by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, as performed by Chico Marx in the film, Horsefeathers. (See all four Marx Brothers perform it individually here.)

In my senior year at university, I ran the Hollywood classics theatre on campus, which was a good fit, or at least my friends Bill and Steve Shpall thought so when they dragooned me into it, given my vocal enthusiasm for Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and the Marx Brothers, and for film studies in general. Music and comedy were my refuges during those emotionally melodramatic days, all the more so when the two cohabited. I memorized this version of the song to sing for my girlfriend, Mic, who crinkled her nose and groaned softly – not because of the bad imitation of Chico’s bad accent, and not because I sang it badly, but because, as Mic put it, “you’re making it harder for me to leave.” If only.

As I wrote in the post just previous on James Taylor’s “My Travelling Star,” which is meant as a companion piece to this one, from the start of our relationship Mic had warned that she intended to break it off with at graduation, to spend a year or more travelling.

To be fair, one night she started to teach me “Boom, Boom My Honey” but thought better of it when we reached the lines “Got along without ya before I met ya / Gonna get along without you now.” (“Boom, Boom My Honey” will not be appearing as a 366 selection.) She actually looked pained, as though her unconscious had betrayed her – which was sweet of her, and gave me hope. False hope, as it turned out, no matter how many love songs I sang to her. But this time (by which I mean: see this second related post, on James Taylor’s “Copperline”), I was well and truly warned, and I was four years older.

As to the music: obviously, Chico makes this a novelty song, but Zeppo’s version is a straightforward love ballad. Harpo whistles his version to a horse, then snacks with it on a bouquet of flowers. Groucho’s rendering is almost as memorable as Chico’s, given that, reclining in a canoe paddled by Thelma Todd, he warbles a really acerbic version and for the finale pitches his guitar into the lake: “Everyone says I love you / But just what they say it for I never knew / It’s just inviting trouble for the poor sucker who / Says I love you…” So Chico’s version is the cutest, even if his accent is no longer politically correct. And as he and his brothers were well trained as all-around entertainers, he’s really playing the piano, just as Groucho is really playing the guitar.

Here are the lyrics to Chico’s version:

(1) Everyone says I love you, / The great big mosquito when-a he sting you, / The fly when he get stuck on the flypaper too / Says I love you./ (2) Every time the cow says moo / She’s a-makin’ the poultry very happy too, / And the rooster when he holler “Cockledee doodly do,/ Says I love you./ (Bridge:) Christopher Columbo, he write the Queen of Spain a very nice a-little note. / And he’s write “I love you, my dear” and then he get himself a great-a big-a boat. (He’s a wise-a guy!)/ (Verse 3) What you t’ink Columbo do / When he’s a-come here in 1492? / He say to Pocahontas “Ayetcha kayetchie kayetchie koo.” / That means “You little son of a gun, I love you.”

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