A few years ago, I was banging around the Internet (as I am often wont to do) and found a website (that’s no longer there, sadly) called “The George Formby Jukebox.” I don’t know what it was that drew me to it, but I gave some of the music a listen, and I was hooked.
It’s hard to explain what I found so fascinating about Formby. Maybe it’s the fact that he was from Lancashire, England, the same part of the country that many of the British Invasion bands came from (Lancashire at the time included the cities of Liverpool and Manchester). Maybe it was his voice, or the way he played the ukulele and the banjo ukulele, or the silly grin he wore much of the time while playing and singing songs that were so risqué for the time that the BBC banned much of his music from the radio. He was a popular performer (perhaps England’s most popular) in the movies in the Thirties and Forties, and worked tirelessly for the Entertainnments National Service Association (ENSA) during the Second World War, entertaining the troops and the folks back home, as well as helping to raise money for charities. George Harrison considered him an influence, as did Peter Sellers.
Tell you what. Read all about George on the website of The George Formby Appereciation Society while I play you a few of his songs.
- When I’m Cleaning Windows From the 1936 film Keep Your Seats, Please!.
- Chinese Laundry Blues From 1932. The song introduces Mr. Wu, who makes an appearance in several other songs.
- Mr. Wu’s A Window Cleaner Now From 1940’s Let George Do It. Like I said, another song featuring Mr. Wu.
- I Don’t Like From 1937’s Keep Fit.
- My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock From 1948. One of the songs that got him banned on the BBC.
- Our Sergeant Major From 1945’s I Didn’t Do It.
- It Serves Me Right (I Shouldn’t Have Joined) From 1944’s Bell-Bottom George.
- The Emperor of Lancashire From 1940’s Turned Out Nice Again “Turned out nice again” was one of George’s catchphrases.
- Fanlight Fanny Originally released on a 78 in 1935, it was featured in 1939’s Trouble Brewing with an extra verse.
- Leaning on a Lamppost from 1937’s Feather Your Nest, it’s his best-known song. It was covered by Herman’s Hermits in 1966.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of George’s death in 1961 at the age of 56. I had no idea. That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for March 5, 2018.