Friday, May 01, 2009

Save The Bones For Henry Jones

I've been waiting since the start of You Tube to put up a post like this...

One of my cherished memories of New York is hearing a quartet singing on the Staten Island Ferry more than twenty years ago. Like many buskers their talent was conspicuous and you wonder why they play on the street, or in this case, the upper deck of the ferry. I'm sure the money can be okay for some, but that's a tough way to earn it.

(Last week we saw The Soloist and the theme of gifted people on the streets is timely. In the case of The Soloist, the main character is a musician good enough that he got through two years at Julliard before coming apart with mental problems. The story is not only based on real people, according to the closing credits those people are still in touch with one another and the story continues as a work in progress. Unlike the David Helfgott story, the musician in this case is good but not spectacularly gifted, which makes the message even more poignant.)

Anyway, one of the songs the New York quartet sang was "Save the Bones for Henry" and the lyrics and image have stuck in my memory ever since. They were four black women, singing a capella with rich, full gospel-choir quality voices and they were a delight to hear. I spoke with them later and found out that they sang as a group for parties, church, or whatever they could, but when they wanted extra money they "worked the Ferry." This time they were raising money for new blazers. I don't know any names or any other information, but I hope the last twenty years has been good to them.

Here are two videos. The first is to let the reader know how the song was sung back in the day. The words are easy to understand and the style is classic. I found the lyrics on line also.

The second video is the only modern version I found. One day another group may put up a more polished version but until then this one is more fun than a romp in the park.

A well matched pair of singers. Johnny Mercer with the King Cole Trio. Cool! Recorded about 1947. Enjoy!

Rebbie, La Toya and Janet perform the song made popular by Nat King Cole for the Jacksons Variety Show.

You can see their brothers in the background! Marlon is holding the saxophone, Michael the cello, Tito on guitar, Randy on drums and Jackie on the piano...

We’re gonna have a supper
We’ll eat some food that’s rare
And at the head of the table
We’ll place brother Henry’s chair
Invite all the local big dogs
We’ll laugh and talk and eat
But we’ll save the bones for Henry Jones
‘Cause Henry don’t eat no meat

Today I’ll go to market
Buy up a lotta fish
Well, that will thrill brother Henry
‘Cause fish is his special dish
Get a large can of molasses
Have something really sweet
But we’ll save the bones for Henry Jones
‘Cause Henry don’t eat no meat

Henry is not a drinker
He rarely takes a nip
He don’t need a napkin
‘Cause the things he eats don’t drip – blip!
One day we had a banquet
It really was a bake
They started off with short ribs
Then finished off with steak
But when the feast was over
Brother Henry just kept his seat
And we served the bones to Henry Jones
‘Cause Henry don’t eat no meat

Our banquet was most proper
Right down to demitasse
From soup to lox and bagels
And pheasant under glass – class!
We thought the chops were mellow
He said his chops were beat – reet!
We served the bones to Henry Jones
‘Cause Henry don’t eat no meat
He’s an egg man
Henry don’t eat no meat
He loves a pullet
Henry don’t eat no meat
A vegetarian
Coming mother!
Soup’s on

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