"On Top of Tom Glazer, All Covered With Dirt . . ."

NY Times, 2/26—Tom Glazer, a folk singer and songwriter best known for his whimsical children’s songs—particularly one about a mountain of spaghetti—died on Friday at his home in Philadelphia. He was 88. Along with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White and Burl Ives, Mr. Glazer was a Big City folk singer, one of a loose coalition of performers who made folk music a national phenomenon in the 1940’s, presaging its commercial popularity in the 1960’s.

But his best-remembered achievement—though not Mr. Glazer’s favorite—was writing “On Top of Spaghetti,” a hit novelty song in 1963. Sung to the tune of “On Top of Old Smoky,” it featured a chorus of children singing lines like “On top of spaghetti all covered with cheese.” A wayward meatball is the star. Mr. Glazer’s formal debut came on Jan. 8, 1943, at Town Hall in Manhattan. In 1945 he started a show on ABC Radio, “Tom Glazer’s Ballad Box,” and in the 1960’s he was host of a weekly concert show for children on WQXR radio in New York. In 1957 he composed songs and background music for “A Face in the Crowd,” a film directed by Elia Kazan. His song “Talking Inflation Blues” was recorded by Bob Dylan on his “Minnesota Party Tape” in 1960.

Tom Glazer occasionally speculated about meeting St. Peter at the Pearly Gates and being asked what he accomplished in music. Mr. Glazer mumbles that he wrote “On Top of Spaghetti.” “Sorry, buster, you can’t enter,” the imagined St. Peter replies.

Thanks for posting about Tom Glazer, Eve. I saw the obit. in the Wash. Post today for him. I had always wondered where “On Top of Spaghetti” had come from and now I know! I seem to remember singing it pre-1963, though. Is that possible?! Or was 1963 simply the year it was recorded for release (or whatever the term is)? I sure remember the line about the meatball rolling off the table and falling on the floor.

RIP, Tom Glazer

Mr. Rogers and Tom Glazer. Someone up there is collecting kiddy-set celebrities. :frowning:

I need to go listen to “On Top of Spaghetti” now.

Now I’m having flashbacks to my days at Boy Scout camp:

On Top of Spaghetti

Although I remember the last line as “And don’t ever sneeze.”

How could it grow a tree if it was eaten and anyway never contained a seed?

I only learned the first three verses.

And when I first saw this, I thought, “Oh, no! Tompall Glaser has died,” a singer who gave us the touching country classic “Put Another Log on the Fire.”