Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lulu the Flapper

People who know me know I have an unhealthy love of century old music. Ragtime, early jazz, the Roaring 20s and Depression era music are gifts to my ear.

Don't Bring Lulu (1925)
Louise Brooks
Johnny White is hosting a party. You can bring Rose with the turned up nose or Lil even though she's an awful pill but whatever you do, don't bring Lulu.

It seems Lulu always wants to do what the folks don't want her too. There was the time she came to a party and started acting wild. When she danced the Charleston and all the boys just stopped and stared. When she struts her stuff around it's like London Bridge is falling down. Truth is, Lulu is the kind of smartie who breaks up every party.

Problem is, poor Johnny got to thinking about her too much. He concludes don't bring Lulu 'cause he's going to bring her himself.

Lulu's Back in Town (1935)
Clara Bow
Lulu's back in town and Mister Otis has problems. The chambermaid has misplaced his razor blade, his tuxedo is wrinkled and the vest is missing a button, his hair is messy, his shoes are dull, and his boutonniere is wilted. Damn, he even needs to find fifty cents someplace. And it's important because Lulu's back in town.

The song doesn't explain why Lulu left town to begin with although I suspect a consortium of wives and girlfriends chased her out. Anyway, Mr. Otis wants the listener to tell his other "pets" - Harlem coquettes in one version, blonds and brunettes in another - that he's not going to be around anymore. He also wants the mailman notified that he won't be home until at least the fall, maybe never.

Mr. Otis has a bad case of needing to go strutting with Lulu.

Miss Otis Regrets (1934)
Colleen Moore
Technically, the previous song is an homage to this song written by the great Cole Porter. But in telling a story the song belongs here.

Miss Otis regrets she is unable to lunch today. It seems she woke up last night and discovered her man, the love of her life, the man who had led her astray, had run out on her.

Miss Otis tracked him down to lovers lane where he was canoodling, and probably very much more, with some unnamed floozy. I think we can all guess her name was Lulu.

Miss Otis drew a gun from under her velvet gown and shot her lover down. It's not stated but probably true that Miss Otis also plugged Lulu with several rounds.

She got arrested and thrown into jail. Because she shot Lulu, a mob of outraged men came and dragged her out of the jail. They hauled her to a nearby willow tree where they lynched her.

Anyway, that's why Miss Otis regrets she is unable to lunch today.

Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1925)
Joan Crawford actually was 5 foot 2.
I like to think that the girl in this song is named Lulu. I learned it in elementary school. I didn't know then what a flapper was. I didn't know that "turned down hose" referred to a thing that loose women did with their silk stockings. I thought "could she coo" meant she was ticklish. And I certainly didn't realize "what those five feet can do!" might actually mean.

It took years for me to discover how my second grade teacher had corrupted me with this song.

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