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View Full Version : What's the hidden message in the song "Minnie the Moocher"?


bonypony
01-13-2005, 04:39 AM
Cab Calloway sings a song called "Minnie the Moocher". It's a catchy song and I've noticed that a lot of my favorite Big Band groups have made their own version of it. Does the story have any meaning? Is Minnie a real person? And what does the word "cokie" mean, as well as the term "kick the gong around"?

tomndebb
01-13-2005, 06:49 AM
Generally you'll get quicker responses to music questions over in the Cafe Society Forum. I'll move this over, for you.

[ /Moderator Mode ]

BwanaBob
01-13-2005, 07:13 AM
"Cokie" is what you think it is - intoxicated with cocaine. "Kick the gong around" is another drug reference; I think it means to indulge in opium.

Lots of Cab's tunes have these passing drug references. Sign of times back then.

Eve
01-13-2005, 09:04 AM
An earlier version of the song, from the 1920s, was Willie the Weeper:

Folks, let me tell you 'bout Willie the Weeper
Willie the Weeper was a chimney sweeper
He had the dope habit and he had it bad,
Listen while I tell you 'bout a dream he had.

And the rest of it pretty much follows Minnie's dope dreams.

HeyHomie
01-13-2005, 01:15 PM
CAB CALLOWAY [to the Blues Brothers backup band]: Do you guys know Minnie the Moocher?

MURPH: I once knew a hooker named Minnie Mizzoli!

astro
01-13-2005, 02:07 PM
I want to see this version (http://assumption.edu/ahc/1920s/BoopAndJazz.html)

Several of the "Betty Boop" cartoons used jazz songs, not simply as background music, but for style of movement. One of the most interesting of these for our purposes is "Minnie, the Moocher." The film begins with live action footage of Cab Calloway, who made the song his trademark, and his Cotton Club Orchestra (he had replaced Ellington as the club's headliner). Cab sings and dances the title song. When the animation begins, Betty and her father, a Jew from Austria, perhaps based upon the Fleischers' own father, are arguing. He insists that she must follow the family tradition and eat a traditional dish. Betty tearfully refuses. The scene is a thinly disguised parody of "The Jazz Singer." Like Jakie Rabinowitz, Betty decides to run away. Like Jakie, she too runs toward jazz music. But, unlike Jakie, Betty runs toward the real thing. No "Toot, Toot, Tootsie" for her. With her boyfriend, the dog Bimbo, she runs off to the strains of "Minnie, the Moocher."

Minnie, Calloway sings, had learned "to kick the gong around," to use opium, from her boy friend "Smoky" whose drug of choice was cocaine. Although the cartoon does not show Betty taking any drug, she does, to the accompaniment of Cab's version of the song, find herself in a dream world. Her experiences, however, do not parallel Minnie's. Minnie dreamed that the King of Sweden "was giving her things that she was needin'." Instead Betty meets a ghostly walrus with enlarged lips who sings the song. Betty and Bimbo are terrified, as well they should be, for the Walrus transforms itself into a spectral cat whose kittens suck it dry and into a prison guard who escorts skeletons to the electric chair, among other transmigrations. In all of these, the walrus/cat/guard moves like Cab Calloway. At one point, in a reversal of a Stepin Fetchit gag, Betty and Bimbo turn black with fear. Finally, Betty and Bimbo run for their lives, pursued by various goblins and skeletons. Bimbo seeks refuge in the dog house. Betty climbs into her own bed. The farewell letter she left for her parents obligingly shreds itself, leaving the message "Home, Sweet, Home."

Skywatcher
01-13-2005, 02:21 PM
I want to see this version (http://assumption.edu/ahc/1920s/BoopAndJazz.html)That's on at least one video, maybe two or a DVD. I'd have to check which it is that I have.

Exapno Mapcase
01-13-2005, 03:26 PM
"Hidden" message? It was pretty well understood was Minnie was:

from A Night at the Opera

Groucho: Why, you can get a phonograph record of "Minnie the Moocher" for 75 cents. And for a buck and a quarter, you can get Minnie.

Crandolph
01-14-2005, 04:12 AM
A friend of mine has all known Betty Boops on video; many of them can only be described as psychedelic. Awesome stuff! Louis Armstrong was in a Halloween one as a ghost. Another fave of ours featured Nobody for President, since Nobody was going to help the working stiff...

Cokey is indeed just coke. You went down to Chinatown for opiates, more likely heroin (see also "Chinese Rock") than opium smoking in the early '30s.

I understand the "heidy ho" bit was a "hide the ho(s)" call for when speakeasies were raided, but perhaps this is urban legend.

FriarTed
01-14-2005, 09:49 AM
A friend of mine has all known Betty Boops on video; many of them can only be described as psychedelic. Awesome stuff! Louis Armstrong was in a Halloween one as a ghost. Another fave of ours featured Nobody for President, since Nobody was going to help the working stiff...

Cokey is indeed just coke. You went down to Chinatown for opiates, more likely heroin (see also "Chinese Rock") than opium smoking in the early '30s.

I understand the "heidy ho" bit was a "hide the ho(s)" call for when speakeasies were raided, but perhaps this is urban legend.

At my first viewing of ROCKY HORROR (around 1984), the Betty Boop "Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs" cartoon opened it. Freakier than RHPS- believe me. Jazz song of choice was ST. JAMES INFIRMARY.

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