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View Full Version : "Coo coo ca-choo"-Where does it come from?


Spoke
02-07-2000, 02:03 PM
aha-

No, I am certain that it is a literary reference, to which both Paul Simon and Paul McCartney were referring. Just trying to find the source...

BTW, didn't "Mrs. Robinson" come before "I Am the Walrus"? (Which is a Lennon song, not McCartney, unless I am mistaken.)

beefymeg
02-07-2000, 02:23 PM
I must make a correction: in "I am the Walrus" the phrase is printed on the lyrics sheet as "GOO GOO GA JOOB." However, in "Mrs. Robinson" itreally sounds more like "coo coo ca choo."

Do with that what you will.

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Sucks to your assmar.

Fenris
02-07-2000, 03:02 PM
I'm pretty sure that the phrase "Goo-goo-Ga-Joob" comes from James Joyce. Probably Finnigan's Wake or Ulysses.

Fenris

Spoke
02-07-2000, 03:13 PM
Fenris--

OK, your homework assignment is to look it up, and see if you can find the phrase in Joyce. (Ideally, give us a quote from the book, to provide some context.)

"Coo coo ca-choo" sure sounds like a literary sneeze to me.

:)

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
02-07-2000, 03:41 PM
Actually, the song "Mrs Robinson," while being in "The Graduate," was written some time before there the movie and had a different title.

The song was actually a thinly-veiled look at someone in an insane asylum.

"We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files."

"Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home."

"It's a little secret, just the Robinsons' affair."

Read the words. You'll see.

And "Coo-coo ka-choo," is a reference that the person is "cuckoo."

AskNott
02-07-2000, 04:33 PM
An asylum? Funny, I always pictured Mrs. R's first day in heaven.The line "Heaven holds a place for those who pray" probably influenced my imagery.


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AskNott

Spoke
02-07-2000, 04:38 PM
OK, this is getting "curiouser and curiouser."

I have visited several Beatles fans' web sites, and every one of them that tackles the "goo goo ga joob" mystery says that those were the last words of Humpty Dumpty. This at least proves that I didn't concoct the whole idea in my imagination.

Still, another review of Through the Looking Glass shows that old Humpty just didn't say that. Is there another source of Humpty Dumpty info that I'm missing? (Other than the original nursery rhyme, which of course says nothing about "goo goo ga joob" or "coo coo ca-choo".)

Mjollnir wrote

And "Coo-coo ka-choo," is a reference that the person is "cuckoo."

Do you have a source for this assertion, Mjollnir (say, an interview with Simon), or is it your own interpretation? I don't think Paul Simon invented this phrase, any more than John Lennon did. (And frankly, I don't think Lennon included the phrase in "I Am the Walrus" as an Homage to Paul Simon.) I believe they are both referring to an earlier literary source.

Help, O Teeming Millions!

Poto
02-07-2000, 05:49 PM
"GOO GOO GA JOOB" led to nothing new in 6 searches.All were just the Walrus lyrics, except one was cover of it and one hit was in a game called Heretic.

DrFidelius
02-07-2000, 06:14 PM
Humpty Dumpty was a seige-tower repelled from the walls of Dunbar Castle by "Black Agnes", wife of the Earl of Dunbar in 1339. It fell away from the palisade and into the marshy moat. The army attacking the castle was unable to recover it.

Spoke
02-07-2000, 06:17 PM
Here's a site on Joyce's influence on music, which makes a reference to "I am the Walrus". However, the site seems to say that "Goo Goo Ga Joob" is not in Finnegan's Wake. (Scroll way down for the reference.)
http://www.rpg.net/quail/libyrinth/joyce/music/joyce.music.main.html

Where does this idea come from that "goo goo ga joob" or "coo coo ca-choo" or "koo koo ca-choo" or (insert your spelling here) was the last utterance of Humpty Dumpty? Does Humpty Dumpty appear at all in Finnegan's Wake?

We may have to call in Cecil to get to the bottom of this one...

APB9999
02-07-2000, 06:19 PM
I can add this much:

In the song "I want to be loved by you" the phrase coo-coo-ca-choo appears.
I want to be loved by you
By you, and nobody else but you
I want to be loved by you aloooooooone
Coo-coo-ca-choo

This song goes back at least to the forties, and far predates "The Graduate" and Paul Simon. Sinead O'Connor did a version of that song on an anthology I own, but the song itself is pretty old. Come to think of it, I seem to recall Beety Boop singing it in an old b&w cartoon strip somewhere..... Maybe it's as old as the thirties.

