This week’s Song Lyric Sunday had me stumped for a bit. All the songs that I thought might have “greet” in them had only “meet.” I really wanted “Green Green Grass of Home,” a beautifully sad story-song. But rules are rules, amitrite? I thought of doing “Hey Hey Paula,” except I hate that song, lol. Then I remembered a song I had shared before my refresh: “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake.” I vaguely recalled there was a “howdy-do” or three in those lyrics. Actually, there are a lot! Since “how do you do” is the long-form of howdy, I figured howdya would be OK with Jim.
This is a super oldie ~ it was written in 1950 by Al Hoffman, Bob Merrill, and Clem Watts. The best known version was recorded by Eileen Barton, and while you may never have heard of it, the song hit No. 1 in 1950! Not only that, but it was included in a Billboard list of Perennial Hits, meaning you can’t go wrong playing and discussing it on the radio.
If you take the lyrics at face value, they’re very sweet. A woman might be singing to an old flame or simply to a friend whom she’s missed greatly. She’s so happy to see him, and she invites him into her home, wishing she had known of his visit in advance so she could have prepared a celebration, including cake.
But, being me, I prefer to take the lyrics sarcastically. I figure this song is talking about an arrogant, selfish man who breezes in and out of people’s lives whenever the whim takes him. He thinks so highly of himself that he expects his friends to drop everything to see him whenever he pops back into town. The woman singing is his ex-lover whom he treated disrespectfully, yet he expects her to cater to him if he happens to be in the vicinity. For a long time, she may have pined away for him, but now she has her own life and snarks at his notion of expecting her to still wait on him. Bake a cake? Yeah, sure buddy! After the way you treated me? Eff that. Here’s some cold leftover Chinese food. Enjoy! Hope it hasn’t gone bad…
Welp. Maybe I have some issues, lol.
If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake
Well, well, well. Look who’s here.
I haven’t seen you in many
If I knew you were comin’ I’d’ve baked a cake, baked a cake, baked a cake
If I knew you were comin’ I’d’ve baked a cake
Howdya do, howdya do, howdya do?
Had you dropped me a letter, I’d a-hired a band, grandest band in the land
Had you dropped me a letter, I’d a-hired a band
And spread the welcome mat for you
Oh, I don’t know where you came from
‘Cause I don’t know where you’ve been
But it really doesn’t matter
Grab a chair and fill your platter
And dig, dig, dig right in […]
I could share a video of Eileen Barton’s beautiful singing, but instead I’m going with humor and sharing the Sesame Street version. Mmm cake!
Image is mine.
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