Sweet Georgia Brown
|"Sweet Georgia Brown"|
|Music by||Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard|
|Lyrics by||Kenneth Casey|
|Original artist||Ben Bernie|
|Recorded by||Brother Bones et al.|
Reportedly Ben Bernie came up with the concept for the song's lyrics - although he is not the accredited lyricist - after meeting Dr. George Thaddeus Brown in New York City: Dr. Brown, a longtime member of the State House of Representatives for Georgia, told Bernie about Dr. Brown's daughter Georgia Brown and how subsequent to the baby girl's birth on August 11, 1911 the Georgia General Assembly had issued a declaration that she was to be named Georgia after the state, an anecdote which would be directly referenced by the song's lyric: "Georgia claimed her - Georgia named her."
- Of the many early recordings of the tune, the vocal version by Ethel Waters in the 1920s, and instrumental version by Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt in the 1930s, are particularly notable. Ethel Waters also starred in the 1940 movie Cabin in the Sky, in which Lena Horne plays a character named Georgia Brown.
- The film of Ben Bernie's orchestra made in 1925 contains the first jazz saxophone solo ever recorded on film - Jack Petits on C Melody saxophone.
- Shortly after the song debuted in 1925, the California Ramblers recorded their own instrumental version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" as well.
- Ella Fitzgerald sang and recorded this song many times; a rendition can be found on her Verve release Whisper Not.
- The version used by the Globetrotters is a 1949 instrumental by Brother Bones and His Shadows, featuring whistling and bones by Brother Bones. It was adopted as the Globetrotters theme around 1950, and today is inextricably associated with the team.
- A notable performance of this song was that of Anita O'Day at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, captured in Bert Stern's film Jazz on a Summer's Day.
- Damita Jo recorded a version in 1961.
- The song was covered by The Beatles while working as a back-up band for singer Tony Sheridan. Two versions exist; the first was recorded on May 24, 1962 in Hamburg, Germany, using the original lyrics. The second (but the first version released) was released in 1964 during the wave of Beatlemania, with Sheridan having re-recorded the vocals with notably more tame lyrics featuring the added verse "in Liverpool she even dares / to criticise the Beatles' hair / with their whole fan-club standing there / oh Sweet Georgia Brown." Recently, bootleggers have utilized the two recordings to produce an instrumental featuring only the Beatles' instruments and backup vocals, entirely eliminating Sheridan. Roy Young played the piano.
- Trini Lopez included a sing-a-long version on his Reprise Records album The Sing Along World of Trini Lopez (Reprise 6183).
- Sergio Franchi recorded his version on the RCA Red Seal album Women in My Life (1963).
- The progressive rock band Gentle Giant covered the song on their live album Playing the Fool, released in 1977.
- In the 1983 remake of To Be or Not to Be, Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft do a version of the song in Polish.
- On the Captain Beefheart bootleg album Captain Hook, an instrumental version, atypical of Beefheart's style.
- In the musical Bubbling Brown Sugar which ran on Broadway from March 2, 1976, and closed on December 31, 1977, where it was sung by Vivian Reed.
- The Count Basie Band recorded "Sweet Georgia Brown" on their Prime Time album in 1977.
- Dixie Carter once sang an inebriated version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" in an episode of Designing Women.
- Guitarist John Lowery, better known as John 5, did a modern-bluegrass variation cover of "Sweet Georgia Brown" on his 2004 debut record, Vertigo.
- Merle Haggard and Johnny Gimble recorded a country version on Gimble's album Celebrating With Friends in honor of Gimble's 80th birthday.
In animated cartoons
- Caricatures of Fats Waller and the Mills Brothers sing a scat-style rendition of the song in the cartoon "The Isle of Pingo Pongo" from the Merrie Melodies series.
- The robot Bender of TV science fiction cartoon Futurama harbors a desire to join the Harlem Globetrotters, and often whistles "Sweet Georgia Brown" in the episode "Time Keeps on Slippin'".
- The Simpsons have made references to "Sweet Georgia Brown" on three occasions:
- "Homie the Clown": The music can be heard during the part where Krusty is watching the Globetrotters vs. Washington Generals match.
- "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily": Skinner uses "Sweet Georgia Brown" as an oath when he finds Bart and Lisa disheveled and suspects that it has something to do with Homer and Marge neglecting them at home.
- "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson": The music can be heard in the couch gag where the family, dressed as Harlem Globetrotters, pass a red, white, and blue basketball to each other (with Maggie dunking the ball in the basket above the couch and hitting Homer in the head with it) as they run to the couch.
- In the Drawn Together episode "Nipple Ring-Ring Goes to Foster Care", the character Ling-Ling, after being given 21 shots of liquor (for his 21st birthday), is given "the traditional 21 doses of Sweet Georgia Brown," according to Spanky Ham.
Notes and references
- Audio file of the Brother Bones version at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (MP3 format)
- Song information from Warner-Chappell Music
- Sweet Georgia Brown lyrics (original version)
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics