Way Out Wednesday: “Popeye the Sailor Man and His Friends”

Written by Music, Way Out Wednesday

Here’s another album featuring that ever-popular sailor man, Popeye. This one does expand things a bit, since not only do we have Jack Mercer as Popeye, we also have Mae Questel as Olive Oyl and Swee’ Pea. I believe Mercer performs Wimpy as well. If that’s the case, I don’t know why he didn’t do Wimpy on the Popeye’s Zoo album, but it’s nice to have him here.

The first song is “Strolling through the Park,” where Popeye sings about bringing Olive and Swee’ Pea to the zoo. Hey, wait a minute! Why do they need to go to somebody else’s zoo when they supposedly have a perfectly good zoo of their own! Popeye talks about the lions and the seals (exclaiming “Well, cover me poopdeck!” Uhh…okay.) Olive gets scared when she thinks a gorilla has escaped from its cage, but it turns out that it’s really just Wimpy in a fur coat. (Oops, I guess I should have put a Spoiler Warning in there!)

Strolling Through the Park

This next one is a rousing song with Popeye and a men’s chorus singing to “Never Pick a Fight.” However, if they pick on you, he gives you permission to “open up your spinach can and you can lick most any man.” Tell that one to the judge after you get arrested for assault. Somehow I don’t think “Popeye said I could” would stand up in court.

Never Pick a Fight

This is a strange song starting with Olive singing for help from Popeye. “The villain’s tied me up with rope,” she says. (I guess Bluto (or Brutus, as the case may be) didn’t have a good enough agent to even be mentioned on this album.) Apparently Popeye doesn’t come quick enough because in the next verse we hear Swee’ Pea trying to wake up Wimpy, who’s not budging because he’s having a dream about (what else?) hamburgers.

Help! Help! and I Had a Hamburger Dream

This catchy song is about how wonderful all the states are in the U.S.A. So wonderful, in fact, that Popeye and the gang can make stupid jokes about almost every one of them. Popeye wants to go to New Jersey to see what makes it so new. Swee’ Pea is interested in Rhode Island because it’s little, and Olive wants to go to Pennsylvania because she likes pencils. For some reason, Popeye also wants to go to Grand Rapids, which isn’t really a state, but I guess we can amuse him for this song, can’t we? (By the way, there were a couple of skips in this song that I edited out, but it’s hopefully not noticeable.)

Every State Is a Great State

Finally we have “The Emperor of Japan,” where Popeye sings to Olive about how lovely Japan is (to the tune of the Gilbert and Sullivan song “Tit Willow”). Aside from the fact that he makes it sound like everybody in Japan still wears robes and carries fans, this song is refreshingly free of any negative Asian characterizations. There’s also some good (and as far as I know, accurate) information on Japanese traditions.

The Emperor of Japan

As always, if you want to hear this entire album, you can find it here. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time!

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