The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

#119 / Sept. 9 Podcast

There’s nothing new and special about the melody to the 1930 jazz standard “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.” In fact, it’s a bit of a ripoff, because Sam Stept’s chords are virtually the same sequence as what Ray Henderson used in his 1925 composition, "Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue).”

But it is the lyrics that everyone remembers, a saucy admonishment between parting paramours in which the narrator tells the erstwhile lover, “if you can't say anything real nice it's better not to talk at all, that’s my advice!”

Comedian / dancer / composer Sidney Clare penned those words, which have grabbed the imagination of a wide range of performers for the past 90 years, from The Mills Brothers to Willie Nelson, from Frank Sinatra to Leon Redbone, from Billie Holiday to Ann Margaret, from Bob Wills to Bill Haley. And the song has been recorded as recently as 2007 by Manteca Beat and in 2009 by The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band.

The Comic Effect

Admiration of the tune’s comic character has a long history.

Norma Shearer sang it in the 1939 film “The Women” as a joke when she leaves her girlfriends at tea to take a call from her philandering husband. TV anchor Edwin Newman sang it in 1984 during his hosting of “Saturday Night Live.”

And is there a boomer in the room who remembers the character Michigan J. Frog doing a killer rendition of it in the 1955 Warner Bros. cartoon “One Froggy Evening”?

By the way, Sid wasn’t one of your one-hit wonders. Shoot, he probably could have retired, for instance, on the royalties from “On the Good Ship Lollipop” which he wrote with Richard Whiting for Shirley Temple’s 1934 film “Bright Eyes.”

Hedzups, Trivia Fans!

Finally, there is one more cool pop culture highlight in Sidney’s bio.

The Oxford English Dictionary credits Clare with the world’s earliest usage on record of the term “rock and roll.” Yep, he wrote those words in 1934 in his soundtrack for a movie called “Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round.”

Sidney Clare was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, two years before his death at 82.

Our Take on the Tune

For us, a perfect warmup song to get ready for an evening of music is one whose chords are familiar enough that we don’t have to think about them too hard, but also give us enough stretching out room so that we can just sit back and enjoy each other’s company. This happy tune from Grandpa’s day checks all the boxes.

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: