Sunday, October 5, 2008

THE DEATH OF RAMA LAMA DING DONG

I was dismayed to hear of the recent death of George "Wydell" Jones Jr., not to be confused with country music legend George Jones. Today, October 5th, would have been his 72nd birthday. George "Wydell" Jones was a songwriter in the 1950's who penned the famous doo wop song hit Rama Lama Ding Dong and performed it as the lead singer of The Edsels (originally they were "The Essos" as in the oil company, but they would have had to change it to the Exxons).

Unfortunately for the group, it wasn't any more successful than its namesake automobile. Its other 25 or so recordings remain largely unknown to most Americans. Jones, who died from cancer, was survived by his wife, 6 children, 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Jones, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, where his father worked in a steel mill, formed the group while serving in the Air Force, where he wrote its signature song, Rama Lama Ding Dong.

The Edsels also featured Larry and Harry Green, James Reynolds and Marshall Sewell. To capitalize on their sole hit recording, they performed several times on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, and also at the famous Apollo Theater in New York. They split up in 1963, but continued to perform separately.

The song, Rama Lama Ding Dong was originally recorded in 1957 and released under the erroneous title "Lama Rama Ding Dong" in 1958. The song didn't hit the charts until 1961 when a New York disk jockey began playing it in conjunction with the Marcels' doo wop version of Blue Moon. Rama Lama became popular and eventually rose to Number 21 on the Billboard charts.

Although it's one of the most ridiculous songs I've ever heard, after hearing it played repeatedly, it grows on you. The lyrics are as follows:

Oh, oh, oh, oh
I got a girl named Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong
She's everything to me,
Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong
I'll never set her free
For she's mine, all mine
Oh, oh, oh, oh
I got a girl named Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong
She's fine to me
Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong,
You won't believe that she's mine, all mine
I love her
Love her, love her so
That I'll never, never let her go
You may be certain she's mine, all mine
She's mine all of the time.

(and so on and so forth!)

We can laugh all we want, but the song has had an impact on American culture.

According to Wikipedia:

A cover version of the song was performed on The Muppet Show once (in Episode 89).

A cover was made by Serbian doo wop band Vampiri in 1991. (How do you say Rama Lama Ding Dong in Serbo-Croatian?)

In 1961, Barry Mann wrote and performed a song called Who Put the Bomp which contained the lyric, "who put the ram in the Rama Lama Ding Dong" when describing his girl falling in love with him after listening to the "romantic" lyrics.

The song is heard in the movie Children of a Lesser God and is used by the William Hurt character "James Leeds" to teach his class of hearing impaired teenagers.

Somehow I can imagine using this song to teach English to foreigners.

It's not known if the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame dimmed its lights in tribute, but George "Wydell" Jones Jr. did contribute uniquely to American culture.

KENNETH SUSKIN

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1 Comments:

OpenID markweiss86 said...

i should feel bad about parodying this name to reference a famous South Asian math genius

October 30, 2011 at 11:38 AM  

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