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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Laboring in obscure corners: the saga of Foxtrot Katinka

Foxtrot Katinka by Henry TobiasI've been immersed in a huge project of trying to find lost tunes for about 130 songs popular in Warsaw, Poland, between the wars. This search, which has consumed all my blogging time, is quite a treasure hunt.

It took a while to figure out that the tune for one of my lost songs (which is not really a song, more an advertisement for a sock-and-handkerchief store run by a Mr. Boymvol) was this: Katinka, a Russian Fox Trot-Sky.

The lyrics of this 1926 song by Henry Tobias are not going to win any prizes: "Out in Russia there are lots of Russians," it begins. Despite the kitshy lyrics, the song became very popular in Europe (I see there are Finnish and Greek versions of it on youtube). But George Olsen sang it first, in the original English. I am very fond of the fake Russian scatting in the middle.

I have a new sub-project, which is to record the songs of Itzik Zhelonek very informally (generally first thing in the morning before I change out of my pajamas) and bundle them with the sheet music I write up. If you would like to know when there's a new song up (there are actually about five of them already but I haven't officially admitted I'm doing this) you can sign up here and get the first bundle (the famous song Yosl, Yosl) free: