O mein Papa

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"O mein Papa" is a German song, as related by a young woman remembering her beloved, once-famous clown father. It was written by Swiss composer Paul Burkhard in 1939 for the musical Der Schwarze Hecht (The Black Pike), reproduced in 1950 as Feuerwerk (Fireworks) to a libretto by Erik Charell, Jürg Amstein, and Robert Gilbert. In 1954, that musical was turned into the film Feuerwerk with Lilli Palmer.

Recordings[edit]

Under the original German title, an instrumental version by trumpeter Eddie Calvert topped the UK Singles Chart in 1954,[1] and was also a Top 10 hit in the US.

It was adapted into English by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons under the title "Oh! My Pa-Pa".[2] A recording by Eddie Fisher with Hugo Winterhalter's orchestra and chorus was made at Webster Hall, New York City, on December 12, 1953. It was released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-5552 (in US)[3] and by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 10614.

Fisher's recording became a No. 1 hit on the U.S. Billboard chart in 1954. Fisher's version also made the UK Top 10; thus, in the UK, Calvert's version was number one while Fisher's made the top 10, but missed the top spot, and in the U.S., the opposite occurred. Calvert's version was the first UK number one hit recorded at Abbey Road Studios.[1] The song returned to Abbey Road when Brian Fahey conducted an instrumental version in 1960, to be used as a backing track for Connie Francis' English-Yiddish recording for her album Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites. Francis overdubbed her vocals in Hollywood. In June 1966, Francis overdubbed the same playback once more, this time with the original German lyrics for her German concept album Melodien, die die Welt erobern.

U.S. television viewers were re-introduced to the song via the television show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. In the episode "Sing a Song of Papa", Jim Nabors' Private Pyle enters a talent contest at a nightclub. His rendition of the song wins him $25 and the admiration of the club's owner, who is apparently connected to organized crime, and predictable hijinks ensue.

The song has been performed and recorded by numerous artists since its debut, including Alan Breeze, Billy Cotton, Billy Vaughn, The Everly Brothers, Harry James, Guy Mitchell, Lys Assia, Malcolm Vaughan, Muriel Smith, Ray Anthony & his Orchestra, Russ Morgan & his Orchestra, The Beverley Sisters, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Björk (on Gling-Gló, as "Pabbi minn") and many others. Wilma Landkroon sang a Dutch version ("Oh mijn Papa") on the CD 19 Successen.

The opening stanza was momentarily quoted in Frank Zappa's song "Billy the Mountain" (1972) in place of the word "fissure," a reference to Eddie Fisher.[4]

The song was also in the episode "Like Father, Like Clown" of The Simpsons sung by Krusty the Clown.[5]

Lyrics[edit]

English lyrics[6][edit]

Oh, my Papa, to me he was so wonderful,
Oh, my Papa, to me he was so good.
No one could be so gentle and so lovable,
Oh, my Papa, he always understood.

Oh, my Papa, so funny, so adorable,
Always the clown so funny in his way.
Oh, my Papa, to me he was so wonderful,
Deep in my heart I miss him so today.

Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee
And with a smile he'd change my tears to laughter.

Complete German lyrics[7][8][edit]

The original German version of the song contains passages that more fully give the context to the listener; these don't appear in the English translation. It contains fractured grammar, confusing masculine and feminine nouns and adjectives, as if sung by a non-native German speaker or by a child not yet familiar with proper German speech.

Papa wie ein Pfeil
sprang hinauf auf die Seil,
eh la hopp, eh la hopp, eh la hopp.
Er spreizte die Beine
ganz breit auseinand’,
sprang hoch in die Luft
und stand auf die Hand.
Eh la hopp, eh la hopp, eh la hopp.

Er lachte: “Haha, haha”
und machte: "Hoho hoho",
ganz sachte: “Haha haha”
und rief: “Eh la hopp, eh la hopp
eh la hopp, eh la hopp
eh la hopp, eh la hopp
eh la hopp, eh la hopp.”

Er ritt auf die Seil
ganz hoch in die Luft
eh la hopp, eh la hopp, eh la hopp.
Das konnte er machen
zwölfmal in ohne mieh;
er lachte dazu
und fürchtet sich nie.
Eh la hopp, eh la hopp, eh la hopp


Refrain

Dann warf er sechs Bänder
hoch in die Luft
eh la hopp, eh la hopp, eh la hopp.
Er ließ sie tanzen
im feirigen Licht
und strahlte glicklich
im ganzen Gesicht.
Eh la hopp, eh la hopp, eh la hopp.

Er warf die sechs Bänder
hoch in die Luft
eh la hopp, eh la hopp, eh la hopp.
Und alles das macht er
auf schwindlige Heh;
Papa war die Clou
von die ganz Soirée.
Eh la hopp, eh la hopp, eh la hopp.


Refrain

Refrain:
Oh, mein Papa war eine wunderbare Clown.
Oh, mein Papa war eine große Kinstler.
Hoch auf die Seil, wie war er herrlich anzuschau'n!
Oh, mein Papa war eine schöne Mann.

Ei, wie er lacht,
sein Mund, sie sein so breit, so rot;
und seine Aug'
wie Diamanten strahlen.

Oh, mein Papa war eine wunderbare Clown.
Oh, mein Papa war eine große Kinstler.
Hoch auf die Seil, wie war er herrlich anzuschau'n!
Oh, mein Papa war eine schöne Mann.

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Flury, Philipp; Kaufmann, Peter (1979). O mein Papa… Paul Burkhard: Leben und Werk (in German). Zurich: Orell Füssli/Neue Schweizer Bibliothek. ISBN 3-280-01129-9. OCLC 6787865. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 12. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  2. ^ ""Oh! My Pa-Pa" score title page". Ecx.images-amazon.com. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  3. ^ "RCA Victor 20-5500 - 20-6000 78rpm numerical listing discography". 78discography.com. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  4. ^ "Just Another Band From L.A. – Billy The Mountain". Robbert Heederik. Retrieved 4 June 2008. 
  5. ^ Chen, Raymond. "Like Father, Like Clown". The Simpsons Archive. Retrieved 30 June 2008. 
  6. ^ John Turner, Geoffrey Parsons (1948). "Oh, My Pa-pa". MetroLyrics. 
  7. ^ Erik Charell, Jürg Amstein, Robert Gilbert. "Lys Assia – Oh, mein Papa" (in German/Dutch). In de Overtuin, Marijke van Freek. 
  8. ^ "Oh mein Papa" from the film Feuerwerk (1954) on YouTube (Lilli Palmer)