Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens

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"Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens"
Single by Louis Jordan
B-side "Let the Good Times Roll"
Released 1946 (1946)
Genre Jazz
Length 03:02
Writer(s) Joan Whitney Kramer and Alex Kramer

"Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" is a 1946 song, with music and lyrics by Alex Kramer and Joan Whitney. It was recorded by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. The single hit number one on the US Billboard Rhythm and blues Juke Box chart for seventeen weeks and number six on the pop chart.[1][2] The B-side, "Let the Good Times Roll," peaked at number two on the R&B Juke Box chart.

The song was featured on the soundtrack for L.A. Noire and was then included on a remixed version of the soundtrack with production by DJ Premier. Gonzo the Great and various Muppet characters performed the song on an episode of The Muppet Show.

Origin of the phrase[edit]

The song is sometimes cited as the origin of the phrase, but the phrase is older.[2] Its first known appearance was a joke published as a reader-submitted anecdote in Everybody's Magazine in 1908 regarding a chicken thief, formulated as, "'Deed, sah, dey ain't nobody hyah 'ceptin' us chickens."[3]

This background is retained in the 1931 Our Gang episode "Little Daddy", in which Farina and Stymie crawl inside an empty chicken coop to hide from a social worker who has come to take Stymie to the orphanage. Farina makes rooster noises to fool the social worker, but when the man asks, "Who's in there?" Stymie replies, "Just us chickens!"

By 1939 the phrase had evolved to more closely resemble the one crystallized in the Kramer/Jordan song of 1946 and appeared in the cartoon feature Gulliver's Travels as, "Nobody here but just us... chickens!"

In the original 1966 Star Trek series episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Dr Elizabeth Dehner asks Captain Kirk whether the members of the landing party are the only people on the planet; he replies, "Nobody but us chickens, Doctor".

In a 1999 episode of Star Trek Voyager "11:59", Kate Mulgrew, acting as one of Captain Janeway's ancestors, Shannon O'Donnell, alters the phrase several times to "Nobody here but us galliformes."

In episode 6 of HBO's "The Night Of", John Stone, when asked to speak off the record, replies "Just us chickens." The man being interviewed remarks, "I've never understood that phrase", to which Stone responds, "Me neither."

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 265. 
  2. ^ a b Quinion, Michael (15 March 2014). "Wordface". WORLD WIDE WORDS NEWSLETTER. World Wide Words. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree". Everybody's Magazine. Vol. 19. July 1908. p. 717. 
Preceded by
"Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
Billboard Most-Played Juke Box Race Records number-one single
January 4, 1947
May 10, 1947
Succeeded by
"Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
"I Want to Be Loved (But Only by You)" by Savannah Churchill and The Sentimentals