|Published||1943 by Miller Music Publishing Co.|
|Composer(s)||Milton Drake, Al Hoffman, Jerry Livingston|
“Mairzy Doats” is a novelty song written and composed in 1943 by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston. It was first played on radio station WOR, New York, by Al Trace and his Silly Symphonists. The song made the pop charts several times, with a version by the Merry Macs reaching No. 1 in March 1944. The song was also a number-one sheet music seller, with sales of over 450,000 within the first three weeks of release.
The song's refrain, as written on the sheet music, seems meaningless:
- Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
- A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?
However, the lyrics of the bridge provide a clue:
- If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey,
- Sing "Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy."
This hint allows the ear to translate the final line as "a kid'll eat ivy, too; wouldn't you?"
The Merry Macs recording was Decca Records' best-selling release in 1944. Twenty-three other performers tried to follow up with their own recordings in a span of only two weeks in that same year. It was also sung by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby at WWII USO performances.
Milton Drake, one of the writers, said the song had been based on an English nursery rhyme. According to this story, Drake's four-year-old daughter came home singing, "Cowzy tweet and sowzy tweet and liddle sharksy doisters." (Cows eat wheat and sows eat wheat and little sharks eat oysters.)
Drake joined Hoffman and Livingston to come up with a tune for the new version of the rhyme, but for a year no one was willing to publish a "silly song." Finally, Hoffman pitched it to his friend Al Trace, bandleader of the Silly Symphonists. Trace liked the song and recorded it. It became a huge hit, most notably with the Merry Macs' 1944 recording.
In fir tar is,
In oak none is,
In mud eels are,
In clay none are,
Goat eat ivy,
Mare eat oats.
They trace the origin of the joke to a manuscript of about 1450 which has "Is gote eate yvy? Mare eate ootys".
- Smith, Kathleen E.R. (28 March 2003). God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. The University Press of Kentucky. p. 137. ISBN 0-8131-2256-2.
- Drake, Milton; Hoffman, Al; Livingston, Jerry (1943). Mairzy doats. New York: Miller Music Corporation. OCLC 876125772. Archived from the original on 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
- Popular Music, 1920-1979: A Revised Cumulation, Volume 2, , Nat Shapiro & Bruce Pollock;, Gale Research Company, 1985, ISBN 0810308479; page 190
- Simon, 1981, page 190. - referenced in JStore Randall, Dale B. J. preview
- Randall, Dale B. J. (1995). "American "Mairzy" Dottiness, Sir John Fastolf's Secretary, and the "Law French" of a Caroline Cavalier". American Speech. Duke University Press. 70 (4): 361–370. doi:10.2307/455617. JSTOR 455617.
- "The Merry Macs". Discogs.
- Opie, Iona; Opie, Peter (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 263. ISBN 978-0198600886.
- Jones, Spike. "Mairzy Doats - Spike Jones". p. 1960 Capitol Records.