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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kodak’s 1960s’ “Turn Around” Commercial

By Nicholas Stix

June 14, 2009
The Critical Critic

Via ghfowler, with a tip ‘o the hat to Lyrr’s Blog.

This is a classic 1960s’ Kodak ad, which I vaguely recall from my childhood. I always appreciated the song’s beauty, but now that I have a son growing up and almost as tall as me, I find the music and pictures even more poignant.

The song, “Where are You Going?,” was written by Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene. Officially, Harry Belafonte is also credited, but according to Charles H. Smith and Nancy Schimmel, Reynolds maintained that Belafonte’s involvement was limited to misunderstanding the original lyrics, which spoke of “Little sunsuits and petticoats.”

When Harry Belafonte recorded the song, he sang “Little dirndls and petticoats” instead of “Little sunsuits and petticoats,” saying that you don’t wear petticoats with sunsuits. “I wasn’t thinking of wearing,” said Malvina. “I was thinking of ironing.” Since dirndls aren’t popular any more, people may want to revert to the original line.

G.H. Fowler believes that the singer is Ed Ames; commenter 1964inahlee1968 argues that the singer is someone else bearing vocal similarities to Ames.



I recently heard a stunning version sung by the late Rosemary Clooney, on Jonathan Schwartz’ weekend show on NPR’s New York City station, WNYC, at 93.9 FM. (Rosie, may she rest in peace, had five children of her own.)

The media were no less ruthless in 1960 than they are now, but at least then, they understood the importance of at least projecting the image of decency. As La Rochefoucald said, “Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.” But under racial socialism, vice is a free rider, and has kicked virtue off the latter’s own bus. Knowledge of this state of affairs takes the commercial beyond an occasion for nostalgia and poignancy, to an occasion for grieving.


Where are You Going?
Music by Alan Greene
Lyrics by Malvina Reynolds
(Version sung by Harry Belafonte and the singer in the Kodak commercial.)

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you're two,
Turn around and you're four,
Turn around and you're a young girl going out of my door.

Turn around, turn around,
Turn around and you're a young girl going out of my door.

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Little dirndls and petticoats, where have you gone?
Turn around and you're tiny,
Turn around and you're grown,
Turn around and you're a young wife with babes of your own.

Turn around, turn around,
Turn around and you're a young wife with babes of your own.


Malvina Reynolds’s Original Version
(Note that it has verses for a son and a daughter.)

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my sonny, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young man going out of my door.

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Little sunsuits and petticoats, where have you gone?
Turn around and you’re tiny,
Turn around and you’re grown,
Turn around and you’re a young wife with babes of your own.

2 comments:

Charles H. Smith said...

This is not quite what we (Nancy Schimmel and myself) said. On Nancy's recollection, plus what was told to Alan Greene's son Brian (the famous physicist), it appears Malvina came to Greene with the main body of the song (including the lyrics) completed, but Greene (or possibly Belafonte) thought it needed a chorus, which he added. Belafonte's small addition to the song may or may not have warranted his inclusion as author, but after all, he was the one who was going to sing it... --Charles H. Smith

Nicholas said...

Dear Mr. Smith,

I don't, at present, have access to to my files (i.e., my original download of your Web page), but I hit the link to go back to your present Web page for the song, and have copied and pasted the relevant footnotes below.

Please explain how I misrepresented you and Ms. Schimmel. You quoted Malvina Reynolds as saying that Harry Belafonte had misunderstood her lyrics, and I quoted the passage in question verbatim. As for whether Belafonte deserved co-author status, in your criticism of me you left no doubt that his listing as co-author had no justification, and was purely an act of extortion on his part. However, you clearly have no problem with his extortion ("after all…").

Would you support white singers engaging in the same sort of extortion against black songwriters? Singers who believe in free markets against communist songwriters? I didn't think so.

Now, what was your criticism of me?

Sincerely,
Nicholas Stix

"1. Although Greene and Belafonte are listed as co-composers here, some recent public comments made by friends of Malvina's make it sound as though the song was actually wholly of her making, and that the copyright was set up in this fashion simply because Belafonte made this a condition for his recording it. More accurately, it would appear that Belafonte agreed to record the song only after Alan Greene had made some modifications (most notably the addition of the chorus) to Malvina's original words and music. A couple of the word changes may have been suggested by Belafonte, though in Malvina's own songbooks she credited the song as 'Words and Music' by Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene.

"2. When Harry Belafonte recorded the song, he sang 'Little dirndls and petticoats' instead of 'Little sunsuits and petticoats,' saying that you don’t wear petticoats with sunsuits. 'I wasn’t thinking of wearing,' said Malvina. 'I was thinking of ironing.' Since dirndls aren’t popular any more, people may want to revert to the original line. The entire original song went like this:

"Where are you going, my little one, little one,

Where are you going, my sonny, my own?

Turn around and you’re two, turn around and you’re four,

Turn around and you’re a young man going out of my door.

"Where are you going, my little one, little one,

Little sunsuits and petticoats, where have you gone?
Turn around and you’re tiny, turn around and you’re grown,

Turn around and you’re a young wife with babes of your own.

"The chorus was added for the Belafonte recording, and Malvina also sang and recorded it that way."