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Sep 03

LITA ROZA – “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?”

Popular19 comments • 4,496 views

#8, 17th April 1953

You have to wonder whether without the invention of the charts (and the creation of a market that might care about them) British pop wouldn’t have cycled round a selection of stock ditties forever, rocking contentedly between slop and whimsy. As whimsy goes “Doggie” is rather charming, especially with Lita Roza sounding so coquettish (as coquettish as one can sound on a song this twee). Animals and small children may prove ‘ I’m guessing here ‘ a bane of these stumbling new charts. This song was still being played on pre-school TV when I was very small, though the verses about the bandits and robbers are new to me and make me like the record a lot more than I might.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Doctor Mod on 14 Oct 2006 #

    My older sisters used to torment me with the Patti Page version of this song. I made me cry. I have no idea what it was about it–I mean, I was two years old! Still, the sibling traumatizing most have left its mark, as I still get very anxious whenever I hear it, which, thankfully, isn’t very often anymore.

  2. 2
    intothefireuk on 7 Nov 2007 #

    A very familiar song though I’m not sure which version it would have been that I’d previously heard – I certainly don’t remember the fact that the doggy’s primary purpose seems to be chasing robbers off & protecting her ‘sweetheart’ while the singer scoots off to California for reasons unknown. Of course it may just be that I only remember the first two lines. It would have helped the recording if they’d actually used a real ‘ruff ruff’ instead of the impersonated version we get here. Which also reminds me that Blackburn may well have played this during his Radio 1 JC stint, over-dubbing Arnold at the appropriate moments. No more than a passing novelty and future kids records stalwart.

  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 28 May 2008 #

    Another dear old Bob Merrill number one, truly the Bill Martin of his day – novelties by the yard. I’ve already put this link on She Wears Red Feathers but it can’t hurt to stick it here as well. It’s a gem:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2898/

  4. 4
    wichita lineman on 6 Aug 2008 #

    Bob Merrill wrote this after a trip to Amsterdam. Think on…

    The fierce dog sounds a lot fiercer (ie 4 times as loud as the vocal) on the Patti Page version.

    Lita Roza is now quite frail (she’s been diabetic for 50 years), lives alone in a house on Wandsworth Common, and is haunted by the idea that when she goes this is what people will remember her for rather than her torch songs. Like Tom, I don’t remember the robber part at all which lends it a rather surreal air; How Much Is That Guard Dog In The Window probably wouldn’t have earned it so many spins from Stewpot.

  5. 5
    DJ Punctum on 15 Aug 2008 #

    R.I.P.

  6. 6
    wichita lineman on 15 Aug 2008 #

    So, sadly, I guess this is how she’ll be remembered. I feel obliged to dig out her – supposedly excellent – sultry torch song material; I may report back. In the meantime I can at least recommend Leave Me Alone, a Decca single from 1955 with a mink and smoke-ring atmosphere that must be on cd. It conjurs up the make-do-and-mend glamour of fifties Soho covered by Gordon Burn’s Alma Cogan – with its smudges of illegality and late-period ration cards – more vividly than Alma’s own chirrupy catalogue.

    Patti Page had a similar dislike of Doggie In The window, but she also had Tennessee Waltz and Old Cape Cod up her sleeve for the obits, unlike poor Liverpool Lita.

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Lita Roza was on television all the time in the 1950s. All these apperances are now missing;

    THE DICKIE VALENTINE SHOW: with Lulu, Lita Roza, Denis Lotis, The Breakaways, Pan’s People, Sid Boatman, Jack Parnell and his Orchestra (1967)

    DRUMBEAT: with The Barry Sisters, The Kingpins, Billy Fury, Lita Roza (1959)

    NORTHERN SHOWGROUND: with Lita Roza, Ken Dodd, The Chocolateers, Joe Lynch, Sara Luzita (1956)

    SHOWTIME: with David Nixon, Jewel & Warriss, Lita Roza, Bruno Martino Five (1961)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Lita Roza, David Hughes, Jimmy Logan, The Eric Delaney Band, The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group wiith Nancy Whiskey, Art Baxter and his Sinners, The Burt Twins, The Clyde Valley Stompers, The Glasgow Rock ‘n’ Roll Sinners (1957)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Lita Roza, Humphrey Lyttelton and His Band, The Bob Cork Skiffle, Frank Hader, Tony Kinsey Quintet (1957)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Lonnie Donegan and his Skiffle Group, Terry Dene, The King Brothers, Lita Roza, Freddie Mills, Max Geldray, Stephane Grappelly with The Dill Jones Trio, Don Lang and his Frantic Five (1957)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Lita Roza, Bill Raymond, Donna Douglas, Paul Beattie, The Southlanders, Craig Douglas, Janice Peters, Vince Eager, The Six-Five Dates, Leslie Watkins (1958)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Lita Roza, Danny Purches, The Mudlarks, Freddie Mills, Humphrey Lyttelton and His Band, Vipers Skiffle Group, Bruce Turner Jump Band, Jim Dale (1958)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Lita Roza, Don Lang, Andy and the Bey Sisters, Don Rennie, Steve Martin., Claudio Venturelli, Lisa Noble, Janice Peters, Leila Williams, Ted Heath and his Music (1958)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Lita Roza, Ray Ellington, The Mudlarks, The Two Gees, Mike Preston, Danny Bland, Boyer and Ravel, The Six-Five Dates, James Green, Alan Clark and his Band (1958)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Lita Roza, Ronnie Carroll, Don Lang, Don Rennie, Steve Martin, Claudio Venturelli, Sheila Southern, Billy Raymond, The Raindrops, Eric Delaney and his Band (1958)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Lonnie Donegan, Lita Roza, The Five Dallas Boys, Ken Mackintosh and his Band, Basil Kirchin and his Band (1958)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Mike and Bernie Winters, Ted Heath and his Music, Lita Roza, The Dallas Boys, Gary Miller, The Terry Lightfoot Jazzmen, Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes, Don Rendell and the Jazz Couriers, Don Lang and his Frantic Five (1958)

