Campus Capers

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Reading the lyrics to “The Ivy League Look” in our last post reminded me of the words to another college tune from a generation earlier: Harry Reser‘s “He Ain’t Never Been in College”:

It’s no surprise that the ’20s and the ’50s, two decades that saw huge jumps in college enrollment and which produced fashion trends based on the collegiate look, should also have produced songs that parody the idea of looking like Joe College when you’re really Joe the Plumber.

Reser’s tunes are the most whimsical in my small but much-loved collection of ’20s college songs. “College Rhythm” is a great CD to get you started; you can find extended samples from the disc here.

Raccoon coats were evidently de rigueur at all the Ivies. Here’s “Doin’ The Raccoon” by George Olsen & His Music:

Of course, even real college guys have their faults. Take Collegiate Sam, of whom “I’ve heard it said on good authority/He’d wreck a whole sorority.” Harry Reser & His Syncopators:

And we can’t forget “Freddy the Freshman,” who took a page from Collegiate Sam’s playbook and got himself bounced from Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Brown for being the “freshest kid in town.” Here’s Gene Kardos & His Orchestra:

If you like the music, check out Radio Dismuke, whose DJ has graciously contributed to my college-tune collection.

As for Reser, he died of a heart attack in 1965 while sitting in a Broadway orchestra pit waiting to perform “Fiddler on the Roof.” — CC

Image from Esquire, 1988.

4 Comments on "Campus Capers"

  1. Thank you for a great blog on this topic. It is truly the best blog in terms of this area. WASP 101 showed promise early on but it has degenerated into a pigsty of polo outfits and general vulgarity. The author of that blog has no clue about WASPdom.

  2. Thank you, though in fact I’m really Worthington.

  3. surely you jest…

  4. Chip Parks | May 11, 2009 at 11:29 pm |

    If anyone is interested, you can download about 100 of Harry Reser’s songs from the site. They also have quite a bit of George Olsen…only a few Gene Kardos songs though. However, these songs are all in the public domain, so you can download them for free.


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