Friday Flashback #249

It’s one of Westport’s lost, mostly forgotten mysteries: Pearl Bailey’s early-1950s recording of “I Caught Her in the Kitchen Playing Westport.”

It was even the subject of a previous Friday Flashback. But all I had were the lyrics. Even YouTube — where you can find anything — came up blank.

Today — thanks to the magic of Ellen and Mark Naftalin, and Miggs Burroughs — all of “06880” (and the world) can hear the sultry tune.

Ellen and Mark — longtime Westporters and musicians; she’s also a historian, he’s a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band — found the song.

In an album in their very own collection. It’s called — appropriately — “More Songs for Adults Only.”

Miggs turned the vinyl into an Mp3.

Click below to listen.

And if you want to sing along with Pearl, the lyrics are below.

There’s a little ranch house in the vale,
Pretty little ranch house up for sale;
All the shutters drawn,
Tenants all gone
And thereby hangs a long, unhappy tale.

‘Cause he caught her in the kitchen playing Westport,
A game indigenous to suburban life,
Where you take a wife of whom you’re not the husband,
While someone else’s husband takes your wife.

Some people may claim that the name of the game is Scarsdale,
Or Beverly Hills, or even Shaker Heights,
But commuters from Manhattan call it Westport.
And it’s the game that some of our local leading lights play
To while away those cold Connecticut nights.

Now in that little ranch house used to dwell
An advertising feller and his Nell.
Two kids and a pup, living it up,
And everything was sounder than a bell —
‘Til he caught her in the kitchen playing Westport
Between the washing machine and thermostat.

The husband thought it really was an outrage.
Said he, “You might at least remove your hat!”
Well, they may play it that way in Great Neck,
While in Levittown they’d never think it odd.
But there is not an architect in Westport
Who’ll ever forgive the cad that said, “My God! Sir.
I must have got the wrong cape cod!”

Since they are no longer groom and bride,
Quoting from the Sunday classified:
“Are there any takers
For three lovely acres
Of peaceful old New England countryside?”
‘Cause he caught her in the kitchen playing Westport
Which would ordinarily be a cause for gloom;
But though the sanctity of wedlock’s on the downgrade,
Currently housing is enjoying quite a boom!

And while they defame the name of the game in Boston,
Where naturally they think it’s a dirty shame,
In the green and fertile pastures of suburbia
The local dealers in real estate acclaim
It the best thing since the FHA, hey,

Westport is a grand old …
‘Midst pleasures and palaces …
Westport is a grand old game.

18 responses to “Friday Flashback #249

  1. Bill Strittmatter

    Doesn’t ripping songs off vinyl or CD and then generally distributing them via MP3s violate some sort of copywrite law or intellectual property rights? Or has all that expired for Pearl Bailey’s works?

    • Bill Strittmatter

      Oops, copyright law.

    • Russell Gontar

      This is considered “fair use” under copyright law.

      • Bill Strittmatter

        Interesting. Putting aside posting on a public blog, I thought ripping a copyrighted work to MP3 then giving it to someone else who then gave it to someone else was basically why Napster (who obviously did it on a much larger scale) was shut down.

        • Russell Gontar

          Correct. It is a matter of scale. The copyright law expects and allows for a certain amount of personal copying and sharing under its fair use doctrine. Napster far exceeded that “certain amount” under anyone’s understanding of their intent and subsequent actions.

  2. There are 21 places in the US named Westport. Even though the song references Manhattan, there is a Westport, NY.

    • Yes but she also refers to “cold Connecticut Nights and 3 acres of New England countryside”. And her characters are an architect and someone who works in advertising. I’m pretty confident she’s singing about us lol!

  3. Speaking of singers, I’m hugely disappointed that there has been no mention in this blog yet of another former Westport resident and artistic treasure, Mr. Michael Bolton, is now co-hosting ‘The Celebrity Dating Game’.

  4. Rozanne Gates

    Quite a few years ago, there was an Italian restaurant at The Westport Inn. Chris Coogan and Suzanne Sheridan did a gig there. One of the songs they did together was “Westport.” They also noticed that there was a CC camera over the bar that was focused on them. I asked the bartender why the camera was focused on the performers. He said “The boss is watching.”

  5. Gloria Gouveia

    Decades ago, I was informed by a very reliable source — a well-known Westport attorney — that there were different rules for the Game of Westport.
    Married couples were invited to a cocktail party where all the husbands threw their car keys into a hat. Each husband then drew a set of keys from the hat and took someone else’s wife to a public hearing.

  6. Bobbie Herman

    A Cape Cod on three acres? It’s probably been torn down, subdivided and replaced by three McMansions.

  7. dang, that’s quite an indictment of the little Town of Westport!

    Fast forward 30 years to the “key party” references . . .

  8. David, I guess I missed that part. Darn, that’s the third time I made a mistake in the last 35 years.

  9. Hilarious! Dan and I laughed through the whole thing!! When we first got here in ‘74 there were rumors of a lot of the ‘Westport game’ going on in a lot of kitchens. Too fun-ny! Thanks to The Naftalins and of course Miggs!! Well done!

  10. Patricia Blaufuss

    It appears that the music is by Philip Springer, who also wrote “Santa Baby.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Springer
    Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, who also wrote “Young at Heart,” “Witchcraft,” and several Broadway shows. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolyn_Leigh
    Springer is still composing – at 95 years-young. His latest song is about the NYC lockdown: “When New York Becomes New York Again” – google him singing/playing it.

  11. Ellen Naftalin

    Wonderful Dan. Just got around to my emails. Thanks for the credits.

Leave a Reply