Bell Bottom Trousers (commercial song)

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This article is about the commercial song. For the article of clothing, see Bell bottoms. For the traditional song see Rosemary Lane.


"Bell Bottom Trousers" is a modern commercial reworking of a folksong. For earlier versions see Rosemary Lane.

Moe Jaffe version[edit]

This clean version of the tune was written in 1944 for modern audiences by bandleader Moe Jaffe.[1] This version enjoyed great popularity during World War II, and has been recorded by different performers.

The recording by Tony Pastor's orchestra was made on April 4, 1945 and released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-1661, with the flip side "Five Salted Peanuts".[2] It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on May 10, 1945 and lasted 15 weeks on the chart, peaking at #2.[3]

The recording by Kay Kyser's orchestra was recorded on April 2, 1945 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number 36801, with the flip side "Can't You Read Between the Lines?".[4] It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on June 7, 1945 and lasted 6 weeks on the chart, peaking at #5.[3]

The recording by Guy Lombardo's orchestra was recorded on April 20, 1945, and released by Decca Records as catalog number 18683, with the flip side "Oh, Brother!".[5] It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on June 14, 1945 and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at #6.[3]

The recording by Jerry Colonna was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 204, with the flip side "I Cried for You".[6] It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on July 26, 1945 and lasted 2 weeks on the chart, peaking at #9.[3]

The recording by the Louis Prima orchestra was recorded in February, 1945, and released by Majestic Records as catalog number 7134, with the flip side "Caledonia".[7] It reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on June 7, 1945 at #10, its only appearance on the chart.[3]

It was also recorded by:

Several other versions were also recorded.

Other versions[edit]

Alternate titles[edit]

The earliest versions of this song are titled "The Servant of Rosemary Lane". Other titles include:

  • "Rosemary Lane", as recorded by Bert Jansch, who lists the first printing date as ca. 1780,[12] and as recorded by Anne Briggs
  • "The Oak and the Ash" [Roud 269;Laws K43], for a few versions collected in the twentieth century, for example as sung by Jumbo Brightwell on The Voice of the People Vol 2 (not to be confused with "The Oak and the Ash" [Roud number 1367] recorded by The Watersons on their the eponymously named second album and on the BBC documentary Travelling for a Living).

Lyrical adaptations[edit]

Original Lyrics[edit]

There once was a waitress from the Prince George Hotel
Her mistress was a lady, her master was a swell

They knew she was a simple girl and lately from a farm
And they watched her carefully to keep her from all harm

Chorus:
Singing a bell bottom trousers, coats of navy blue
Let him climb the rigging like his daddy used to do

The 42nd Fusilers came marching into town
And with them came a complement of rapists of renown

They busted every maidenhead that came within their spell
But they never made the waitress from the Prince George Hotel

Chorus

Next came a company of the Prince of Wales Hussars
They piled into a whorehouse they packed along the bars

Every maid and mistress and wife before them fell
But they never made the waitress from the Prince George Hotel

Chorus

One day came a sailor just an ordinary bloke
A bulging at the trousers, a heart of solid oak

At sea without a woman for seven years or more
There wasn't any need to ask what he was looking for

Chorus

He asked her for a candlestick to light his way to bed
He asked her for a pillow to rest his weary head

And speaking to her gently as if he meant no harm
He asked her to come to bed just so to keep him warm

Chorus

He lifted up the blanket and a moment there he lie
He was on her. he was in her, in a twinkling of an eye

He was out again, and in again, and plowing up a storm
And the only word she said to him was "I hope you're keeping warm"

Chorus

Early in the morning the sailor he arose
Saying here's a 2-pound note my dear for the damage I have caused

If you have a daughter bounce her on your knee
If you have a son send the bastard out to sea!

Chorus

(Extra verse) Now she sits beside a dock with a baby on her knee
Waiting for a sailing ship coming a-home from sea

Waiting for the jolly tars in Navy uniform
All she wants to do my boys is keep the Navy warm!

Chorus

Recorded versions (Moe Jaffe version)[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Song lyric (Moe Jaffe version)
  2. ^ RCA Victor recordings in the 20-1500 to 20-1999 series
  3. ^ a b c d e Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940-1955. Record Research. 
  4. ^ Columbia Records in the 36500 to 36999 series
  5. ^ US Decca records in the 18500 to 18923 series
  6. ^ Capitol Records in the 100 to 499 series
  7. ^ Majestic Records discography
  8. ^ Imperial Records in the 1000 to 1239 series
  9. ^ Citation on Vocal Group Harmony site
  10. ^ US Decca records in the 4000 to 4461 series
  11. ^ Guild Records discography
  12. ^ Rosemary Lane
  13. ^ See, e.g., http://www.wildsnow.com/articles/trooper_traverse/90-lbs_of_rucksack.html.