Earworm striking up my band

George and Ira Gershwin wrote the music and words for the title song of the musical “Strike Up the Band,” with a book by Morrie Ryskind. The show ran in 1927, in Philadelphia, but did not get good reviews. After George S. Kaufman revised the book, the show opened on Broadway in 1930. The story satirizes America’s taste for war, America declaring war on Switzerland over a trivial trade issue. The title tune was intended as a parody on ultra-patriotic songs of WWI.

Aside from the title tune, the 1940 Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney musical film “Strike Up the Band” had no relation to the stage production.

The Gershwins’ first fully integrated score for a book musical was influenced by the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. The pit band was the Red Nichols Orchestra, which included Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, Jimmy Dorsey, and Jack Teagarden.

In 1943, Ira Gershwin adapted the lyrics for the title song so it could be used for rousing troop support in WWII. The overture since then has often performed alone as a concert work.

The title song, “Strike Up the Band”, was given to the University of California, Los Angeles by the Gershwins in 1936 as “Strike Up the Band for UCLA” and has become one of the school songs.

For me, the song has been for as long as I can remember my most entrenched earworm, with the music in my head early in many mornings and repeating all day long. But Ira’s lyrics never stayed with me, and so I decided to improvise words that might amuse, to wit:

(new title: “No Joy in Mudville Revisited”)

C’mon Casey man
You can hit the ball
Make a master plan
Go for the left field wall

Hear the bleachers sing
They want a long home run
Give 'em a golden ring
Show 'em you’re number one

There’s a swing and a miss
There’s a foul and a strike
Hey it’s now an abyss
What’s there to like?

Form a line, oh, oh
Sing a song? Oh no
Hey Casey,
You’ve got to go

What is the most prevalent earworm? (An earworm is a song that lingers in consciousness and seems to refuse to shut up.) For me, the top three are: “Strike Up the Band,” O, What a Beautiful Morning," and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”