At any rate, how the hell would a line from Finnegan's Wake end up in a Betty Boop song?

Cabbage
02-07-2000, 06:20 PM
I was the one that mentioned the Finnegan's Wake reference in the previous thread, though I forgot to mention the words DO have the same meaning you mentioned (i.e., they were Humpty Dumpty's last words). I heard this in the book "The Beatles Forever" by Nicholas Schaffner:

...As a matter of fact, one erudite Beatlemaniac detected a clue in "I Am the Walrus"'s "goo goo goo joob" chorus; in "Finnegan's Wake" these are Humpty Dumpty's last words before he takes a fall and cracks his head.

"Clue" referring, of course, to yet another "Paul is Dead" clue. In the past I have unsuccessfully flipped through Finnegan's Wake trying to find this passage; though I did find one or more passages involving Humpty Dumpty, I never actually found this quote from him, so I'm still uncertain if this is the origin of the chorus.

Spoke
02-07-2000, 06:31 PM
APB9999-

Unless I'm mistaken, the phrase in "I Want to be Loved By You" is "Boop boop be doop", not "coo coo ca-choo". Pretty sure on this one, but I will accept correction if I am wrong.

APB9999
02-07-2000, 07:27 PM
Ooops! I think you're right. I'm an idiot. My memory was feeding it to me as "Coo-coo-ca-choo". Stupid brain. That's it, I'm punishing you with alcohol as soon as I get home!

Johnny L.A.
02-07-2000, 07:41 PM
Could be a version of "coochie-coochie", said when you tickle a baby.

Or; it could just be a nonsense sound for use in a song. Like "da-do-ron-ron" or "shoobie-doobie". WAGs.

NanoByte
02-07-2000, 08:23 PM
Anh. Some toddler allergic to doves started it all.

Ray (My litter atchour request)

Spoke
02-08-2000, 12:20 AM
In the earlier "Mrs. Robinson" thread, I stated that I thought the phrase "coo coo ca-choo" in the song was a reference to the noise made by Humpty Dumpty as he sneezed, just before falling off the wall in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

I could have sworn that was right (one of those pesky "false memories"), but my assertion was challenged by another poster. To be certain, I went home and looked it up. Sure enough, I couldn't find the phrase in either Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass.

The phrase also appears in the Beatles song "I Am the Walrus". (Though the spelling may be different.) "I am the Egg Man; I am the Egg Man; I am the Walrus! Coo coo ca-choo..."
(Incidentally, "I am the Walrus" does appear to be a Through the Looking Glass reference. Maybe that's where I got the idea about "coo coo ca-choo".)

It was also suggested in the earlier thread that the phrase might be from Finnegan's Wake.

There was also some debate about the proper spelling of the phrase. Some spelled it with 'k's some with 'c's and some with 'g's. ("Goo goo g'choob"???)

So can any of the teeming millions out there tell me where this phrase does come from? If so, can you give us a cite? (Wild conjecture also welcomed!)

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"Every time you think, you weaken the nation!" --M. Howard (addressing his brother, C. Howard).

aha
02-08-2000, 12:39 AM
I aussmed it came from paul mcCartney in I am the walrus.. :)

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"I think it speaks to the duality of man sir."
(private Joker in Full Metal Jacket)

Spoke
02-08-2000, 08:29 AM
Everybody's a comedian! ;)

This Humpty Dumpty thing is starting to look like it has no basis in fact. I am beginning to think it was spawned as a half-remembered (incorrectly-remembered) passage from Finnegans Wake or Through the Looking Glass floating through the head of some cannabis-addled Beatlemaniac wondering who killed Paul. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Johnny L.A.-

Good point on the "coochie coochie coo" possibility. That angle hadn't occurred to me.

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"Every time you think, you weaken the nation!" --M. Howard (addressing his brother, C. Howard).

Fenris
02-08-2000, 08:58 AM
Mjollnir wrote

Actually, the song "Mrs Robinson," while being in "The Graduate," was written some time before there the movie and had a different title.
The song was actually a thinly-veiled look at someone in an insane asylum.
Couple of points:
#1) The song was always titled "Mrs. Robinson", but you're right that it was around long before "The Graduate". It first appeared (I believe) on the "Bookends" album.

#2) I always thought that it was an drug/alcohol-rehab facility, like The Betty Ford Center. The lines about "Hide it in little hiding place where no one ever goes. Put it in the pantry with your cupcakes" sounds to me like a problem drinker with secret stashes of booze.

