You Got a Cute Vest Pocket Mazda

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to sing and I love singing harmonies.  When we first put the Eclectic Vinyl Orchestra ( together, I’m not sure I even knew if anyone in the band could or would sing.  My memory is that I gradually realized that Matty and Jim were singing along on almost every song and harmonies started to develop.  Three part harmony always offers many challenges.  Fortunately we found that Jim, our intrepid sax player is also expert at putting harmonies together and keeping us in line and on key.  His skills allowed us to start adding songs such as “Glow Worm” and the “House of Blue Lights”.

So let’s talk about “Glow Worm”.

I first heard “Glow Worm” sung by three friends in my home town.  They were cousins with a little singing group.  I’d go see them perform and I loved the harmony and the joyous nature of “Glow Worm”.  You just can’t sing the song and wear a frown. I’ve wanted to do the song for years but it requires three singers and lots of rehearsal.  In spite of the era and styles of songs EVO is covering, I always feel “Glow worm” comes out of nowhere and it always seems to fit right in to the set list.  We also find people know the song sing along.

The song appears to have a personal or family history for many of my friends who know it.  The three friends who introduced me to the song were, in fact, cousins.  They likely learned it at family gatherings. A bass player, I know, remembers the song from his parents performing it at the local legion.  Kerry, our drummer, also noticed one night at a gig that his father was singing along and knew every word.  Later, he told Kerry, that he hadn’t heard the song in over fifty years.  In the early 50s during trips to Port Elgin with five boys in the back of a Chrysler.  The only way to keep them from wrecking the car was to sing songs as a family and “Glow Worm” was a family favorite.

I found this background information about the song on Wikipedia.  What a journey it has had.

“Das Glühwürmchen”, known in English as “The Glow-Worm”, is a song from Paul Lincke’s 1902 operetta Lysistrata, with German lyrics by Heinz Bolten-Backers. In the operetta, it is performed as a trio with three female solo voices singing alternately and the women’s chorus joining in the refrain. Rhythmically, it is in the form of a gavotte…It was originally translated into English by Lilla Cayley Robinson, in the early 20th century, and was used in the 1907 Broadway musical The Girl Behind The Counter…American lyricist Johnny Mercer later expanded and greatly revised Robinson’s lyrics, for the 1952 recording by the Mills Brothers. His version was a hit for the Mills Brothers, and it has been performed by several others.

EVO performs two songs co-written by Johnny Mercer with several others on our TODO List so we will come back to him at another time.  I was going to talk about the Mills Brothers who recorded “Glow Worm” in the 50s but maybe that is for another day.  I’ve always been fascinated by the lyrics so I’ve printed them below.

How many songs have lines like, “Thou aeronautical boll weevil Illuminate yon woods primeval” and “You got a cute vest-pocket Mazda which you can make both slow and fazda”? I should note (and I had to look this up) that a “Mazda” is an incandescent light bulb made by General Electric starting in 1909.  Finally, there is nothing more quaintly romantic than taking a “shine” to someone.

  • Stu Peterson

Here is the Mills Brothers Live in 1957.

Glow Worm Lyrics

Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer, shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Lead us lest too far we wander, love’s sweet voice is callin’ yonder
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer Hey, there don’t get dimmer, dimmer
Light the path below, above and lead us on to love

Glow little glow-worm, fly of fire, glow like an incandescent wire
Glow for the female of the species, turn on the AC and the DC
This night could use a little brightnin’ Light up you little ol’ bug of lightnin’
When you gotta glow, you gotta glow glow little glow-worm, glow

Glow little glow-worm, glow and glimmer swim through the sea of night, little swimmer
Thou aeronautical boll weevil Illuminate yon woods primeval
See how the shadows deep and darken you and your chick should get to sparkin’
I got a gal that I love so Glow little glow-worm, glow

Glow little glow-worm, turn the key on you are equipped with taillight neon
You got a cute vest-pocket Mazda which you can make both slow and fazda
I don’t know who you took the shine to or who you’re out to make a sign to
I got a gal that I love so Glow little glow-worm, glow

Next Post: The songs of Leiber and Stoller
Previous Post: K-Tel Records (the first time I got high)