I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am

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"I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am"
Written by Fred Murray, R. P. Weston
Written 1910
"I'm Henry VIII, I Am"
Single by Herman's Hermits
from the album A Must to Avoid
A-side "I'm Henry VIII, I Am"
B-side "The End Of The World"
Released June 1965 (1965-06)
Genre Beat, pop, British rock and roll
Label EMI
Writer(s) Fred Murray, R. P. Weston
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Herman's Hermits singles chronology
"Wonderful World"
(1965)
"I'm Henry VIII, I Am"
(1965)
"Just a Little Bit Better"
(1965)

"I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am" (also "I'm Henery the VIII, I Am" or "I'm Henry VIII, I Am"; spelled "Henery" but pronounced "'Enery" in the Cockney style normally used to sing it) is a 1910 British music hall song by Fred Murray and R. P. Weston. It was a signature song of the music hall star Harry Champion. In 1965, it became the fastest-selling song in history to that point when it was revived by Herman's Hermits,[1] becoming the group's second number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The lead solo on the Hermits' version was played by the group's lead guitarist Derek "Lek" Leckenby.[2]

In the well-known chorus, Henery explains that his wife had been married seven times before:

I'm 'Enery the Eighth, I am,

'Enery the Eighth I am, I am!
I got married to the widow next door,
She's been married seven times before
And every one was an 'Enery
She wouldn't have a Willie nor a Sam
I'm her eighth old man named 'Enery

'Enery the Eighth, I am!

Background[edit]

According to one source, Champion "used to fire off [the chorus] at tremendous speed with almost desperate gusto, his face bathed in sweat and his arms and legs flying in all directions."[1] In later versions recorded by Champion, "Willie" is changed to "William" because the former is a British slang term for the penis.

The song is often sung in a Cockney accent.

This song was recorded (in 1961) and extensively performed live by the British star Joe Brown, who revived the song and made it largely known in the pop world. His version has two choruses either side of his guitar solo. (B-side, Piccadilly Records 7N 35005) He performs it live still today.

The Herman's Hermits version consists of the chorus sung three times. Between the first two choruses, Peter Noone calls out, "Second verse, same as the first!" The background singers on the version recorded by Connie Francis for her 1966 album Connie Francis and The Kids Next Door use this call as well.

Earlier sources usually spell the name "Henery"[3][4][5] (as do some old sources when referring to the historical King of England[6]), and the music requires the name "Henery" to be pronounced as three syllables. The sheet music for the 1965 Herman's Hermits revival, however, presented the name as "Henry", as do sources referring to this version.[1][7]

Cultural references[edit]

  • In the film Ghost, Sam (Patrick Swayze) sings this song on a continuous run in a bad English accent all night long, convincing Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) to help him; Sam's girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore) later reveals that Sam used this tactic to get her to agree to go out with him.
  • In S. A. Bodeen's novel The Compound, Eli's father tells Lucas to cover his ears and sing this song to keep the small child from hearing the argument between Eli and his father.
  • In the CBS TV series Elementary, Captain Thomas Gregson responds to Sherlock Holmes that his first thoughts when hearing of Henry VIII is this song. (Season 1, Episode 20, "Dead Man's Switch")

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c MacInnes, Colin (1965) "The Old English Music Hall Songs Are New". The New York Times, November 28, 1965, p. SM62: "Henery—which hit the top of the record lists and, according to one American expert, was 'the fastest-selling song in history'—was in fact an old English music hall song enjoying a new lease on life. Description of Champion's performance: p. 95. Spelling of title: image on p. 62 shows title presented in all-caps, "I'M HENRY VIII, I AM." Text of article, however, uses the spelling "Henery" throughout, even when referring to the Herman's Hermits revival. Perhaps the most correct spelling is "'Enery"; that is certainly how Harry pronounces it.
  2. ^ Peter Noone interview, Keith Hopwood pers. corres.
  3. ^ Sharpe, R. A. (2005). Philosophy of Music: An Introduction. McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 0-7735-2928-4.  "I shall give an example of the first, Harry Champion's music-hall song 'I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am', although I suspect readers may not thank me. (You probably won't be able to dislodge it from your mind for a week or two). p. 161
  4. ^ Lawrence, D. H. (1987). Mr. Noon. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-27247-5.  "He strayed on inconsequentially, singing: Henery the eighth I am, I am/Henery the eighth I am" p. 258
  5. ^ Lynch, William J. (2003). Just a Philadelphia Boy. Xlibris. ISBN 1-4010-7911-3.  "We had a neighbor, a skinny little Englishman... He would saunter merrily up our street... singing 'I'm Henery the Eighth, I am" at the top of his voice..." p. 42
  6. ^ Child, Francis James; George Lyman Kittredge (1883). The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Houghton, Mifflin.  "And lowlye kneeled his prince before/And sayd, My soueraigne king, Henery the Eighth" p. 356
  7. ^ Guiheen, Anna Marie (1995). Sheet Music Reference and Price Guide. Collector Books. ISBN 0-89145-648-1.  "I'm Henry the Eighth I Am by Fred Murray and L. P. Weston, 1965, Herman's Hermits" p. 102

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
"I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits

August 7, 1965
Succeeded by
"I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher