Civilization (1947 song)
"Civilization" is an American pre-pop song. It was written by Bob Hilliard and Carl Sigman, published in 1947 later included in the 1947 Broadway musical Angel in the Wings, sung by Elaine Stritch. The song is sometimes also known as "Bongo, Bongo, Bongo (I Don't Want to Leave the Congo)" from its first line of the chorus. The sheet music gives the title as "Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo)".
The song is a satire sung from the perspective of a native person whose village is visited by a missionary and other "civilized" people whom the native refers to as "educated savages." These visitors are trying to "civilize" the tribe. However, the native rejects them and sings about the major flaws in civilized society, ultimately deciding that he will stay where he lives (presumably the Congo in the song's lyrics).
The Andrews Sisters and Danny Kaye recording was recorded September 27, 1947 and released by Decca Records as catalog number 23940. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on November 14, 1947 and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 3. The Louis Prima recording was recorded July 24, 1947 and released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-2400. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on November 7, 1947 and lasted eight weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 8. The Jack Smith recording was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 465. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on December 26, 1947 and lasted two weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 14. The Ray McKinley recording was released by Majestic Records as catalog number 7274. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on December 26, 1947 and lasted one week on the chart, at No. 14. The Woody Herman recording was released by Columbia Records as catalog number 37885. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on December 26, 1947 and lasted one week on the chart, at No. 15.
1947 charting versions
|Recording artist||Recording date||Label and cat. no.||Entered Billboard chart||Peak position||Weeks on chart|
|Louis Prima||July 24, 1947||RCA Victor 20-2400||November 7, 1947||8||8|
|The Andrews Sisters and Danny Kaye||September 27, 1947||Decca 23940||November 14, 1947||3||10|
|Jack Smith||Capitol 465||December 26, 1947||14||2|
|Ray McKinley||Majestic 7274||December 26, 1947||14||1|
|Woody Herman||Columbia 37885||December 26, 1947||15||1|
Note that all five versions were on the chart during the week of December 26, 1947.
A recording by Joe Loss and his Orchestra with vocal by Elizabeth Batey was made in London on March 11, 1948. It was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label BD 6007. Dyan Cannon performed the song on The Muppet Show along with several Muppet jungle animals. Although Elaine Stritch sang it on Broadway, she did not record it until the 1977 album Make Mine Manhattan: Great Revues Revisited. It was included in her 2002 one woman stage show Elaine Stritch at Liberty. In 1967, a version of the song was included on Disneyland Records "Songs From 'The Jungle Book' And Other Jungle Favorites" (STER1304).
- The 1950 Screen Songs animated short Jingle Jangle Jungle features a lion inviting the audience to sing along to the song to explain why he doesn't want to join a circus.
- "Civilization", performed by Danny Kaye and the Andrews Sisters, is featured on the in-game Galaxy News Radio in the 2008 video game Fallout 3, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic, retro-futurist United States in the year 2277 in the ruins of Washington D.C.. The song is also included on Diamond City Radio in Fallout 4, the fifth major installment of the Fallout series, which takes place in the post-apocalyptic ruins of Boston in the year 2287.
- Louis Prima's recording of "Civilization" is heard playing on the radio in Adrian Lyne's 1997 film Lolita.