Longtime listeners to and readers of Cladrite Radio know we’re awfully fond of Rudy Vallée. We’ve come to very much enjoy his music over the years, as our appreciation for the music of that era has increased, and we get a kick out of his odd, often salacious personality. He really seems to have been kind of bonkers, in a not unpleasing way, like the weird but entertaining uncle who threatens every November to spoil Thanksgiving (in the eyes of the ladies, anyway) with an inappropriate tales of his wilder days.
It’s not widely understood today just how big a star Vallée was at one time. He was the first crooner, the one who started that craze, and this new style of vocalizing was viewed as very intimate, very seductive—even transgressive. It’s not a huge leap to say that Vallée was the first Elvis Presley, in that he was singing in a style that much of the old guard discounted entirely and that many elements of society viewed as inappropriate and even shocking.
It’s understandable that most listeners wouldn’t quite “get” Vallée today (we don’t mean you, gentle reader—the Cladrite Clan gets it) and most modern listeners certainly wouldn’t find Vallée’s singing sexy and seductive, but it was certainly viewed as such when he first hit the scene. Vallée even described himself, late in life, as having had “a cock in my voice” (see? we told you he was a weird uncle). He was breaking the rules of popular singing and making young women swoon—causing, as Vallée once wrote, “all flapperdom to become stirred as it has never been stirred before”—in much the same way Frank Sinatra, Presley, Otis Redding, The Beatles, and so many others would do in the ensuing decades (Vallée even performed a song or two that might be considered risqué by some today), but he was arguably the first to do so. As such, it’s intriguing to ponder what was considered sensual and sexy in 1929, as opposed to today.
Beginning next Friday, we’ll explore Vallée’s first memoir, published in 1930, called Vagabond Dreams Come True, but this week, we thought we’d share with you a humorous poem written back when Rudy was at his most popular. This very funny ditty was penned by one Marjorie C. Diven, about whom we’ve been able to ascertain not a darned thing. Anyone out there know anything about Ms. Diven’s life and work? (We’ve provided some additional info about certain of the references in the poem; just place your mouse over the highlighted words—no need to click—and you’ll see the text in a pop-up.)
FROM the day my wife Sally first heard Rudy Vallée,
I’m here to announce that my troubles began;
We dress to his crooning, we eat to his spooning;
I tell you there’s no getting rid of the man.
We can’t even sleep nights because of his “Deep Nights”
That wing through the air from the Villa Vallee,
And “Vagabond Lover” I often discover,
Is cheering my darling when I am away.
While I’m making money he radios “Honey,”
“I wonder,” says Sally, “Just whom does he mean?”
We are asked out to dine and does she answer “Fine?”
Oh no—“You forget, dear, tonight is Clopin.”
You can’t toss a hat any place in the flat,
Without hitting Rudy in this pose or that,
I ask you what chance has a regular spouse,
When some other guy lives all over the house?
When that didn’t suit her, my wife turned commuter,
And followed this baby out into the sticks,
I know from her blushing, she’s been out to Flushing,
The Bronx or to Brooklyn for him and his tricks.
If dinner is tardy, she’s at the Lombardy,
His megaponetics intriguing her so.
Where Rudy is playing, that’s where she is straying;
I look in the papers to see and I know.
She bought a new dress for the Villa, I guess;
We danced to his music and ate quite a bit,
And on leaving “Ten East” I was thinking, at least,
Life must be worth while for a fellow with “It.”
His records—we buy them, at all hours we try them;
Of course I protest, and it’s always in vain.
She hates being bossed, though it isn’t the cost
But the upkeep of Vallée that drives me insane.
Now ever since Sally first saw Rudy Vallée,
She’s been rather love; perhaps she is foxy.
There’s nothing distressing about her caressing,
But sometimes I think I am Rudy by proxy.
|MARJORIE C. DIVEN|