Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

ShukerNature - http://www.karlshuker.blogspot.com

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

WHEN OGOPOGO WAS GOING FOR A SONG!


Front cover of 'The Ogo-Pogo' foxtrot sheet music (Dr Karl Shuker)



It's not every day that, totally by chance, you encounter a veritable legend, but that's exactly what happened to me one Sunday afternoon during the early 1990s while wandering around a book fair held in the community centre of Kinver, a small Staffordshire village. Looking up at one particular stall, I spotted something that was almost as fabled a cryptozoological artifact as the elusive thunderbird photo itself!

Attached to the side of one of this stall's bookshelves, sealed in cellophane, and on sale for the minuscule sum of just £2, was none other than the original sheet music, complete with fully-illustrated front cover, for 'The Ogo-Pogo - The Funny Fox-Trot' - which as every self-respecting cryptozoological enthusiast will confirm, is the very same English music-hall song from 1924 that gave its name to the now-famous water monster of Canada's Lake Okanagan.

Yet until I saw - and very swiftly purchased! - this cryptozoologically priceless item, it had never been depicted or even accurately quoted from in any crypto-book or article. For upon reading through it, I soon discovered that the lyrics describing Ogopogo's alleged parents ("his mother was an earwig, his father was a whale") were quite different from those various versions purporting to be from it that had been cited in previous works (some of which had replaced 'whale' with 'snail' or had replaced the entire line concerning putting salt on his tail with 'A little bit of head, and hardly any tail'). Here, therefore, are the full, original lyrics (by Cumberland Clark, written to music composed by Mark Strong), as given in this sheet music:

One fine day in Hindustan,
I met a funny little man.
With googly eyes and lantern jaws,
A new silk hat and some old plus fours.
When I said to that quaint old chap:-
"Why do you carry that big steel trap,
That butterfly net and that rusty gun?"
He replied "Listen here my son:-

I'm looking for the Ogo-pogo,
The funny little Ogo-pogo.
His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale,
I'm going to put a little bit of salt on his tail.
I want to find the Ogo-pogo
While he's playing on his old banjo.
The Lord Mayor of London,
The Lord Mayor of London,
The Lord Mayor of London wants to put him in the Lord Mayor's show".

On his Banjo night and day
The Ogo-pogo loves to play,
He charms the snakes and chimpanzees,
The big baboons and the bumble bees.
Lions and tigers begin to roar:-
"Play us that melody just once more".
Did I hear the sound of an old banjo?
Pardon me I shall have to go!

I'm looking for the Ogo-pogo,
The funny little Ogo-pogo.
His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale,
I'm going to put a little bit of salt on his tail.
I want to find the Ogo-pogo
While he's playing on his old banjo.
The Lord Mayor of London,
The Lord Mayor of London,
The Lord Mayor of London wants to put him in the Lord Mayor's show".

Moreover, the cover portrayed a boot-wearing, antenna-sporting, banjo-playing, pixie-like monster from Hindustan - all far removed indeed from Canada's serpentiform cryptid. Nevertheless, it was this very sheet music that had originated one of the most familiar of all modern-day cryptid nicknames (until then, the Lake Okanagan monster had been known only as the naitaka - a traditional native American name given to it by the local Okanakane tribe).

The timing of my purchase was such that I was able to include a b/w photograph of the Ogo-Pogo sheet music's cover in my 1995 book In Search of Prehistoric Survivors, which thus became the very first cryptozoological publication ever to include it, and a year later my next book, The Unexplained, became the first publication to include a colour photograph of it.

Thanks to veteran Ogopogo researcher Arlene Gaal, I subsequently obtained a copy of an early American recording of the song itself, performed by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra on an old shellac 78 rpm record. (Please note, however, that in this American version the second verse is missing, and various words and lines in the first verse have been changed from the original English lyrics given above, to yield a much more Stateside-sounding song, in which even 'the Lord Mayor's Show' has been replaced by 'a Broadway show'!)

And so now, after finally mastering the art of uploading music tracks to YouTube, I have pleasure in presenting for your delight on YouTube, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra's version of 'The Ogo-Pogo' foxtrot - check it out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQE8T6Ip6Ic

4 comments:

  1. I remember first reading that song verse when I read an old book of monsters at my local library. Back when my local library had a slightly better section on mysteries than it does now, your books are still there of course :)

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  2. Interesting article.

    I would like to know why Ogopogo was named after that song in the first place! Seems strange that it would be named after a song like that.

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  3. Dr. Shuker, what are your thoughts on John Kirk's Ogopogo Sighting?

    Best Wishes,

    Noah Eckenrode,

    Amateur Cryptozoologist

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  4. As far as I'm aware, John Kirk has had 11 Ogopogo sightings to date.

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