Lydia the Tattooed Lady  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



"Lydia, the Tattooed Lady" is a 1939 song written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. It first appeared in the 1939 Marx Brothers movie At the Circus and became one of Groucho Marx's signature tunes. In 1950 Groucho famously 'stopped' trading at the New York Stock Exchange by commandeering a microphone and singing the song before telling jokes for 15 minutes, during which time traders suspended their work to watch him perform. The lyrics made many contemporary references to topical personalities such as Grover Whalen, who opened the World's Fair in 1939. The complex lyrics written by Yip Harburg with clever rhymes such as Lydia/encyclopedia were inspired by W.S.Gilbert.

Among the items, persons, and scenes tattooed on Lydia's body are the Battle of Waterloo (on her back), The Wreck of the Hesperus (beside it), the red, white and blue (above them); the cities of Kankakee and "Paree", Washington Crossing the Delaware, President Andrew Jackson, Niagara, Alcatraz, Buffalo Bill, Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon, Lady Godiva (with her pajamas on), Grover Whalen, the Trylon, Treasure Island, Nijinsky, and a fleet of ships (on her hips).

As lyricist Harburg explains,Template:Citation needed the final stanza originally contained the lyrics "When she stands, the world gets lit'ler. When she sits, she sits on Hitler"; the lines were removed because the studio feared the song would sound too dated. The line that replaced it begins "Grover Whalen unveilin' the Trylon" which seems far more dated today than the reference to Hitler. On some subsequent radio appearances, Groucho sang the song in its entirety. Feinstein's recording omits a number of other lines, but restores the "Hitler" couplet, while Morris's is essentially as Groucho sang it in At the Circus.

The couplet "Come along and see Buffalo Bill with his lasso / Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso" seems to flub the name 'Pablo Picasso', noted painter and personality of the 1930s,

Other versions

The song has been performed by many other artists:

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools