Festival
Humor
Musical
Narrative

The Keller Family Song

Title: The Keller Family Song

Category: Music

Informant: Judith Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Lower 70s

Occupation: Hospital Research Receptionist— Homemaker, Nurse, etc.

Residence: Fort Worth, Texas

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

I DON’T LIKE YOUR FAMILY

THEY DON’T MAKE A HIT WITH ME

I DON’T WANT TO BOTHER SENDING MONEY TO YOUR FATHER

WHILE YOUR MA’S RELATIONS LIVE ON ME

I DON’T BELIEVE YOUR UNCLE JOHN

EVER HAD A COLLAR ON

YOU’RE A PERFECT LADY BUT WHEN I GET HITCHED FOR LIFE

I WANT AN ORPHAN

YOUR PA WITH A KNIFE

HAS THE TIME OF HIS LIFE

EATING PEAS IN THE GOOD OLD WAY

YOUR SISTER AND BROTHER THROW PLATES AT EACH OTHER

WHILE BABAY CRIES BOTH NIGHT AND DAY

THIS MIGHT ALL GO SWELL IN A NICE PADDED CELL

BUT IT’S NOT MY IDEA OF HOME SWEET HOME.

I DON’T LIKE YOUR FAMILY

THEY DON’T MAKE A HIT WITH ME

I DON’T WANT TO BOTHER SENDING MONEY TO YOUR FATHER

WHILE YOUR MA’S RELATIONS LIVE ON ME

I DON’T BELIEVE YOUR UNCLE JOHN

EVER HAD A COLLAR ON

YOU’RE A PERFECT LADY BUT WHEN I GET HITCHED FOR LIFE

I WANT AN ORPHAN

Context/Significance:

The Keller Family song is believed to have been invented by Julianna Keller’s Great Aunt “Doodles.” Originally known as “The Gableman Family Song” before transitioning into “The Keller Family Song,” the song was invented by “Doodles” during the time that she was a vaudevillian performer.

“Doodles” ran away from home when she was an early teenager and left at first to join the traveling circus. After performing in the circus as a bare back rider, “Doodles” moved on to later perform in vaudeville and presumably picked up the song there. The lyrics have adapted every little over time but many of the lyrics have been forgotten by most of the family— Only a few members have bee able to retain the full text.

It is believed that “Doodles” stole the song from one of her performances. The family likes this song in particular since there is an Uncle John in the family and they all point to him when the reference comes up. The family has sung this song once before when Julianna was at a gathering this past summer in Telluride, Colorado.

The song was typed up and provided by Judith Keller; The performer in the recording is Julianna Keller. The fragment provided is all that Judith and Julianna Keller were able to provide from memory.

Personal Thoughts:

The Keller Family Song is a “would-be” oikotype of a vaudevillian melody (if we knew which vaudevillian song it was specifically). The song has been passed down for through at least three generations and has adapted from its original invented version. The song is primarily sung at large family reunions or gatherings when segments of the family that aren’t usually connected get to interact with one another. Most members of the family know the song, but all only know specific parts and seem to rely on each other for remembering the full lyrics.

Song:

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