an angel throw away his wings,

And yet I claim
Colette can do the same,
But, oh, that Mitzi!

posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:02 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

It is indeed a grebt article! And that Bugs Bunny cartoon is delightful. (N.b.: "Ya gotta fluence dese dice!" uses a slang shortening very popular back in the day; I did a LH post about it.)
posted by languagehat at 8:08 AM on June 3, 2014

"What an extraordinary sound? What is it?"

"Why, don't you know? It's called a 'Waltz'."
posted by IndigoJones at 8:35 AM on June 3, 2014

It was translated by newspapers into Esperanto (“Ho! Vi kaprido!”).

I'm pretty sure kaprido has to be a translation of the "juvenile goat" sense of kid, which is so adorably literal-minded I could just die. Those wacky Esperantists!
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:44 AM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

"What an extraordinary sound? What is it?"

"Why, don't you know? It's called Fuck tha Police'."
posted by Naberius at 9:04 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

It was graffitied on a newlywed couple’s honeymoon cabin, next to another bawdy phrase, “Cum Rite Inn.”

Not to mention "Just Watch Us!"
posted by dhens at 10:38 AM on June 3, 2014

I have been trying to read this damn article all morning and it refuses to orient itself into anything other than an inch-wide column of words like an obnoxious free-verse poem. Is no one else encountering this?
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2014

Thanks for posting this; I've seen the phrase in old things (postcards, etc, plus I swear it's in either Cheaper by the Dozen or in one of the silent comedies - maybe Buster Keaton's College? - where some young rowdies have a car with slogans on it), but have never known the background!
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:47 PM on June 3, 2014

Great article. Thanks.

And the other interesting thing about that decorated newlywed's house is "Ish Ka Bibble!", which I (vaguely) associate with the WWII era. Which I guess I got from this guy, who seems to have gotten it from this novelty song from the Teens.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:50 PM on June 4, 2014

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