My top 25 kazoo songs

With Nathan, Captain Kazooz, Temple City Kazoo Orchestra, Toy Dolls, Provizorka Jazz Band, The Savoy Orpheans, Beat Farmers, Dionne Warwick, Susan Christie, Del Shannon, Syd Barrett, The Cure, Toby Keith, Dion, Eric Clapton, The Kinks, Monsieur Mirliton, Jurassic 5, Queen, Mound City Blue Blowers, Frank Zappa, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Playlist here < Kazoobie.

Well, they’re almost all songs. “2001 sprach Kazoostra” by the Temple City Kazoo Orchestra is brilliant, and features chest percussion:

I wonder if it was the inspiration for David Bedford‘s a cappella “Wagner’s Ring in one minute”, which appeared on Morgan Fisher‘s great Miniatures (1980):

Jugband Blues“, written by Syd Barrett for Pink Floyd, is an extraordinary song, and uses kazoos to mimic a brass ensemble:

The online shop is open!

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate, etc. etc.

One day there’ll be more than just kazoos, honest.

Originally I wrote some PHP using Google Sheets and Zend to manage stock and compile orders, and then pump the results through to Paypal. That was fine, but billing through PP is more complicated than my poor monkey brain thought, and there’s a free e-commerce plugin for WordPress, Woocommerce, which does that latter bit well, though this petulant and proud monkey isn’t quite as much in favour of its inventory management.

The most frightening thing at Monte Igueldo is actually the hotel: we are in a 1970s sub-Saharan African beach establishment; the forces of the Marxist government and their Cuban advisors have recently fled, and the CIA’s neo-traditionalist amputators are about to arrive; the eerie calm is broken only by the distant sound of Graham Greene cursing the lack of ice for his vodka.

Grandes descubrimientos del viernes

Cómo introducir la juventud a los auténticos valores socialistas; y cómo calentar la leche para tu café fácilmente, sin ensuciar la cacerola ni que se forme piel encima de la leche.

I just bought my km0 Christmas turkey

It doesn’t look like a normal turkey because it’s a special Catalan breed, and it’s also free-range and organic, says my friend from the bar on the corner. What would I do without my new friends here?

People stopped preaching zero growth a few years ago, y km0 is now the brand of a vendor of cars, which may not be.

Let us console ourselves with organ-grinder kazoos, now on sale in person, and shortly online!

Dear Customs@HMRC

Which EU import tariff is applicable to non-EU kazoos?

So … does the EU view kazoos as a section 92 class 5 or class 8 instrument? Or are they neither, and does footnote (c) apply, making them Tricycles, scooters, pedal cars and similar wheeled toys; dolls’ carriages; dolls; other toys; reduced-size (‘scale’) models and similar recreational models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds : Toy musical instruments and apparatus? If the latter, then they’re zero-rated, and we already have a TAFTA in kazoos, instead of the traditional titfer. This is incredibly exciting, and revolutionary, and might one day cause an update in the already brilliant OED entry:

1884 in Lisbon (Dakota) Star 31 Oct., A kazoo is an instrument invented to give pleasure and satisfaction to the small boy.
1895 Montgomery Ward Catal. 245/3 Kazoos, the great musical wonder,..anyone can play it; imitates fowls, animals, bagpipes, etc.
1926 P. Whiteman & M. M. McBride Jazz ix. 201 Did you ever see a kazoo? Of course you must have—a small worthless-looking piece of tin. A kazoo stuck into a mute will give a buzzy sound that comes handy in certain pieces.
1927 Bulletin 24 Aug., A new musical atrocity is reported to be coming to Scotland. It is the Gazoo. This instrument of ear-torture is simply an adaptation of the primitive ‘comb and tissue paper’.
1956 J. Latimer Sinners & Shrouds ix. 83 ‘A neglected instrument, the kazoo,’ he was saying. ‘A cock’s challenge in Red McKenzie’s hands, raucous and lewd, a braggart, a bully, a flap-wing lover.’
1965 G. Melly Owning-up xi. 135 A kind of sub-jazz in which kazoos, tea-chest and broom-handle basses..and empty suitcases replaced the more conventional musical instruments.
1966 T. Pynchon Crying of Lot 49 i. 10 The Fort Wayne Settecento Ensemble’s variorum recording of the Vivaldi Kazoo Concerto.
1970 Peace News 8 May 8/4, I think the time has come for us to make our own music… To beat on pots and pans, blow kazoos and our combs wrapped in wax paper.
1972 Guardian 29 May 5/5 The unusual cigar-shaped instrument, the kazoo—a cheap toy which makes a vibrant noise when blown—can help unmusical children to sing in tune.

