The song “Makin’ Whoopee” was composed in 1928 by Walter Donaldson with lyrics by Gus Kahn, and was originally written for the Broadway Musical Whoopee. The title, and the song itself makes no bones that Makin’ Whopee is a euphemism for sexual intimacy, and I can only imagine that it was considered quite risque for its time. The song begins harmlessly enough, singing of weddings, honeymoons and early marital bliss, but quickly changes to the realities of babies, diapers and other implications of responsibilities. One definition I read even referred to the tune as “a dire warning, largely to men, about the ‘trap’ of marriage”.
Makin’ Whoopee has probably been played by DJs at thousands of weddings, and although it will probably continue to be played at thousands more, a closer look at the lyrics makes me ponder if it should.
Another bride, another June
Another sunny, honeymoon
another season, another reason
for makin’ whoopee
A lot of shoes, a lot of rice
the groom is nervous, he answers twice
It’s really killin’, that he’s so willin’
to make whoopee!
Picture a little love-nest, down where the roses cling,
Picture the same sweet love-nest, think what a year can bring.
He’s washing dishes, and baby clothes
he’s so ambitious, he even sews
But don’t forget, folks, that’s what you get folks
for makin’ whoopee!
Another year, or maybe less
What’s this I hear? Well can’t you guess?
She feels neglected, and he’s suspected
of makin’ whoopee!
She sits alone, most every night
He doesn’t phone her, he doesn’t write
He says he’s “Busy”, but she says “Is he?”
He’s makin’ whoopee!
He doesn’t make much money, only a five-thousand per
some judge who thinks he’s funny
Says “You’ll pay six to her”
He says: “Now judge, suppose I fail?”
The judge says: “Budge, right into jail!
You’d better keep her; I think it’s cheaper
Than makin’ whoopee!!
Personally, I think the song is harmless, and the fact that it’s a standard that’s been around for years and has been covered by artists like Eddie Cantor, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Rod Stewart gives it a classic chic that make the second part of the song somehow humorous and socially acceptable. It’s been in movies like The Fabulous Baker Boys where Michelle Pfeiffer does a very sexy rendition sprawled across a piano, Sleepless In Seattle in a duet by Ricky Lee Jones and Dr. John, and two Woody Allen movies (Everyone Says I Love You and Husbands and Wives). Cookie Monster even did a version on Sesame Street called “Eatin’ Cookie“!
Is it just cute irony, or is it bad taste? Again, I like the song personally, particularly Ray Charles’ live version where he injects his own name into the line “Ray, son, right into jail” and then asks the audience “You know what I’ve been doin, don’t you?” and the crowd goes wild. I laugh to myself every time I hear it.
So I pose the question to the reader… is Makin’ Whoopee “okay to play” or is it best left alone? What do YOU think?
Photo courtesy of Scott Spitzer Photography & Design