Wednesday, June 2, 2010

more wicked willowiness

I searched high and low for a video clip of the great Duke aka John Wayne singing "Tit Willow" in The Shootist, but no such luck. Darn. It's so incredibly sweet. Anyway, the original "Tit Willow" is sung by the character Ko-Ko in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera, The Mikado, which opened in London on March 14, 1885. It ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, the second longest run for any work of musical theater. And just so you know, a "willow tit" is a small bird, with a gray-brown body and black crown, that lives in the marshy woodlands of Europe, innocently enough. Below are two of my favorite renditions of "Tit Willow", performed in the first video by the charming TV brothers, Frasier (I had the hugest crush) and Niles Crane. By the way, did you know that Frasier was a spin off from the sitcom Cheers, and that it ran for eleven seasons? I loved the witty comedy and sparkling chemistry between the characters. And the second clip by the delightful Rowlf and Sam Eagle, who need no introductions.







On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
Sang "Willow, tit willow, tit willow"
And I said to him, "Dicky-bird, why do you sit
Singing 'Willow, tit willow, tit willow'"
"Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?"
I cried "Or a rather tough worm in your little inside"
With a shake of his poor little head,
he replied "Oh, willow, tit willow, tit willow!"

He slapped at his chest, as he sat on that bough
Singing "Willow, tit willow, tit willow"
And a cold perspiration bespangled his brow
Oh, willow, tit willow, tit willow
He sobbed and he sighed, and a gurgle he gave
Then he plunged himself into the billowy wave
And an echo arose from the suicide's grave
"Oh, willow, tit willow, tit willow"

Now I feel just as sure as I'm sure that my name
Isn't Willow, tit willow, tit willow
That 'twas blighted affection that made him exclaim
"Oh, willow, tit willow, tit willow"
And if you remain callous and obdurate, I
Shall perish as he did, and you will know why
Though I probably shall not exclaim as I die
"Oh, willow, tit willow, tit willow"


57 comments:

  1. ob·du·rate (bd-rt, -dy-)
    adj.
    1.
    a. Hardened in wrongdoing or wickedness; stubbornly impenitent: "obdurate conscience of the old sinner" (Sir Walter Scott).
    b. Hardened against feeling; hardhearted: an obdurate miser.
    2. Not giving in to persuasion; intractable. See Synonyms at inflexible.

    (just in case you ask)

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  2. Willow is such an endearing, melodic name even when it is put beside a bird or anatomical part.

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  3. A good practice of my poetic words that I used to come across when I was a student of literature. Thanks

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  4. boy this was fun and funny
    and I must also add..I have enjoyed your ghosts...stories
    you are an interesting woman

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  5. You're a wicked wag, Willow! Fun! Hee!

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  6. As a Mikado fan, it was such fun to see Niles and Frasier performing Tit Willow. How did I miss that episode?

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  7. That sounds like a good drinking song to me....


    At 65, I've done it! My poetry book - Life's Journey by Carmen Henesy - is out on Amazon!
    ( Poems about the things that have been important to me in my journey through life, some humorous, some sad, some that may have meaning to you as well )
    http://www.amazon.com/Lifes-Journey-1-Carmen-Henesy/dp/1451547366/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274652997&sr=1-1

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  8. Love the Niles and Frasier version!

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  9. I am pro-willow, and I vote. Too bad you couldn't find the John Wayne vid, but the ones you did find are seriously cool.

    Willow madness. I'm all for it.

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  10. Niles and Frasier--I laughed out loud. Willow, you really are a fun person--super creative with a sharp sense of humor. So gald I found your blog :)

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  11. Nothing like having a song named after you... or being named after a song... or whatever! Frasier & Niles are such delightful asses!

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  12. I came to see your blog because Abe Lincoln mentioned it. I started looking at your post but the picture of your desert stopped me. I read all your desert recipes and they look so yummy. I’ll make the one with the blueberries as they are in season now. I have never tried to use cornmeal, it sounds interesting.

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  13. Oh, willow, tit willow, tit willow

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  14. Niles and Frasier - too darn funny.

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  15. Okay, just READING the lyrics to that song had me in fits of giggles... and thinking about John Wayne singing them - well, that's too much for me to do without guffaws. Heeheheeheeeee!

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  16. Yes, I too liked both Cheers and Frasier. They were both well written, and actually FUNNY; rare!

    I wonder how many times I've heard that song. must be in the millions.

    May I congratulate RNSANE. Cro.

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  17. This post has brought lots of lovely memories flooding back dear Willow. My darling Dad used to sing the full version of Tit Willow with great gusto around the house if he was having a particularly good day. English by birth, he was right into G&S. Born in 1900, he was 56 when much to his surprise, he became a first time Dad with my arrival.
    Millie ^_^

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  18. That was a GREAT Willowiness post! I was a huge Cheers and Frasier fan.

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  19. I am a great G and S fan - used to sing the contralto leads in our school group long ago and still remember the words. The great John Reed of D'Oyly Carte died recently - he was fantastic in roles like the Mikado and the Major General. Your post brought back happy memories for me.

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  20. This "more wicked willowiness" is a new one on me.

