[Dixielandjazz] Re: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers vs. Parade of the Tin Soldiers

Bill Haesler bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Fri Dec 23 00:14:59 PST 2005

Dear Dave,
An interesting thread and with a Christmas theme too. (Or 'Holiday' theme,
for those silly politically-correct people).
But the important things first.
So far as I know Red Nichols recorded "Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers" only
once. For MacGregor transcriptions in Los Angeles in late February 1945 with
Red Nichols, c; Heinie Beau, cl/arr; Herbie Haymer, ts; Earl Sturgis, p;
Gene Englund or Thurman Teague, sb; Ted Tillman (d).
I have it on LP. Is this the one you used on your program?
I can remember the Betty Boop cartoon too. (Yes, I'm that old.)
The story behind the composition is interesting and well summed up in the
Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook (1981) where William L. Simon
"Léon Jessel caught the jaunty strut of toys exactly when he wrote his
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers as a novelty item in 1905. It was published in
Germany and apparently heard there by a Russian producer who was readying a
new revue for Paris bearing the title La Chauve-Souris (The Bat), for which
he needed an offbeat dance number. He chose Jessel's rakish "Parade." The
Bat opened on Broadway, finally, in 1922, and Ballard Macdonald, who wrote
songs for the George White Scandals of 1924 and Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic,
gave the tune the lyrics [*given below] and that are seldom heard anymore.
The arm-swinging melody and strutting rhythm of the piece make the march a
charming one for children and adults at Christmas or any time of the year."

La Chauve-Souris ran at the 49th Street Theatre in New York for over 500
It was revived and updated in 1943 at the Royale in New York.

What Mr  Simon did not mention was that the original Jessel title for the
salon song was "Die Parade der Holzsoldaten" and copyrighted in Germany in
1911. Along the way it gained French lyrics by Victor Oliver and these were
picked up and incorporated in MacDonald's English version.
German-born Leon Jessel , a Jew, was killed by the Nazis in 1942.

The late, ex DJMLer Warren Vaché Sr. also provides some details of the tune
in his wonderful book 'The Unsung Songwriters', in his biography of Ballard
MacDonald. But for some reason does not name the song!

Ballard MacDonald (1882-1935) was a lyricist - librettist of Broadway
musicals (1918-35) but was also a songwriter, best known for "(Back Home In)
Indiana" 1917, "Rose Of Washington Square" 1919, "Clap Hands! Here Comes
Charlie" 1925, "The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine" 1913 and "Breeze (Blow My
Baby Back To Me)" 1919.
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers was published by Edw. B. Marks Music Co.,
Cleveland & New York.

Another bit of trivia involves the great Florence Mills and Lew Leslie's
1924 revue 'Dixie To Broadway' where Ms Mills, The Plantation Chocolate
Drops Wooden Soldiers and The Plantation Steppers performed "Darkest
Russia", an obvious and acknowledged (at the time) black version of "Parade
Of The Wooden Soldiers".

You mention in your post that "I did not have a version of "March of the Toy
Soldiers" by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn available but I would have
played that too!"
What Ellington/Strayhorn version? I can't find one. Or did you mean 'if'
there had have been you would have featured it?

There is also a good contemporary version of  recorded by Paul Whiteman on 2
Jan 1923 currently available on Living Era CD AJA 5291. Which I am playing
Kind regards,

*Here, for those who may be interested, are the lyrics for Parade of the
Wooden Soldiers.

"The toy shop door is locked up tight
And ev'rything is quiet for the night
When suddenly the clock strikes twelve
The fun's begun

The dolls are in their best arrayed
There's going to be a wonderful parade
Hark to the drum, oh, here they come
Cries ev'ryone

Hear them all cheering
Now they are nearing
There's the captain stiff as starch
Bayonets flashing
Music is crashing
As the wooden soldiers march

Sabers a-clinking
Soldiers a-winking
At each pretty little maid

Here they come
Here they come
Here they come
Here they come
Wooden soldiers on parade"

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