Q: I’ve heard that comedian Chevy Chase once played drums as a member of Steely Dan. Is there any truth to this story?
A: Chevy Chase, Donald Fagen, and Walter Becker met each other while attending Bard College in upstate New York in the late ’60s. The three musicians played a few gigs in a band called The Leather Canary with Chase on drums, Fagen on keyboards and vocals, and Becker on guitar. Fagen and Becker played in a few other bands before forming Steely Dan in 1972. After stints as a tennis player, bartender, truck driver, and comedy writer for the Smothers Brothers and National Lampoon, Chase joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1975. In recent years, Chase has traded in his drumsticks for a piano. He made his concert debut as a jazz pianist at the Duke University Jazz Festival in 2001.
You have free articles remaining.
Q: I recently heard that a time capsule dating back to 1795 was removed from the Massachusetts State House in Boston. It immediately brought to mind that old cartoon about the singing and dancing frog that was found in a similar time capsule. What was the name of the song the frog sang and can you tell me about the singer who voiced the frog?
A: Who could ever forget that marvelous 1955 Merrie Melodies cartoon, “One Froggy Evening,” where the only character who spoke was the frog, and then only in song and only for the person who found him? Although the frog sings several different songs in the cartoon, the one we most remember is “Hello! Ma Baby,” a vaudeville song written in 1899 by the Tin Pan Alley husband and wife songwriting team, Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson. While uncredited in the original cartoon, Bill Roberts, a nightclub singer from Los Angeles, has since been identified as the voice of the frog. The frog, too, went unnamed until the 1970s, when director Chuck Jones began referring to him as “Michigan Frog,” after the title of the song “Michigan Rag,” which Jones co-wrote for the cartoon with Michael Maltese and Milt Franklyn. Jones later added the middle initial “J.” to the frog’s name in honor of writer and film critic, Jay Cocks, who interviewed Jones for a story. More recently, the frog has been voiced by American actor, Jeff McCarthy. In 1995, Michigan J. Frog made a return appearance in “Another Froggy Evening.” He was also the official mascot of the WB Television Network from 1995 until its demise in 2006.
Q: I’ve heard that Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day” was inspired by a John Wayne movie. Is this correct?
A: It is partially correct. The entire song was not inspired by a John Wayne movie, but the title was. In the 1956 film, “The Searchers,” John Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a former Confederate soldier whose brother, sister-in-law, and nephew are killed by Comanche Indians. During the attacks, Edwards’ two nieces are kidnapped. Edwards vows revenge and pursues the attackers. At one point in the movie, Edwards is asked if he is ready to end the search for his nieces. He replies, “That’ll be the day.” Holly liked the line and used it in his 1957 No. 1 hit.
What’s the name of that song? Where are they now? What does that lyric mean? Send your questions about songs, albums, and the musicians who make them to MusicOnTheRecord@gmail.com. Bradford Brady and John Maron are freelance music writers based in Raleigh, N.C.