Hello! Ma Baby
"Hello! Ma Baby" is a Tin Pan Alley song written in 1899 by the songwriting team of Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson, known as "Howard and Emerson". Its subject is a man who has a girlfriend he knows only through the telephone. At the time, telephones were relatively novel, present in fewer than 10% of U.S. households, and this was the first well-known song to refer to the device. Additionally, the word "Hello" itself was primarily associated with telephone use — "Hello Girl" was slang for a telephone operator even through the first world war — though it later became a general greeting for all situations.
Its chorus is far better known than its verse, as the introductory song in the famous Warner Bros. cartoon One Froggy Evening (1955), sung by the character later dubbed Michigan J. Frog and high-stepping in the style of a cakewalk.
The short piano piece "Le Petit Nègre" by Claude Debussy from 1909 features a melody very similar to "Hello! Ma Baby", and may have been inspired by the song.
Sheet music and the Warner Bros. acquisition of the song
Howard and Emerson's
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In popular culture
- In the 1941 black and white film adaptation of Jack London's classic novel The Sea Wolf starring Edward G. Robinson, the song is being sung in the opening scene in a bar.
- In the classic Chuck Jones directed Merrie Melodies cartoon One Froggy Evening, a singing, dancing frog sings a number of songs from before the era the 1955 cartoon was made, with this song being the most remembered by viewers.
- In Mel Brooks' 1987 film Spaceballs, parodying Alien, a chest-bursting alien escapes John Hurt's chest, homaging the Chuck Jones cartoon by dancing down a space-diner's counter while singing the song, prompting Barf and Lone Starr to get their bill and leave.
- In The Simpsons' fifth season episode "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" from 1993 (which takes place in Springfield 1985), Homer, Skinner, Wiggum and Apu sing a barbershop quartet rendition of the song.
- AllMusic.com. "Joseph E. Howard". AllMusic.com. AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
- Fuld, James J. (1985). The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular and Folk (3rd ed.). New York: Dover Publications. p. 272. ISBN 0-486-24857-7. OCLC 11289867.
- "Recording "Hello, Ma Baby" by Arthur Francis Collins". Musicbrainz.org. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
- "Hello, Ma Baby by Arthur Collins (Single; Edison; 5470): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music". Rateyourmusic.com. Rateyourmusic.com. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
- Spring, Katherine (2013). Saying It With Songs: Popular Music and the Coming of Sound to Hollywood Cinema. Oxford University Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-19-984221-6.