One update they might want to consider anyway is some reference to

marching bands in Northumberland , Durham and North Yorkshire . These bands comprise children aged 8-18, predominantly female, playing music ranging from hymn tunes, through marches to popular hit songs, on modified kazoos, with the backing of military style drums and led by majorettes. The first bands in the early 1920s were started by adults, and only slightly later was the idea extended to children.

Elizabeth Bird’s thesis, Jazz Bands of the North East of England (1974), looks

at the history of the bands in the early 1920s and ’30s, to establish when and where they were started, in what circumstances and what social function they fulfilled. It also describes the present bands and similarly analyses their role in the community. The work is based on the oral testimony of informants, and additional information gathered from newspaper articles and letters.

Part One of the study concentrates on the 1920s and ’30s, and describes both the adult and later juvenile bands. Part Two focusses on the 1960s and ’70s, with chapters on general organisation, characteristics of band personnel, the appeal and functions of the bands for children, the role of the adult in the band, sex roles, the military ideal and the North East.

The appendices contain a sample questionnaire given to band members aged eleven and upwards, an account of ” The Hazlerigg Affair ” (relating to an outbreak of hysterical symptoms among jazz band members at a gala in 1972) and a list of known bands for 1973-1974. Two newspaper articles are also included.

But let’s get functional. How much would you pay retail for a multicolour kazoo displaying a small picture of a pig or an organ-grinder? 2 rupees is convenient for mummy & daddy, but 2.50 gives a solid margin; vanilla shangshaite is 1-2 in Hispania, where taxes are not necessarily all that taxing, or 2 in Inglandia.

You can of course make one for yourself out of bog roll and stick a picture of Miguel Blesa on it, but, though immensely satisfying, it won’t sound as good.

Daisy Bell aka the little dicky bird

A curious marriage of songs.

When I’m in Barcelona I occasionally sing in Plaça del Diamant (Diamond Square) in Gracia in order to try out new stuff and hand out business cards. The neighbourhood radar works quite well, and there are certain young and not-so-young faces that almost always turn up. Several of the latter have taken to singing with me, and one guy is particularly remarkable.

A printer, but above all a personality, J. emigrated and worked on Brook Street (just off Fleet Street, London) when that was still wild and drunken newspaperland. His repertoire consists of East End / music hall classics, of which we tend to focus on Daisy Bell.

I don’t know where my verse came from, and I don’t know the lyrics, but it worked quite well as a kazoo interlude in a Bruckner-style symphonic pastiche a 4th down from the chorus. However, that’s not the verse he knows, so I’ve swapped to the traditional version, which actually combines two songs, as Dany Rosevear explains:

Both of these songs were popular in the Victorian Music Hall. ‘Daisy Bell’ was written by Harry Dacre in 1892, ‘She was a sweet little dicky bird’ was by T.W. Conner and popularized by George Beauchamp. These are two separate songs but as a child I always heard them sung one following the other. The verses of both songs would have been tricky for children.

It’s a strange, gloomy relationship:

Daisy, Daisy,
Give me your answer do!
I’m half crazy,
Oh, for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’ll look sweet, upon the seat,
Of a bicycle built for two
She was a sweet little dicky bird,
‘Tweet, tweet, tweet!’ she went.
Softly she sang to me,
‘Til all my money was spent.
Then she went off song,
We parted on fighting terms.
She was one of the early birds,
And I was one of the worms.
Daisy, Daisy,

Maybe the chorus shouldn’t repeat at the end – funeral marches sound surprisingly good on the organ, with kazoo – but who cares about the lyrics anyway?

We didn’t coincide today.

For search engines: Abro cuando vengo, cierro cuando me voy; si vienen y no estoy, es que no hemos coincidido.

¿Qué color le pongo a mi Piaggio Ape 50 furgón?

Con una canción sobre los ladrones de sandías y un rediseño del güeb.