13.4.08

I DON'T WANT TO BE A CHICKEN, I DON'T WANT TO BE A DUCK. Word reaches Cold Spring Shops of the passing of Bob Kames, born Kujawa.

In 1949, he composed a pop tune, calling it, "You Are My One True Love," based on a Polish folk song. Turned down by major labels, he released it through a local record company, paying for the first 5,000 records himself.

It was picked up by London Records in England, becoming a huge hit.

"He wrote that for [Edith Campbell]," Bob Jr. said. "It was a million-seller. Lawrence Welk recorded it and Frankie Yankovic . . . and others."

The couple finally married in 1955. While their legal name remained Kujawa, they were known to most as Bob and Edith Kames.

Kames went on to make his "Happy Organ" and other albums. In 1966, he produced his first television show, "The Bob Kames Family Room," and other specials followed over the next 17 years. Guests included Lawrence Welk, Hildegarde, Frankie Yankovic, Bobby Vinton and Don Ho. He also performed at Summerfest, Festa Italiana, Polish Fest, Rainbow Summer and other venues.

I was not aware that his perhaps best known work is relatively recent.

As for that "Chicken Dance," even a self-promoter like Kames couldn't quite believe how it caught on.

His record producer heard the song at a German music fair in 1982 and shipped it right off to Kames, who recorded his version the same week.

"This stupid little thing, it's infectious," Kames said, speaking in 1995. "It has only two chords, it doesn't even change for the bridge. It implants the melody in people's minds - it just sticks in there. That's gotta be the secret.

"It just keeps on going. People come up to me at jobs and tell me how happy it makes them," Kames said. "You get a song like this once in a lifetime."

That Wikipedia choreography must have come from Minnesota. I have the tape, with words and dance instructions (as if Cheeseheads, even displaced ones, require written instructions) and the trio is

Reach out your arms and swing your partner
Make like a bird and try to fly
Come on out there you hens and roosters
Just hook your arms and don't be shy.

No comments: