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The Cheese Song
November 17, 2005 5:11 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone heard this (incredibly strange) song before? (Lyrics only.)

My Auntie Millie (already mentioned in this thread on metafilter many moons ago...) used to sing my mum a song, and she used to sing it to me. I want to know

a) If anyone's heard it, or something like it,
b) If anyone knows how a person might go about finding out who owns it from a publishing rights point of view.
c) Whether anyone thinks, like me, that it'd make a great children's book.

I know the song by the name 'The Cheese Song' and it is extraordinarily strange. It has a tune, in fact it has about three different tunes but I think the melody is less important than the delivery, if you know what I mean.

I'm kind of becoming obsessed by it and I'd love to know if anyone's ever heard anything like it before. My suspicion is that it originally came from the music halls and, over the years, has been bastardised and cobbled together from half remembered verses. I consider it to be a folk song in the best sense and I urge you all to commit it to memory and pass it on to your kids. So...Deep breath....this is more personal than I thought:

The Cheese Song

I went into a restaurant last night to have supper
There were things that were in season and things that were out.
We had cow's head and cod's head and sheep's head and liver
And then after that we had ice-cream and stout.

And when I had tasted of everything
I told the waiter to go out and bring....

Cheese in, cheese in, waiter bring the cheese in do.

The waiter brought the cheese in, it was coloured like the rainbow;
Red and Yellow and Blue
The waiter broght the cheese in and the cheese was sneezing.
Sneezing like a cockatoo.

And when I walked out that restaurant, that little piece of Gorgonzolla walked out too.

It followed me home and it sat on the doorstep
It threatened to kill me if I shut it out.
So I opened the door and it ran in the lobby,

And Pa with the fender gave that cheese a clout.

Spoken: Pa hit it with the fender, Ma threw it down the drain. And when that cheese came back in the morning it was wearing a panama.

So we telephoned down for a couple of policemen,
And our lodger Jim The Militia came in,
He stabbed it three times with the neck of his bayonet,
And it ran in the garden behind the dustbin.

And when the rain was pouring down hard,
You could hear the cheese signing in our back yard:

"Everybody's loved by someone,
Everybody knows it's true.
Red cheese, green cheese, blue cheese, yellow cheese,
They're all loved it's true.

But...!

I'm a bit of Gorgonzola,
Sitting on the back yard wall,
And I seem to be the only bit of cheese,
That nobody loves at all.

Our next door neighbour came into the garden,
Smoking a penny cigar with great pride.
The cheese gave a gasp and it shouted, "I'm choking!"
And gave a few flip-flops and lay down and died....

Epilogue:

If you go down Paddington Green,
There's a tombstone to be seen.
And the words are neat indeed in memory of our cheese:

It fought against Russia, it fought 'gainst Japan,
It fought like a cheese and it died like a man,
Now it's buried in the ground with the grass growing round
And that's the end of the Gorgonzolla cheese.



The end.
posted by Jofus to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
O... M... G... :-)

What era do you reckon it's from? The mention of a bayonet (and perhaps the penny cigar) suggest WW1 at the latest, although offhand I'm not too sure of any wars involving Japan except WW2...

The mention of a fender implies it originates stateside, but Paddington Green is in London I think...
posted by Chunder at 5:35 AM on November 17, 2005


Yep. All points I was going to raise, but I thought my post was long enough. Like I said, I reckon 1920's vaudeville/music hall. We have fenders in the UK I think.
posted by Jofus at 5:48 AM on November 17, 2005


Fenders in the UK are to do with fires and fireplaces, so it probably is British, what with the shout out to Paddington Green in the Epilogue...
posted by benzo8 at 5:56 AM on November 17, 2005


It's obviously British, and "fought against Russia" would seem to refer to the Crimean War, so it goes back a ways, if not to the late 19th century then at least to a time when people still remembered British troops had fought Russia. (I have no idea what "it fought 'gainst Japan" means, unless it's been added since WWII or was simply stuck in for the rhyme.)
posted by languagehat at 6:22 AM on November 17, 2005


It's possible the references to fighting against Russia and Japan have something to do with the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. If so, the song would obviously come from the early part of the 20th century, but that seemed pretty likely anyway.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:38 AM on November 17, 2005


"Oh! That Gorgonzola Cheese" was a music hall hit in 1894. A copy of the lyrics can be found here (I think): http://www.trasksdad.com/MusicHall/Gorgonzola.html

This site: http://www.polisci.ucla.edu/faculty/boneill/ contains lyrics to some old songs, including the song "When The Gorgonzola Cheese Went Wrong".

These two songs are closely related. They also share some significant similarities with Aunt Millies (references to a penny smoke etc, a gorgonzola being shot etc).

What this means, I dunno but evidence, I suspect, that the song originates from late 19th music hall and has several different versions.
posted by Hartster at 7:17 AM on November 17, 2005


Hartser: I love you. I will dance at your wedding and buy you that new pullover you've been thinking of.

That's the closest I've come to seeing a similar song. I'm really hoping to find proof that it was Auntie Millie's genius to add the line about the Panama. I don't think I'll find that on the internet...
posted by Jofus at 7:35 AM on November 17, 2005


Amazon.co.uk has entries for the songs "The Night We Let the Gorgonzola Loose" and "When Mamma Introduced the Gorgonzola...". I wasn't able to find any actual lyrics for either song, but I thought I ought to mention them.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:25 AM on November 17, 2005


More info here.
posted by Jofus at 7:51 AM on September 21, 2006


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