Palesteena (1920) and Nix on the Glow-Worm, Lena (1910)

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Palesteena (m. J. Russell Robinson, w. Con Conrad) aka “Lena from Palesteena”

first chorus of the 1920 Frank Crumit version:

They say that Lena is the Queen o’ Palesteena
Just because she plays the concertina
She only knows one song
She plays it all day long
Sometimes she plays it wrong
But how they love it
Want more of it
I heard her play once or twice
Oh, murder! Still, it was nice

All the girls there dress like Lena
Some wear oatmeal, some farina
Down ol’ Palesteena way

various lyric transcriptions:

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Frank Crumit with Orchestra conducted by Charles A. Prince, recorded on 1 or 2 October 1920* in New York City; issued on Columbia A-3324, b/w “I Wish That I’d Been Born in Borneo” (m. Walter Donaldson, w. Grant Clarke) (lyric)

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Eddie Cantor with his children (1a)1920 Palesteena-Eddie Cantor-Emerson 10292

Eddie Cantor — recorded in November 1920; issued on Emerson 10292, b/w “And She Gave Them All the Ha! Ha! Ha!”

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The Original Dixieland Jazz Band — recorded on 4 December 1920; issued on Victor 18717 as the B-side of “Margie”

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Bob Crosby’s Bobcats — recorded on 14 March 1938; issued on Decca 2011, b/w “Slow Mood”

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Filu and his Swingers — recorded in Budapest in 1946; issued c.1946 on the 78 rpm single (Hungary) Durium/Patria 5331/5332 (side 5332/2)**

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The New Leviathon Oriental Fox-Trot Orchestra — The video below, uploaded to Youtube on 18 October 2009, includes undated studio recordings by this band of “Palesteena”, “Jelly Roll”***, and “Rebecca Came Back From Mecca.”

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Matt Tolentino — video published on 27 December 2009

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Matt Tolentino and The Singapore Slingers — Live at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Dallas, Texas, February 2010

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There was a song in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1910 called “Nix on the Glow-Worm, Lena” (aka “Nix on the Concertina, Lena”). In a comment on an article titled “Lena Was the Queen o’ Palesteena,” at the site Cousin Lucy’s Spoon,Willc said:

Late in 1920, Eddie Cantor introduced “Lena from Palesteena” in George LeMaire’s “Broadway Brevities of 1920.” But the character of Lena Strauss in the song was borrowed by its composers from a 1910 Ziegfeld Follies song by Ballard McDonald and Harry Carroll, “Nix on the Glow-Worm Lena.” The 1910 song introduced Lena, who played “The Glow-Worm” on her concertina until the other boarders in her boarding house couldn’t take it. And, it seems, Lena’s comic character was still remembered in 1920. The 1910 song was introduced in the Ziegfeld production by Grace Tyson, and was recorded in 1910 for Victor by Ada Jones, and also by Billy Murray.

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Nix on the Glow-Worm, Lena (m. Harry Carroll, w. Ballard MacDonald)

Ada Jones – 1910

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Billy Murray – 1910

MP3 (1.0 MB) audio file, from archive.org:

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Rebecca Came Back From Mecca (Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby) – published in 1921

First chorus, from the lyric provided at Arab Kitsch:

Since Rebecca came back from Mecca
All day long she keeps on smoking Turkish tobecca
With her veil upon her face
She keeps dancing ’round the place
And yesterday her father found her
With a Turkish towel around her

Oh! Oh! Ev’ryone’s worried so
They think she’s crazy in the dome
She’s as bold as Theda Bara
Theda’s bare but Becky’s barer
Since Rebecca came back home

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The New Leviathon Oriental Fox-Trot Orchestra

live performance on 3 May 2009 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

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undated studio recording, uploaded to Youtube on 18 October 2009

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* The Discography of American Historical Recordings dates the recording 1 October 1920, while the Online Discographical Project gives the recording date as 2 October 1920.

** Based upon information provided by Gramophon Online and elsewhere regarding the record, I’ve conjectured that the appended “2” in the catalog number of the side of the record containing “Palesteena” (5332/2) indicates that it is the B-side, and that the unidentified A-side would be 5331/1.

*** “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None o’ This Jelly Roll” (Clarence Williams, Spencer Williams), published in 1919

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