Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I have an unusual request. I want to buy a frog song for my daughter's birthday. She collects frogs of all descriptions and I usually try to find something unique for her collection.

I learned of one recording titled “The Frog Song,” but I don't have much information other than it is performed by Vernon Dalhart and Adelyne Hood. So far I haven't been able to even find anyone who has heard of it, much less where I might get a copy. If “The Frog Song” is not available, would you please suggest another frog title?
—Pat Kemmerling, Waukesha, Wisc.

DEAR PAT: I can only imagine the record reissue moguls reading this and realizing the timing is now right for an “All Time Greatest Frog Songs” CD.

You don't give your daughter's age, so I don't know if tunes by Kermit the Frog are appropriate. He has made some good ones, such as “It's Not Easy Being Green,” that even non-amphibian adults can enjoy.

Vernon Dalhart is best known for “The Prisoner's Song,” but he and Adelyne did record “The Frog Song” (Velvet Tone 1783), in the mid-'20s.

In a very unusual composition, Dalhart and Hood are cast as two frogs who have lost members of their family to “naughty, wicked French cannibals” anxious to dine on frog legs.

I doubt finding this 80-year-old 78, or even playing one, is the way to go. Much easier to locate, and with a far less barbarous story line, is “Frogg” (a.k.a. “Froggy Went A-Courtin'”), a Top 40 hit in 1961 for the Brothers Four.

This track is readily available on the CD, “The Brothers Four — Greatest Hits” (Columbia 074640-86032-4).

Another gem is Peter, Paul and Mary's “I'm in Love with a Big Blue Frog,” which is on their “Album 1700.”

A bit of a different frog connection can be found in Clarence "Frogman" Henry's “I Ain't Got No Home,” wherein he sings a few lines with a frog-like voice.

DEAR JERRY: No one, including my computer, has been able to help me solve a musical mystery. I hope you can.

In the early '60s, I used to frequent an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. When there, I always played a song on their juke box by a female singer, which I thought is titled “West of the Wall.”

Now retired and living in Florida, I have never again heard this tune, and no one I know has ever heard it. I am starting to wonder if it really exists, or if I just dreamed up the whole thing.
—Chris Alisi, Polk City, Fla.

DEAR CHRIS: Miss Toni Fisher had only two Top 40 hits, and the one you describe is not “The Big Hurt.”

It is indeed titled “West of the Wall” — the Berlin Wall that is — and it came out in 1962 (Big Top 3097).

The late Miss Toni, who died in 1999, lived long enough to see the Wall come down in the mid-'80s. In 1989, I was there, like thousands of others, with hammer and chisel chipping away.

DEAR JERRY: With so many of the great lead singers, of popular groups, now deceased, it raises this question for me.

Of the groups whose original lead singer is still living, would you say the Rolling Stones are the top sellers?
—Col. Lawrence Davis, St. Louis, Mo.

DEAR COL. DAVIS: It appears you do not want to consider groups who have lost even one of their original lead singers, right? That would mean the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Temptations are not in the running.

Under those guidelines, the Rolling Stones and their indefatigable Mr. Jagger are No. 1.

Ever notice that, unlike so many of the other groups where the lead singer demanded top billing (Animals, Miracles, Supremes, etc.) they never changed their name to Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones?

IZ ZAT SO? The first hit in America from the Rolling Stones may come as a surprise. In 1963, Gene Pitney recorded the Mick Jagger-Keith Richards tune, “That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” (Musicor 1036). This is well before anyone in America knew of the Rolling Stones.

By January 1964, this tune made the Billboard charts, eventually peaking at No. 49.

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