Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I'm from an army family and my folks had a service-related 78 that they played quite often.

It was unlike any other song I've ever heard in that the lyrics contain lots of initialisms that are, even now, commonly used in the army.

Two of those that I recall are PFC and PVT, both indicating a soldier's ranks.

There were lots more, and I'm hoping you will list them all.

I suspect this was a 1940s wartime release.
—J.J. Gallagher, Hollywood, Fla.

DEAR J.J.: Wartime indeed.

Written in 1943 by the great Johnny Mercer, even the title of this tune, "G.I. Jive" has an initialism.

Accompanied by Paul Weston and His Orchestra, Mercer's original (Capitol 141) hit the charts in January 1944, but only reached No. 13 on Billboard.

Flying somewhat in the face of tradition, it would be a cover version, issued a few months later by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five (Decca 8659), that reached No. 1 and sold over one million copies.

Because there are several more initialisms in the Louis Jordan track, and it includes all those heard on the Mercer disc, we need only to list the 12 used by Jordan.

Many military initialisms, acronyms and abbreviations have more than one meaning, but these are the most common definitions:

CP (Command Post)
CPL (Corporal)
G.I. (Government Issue)
KP (Kitchen Patrol)
LIEUT (Lieutenant)
LT (Lieutenant
MP (Military Police)
OG (Operations Group)
PFC (Private First Class)
PVT (Private)
QT (Quietly)
SGT (Sergeant)

DEAR JERRY: It's amazing how many little details in life are impossible to remember many years later.

For example, in 1964 our local Top 40 station (KTOP) had a phone-in contest, and here's what I remember about it.

It was in December that year, and I know that because the prize was a copy of the then-new "Beatles '65," and I thought of it as a Christmas gift.

The challenge was to be the first caller to identify the artist and title of the only instrumental on that week's K-Top 40 Silver Dollar Survey.

Well, I turned out to be the winner, but try as I may I cannot remember the title or the artist of that instrumental.

Every time I look at my "Beatles '65" album I am reminded of my forgetfulness.

How can I restore this memory file from my brain's recycle bin?
—Melody Goodwin, Topeka, Kan.

DEAR MELODY: Surely there is something iniquitous about being reminded of one's forgetfulness.

Identifying Melody's mystery melody is actually much easier for someone with a mountain of regional music charts, especially if they are filed chronologically ... such as mine.

The American release of "Beatles '65" came in mid-December, and by scanning the last couple of K-TOP Silver Dollar Surveys for 1964 I quickly recovered your long-deleted file.

For the week of December 26, 1964, the Top 40 in Topeka consisted of 39 vocals and one instrumental.

Interestingly, that stray in the herd held the No. 3 slot that week, so it really was a sizable hit in your area.

By prominent jazz trombonist Harold Betters, this single has "Do Anything You Wanna (Part I)" backed with "Do Anything You Wanna (Part II)" (Gateway 45-747).

Whether KTOP favored Part I or Part II, or played them both, is not noted.

What is clear is that only the Beatles ("She's a Woman"/"I Feel Fine") and the Searchers ("Love Potion Number Nine") bettered Betters that week.

Even with strong sales and Top 30 slots in several other markets, among them Sacramento (KXOA); Providence (WICE); Washington (WWDC); Salem (KBZY); Knoxville (WNOX); and Hartford (WDRC), "Do Anything You Wanna" never got higher than No. 74 on Billboard and No. 88 on Cash Box.

One radio station where the music itself was played, but not performed by Harold Betters, was WIBG in Philadelphia.

The Philly giant chose to spin a cover version of "Do Anything You Wanna" (no "Part" indicated), by trombonist Kai Winding. His record (Verve 10334) was on their playlist for about six weeks, but only reached No. 59 on their Top 99.

A little over a year earlier, Kai Winding & Orchestra made everyone's Top 10 with his signature song, "More (From Motion Picture 'Mondo Cane')."

IZ ZAT SO? Just a couple of months after both instrumentals of "Do Anything You Wanna" faded from the scene, Gateway brought in George Green to record a vocal version over "Part I" of the Harold Betters' track.

Issued as "Do Anything You Wanna," by George (Stardust) Green with Harold Betters (Gateway 45-751), it was very well done but never managed to chart.

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