It’s complicated but good songwriters can make anything happen.
In 1947 Dwight Latham read a book of Mark Twain anecdotes and came up with an idea for a novelty song which he and co-composer, Moe Jaffe, wrote titled “I’m My Own Grandpa.” The Grand Ole Opry comedy duo Lonzo and Oscar recorded the song and it immediately shot to number one on the country charts.
Lonzo and Oscar – image via flickr by hotmuffin
The song was covered by pop artists such a Jo Stafford, Phil Harris and Guy Lombardo’s trio, which had a pop hit on the song in 1948. Other country stars who put the novelty number on their albums included Willie Nelson, Ray Stevens and Grandpa Jones. The most popular comedy team, Homer and Jethro, also had a hit recording of the amusing tune.
image via wikipedia
Most of you are too young to have any recollection of “I’m My Own Grandpa” and those of you who do recall it probably heard the lyrics fly by so quickly it was difficult or impossible to discern just how this phenomenon took place. In this essay I shall attempt to slow down the process using the print medium. Instead of using the first person “I’m” I’ll give the singer a third person name…say, “John.” There are four characters in the story to start with. John, his father, a widow and her daughter. Here we go….
John marries the older widow. This makes her daughter his stepdaughter.
Joh’s father marries the widow’s daughter. The daughter is now both John’s stepdaughter and stepmother. John’s father, being his stepdaughter’s husband, is now his stepson-in-law.
John’s wife, because she is the mother of his stepmother, makes her both his wife and his stepgrandmother. Since John is married to his grandmother he then must be his own grandfather.
We’re not finished yet. The beat goes on.
John and his wife have a son who becomes the stepbrother of his stepdaughter. Since John’s stepdaughter is also his stepmother then his son is also his own stepuncle since he’s the stepbrother of his stepmother.
John’s son then becomes a brother-in-law to John’s father since he’s the stepbrother of his wife.
John’s father and hiswife (John’s stepdaughter) have a son. He becomes John’s grandson since he is the son of Johns stepdaughter. The son would also be the stepbrother of John since he is the stepson of John’s father.
See? Try to commit this to memory so I won’t have to do this again, O.K.
A real life case just like the song was reported in England by the London Literary Gazette in 1822 so it apparently is possible.
Welcome to Authspot, the spot for creative writing.
Read some stories and poems, and be sure to subscribe to our feed!