Here’s What’s New At The Zoo!

Some of you caught on right away. Some have been away all summer and might have missed it. Others might not have noticed anything at all.

This June, The Heavy Petting Zoo turned 13 years old. That’s right, the awkward teen years are upon us! So perhaps it’s no coincidence (but mostly it is…) that now’s the time we flip the switch on a number of changes I’d been pondering for some time.

One change is simple: The show’s subtitle.

“Make-Out Music and More from the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s” was adopted when the show expanded to two hours, and my music library needed to expand along with it. But the truth is we sometimes dip into the 1920s on HPZ and, in the summer especially, into the kitschy sounds of the 1960s. 

Even though it’s a small thing, it’s always bothered me that the subtitle is simply not accurate! So we changed it.

Now HPZ proudly features “Make-Out Music and More from the Big Bands and Beyond.” 

It’s just as much of a mouthful (#marketinggenius) but leaves room for flexibility.

Rest assured the show remains the same great celebration of vintage classics you’ve come to love!

No More “Pettin’ In the Park”

Now, on to the next thing: The theme song.

For years, the “doot-doo-doot-doooo” of a muted trumpet was the bugle call that alerted listeners it’s time for HPZ. Dick Powell, star of radio and film, wasn’t far behind with a curious song about the merits of outdoor canoodling.

The ditty comes from the Busby Berkley film Gold Diggers of 1933, and the lyrics alone made it the perfect, somewhat humorous kickoff for a show hocking “make-out music.”

Dick Powell with bookA couple years ago, in the waning days of my cable TV subscription, I caught Gold Diggers of 1933 on TCM. I landed on the film just as they began singing “Pettin’ In the Park” and sat attentively, excited to finally see the song in its original context. Then, I was horrified.

 The audio-only version of the song entails Dick Powell declaring:

Every night a body should relax /
After all the wear and tear.

Get the oxygen your body lacks /
Get it in the open air.

In film, he’s singing these lyrics aloud as he reads a book called Advice For People In Love. The object of his affection is seated next to him on a park bench. And that’s when a trademark Busby Berkeley dance sequence unfolds, a scene which begins in a box of animal crackers-turned-zoo and introduces us to a baby (a BIG baby, who can somehow roller skate) who shoots spitballs at cops.

Those curiosities aside, it was the portrayal of women — and the treatment of women by men — that mortified me the most.

Some of this is to be expected when one watches films of this era, a time when some might say women “knew their place” and traditional gender roles were depicted prominently on screen and radio.

 But in Gold Diggers of 1933, specifically during “Pettin’ In the Park,” we see men so adamantly pursuing women that not only does our “Big Baby” (henceforth known as Perv Baby) lift a curtain on the women so the men can watch them change out of their rain-drenched clothes, we also have to sit back and watch as these women put on dresses made of tin to try to keep the men at bay. After all, the men won’t take “no” for an answer.

But tin bodices are not enough. The camera zooms in on Powell, who throws his chin in his hands in a fit of frustration and leans away.

That’s where Perv Baby step in. And guess what, he can talk.

“I can help you,” he whispers to Powell as he hands over a pair of metal-cutting shears. With a bit of force, Powell turns his unwitting partner around so her back is to him, and he begins cutting away at the back of her dress.

Her body is his, not hers.

I presume most HPZ listeners have not seen this film, and many never will. Now that I have, I am unsettled.

I’m ashamed to have continued to use this theme song for as long as I did since seeing it in context (one of the perks of being on the radio is that you, dear listener, couldn’t see me cringe every time I played it).

I should have found a temporary theme song in the meantime until I found the perfect replacement.

“Make Yourself Comfortable”

Steve Lawrence and Eydie GorméAt least we can say something good came out of my acquisition of 43 albums (that I have no room for) at a recent SWAP Shop record sale. A diamond in the rough was the track “Make Yourself Comfortable” by Eydie Gormé and Steve Lawrence from Gormé’s album Eydie Gormé Delights.

In contrast with “Pettin’ In the Park,” we hear the voices of both a man and a woman (in fact, mostly the woman) dancing around their own mutual interest in one another. After hurrying through their dinner, hurrying through a dance, and leaving before a “picture show” was through, they settle in as Gormé declares, “I’ve got some records here to put you in the mood.”

Incidentally, that’s also HPZ’s specialty.

As the show fully embraces its awkward teen years, I hope you’ll keep tuning in to WSUM each Saturday night at 7 PM (Central) for “make-out music and more from the Big Bands and Beyond.”

Make yourself comfortable.

–Grandma Cyd

Trouble’s just a bubble, and the clouds will soon roll by

paper moon

It’s a vastly underrepresented musical era, yet – in my view – it is one of the most enjoyable: the music of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Perhaps part of the reason we don’t hear this music anywhere is because it’s difficult to find (and/or remaster) music that was once only available on scratchy cylinders. But once you get your grubby hands on these vintage gems, there’s something inherently pleasing and relaxing about hearing music as though it were playing straight from a Victrola. It takes us back to what seems like a simpler time, even though at the height of the Great Depression, it’s a sure thing nothing was simple.

A great one-stop shop for a diverse array of old timey (and I mean OLD timey) tunes is The Paper Moon Soundtrack. In this 15-song collection, we hear a mix of ear-catching tunes that sometimes turn morose or macabre.

Country singer Jimmie Davis is here. Old time radio star Dick Powell (“Richard Diamond”) takes us down Flirtation Walk. A young Bing Crosby tries to whistle his way back to an old flame’s heart. Hoagy Carmichael’s inability to sing in key makes us wonder if we really want to keep Georgia on our minds. And if you ever hoped to hear a solemn but forthright account of one’s gruesome murder of a pretty young girl, then the Blue Sky Boys surely deliver.

While I could (and do) listen to this LP repeatedly when I need a pick-me-up, there is a snag for you, dear reader. Until this year, the soundtrack hasn’t been available since its original release in 1973, and it still isn’t all that easy to find. I even scoured the depths of Google to find an image of the cover art to share with you but had to settle for another image from the movie itself. However, another look at the interwebs tells me the soundtrack has just been reissued on CD.  And it appears those who go on to purchase the CD reissue will be treated to 11 remastered bonus tracks by Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club France!

Below, I’ve provided links to some websites that claim to be able to hook you up with a copy of the soundtrack. And while I prefer that you enjoy this soundtrack on vinyl — the way this music was meant to be heard — I must admit it’s a bit of an inconvenience to have to flip the record over again and again when you haven’t had enough.

Front to back: This soundtrack is 100% enjoyable — no disappointing selections whatsoever! It’s the perfect way to dip your feet into the early 1930s.

Since you may only be toying with the idea of diving into this music, I offer the title/artist track information. From here, I invite you to explore the single recordings and expand your musical taste based on what suits your fancy. After all, this soundtrack is what led me to discover the Heavy Petting Zoo theme song, Petting In the Park by Dick Powell!


1. “It’s Only A Paper Moon” by Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra

2. “About A Quarter To Nine” by Ozzie Nelson & His Orchestra

3. “(It Will Have To Do) Until the Real Thing Comes Along” by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra (Larry Stewart, vocal)

4. “Flirtation Walk” by Dick Powell

5. “Just One More Chance” by Bing Crosby

6. “One Hour With You” by Jimmie Grier & His Orchestra (Donald Novis, vocal)

7. “I Found A Million Dollar Baby” by Victor Young & His Orchestra with the Boswell Sisters

8. “The Object Of My Affection” by Jimmie Grier & His Orchestra (Pinky Tomlin, vocal)

9. “Georgia On My Mind” by Hoagy Carmichael

10. “A Picture Of Me Without You” by Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra (Ken Darby and Ramona, vocals)

11. “On the Banks Of the Ohio” by The Blue Sky Boys

12. “My Mary” by Jimmie Davis

13. “After You’ve Gone” by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra

14. “Let’s Have Another Cup Of Coffee” by Enric Madriguera & His Hotel Biltmore Orchestra

15. “Sunnyside Up” by Johnny Hamp’s Kentucky Serenaders (Frank Luther, vocal)


To read more about the Paper Moon soundtrack, check out this blog by Boombox Serenade for a thorough take on it.

CD reissue of the Paper Moon Soundtrack – available at CD Universe

CD reissue of the Paper Moon Soundtrack – available at