Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Halleluiah! In January, you answered all but one of my eternal questions about “Frim Fram Sauce.”

The one you did not answer is whether or not frim fram, ossentay, and chifafa really exist.

Even the Indiana lady who sent the question (Donna Dorfman) asked this, but you seemed to side-step that topic. Do you know?

Also, are ossentay and chifafa really spelled that way?

I am looking to forward to your answers.
—Frank J. Mente, Milwaukee

DEAR FRANK: Had I received more than just one letter (yours) asking why I didn't answer this question, I would suspect the wording of my reply failed to do its job.

Nevertheless, on the chance someone else out there, who didn't write, also misunderstood the implication, here is Frim Fram, Take 2.

Right there in my first paragraph is the answer you seek, which states:

“Unfortunately, not a one of her preferred choices [frim fram sauce, ossentay, chifafa] are likely to be found on anyone's menu — unless concocted specifically to tie-in with “The Frim Fram Sauce” [song].”

Simply put, I cannot categorically state there isn't a diner somewhere that, inspired by the song, didn't add these items to their menu. To do so would be nothing more than a gimmick to connect with the amusing lyrics.

When written in 1945, by Redd (Louis) Evans and Joseph Ricardel, none of these items existed, and, apart from the possible exception noted above, they still do not exist.

As for the spelling of ossentay and chifafa, my source is Diana Krall's wonderful “Frim Fram Sauce” video. In it both words appear several times, first on the diner's menu and then on the customer's check.

Watch it here!

DEAR JERRY: As you surely know, the last track on Side One of the Beatles “Let It Be” album is “Maggie Mae.” It's a very cute song, and I have grown quite fond of it over the past 40 years.

Much to my dismay, however, it runs only 39 seconds! Since the Beatles wrote it, I doubt they would have created a :39 second song and then called it a wrap.

I've never seen an official explanation, but it stands to reason that if more of “Maggie Mae” existed it would be on “Let It Be.”

Where is the rest of Maggie?
—Margaret Fielding, New York

DEAR MARGARET: Or should I call you Maggie?

“Maggie May,” the usual title of this traditional Liverpudlian folk song, has been around longer than any of the Beatles, or any of their parents. Since the early 1800s, according to most Scoursers.

Need I point out this is a completely different “Maggie May” than the one made famous by Rod Stewart in 1971?

Because this Maggie was in the public domain — not owned or claimed by anyone — the Beatles helped themselves to some writing credit, a wise and ultimately profitable ploy.

Most 20th century, pre-Beatles, versions originated in England circa-1957. The best known of these, and the only one issued in America (Capitol 3711), is by the Viper Skiffle Group.

At that time in Liverpool, John Lennon's first band, the Quarrymen, jumped on the skiffle (folk-rock) craze, and “Maggie May” became one of their staples.

As an homage to those formative Quarrymen days, the Beatles did an impromptu :56 of “Maggie Mae” (now their title) during their Jan. 24, 1969 Abbey Road session.

So what happened to the other 17 seconds?

Who knows? Regardless, the full-length “Maggie Mae,” all:56 worth, eventually came out on the bootleg CD “Artifacts 5: Get Back to Abbey Road, 1969-1970.” On it, after “Maggie Mae,” Paul says “take it, Maggie,” then segues right into “Fancy Me Chances,” a 30-second ditty from their early '60s catalog.

For more on John Lennon, the Quarrymen, and their “Maggie Mae” days, I recommend the 2010 film, “Nowhere Boy.” It's entertaining, informative, and, more importantly, factual.

Hear both versions here!

IZ ZAT SO? First issues of the “Let It Be” LP (Apple AR-34001) show “Maggie Mae” as in the Public Domain (P.D.), though all subsequent pressings credit the tune thusly: “(P.D. arr. Lennon; McCartney; Harrison; Starkey).”

In what flies in the face of norm, the second pressing is the more valuable and in-demand. Its price range is $200 to $300, which is about $100 more than first issues.

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