Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private with a Chicken On Your Knee?

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"Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private with a Chicken On Your Knee?"
Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private with a Chicken On Your Knee?.jpg
Sheet music cover for "Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private with a Chicken On Your Knee?"
Song by Arthur Fields
Published1918
LabelColumbia Records
Songwriter(s)Composer: Sidney D. Mitchell
Lyricist: Archie Gottler

"Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private with a Chicken On Your Knee?" is a World War I song that became a hit for songwriter and performer Arthur Fields in 1919. His version was recorded for Columbia records.[1]

Composition[edit]

The song was composed by Sidney D. Mitchell with words by Archie Gottler. It was published by Leo Feist in 1918.[2]

The song uses the colloquial in comparing a "bird" colonel's life to that of a private. It also expresses a common man theme that was popular with Tin Pan Alley songwriters during World War I.[3][4]

Performances[edit]

The song was successfully sung by Eddie Cantor in Ziegfeld's Follies in 1918. It was well suited for the follies, because the singer expresses patriotism and appreciation of beautiful women with his identification with the private in the song who has more time to appreciate women and receives more attention from them than the colonel does.[2][5][6]

Arthur Fields' 1919 version, which was released under the pseudonym Eugene Buckley, was one of the top 100 songs of 1919.[1][7]

Gordon Jenkins recorded a version of the song for Capitol Records in 1943.[8]

Six Hits and a Miss recorded a version of the song for Capitol Records in 1943.[9]

Bertha Wolpa recorded a version for Smithsonian Folkways.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

The song was mentioned in detail in the address of E. M. Allen, who was president of the National Association of Insurance Agents, at the Annual Meeting of the Fire Underwriters' Association of the Northwest that was held in Chicago in 1918.[11]

The song is mentioned in Preston Jones' The Oldest Living Graduate: A Play in Two Acts.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Top Songs of 1919 ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  2. ^ a b "Would you rather be a colonel with an eagle on... | Pritzker Military Museum & Library | Chicago". Pritzkermilitary.org. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  3. ^ Whitcomb, Ian. After the Ball ; Pop Music from Rag to Rock. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973, page 1929, ISBN 0671214683.
  4. ^ Scheurer, Timothy E. Born in the U.S.A. The Myth of America in Popular Music from Colonial Times to the Present. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1991, page 101, ISBN 9781604738070
  5. ^ Van der Merwe, Ann Ommen. The Ziegfeld Follies A History in Song. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2009. <http://catalog.hathitrust.org/api/volumes/oclc/263498171.html>., page 118.
  6. ^ Wilson, Jason. Soldiers of Song The Dumbells and Other Canadian Concert Parties of the First World War. Waterloo, Ont: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012, page 11, ISBN 9781554588824.
  7. ^ Artist Biography by Eugene Chadbourne. "Arthur Fields | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  8. ^ Billboard: Music Year Book, 1943, page 91.
  9. ^ Billboard, Feb 6, 1943, pages 22 and 63.
  10. ^ "Smithsonian Folkways - Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private with a Chicken on Your Knee? - Bertha Wolpa". Folkways.si.edu. 2013-03-20. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  11. ^ Fire Underwriters' Association of the Northwest. Proceedings of the ... Annual Meeting of the Fire Underwriters Association of the Northwest. Milwaukee, Wis: Fire Underwriters' Association of the Northwest, 1871- , vol. 49, page 65.
  12. ^ Jones, Preston. The Oldest Living Graduate: A Play in Two Acts. New York: Dramatistis Play Service, 1976, page 42.

External links[edit]