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by Life Magazine
Periodically the American songbag is fattened by a tune that finally becomes a national scourge. "Yes, We Have No Bananas" (1923), "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More" (1923), "The Music Goes Round and Round" (1935) were cases in point. By last week a raucous little item called "Pistol Packin* Mama" gave promise of joining that obnoxious group. Like them, it is naive, folksy, and almost completely devoid of meaning. Its melodic line is simple and its lyric rowdy and, of course, monotonously tautological.
"Pistol Packin* Mama" was written by a tall, shy, chin-less plainsman named Al Dexter, who was born Albert Poindexter in Jacksonville, Texas, 41 years ago. With his yippy hillbilly six-piece band he recorded it for Okeh. Since last March, when the record was released, it has sold almost 1,000,000 copies and has yet to reach its peak. Sheet sales: 200,000.
Last week, with the lifting of the Petrillo-imposed ban on recording activities, "Pistol Packin' Mama" promised to become even more of a national earache than it is at the moment. It was the first tune recorded for Decca by Bing Crosby, the U. S. top juke box favorite.
Curiously enough, "Pistol Packin' Mama" did not make the Lucky Strike Hit Parade on the Columbia network until last Saturday night, and then only as No. 9. Whether the delay was due to the sponsor's dislike of the tune or a susĀ­picion that Frank Sinatra could not sing it, was not known. Nevertheless, publishers of the song are at present suing the program.
Al Dexter is already famous because of "Pistol Packin' Mama," a tune which the Duke of Windsor hummed during his recent visit to Washington.
"Reprinted by permission from Life, Vol. 15, No. 11, October 11, Copyright 1943, Time Inc."