Friday, November 8, 2013

Popular Music

Shirley Hazzard worked for twenty years on a novel called The Great Fire. She published it in 2003. The story opens in 1947 on an American military base in Japan. One of the book's main characters  an English officer  arrives to find a group of young off-duty American military men and women dancing to a phonograph record.

Hazzard prints the song's lyrics in italics on page 14 

A hubba-hubba-hubba, hello, Jack 
A hubba-hubba-hubba, just got back
Well, a hubba-hubba-hubba, 
Let's shoot some breeze,    
Say whatever happened to the Japanese?
A hubba-hubba-hubba, ain't you heard?
A hubba-hubba-hubba, got the word
I got it from a guy who's in the know,
It was mighty smoky over Tokyo.

A friend of mine in a B-29
Dropped another load for luck.
As he flew away he was heard to say,
A hubba-hubba-hubba, Yuk! yuk!

Astonishing to say, this was not some joke or parody concocted by the author. Hazzard had only reproduced an actual artifact of the real 1940s. Even today, this "song" remains under copyright, an ordinary  piece of intellectual property owned by a large American corporation 

"Hubba, Hubba, Hubba (Dig You Later)" by Harold Adamson and Jimmy McHugh, c1945 (Renewed). EMI Robbins Catalog Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Warner Bros. Publications Inc., Miami, FL 33014.