I am beginning to think today's song may be one you’ve never heard before. I used to own two copies, but the Great Vinyl Meltdown of 1972 ate one. I can find only one reference to the record label, and one to the song. There is no trail leading to the artist/songwriter. I hope you appreciate hearing something weird that almost no one else owns.
In the dim beginnings of my life, "Old Boris" by Bela LaGoldstein (IRC 6916) was one of the first singles that Uncle Tom brought me from the Big Top department store. Had I not heard a decent sample of other records before this one arrived, it might well have ended my interest in music. Not yet being toughened to the Slavic intonations of Bela Lugosi, three-year-old caithiseach found the spoken vocals, overlaid on a creepy track that included wolves in the distance, to be a bit much.
IRC Records was a Chicago operation that released records slowly from 1961 or so until at least 1966. Among its luminaries was Dick Biondi, a Hall of Fame disc jockey who recorded the only parody-of-a-parody that I know. Released as “The Pizza Song” on IRC 6904, the song starts with “On top of a pizza” and parodies “On Top of Spaghetti,” itself a parody of “On Top of Old Smoky.”
Another IRC artist, Ronnie Rice, went on to join the already existent New Colony Six in 1966. He co-wrote (with Les Kummel) their two Top 40 hits, “I Will Always Think About You” and “Things I’d Like to Say.”
Beyond these two artists, the trail grows pretty cold. I know the writer of “Old Boris” is H. Goldstein. He clearly played off the Lugosi name, and he mimics the late horror star fairly well. Goldstein pulls in many horror clichés, and he paints a vivid picture of life at the castle. Once I got over my fear of the song (earlier than some of the other songs that bothered me), I saw the tune as an amusing camp treatment of said clichés. I didn't yet realize just how clever Goldstein was.
Before I go into that, I want to tell you that the flip of the single, "Why Do I Love You?," is equally creepy. To paraphrase: "I love the way you sink your fangs into my neck." I'm not sharing it here because the song is so scratched it has become unplayable.
How clever was H. Goldstein? I didn't know until about the time I started writing the posts for this blog, a year ago. Last October, I found an early 1960s song I had not yet acquired, a spoken-word opus that turned out to be a pretty big hit for one of the few Rock Era Top 40 artists to have been born in the 1800s.
That song was "Old Rivers" by Walter Brennan, and "Old Boris" is a parody of that maudlin hit.
Since there's not much else to say, other than to repeat that I used this song yet again to torture myself, which led me to vacate the area until the song ended, I'll pair up the parody lyrics with the originals (in italics). The best line is “My ghoul, Old Boris, and me,” which plays on “That mule, old Rivers and me.”
For Wednesday, the series finale will feature the creepiest of the creepy songs, one I had serious difficulty finding. Why I wanted to own it again, I don’t know. See you Wednesday! (Songs after the lyrics.)
Now the last time I saw Old Boris
He was hanging out of a tree
We had great fun, the three of us
My ghoul, Old Boris, and me
Old Boris was a playful one
He was really something to see
We never had tea at four
But we’d always drink blood at three
Now one of these nights, you should come to my castle
No telling what you might see
And there will be the three of us
My ghoul, Old Boris, and me
Boris! What’s that in your chest, Boris?
Boris, take the stake out of your heart
That’s a good monster
Now Boris, he was a faithful soul
He was just like one of the gang
He always worked late in the dungeon
Breaking up bods with his own bare fangs
Old Boris is still a playful one
As playful as all heck
So never turn your back on him
He may bite you in the neck
How old was I when I first seen old Rivers?
I can't remember when he weren't around
Well, that old fellow did a heap of work
Spent his whole life walking plowed ground.
He had a one-room shack not fer from us
And well, we was about as poor as him
He had one old mule he called Midnight
And I'd trail along after them.
He used to plow them rows straight and deep
And I'd come along there behind
A-bustin' up clods with my own bare feet
Old Rivers was a friend of mine.
The sun'd get high and that mule would work
And old Rivers'd finally say, ''Whoa!''
He'd wipe his brow, and lean back on the reins
And talk about a place he was gonna go.
He'd say, one of these days I'm gonna climb that mountain
Walk up there among them clouds
Where the cotton's highAnd the corn's a-growin'
And there ain't no fields to plow.
I got a letter today from the folks back home
And they're all fine and crops is dry
Down near the end Mom said, ''Son,
You know, old Rivers died.''
Just sittin' here now on this new-plowed earth
Trying to find me a little shade
With the sun beating down 'cross the field I see
That mule, old Rivers and me.
Bela LaGoldstein, Old Boris
Walter Brennan, Old Rivers