Memory Lane: ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’

Spring is here: and the sunny weather yesterday called up memories of the playground on a weekend morning, an afternoon by the pond–they kept calling it a lake, but oh-come-now–in Roosevelt Park, and… this. Hernando’s Hideaway.

It was on the radio a lot when I was a boy. This treatment by Archie Bleyer is only one of several. My father would have the radio on while he tinkered on his workbench, or cut his sons’ hair; and this was one of the songs you often heard. It comes from a 1954 hit musical, The Pajama Game… and is about a speakeasy–let me now quote Wikipedia–“where Al Capone hid out from the Chicago police before turning into a supper club.” Pretty neat trick, Al. No wonder they couldn’t find you!

There weren’t many songs back then that had castanets in them. Maybe that’s why I remember this one so well.

And somehow everything was cleaner…

14 comments on “Memory Lane: ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’

  1. I remember that song all too well. It lasted well into the ‘60s. Now we know what happened to Al Capone; he turned into a supper club, eventually succumbing to an infestation of termites. 🙂

  2. I remember the song well. I even got to see the original stage version of “Pajama Game,” which was actually much better than the movie version, with a couple of songs that didn’t make it to the movie — and a few risqué lines that were tidied up in the movie.

    When I was in college, a few of us wrote a parody of “Hernando’s Hideaway” on the subject of the college cafeteria, the slop we claimed was served there, and some of the faculty and student types who hung out there. I hardly remember any of the lyrics, but I remember we replaced every “olé” with “oy vay.”

    1. “Hernando’s hideway–oy vay!” It works for me.
      Where any of your friends able to turn themselves into supper clubs?

    2. We’d already turned into slob clubs. (“Where students go to cut a class / And no one ever cleans a glass / And we can act just like an [bleep] — / It’s called the cafeteria, oy vay.”)

    1. While in some circles, he was regarded as the biggest square since Guy Lombardo, I’ve met quite a few musicians, including persons from the Rock n’ Roll generation, that had a great deal of respect for Lawrence Welk. He was a good arranger and knew his stuff. He knew good music when he heard it.

      I find it amusing, interesting and satisfying that he once had the Chantays on his program; the Rock Guitar band that played the Surf song, Pipeline. They went over well and seemed to connect well with his audience. If you think about it, that’s quite a bridge to cross, and Welk’s ear was spot on. Pipeline has become a classic, loved by generations.

    2. My Grandma watched the Lawrence Welk Show (as she always did), went to bed afterward, and very quietly went on to Jesus.

    3. That’s not so bad.

      I’ve always believed that music should make us feel good. That isn’t to say that I believe that all music has to be soft or that there isn’t a place for a wide variety of musical genres, but, IMHO, music is a gift from God and should not be deliberately disturbing or distressing. Lawrence Welk’s music made a lot of people feel good.

      I grew up in the Rock n’ Roll era, and have fond memories of The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, the Surf instrumentals and such artists as Johnnie Rivers. shortly after that time, it seems that distorted, harsh music became the all the rage and I didn’t like that sound at all. It seemed like some of that distorted music went out its way to sound harsh and unpleasant.

      These days, sadly, much of the new music reduces to little more than some formulaic attempt to make a very forgettable, flavor of the week, hit, that will appeal to the lowest common denominator of the youth market. I can’t imagine anyone playing some of these songs, 40 years from now.

    4. In all music, the true good examples are outweighed by the not-so-good examples. Thats hardly a surprise, because pretty much everything else works this way, too. I would say that with Rock n’ Roll, the ratio is quite unfavorable, in great part because there were so many pretenders to the throne in its heyday and a lot of the music was just thrown together schlock, with little compositional merit. I don’t like most Rock n’ Roll, but I have had to admit that there are some gems among the rubble.

    5. Some music can disturb in a good way, a kind of catharsis, a “good cry” that leaves us comforted and uplifted. I’m thinking of the opera I love — mostly 19th century Italian opera, like Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi. I’ve been known to start crying, for example, in Act 2 of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” which is 3 acts long, and keep going to the end. (Not always, though, and mostly in person. When I listen on CDs or DVDs I usually confine my crying to the end.) My mother used to go through two or three tissues at the end of Verdi’s “La Traviata.” And we won’t even discuss Bellini’s “I Puritani,” where the soprano gets three (count ’em, 3) woeful mad scenes for us to cry over. It’s gorgeous stuff. And despite the tears, very uplifting.

      God gives us musical geniuses like these as a foretaste of Heaven.

Leave a Reply