Pistol Packin' Mama

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Women Airforce Service Pilots named in 1944 their B-17 Flying Fortress, "Pistol Packin' Mama"

"Pistol Packin' Mama" is a 1943 song with the words written by Al Dexter, who adapted the melody from "Boil Them Cabbage Down."[1]

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters[2] recorded the song on September 27, 1943 for Decca Records[3] and it is notable that it was the first number one the Juke Box Folk records charts. Patty Andrews recalled that she and her sisters were quite amused and had to restrain their laughter when Crosby ad libbed "lay that thing down before it goes off and hurts somebody."[2]

The song followed to the number one spot by the original version (recorded March 18, 1942) performed by Al Dexter and His Troopers[4] released on Okeh 6708.[1] The Bing Crosby recording of "Pistol Packin' Mama" peaked at #3 on the Harlem Hit Parade chart.[5]

The B-side of the Al Dexter version of "Pistol Packin' Mama," a song entitled "Rosalita," hit number one on the same chart later in the year. As with the Bing Crosby recording, the Al Dexter version charted on the Harlem Hit Parade chart, peaking at #5.[6]

Other recordings[edit]

Other uses[edit]

  • The Irving Berlin song "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun", from the musical Annie Get Your Gun, contains the lyric: "A man's love is mighty, he'll even buy a nightie, for a gal who he thinks is fun. But they don't buy pajamas for pistol packin' mamas."
  • The chorus of the song was used for the 1970s UK television advertising campaign for Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles, with the punning tag line "Pastille Pickin' Mama, pass those pastilles round."[9]
  • It is also continually referenced in Spike Milligan's Goodbye Soldier (1986), which is part of his memoirs of World War II and just after it. In it he states that as Mussolini did not like jazz, after he was defeated the Italians were getting into jazz, and as this song was popular at the time, this was one of the songs Milligan and his group was often asked to sing. He also states that this is one of the main songs sung by Italian jazz bands (in fact he states that some bands only ever sang this song).
  • There is also a version of the song on an album titled A.P.C. Presents: The Unreleasable Tapes, with Bryan Adams being credited with the lead vocals.[10]
  • The Bing Crosby and Andrews Sisters version of the song is featured in the video games L.A. Noire and Fallout 4, on radio stations in-game, and in the episode "The Atomic Job" of Agent Carter.
  • A B17-G Flying Fortress named "Pistol Packin' Mama" was lost on July 20, 1944 on a mission to Leipzig.
  • In episode #151 of Hee Haw, the whole Hee Haw Gang, led by Buck Owens, performed the song in front of the haystack.
  • In a 1964 episode of the television program McHale's Navy entitled "The Rage of Taratupa", the song is sung several times by the character Harley Hatfield, played by actor Jesse Pearson.


  1. ^ a b Abrams, Steven and Settlemier, Tyrone. "The Online Discographical Project – Okeh (CBS) 6500 - 6747 (1941 - 45)". Retrieved February 21, 2011
  2. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 1, side A.
  3. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 535.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 139.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 157.
  7. ^ Billboard Nov 27, 1943. page 23
  8. ^ British Hit Singles & Albums (18 ed.). London: Guinness World Records Ltd. 2005. p. 534. ISBN 1-904994-00-8.
  9. ^ "Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles (3): 1972" at eadington.org.uk
  10. ^ emusic.com