Friday, December 4, 2009

Hokey Pokey

The (maybe) author of the song has died. I say "maybe," because while he held the copyright, there's apparently quite a bit of evidence that "Hokey Pokey" had actually been present in popular culture, perhaps dating back to 18th century, according to the linked NYT article.

Now the reason I bring this up is not that I have any deep affection for the song or the man. Reporting on celebrity deaths is tedious and ghoulish (see also, "Michael Jackson"). I bring it up because I thought he was already dead. In the mid-to-late 90's there was one of the viral e-mails going around, which I presumed was based on a true news story, though clearly had been edited for humorous effect. I no longer have the email; I'm sure it's stockpiled in some archive somewhere, but I'll just recreate the general gist. (Quick insert: it was based on an actual news item. Larry LaPrise died in 1996. He is another person who is somewhat credited with the authorship of this song)
Robert Degen, Who Had a Hand in the Hokey Pokey, Dead at 104.

Robert Matthew Degen was born in Scranton on Nov. 23, 1905. His father was a farmer. He briefly attended a local business college before settling on music to make a living. After World War II, Mr. Degen gave up his full-time music career and worked as a furniture salesman until his retirement in 1970. He subsequently moved to Lexington, where his brother was then living.

In addition to his son William, who lives in Lexington, he is survived by his wife of 74 years, Vivian; a second son, Robert, a jazz musician who lives in Frankfurt, Germany; a grandson; and two great-grandchildren.

The family has announced that funeral ceremonies will not be held, due to unforeseen difficulties. Reportedly, the problems began when Mr. Degan's corpse was being moved into his coffin. The funeral director first put Mr. Degan's right hand in...
No disrespect to the dead, but I do find that awfully funny.

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