Mudcat Café message #3135697 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #24468   Message #3135697
Posted By: Charley Noble
15-Apr-11 - 09:01 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Mrs Stein Don't Rent to Gypsies Any More
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mrs Stein Don't Rent to Gypsies Any More
I've just reviewed this whole thread and certainly the discussion covered the whole range of what shouldn't or should be sung or even posted. But, finally, the lyrics to the song in question were actually posted.

This song definitely was composed as a "humorous song," to amuse some at the expense of others. But it's not what I would consider a humorous song for a general audience. It's also not what I consider "gallows humor" which is more like "Blood in the Saddle" or even "Wreck on the Highway" in the way my gang used to sing it as "immortals" at college as we cruised back from a late night concert or party.

A lot of the housing or tenant songs that I collect are also "gallows humor" in that the situations described by housing organizers are often desperate, and sometimes absurdly desperate. Usually the landlord is the villain rather than the tenant, which provides political focus to the songs, the "downtrodden" ridiculing their "oppressor." That doesn't necessarily make for a good song, nor even a fair song, but it is understandable in its context. Some of the old IWW songs fall into the same category such as the parody of the scab "Casey Jones."

Substituting other groups (such as students or yuppies) for "gypsies" in this song is an interesting exercise. However, I still find it mean-spirited. Substituting other ethnic groups for the homeowner "Mrs. Stein" is also an interesting exercise; she's most likely introduced as representing a particular stereotype as well and we're supposed to laugh at her plight. One could also argue that this is a historical ballad based on a newspaper story but no one has tracked down that story; it's true that news stories can be more bizarre than the most absurd composed song.

So I'm wondering what the original poster of this thread has done with this song now that he's finally harvested the lyrics. Does he sing it at concerts, and what is the reaction? Or is it filed away as another novelty song to present at an occasional song party or session?

Charley Noble