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Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight?

by DA Jack Hayford

I was six years old in 1961 and I have a very fond and distinct memory of “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight.” In those days we only listened to the radio in the car, in my family anyway. But for a year or more it seemed that I heard it every time we went anywhere. Maybe I did, for millions were singing the catchy, campy and funny song. But I never knew who recorded the hit version until recently. (It was a big hit back in the 20s for Ernest Hare and Billy Jones.)

“Billy Jones was best-known as half of a duo with fellow vocalist Ernest Hare called the Happiness Boys. “I Miss My Swiss” is not the only time the name of Jones shows up alongside Armstrong’s, because thanks to the extraordinary popularity of that duo, most published lists of the 100 most popular songs in history include credits for both men. In the case of Armstrong it is for “When the Saints Go Marching In,” with Jones and Hare it is “Yes, We Have No Bananas,” with which they unpeeled the fruit of mass popularity. The banana relates to a digestive dilemma quite the opposite from what might require a laxative. Other titles in the Jones’ repertoire have the potential to mess up the gut one way or the other, if not both: “Bringing Home the Bacon” is the greasy meat entry, “Piece of Cake” the sweetest, and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnite?” the most disgusting. Even “Alone at Last” might be interpreted as an expression of pleasure at finally finding a toilet in a time of need.” —Eugene Chadbourne

Maybe even the name “The Happiness Boys” is donned in reverence to the THRONE!

Lnnie Donegan and His Skiffle Band
But it was the Scotland-born Lonnie Donegan and His Skiffle Group that made the song famous for my generation…and helped launch the “skiffle” phenomenon. In fact, in England at least, Lonnie Donegan is known as the “King of Skiffle”—and is largely credited with INVENTING THE SKIFFLE GENRE which even the Beatles and other greats were drawn to and emulated in their music.




Lonnie Donegan ROck Island Line“In 1954, before anyone (especially anybody in England) knew what rock & roll was, Donegan was cool, and his music was hot. He’s relatively little remembered outside of England, but Donegan shares an important professional attribute with Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Sex Pistols — he invented a style of music, skiffle, that completely altered the pop culture landscape and the youth around him, and for a time, completely ruled popular music through that new form. What’s more, his music, like that of Presley and Haley, was vital to the early musical careers and future histories of the Beatles, the Stones, and hundreds of other groups. And he did it in 1954, before Elvis was known anywhere outside of Memphis and before Bill Haley was perceived as anything but a Western swing novelty act….

“‘Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On the Bedpost Overnight?’ (number three and number five in the U.S.) all in less than three years — thousands of skiffle groups were springing up all over England. New artists, most notably Tommy Steele and, later, Cliff Richard, started out playing skiffle music and put their own stamp on the material before moving on to other sounds. Among the many tens of thousands of British teens he inspired were members of the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers, and the Searchers. By mid-1958, however, skiffle was waning rapidly as a commercial sound, but Donegan continued to appear on the charts right into 1962. Only when the next wave of young rockers came along, who, like Donegan, had their own ideas about music and what they wanted to do with it, did he finally fade from the charts.”—

From Wikipedia:

The origins of skiffle are obscure, but are generally thought to lie in African-American musical culture in the early twentieth century. Skiffle is often said to have developed from New Orleans jazz, but this has been disputed. Improvised jug bands playing blues and jazz were common across the American South in the early decades of the twentieth century, even if the term skiffle was not used to describe them.

They used instruments such as the washboard, jugs, tea chest bass, cigar-box fiddle, musical saw, and comb-and-paper kazoos, as well as more conventional instruments such as acoustic guitar and banjo. The term skiffle was one of many slang phrases for a rent party, a social event with a small charge designed to pay rent on a house. It was first recorded in Chicago in the 1920s, and may have been brought there as part of the African American migration to northern industrial cities.

The first use of the term on record was in 1925 in the name of Jimmy O’Bryant and his Chicago Skifflers. Most often it was used to describe country blues music records, which included the compilation “Hometown Skiffle” (1929), and “Skiffle Blues” (1946) by Dan Burley & His Skiffle Boys.  It was used by Ma Rainey (1886–1939) to describe her repertoire to rural audiences. The term skiffle disappeared from American music in the 1940s.

As for “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor…” there may soon be be a new twist to the song, and a radical new GUM stuck to the bedpost!

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Viagra gum, double your pleasure?

Wrigley’s, trying to give the company [Viagra] a lift [nice pun], [has] applied for a patent to develop a Viagra chewing gum. This would be a chewing gum you actually chew about a half-hour before sex. Chew it about two minutes, and it should give you some of the same effects of the little blue pill that’s become so popular…This isn’t unprecedented that a chewing gum might also contain a medication. Certainly people have heard about Nicorette for anti-smoking. They’ve heard about asthma-type medication in chewing gum as well, antacids. A lot of those don’t require prescriptions. This would. But the important point here, this is a long way away [at least 8 years according to CNN].

Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On The Bedpost Overnight)
(as popularized by Lonnie Donegan & His Skiffle Group)

Oh me oh my oh you
Whatever shall I do?
Hallelujah, the question is peculiar
I’d give a lot of dough
If only I could know
The answer to my question
Is it yes or is it no?

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?
If your mother says don’t chew it, do you swallow it in spite?
Can you catch it on your tonsils, can you heave it left & right?
Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

Here comes a blushing bride
The groom is by her side
Up to the altar, just as steady as Gibraltar
The groom has got the ring
& it’s such a pretty thing
But as he slips it on her finger
The choir begins to sing:


Now the nation rise as one
To send their wanted son
Up to the White House, yes, the nation’s only White House
To voice their discontent
Unto the Pres-I-dent
The bonny burning question, What has swept this continent?
(Lonnie speaks: If tin whistles are made of tin, what do they make fog horns out of?
Another man shouts: Boom boom!)


On the bedpost overnight
(Man: Hello there, I love you & the one who holds you tight!
Lonnie: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sat’day night!)
On the bedpost overnight
(Man: A dollar is a dollar & a dime is a dime!
Lonnie: He’d sing another chorus but he hasn’t got the time!)
On the bedpost overnight, yeah!