Little Brown Jug (song)

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This article is about the drinking song. For the Brown University humor magazine, see The Brown Jug.
Original 1869 sheet music cover

"Little Brown Jug" is a song written in 1869 by Joseph Winner, originally published credited to "Eastburn" (Winner's middle name) by J.E. Winner in Philadelphia.

It was originally a drinking song. It remained well known as a folk song into the early 20th century. Like many songs which make reference to alcohol, it enjoyed new popularity during the Prohibition era. In 1939, bandleader Glenn Miller recorded and broadcast his swing instrumental arrangement of the tune with great success, and the number became one of the best known orchestrations of the American Big Band era.[1] His version did not have the lyrics.

1939 Glenn Miller Recording[edit]

1939 Glenn Miller recording on RCA Bluebird, B-10286-A.
1953 sheet music cover from the film The Glenn Miller Story, Lew Music, New York.

In 1939, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra released a hit version of the song on RCA Bluebird, as an A side 78 single, B-10286-A, in a new arrangement by Bill Finegan backed with "Pavanne". The recording was an early chart hit for Glenn Miller. The song was performed in Glenn Miller's Carnegie Hall concert that year and became a staple of the Glenn Miller Orchestra repertoire and a classic of the Big Band era.

The song was featured in and was central to the plot of the 1953 Universal Pictures film biography The Glenn Miller Story starring James Stewart and June Allyson. The Universal International Orchestra under the direction of Joseph Gershenson released a recording of the song from The Glenn Miller Story soundtrack as a single backed with "A String of Pearls" on Decca Records in the U.S. and on Brunswick Records in the UK in 1954.

It was also sung by Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer and Harold "Slim" Switzer in an Our Gang (Little Rascals) short.

Lyrics[edit]

The song's lyrics are about a man and his wife and their hard life due to alcoholism. The tone and tune, however, are bright and cheerful. The first lines of the song are: "My wife and I live all alone, In a little log hut, we called our own/She loved gin, and I loved rum I tell you what we'd lots of fun."[2] As a children's song, the lyrics are often changed. Sometimes a verse is modified to fit the melody and rhythm of the tune.

In the Famous Studios 1948 "Screen Song" cartoon short titled "Little Brown Jug", a " Bouncing Ball" cartoon, it is sung with the music credited to Winston Sharples and entirely new lyrics by Buddy Kaye.

Other recordings[edit]

The song has been recorded by the following performers:

  • Joe Biviano, his Accordion and Rhythm Sextette released a recording of the song as a 78 on Sonora Records.
  • Arhtur Godfrey released a version with lyrics on Crown Records accompanied by Archie Bleyer and his Orchestra.
  • Art Van Damme released a version as a 78 on Capitol Records as 57-570.
  • Louise Massey and the Westerneers released it as a Polka instrumental on Columbia as 20245.
  • Lenny Dee released the song on Decca as an organ solo.
  • John Kirby and his Orchestra released it on Okeh Records.
  • Chubby Parker released "Little Brown Jug" as a 78 on Silvertone as 25013.
  • Ken Griffin released the song on Rondo Records.
  • Stuart Robertson released it on HMV.
  • Phil Cardew and his Corn Huskers as a square dance on Parlophone.
  • Frank Crumit released it on HMV.
  • George Wade on RCA Victor as a square dance.
  • Bluebird Foreign Band on RCA Bluebird.
  • The Billy May Orchestra released the song on Capitol.
  • The chorus lyrics are used in a modified form in the song "The Coral Room" by Kate Bush on the album Aerial, referring to a song her mother sang in the kitchen: "Little brown jug, don't I love thee/Ho ho ho, hee, hee, hee."[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Glenn Miller and Bill Finegan were the arrangers of the song based on the ASCAP database and the EMI Feist publishing catalogue.
  2. ^ 1869 sheet music, "The Little Brown Jug: Song and Chorus" by Eastburn. Published by J.E. Winner, 545 N. Eighth St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  3. ^ songmeanings.net.

External links[edit]