    I miss a lot of things.

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  21. I love your new look! And the history behind the 'tit willow'. Great clips. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  22. I've seen the Mikado...it's sooo good!
    I love this post will...so much fun! Sorry I haven't been by for a while... I've been a bit sick. On the mend now, I hope!!
    Have a great week...cheers K

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  23. I remember John Wayne singing Tit Willow. I was always a huge fan of his movies. And I watched Frasier when I used to watch TV and remember this great performance of the two brothers. Thanks for the wonderful remembrance, Willow!

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  24. As, by now, I am sure you could have guessed, Tit Willow is one of my favourite songs and - if ever I get so drunk I lose all inhibitions - one I will sing on occasions.

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  25. Willow, oh Willow..... You just KNOW too much!! Reading your posts is like home schooling. And the memories you conjure up are terrific! Good for the soul...

    Rick

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  26. Yes the muppets are a delight, Ms Willow. What cute clips! What part of the comment definition of "obdurate" is self-reflective? :-) I think "stubborness" is a kind of skill that goes by the name of "determined"!

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  27. Thanks for the memories, Frazier was always so much fun...as always a hoot!

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  28. Cynthia, oh, definition 1a, without a doubt!!

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  29. When I was at school we put on a performance of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera every year. It was a local "event". Tit Willow is the song I remember most vividly.

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  30. how fun!

    and thanks for the muppet madness - sam does need to work on his delivery - ha ha

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  31. My gosh, that was cute. The word willow is a very appealing one to say and hear. How clever of you to choose it for your blog. I wish I could find a creative name for my humble abode. When I lived in the south, I though a name of Whispering Pines would be a great name for a property and house because the tall long needle pines had a haunting song when the wind blew. In PA we have lots of tulip poplars that fall when you sneeze so I should call my place falling trees--not very melodic.

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  32. Could I buy a -t- and use it in thought?

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  33. It's just a silly song, come on and sing along! While you're on a roll here, Dear Willow... Please post on Willow-the-Wisp..what does it mean? :) The Bach

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  34. It's the funniest thing--when I read the words of this song, I hear my husband singing them to our children. This is a great favorite of the kids, even to this day. Thank you so much for sharing these!

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  35. R.J., when we moved to this old english country style house, built in 1927 on four acres, 22 years ago, we were told by the neighbors, that one of the previous owners had named the place "Willow Manor". So, "Life at Willow Manor" seemed like a good name for my blog.

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  36. Oh, Bach I would be delighted to post on Will-o-the wisp! It's such a deliciously fascinating subject. Okay, it's scheduled for later this week! Stay tuned!

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  37. Willow, did you read the Sunday Roast:
    http://eddybluelights.blogspot.com/
    Your name is mentioned there.

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  38. thank you for the definition of obdurate. =) I grew up watching the muppets on Sunday evenings, just before Disney would come on.
    *giggles* Thank you for the flash back.

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  39. You can't go wrong with Gilbert & Sullivan and the Muppet Show! Love it!

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  40. Heavy smoking John Wayne was chewed-up by cancer when he did The Shootist and it was his final film. Melancholy in certain ways, the film begins with clips of early Wayne cowboy shoot-em-ups as an intro to his character in The Shootist. I don't recall "Tit Willow" but I do remember wishing they hadn't cast Ron Howard in the film. Opie was just wrong for the part.

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  41. Obdurate, Willowy fun. I loved watching the relationship between Frasier and Lilith. Where is Shelly Long now?

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  42. Reno, you're so right. Ron Howard was a bit cheesy in the role, if I recall. Last time I watched the movie I remember thinking he was overacting.

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  43. I haven't seen that Muppets clip since I was very small! I loved the cruelty of making the serious eagle perform it. A genius addition to the Willow canon. I look forward to more.

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  44. two fun renditions of the song. i loved Fraser especially in Cheers. He was so bland and left brained next to the other guys.

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  45. I like the word obdurate Willow and I love this post. If I have another child I would name her Willow, you have convinced me.

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  46. Yoli, that is the sweetest thing I've heard in a long time. xx

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  47. Wonders how John Wayne got the Tit Willow song from the Mikado? Would this time frame be consistent? Loved Frazer and The Muppets. The poor Tit Willow's observer sure pined for someone named "Tit Willow"? What's the gest of the song? Not another unrequitted love song? No wonder it was in a cowboy flick! Good times!

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  48. Tit Willow, Tit Willow, this was a delight!

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  49. well ,
    I've never heard the song before,

    but Cheers, Fraser, and the Muppets....

    classic.

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  50. Well I see why I'm popular such a great hit
    Singing Willow Ms Willow Tit Willow
    I'm good with the verbals not bad with the wit
    Singing Willow Tit Willow Ms Willow
    But sometimes I sit down with a great moanin' sigh
    I'm fed up with the chit chat and
    talkin' apple pie
    If I don't have a holiday soon I'll expire
    Singing Willow Tit willow Ms Willow

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  51. Rallentanda, you're brilliant. This is my new blog theme song. heh-heh!

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  52. I don't think even the Duke can touch Rowlf & Sam Eagle--what fun!

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)