Speaking of American music during the Ivy heyday — as we are on the “Optimism And Prosperity” comment thread — here’s a terrific pop culture find. Frequent comment-leaver “GS” uncovered a reference to Ivy League suits and desert boots in the song “Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?” recorded by Bobby Darin in 1960. GS noted on our Facebook page that the song was originally written in 1937, which would make the line the earliest reference to desert boots in an Ivy context that Tradsville has ever come across.
Alas, the reference comes the second time through the lyrics, which is when Vegas-y lounge singers would typically update the lyrics to standards with contemporary references, such as Buddy Greco does in “The Lady Is A Tramp.”
Here’s the passage in the original lyrics:
Have you got any castles
That you want me to build baby
Have you got any dragons
That you want to have killed, baby?
I’ll get into my seven league boots
I’ll get into my bulletproof suit
I’ll get out my revolver that shoots
And rat-a-tat-tat-tat, down they’ll go
And here’s Darin doing the Ivy heyday version:
GS is a college sophomore, which makes him about the age I was when I started buying old Bobby Darin records for $3.99. It’s always nice to see generational continuity. And while GS didn’t find the earliest known reference to desert boots, he did find another example of “Ivy League” in the popular sartorial lexicon of midcentury. Yet far more clever than the suits and boots substitution is the rhyme in the opening verse of “romance a lot” with “Sir Lancelot.”
This Warner Bros. production was that studio’s entry in the “college musical” vogue of the 1930s. Dick Powell stars as a Broadway producer who returns to his alma mater to stage a variety show, despite the protests of a faculty adviser (Walter Catlett) who disapproves of the new “swing” music. Powell schemes with the students to stage the show in an empty Broadway theater. Among others in the cast are the Lane sisters, Rosemary and Priscilla, in their film debuts; Ted Healy, in his final film appearance; George MacFarland, better known as “Spanky” from “Our Gang”; the dancing team of “Buck and Bubbles”; and Johnnie Davis.