Fenris

Fenris
02-08-2000, 09:18 AM
Spoke wrote

This Humpty Dumpty thing is starting to look like it has no basis in fact. I am beginning to think it was spawned as a half-remembered (incorrectly-remembered) passage from Finnegans Wake or Through the Looking Glass floating through the head of some cannabis-addled Beatlemaniac wondering who killed Paul. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

On that site you found (the "Joyce in Music" one at http://www.rpg.net/quail/libyrinth/joyce/music/joyce.music.main.html )

The page writer says
According to Gregg Zion, John Lennon was a Joyce fan, and took "Humpty Dumpty's last words" from Finnegans Wake and put them into "I Am The Walrus" as "goo goo goo joob." I have not been able to confirm this yet, and the closest I can find is "goo goo goosth" from FW 557.7.

To me, "Goo Goo Goosth" is close enough to "Goo Goo G'joob" that I'm satisfied that this was Lennon's inspiration.

Fenris

Spoke
02-08-2000, 09:41 AM
Fenris

The problem with that "goo goo goosth" explanation is that the particular passage in question doesn't have anything to do with Humpty Dumpty, which means that Gregg Zion was wrong on that point. This leads me to question how trustworthy he is on his basic assertion that Lennon was inspired by Finnegans Wake at all.

The other problem I have is that the similarity between "goo goo ga joob" and "coo coo ca-choo" leads me to believe that they are variations on the same phrase, and that they have a common source. Somebody give Paul Simon a call, and let's get this mess straightened out once and for all...

:confused:

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"Every time you think, you weaken the nation!" --M. Howard (addressing his brother, C. Howard).

beefymeg
02-08-2000, 10:30 AM
I'm not really sure that "GGGJ" and "CCCC" are related at all. They have the same rhythm, and that very well might be it.
Plus, if you were to play that same rhythm on, say, a trumpet, and then add a cymbal crash at the end, it sounds a lot like something that might have been played at the end of a variety show clown sketch.

Did I make any sense just there?

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Sucks to your assmar.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
02-10-2000, 10:34 AM
Here's another possibility:

Lennon was a big Edward Lear fan, and it's possible that it could have been from one of his poems.

I've been leafing thru my Lear, and will post back if anything turns up.

BTW, "coo coo ca-chew" does sound like something that Lear would have in a poem--just don't know that he did.

Zaibatsu
11-05-2013, 08:47 PM
I just read in an interview with Paul McCartney that when they used to say it, it meant f**k off. I saw it in a magazine in Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks ago. Now, that doesn't address the origin, but it gives some insight.

njtt
11-05-2013, 09:21 PM
I just read in an interview with Paul McCartney that when they used to say it, it meant f**k off. I saw it in a magazine in Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks ago. Now, that doesn't address the origin, but it gives some insight.

More likely it was McCartney's way of telling the interviewer to fuck off, and stop pestering him about the meaning of a nonsense song written 45 years ago by somebody else.

In the context of I am the Walrus", the notion that "Goo go bajoob" is code or slang for "fuck off" makes no sense, and, furthermore, it does not seem a very plausible as a substitute for "fuck off" inany context. Certainly I have never heard or heard of the expression being used this way, and I was around at the time the song came out.

I think both "goo goo bajoob" and "coo coo cachoo" are just scat nonsense phrases, like "hey nonny nonny" or "lalalala".


To me, "Goo Goo Goosth" is close enough to "Goo Goo G'joob" that I'm satisfied that this was Lennon's inspiration.

Fenris

Or, you know, maybe he just made it up by himself. :rolleyes:

kaylasdad99
11-05-2013, 09:24 PM
Welcome to the SDMB, Zaibatsu! :)

Vashbul
11-05-2013, 09:42 PM
Mjollnir wrote

Couple of points:
#1) The song was always titled "Mrs. Robinson", but you're right that it was around long before "The Graduate". It first appeared (I believe) on the "Bookends" album.
No, the Graduate soundtrack album came first - January 1968. The Mrs. Robinson single and Bookends album came in April. Supposedly Paul Simon repurposed a half-finished song called Mrs. Roosevelt when the movie was due to come out and he hadn't come up with the material he promised. I don't know if he knew anything about the Mrs. Robinson character - if not it might explain why the lyrics don't seem to have much to do with the film other than a general scourging of an unpleasant woman.

