recess radio program

01/24/06
The Songs of the Pogo
    by John Cech

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Walt Kelly was one of the masters of American nonsense. His much loved, hilariously cryptic Pogo comic strip first appeared in 1949 and was in American papers even after Kelly's death in 1973. Pogo was nigh indescribable: an on-going, shaggy dog, animal fable, set in the Okefenokee swamp, with lots of social commentary, Lewis Carroll, and huge dollops of spoonerism. Kelly's verbal inventiveness simply cried out for music, and Kelly and his pals giddily obliged. Here's the Pogo theme song, from a CD called Songs of the Pogo-- it's equal parts children's nonsense, show tune, and old fashioned vaudevillian razzle dazze:

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The songs on this CD were taken from recordings that were made in the 1950s -- when Pogo was one of the hottest properties in American popular culture and there was even a movement afoot in the country to launch the presidential candidacy of the little possum, after whom the comic strip was named. One could only imagine his administration, accompanied as it would have been by choruses like this, from "The Keen and the Quing":

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And who wouldn't vote for the tender "Many Happy Returns," which should be sung around the cakes and candles of every child's (or adult's) birthday party:

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Copyright 2006 John Cech

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Thursday, 05-Jan-2006 09:21:38 EST


"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."