    SUNDAY NIGHT AT BLACKPOOL–MEET THE STARS: with Mel Tormé, Derek Roy, Lita Roza, Mrs Shefflewick, Warren Devine and Sparks (1956)

    But three TV appearances do survive;

    LOOKS FAMILIAR: with Les Dawson, Lita Roza, Vince Powell, Arthur English (1973)

    LOOKS FAMILIAR: with Mike Winters, Bernie Winters, Lita Roza, Bryan Blackburn (1974)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with The Six-Five Dates, Joan Regan, Jim Dale, Lita Roza, Malcolm Vaughan, The Mudlarks, Ronnie Carroll, Don Rennie, Des O’Connor, Jerry Angelo (1958)

  8. 8
    thefatgit on 18 Jan 2010 #

    This is fused in my mind with Junior Choice’s “Woof Woof to Arthur”. Many kids, including me, wrote in for birthday requests or mentions and almost always signed off each letter sent with the WWTA. Ed Stewart would then fire off the twin echoey barks. I’m sure one time this song was played with Arthur’s big barks rather than the yappy ones of the original.

  9. 9
    wichita lineman on 18 Jan 2010 #

    You’re right tfg, the version played on last Christmas Day’s Junior Choice was the source of Arnold’s woofs. Can’t remember who it was by, I’m afraid, but they were mighty Old English Sheepdog woofs rather than Lita’s Yorkshire Terrier yaps.

  10. 10
    thefatgit on 18 Jan 2010 #

    Of course it was Arnold not Arthur, thanks Wichita!

  11. 11
    Eli on 19 Dec 2010 #

    Poor Lita – her death got into The Sun, but with ‘Doggie’ in the headline. It’s rather forgotten that in the early 50s, before Alma conquered the nation, Lita topped the polls. In truth, I find her vocals a little too much on the jazzy side – in retrospect, it’s rather odd indeed that the public were so keen to hear an ex-big band (Ted Heath) singer doing this children’s novelty. It’s quite nice really, but Patti Page was far more at home on this type of material – I think Oriole, who distributed her Mercury recordings in the UK, had poor distribution, which may account for it’s comparitively-low chart placing at #9.

    @wichitalineman – you really must see the “Brit-noir” Cast a Dark Shadow (1955). Dirk Bogarde’s sinister conman wants to seduce Margaret Lockwood’s blowsy newly-widowed pub landlady. Lita’s singing this number in person when they first meet… and yes, it’s on a Vocalion CD.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 3 Jan 2013 #

    As good a place as any to say goodbye to another pre rock heroine, Patti Page. As I’m sure all the obits will say, she was the first singer to be double tracked on a hit record, harmonising with herself. I love Tennessee Waltz, Doggie less so, but the mournful Detour is my favourite single of hers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sqyC4Qoe-A

  13. 13
    Erithian on 3 Jan 2013 #

    And of course her captivating version of “Old Cape Cod” was the major selling point for Groove Armada’s “At The River”. What a talent. RIP.

  14. 14
    wichitalineman on 28 Jun 2013 #

    The NME says: ” ‘Doggie’ gets a very polite pat from Lita, who sings the ditty in a straightforward manner, never budging even a crotchet away from the printed piano copy.

    “It will obviously please British “mums and dads” but I do wish that Lita would try to add something to these “straightish” songs.

    “I don’t mean that she should “jazz it up”, as it were, but listening to top American singers, even on the most ordinary tunes, one gets the impression that some attempt has been made to make a song more personal than it looks in its original form. Patti Page’s embellishments on ‘Doggie’ are a good example of what I’m getting at.”

  15. 15
    Mark G on 28 Jun 2013 #

    Here’s a complete bobbins of a story regarding Tony Blackburn’s Arnold..

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/essex/content/articles/2009/03/12/tony_arnold_feature.shtml

  16. 16
    wichitalineman on 28 Jun 2013 #

    It’s interesting that NME’s reviews, as early as 1953, were already like A&R from the sidelines. The reviewer – whose name I’ve forgotten – was a Radio Luxemburg DJ.

    Re 15: Quite. I’m afraid Arnold has joined Patti and Lita in that pet shop in the sky.

  17. 17
    punctum on 28 Jun 2013 #

    It’s a review which could equally be applied to the Tom O’Dull album. I may have better things to do in my old age than write about that. Blimey – “and at number one this week, it’s Tom O’Dull with his debut album I Am A Boring Plank.” And next week it’ll be “Editors.”

    nb: “Better things to do” include “breathing.”

  18. 18
    wichitalineman on 28 Jun 2013 #

    I’ve managed to miss O’Dull completely, and I’ve no intention of seeking him out, not when I could be listening to Lita’s Listening In The Afterhours.

  19. 19
    Mark G on 28 Jun 2013 #

    from wikip: “He was discovered by the label head Lily Allen, who remarked that “his energy onstage reminded me of David Bowie”.

    I still cannot envisage this comparison. I, um, his hair maybe?

    Anyway, back to doggies in windows..

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