Yes, the Beatles song came first, on a 45 where the way John sings it sounds like "coo coo ca-choo", and I would guess Paul Simon liked the rhythm of it and found a place for it in his hastily scribbled song. (When the Walrus lyrics were printed in the Magical Mystery Tour sleeve, it was rendered as GOO GOO GOO JOOB but who knows if that was Beatle-intended or some transcriber's fudge.)

blondebear
11-05-2013, 09:55 PM
Speaking of the genesis of Beatles lyrics, I was amused to hear Paul include the snippet "O U T spells out!" on his latest album. I guess it's from a children's rhyme? The lyric shows up earlier in both their fan club record and then later when Ringo "covers" Christmas Time Is Here Again.

Colibri
11-05-2013, 09:56 PM
Moved to Cafe Society (which didn't exist in 2000, when this thread was started).

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

Colibri
11-05-2013, 10:35 PM
Speaking of the genesis of Beatles lyrics, I was amused to hear Paul include the snippet "O U T spells out!" on his latest album. I guess it's from a children's rhyme?

It's used in choosing-up rhymes like "Eenie meenie minie mo."

FriarTed
11-06-2013, 07:47 AM
Mjollnir wrote

Couple of points:
#1) The song was always titled "Mrs. Robinson", but you're right that it was around long before "The Graduate". It first appeared (I believe) on the "Bookends" album.

#2) I always thought that it was an drug/alcohol-rehab facility, like The Betty Ford Center. The lines about "Hide it in little hiding place where no one ever goes. Put it in the pantry with your cupcakes" sounds to me like a problem drinker with secret stashes of booze.

Fenris

So here was my childhood take on the song, having seen The Graduate either on TV or a the Drive-In when my parents took my brother & myself...

After the events of the movie, the truth about the affair came out, threatening the Robinsons' marriage & her emotional stability, so much so that she either checked into or was committed to a mental health facility which had some sort of Christian affiliation.

Looking back, that was pretty sophisticated thinking for being around ten years old.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
11-06-2013, 08:46 AM
Just want to add that my earlier post from a dozen years ago (under a previous name) was 100% levity. I was simply adding artistic verisimiltude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

Chronos
11-06-2013, 11:54 AM
Wait, wasn't "I am the walrus" the one they deliberately wrote to not make any sense, just to confuse scholars who were trying to unravel the meaning of their songs?

TreacherousCretin
11-06-2013, 02:26 PM
Ever since I heard The Rutles' parody of I Am The Walrus, I can't help but hear the phrase as "Do a poo-POO."

Ranger Jeff
11-06-2013, 04:13 PM
Wait, wasn't "I am the walrus" the one they deliberately wrote to not make any sense, just to confuse scholars who were trying to unravel the meaning of their songs?

IATW was Lennon, not "they". I've always thought Lennon was under the influence of Dylan and LSD when he wrote that and that about 60% of it was just playing with the sounds and rhythms of words. Though, if some critic wanted to search for some deeper, inner meaning behind the line "Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye", it was probably cool with Lennon.

Greg Charles
11-06-2013, 04:29 PM
Just want to add that my earlier post from a dozen years ago (under a previous name) was 100% levity. I was simply adding artistic verisimiltude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

Careful, you're liable to get your head chopped off.

TreacherousCretin
11-06-2013, 09:13 PM
IATW was Lennon, not "they". I've always thought Lennon was under the influence of Dylan and LSD when he wrote that and that about 60% of it was just playing with the sounds and rhythms of words. Though, if some critic wanted to search for some deeper, inner meaning behind the line "Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye", it was probably cool with Lennon.

I've always felt the same, although I'd say it was more like 95% sounds and rhythms of words. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_the_Walrus has a lot of background info on the subject, including (for example)
"Yellow matter custard, green slop pie,
All mixed together with a dead dog's eye,
Slap it on a butty, ten foot thick,
Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick."

Sam A. Robrin
11-07-2013, 11:18 PM
Pete Shotton and John Lennon were hanging out dipping into one of the huge mail bags the Beatles used to receive. A teacher from their school had written talking about analyzing Beatles songs in his class. Lennon and Shotton recalled the schoolboy verse cited above (sort of the British equivalent of "Great Green Gobs of Greasy, Grimy Gopher Guts"), and Lennon adapted it with an attitude of "Let them try analyzing that!"

TreacherousCretin
11-08-2013, 03:34 PM
Pete Shotton and John Lennon were hanging out dipping into one of the huge mail bags the Beatles used to receive. A teacher from their school had written talking about analyzing Beatles songs in his class. Lennon and Shotton recalled the schoolboy verse cited above (sort of the British equivalent of "Great Green Gobs of Greasy, Grimy Gopher Guts"), and Lennon adapted it with an attitude of "Let them try analyzing that!"

As detailed in the article I linked to.