Julius La Rosa – Eh, Cumpari
Published on Mar 21, 2015
Julius La Rosa was discovered by Arthur Godfrey, who recognized the handsome young man’s vocal talents and charisma. As a consequence, Julius became one of Arthur Godfrey’s performing TV “family”, appearing on his television and radio shows, and recording for Columbia Records. Julius became a national celebrity – and it was a huge break for the boy which launched his career. However, Mr. Godfrey was a strict taskmaster and ruled over his performing family with a close, watchful eye. If any of his performers missed a rehearsal, Arthur would certainly let them know about it.
I am not certain of the specific details, but I believe that Julius was dating one of the singing McGuire Sisters – who were also then featured on Godfrey’s shows – and for some reason, Arthur disapproved of this. To make matters worse, Julius was at one point receiving more fan mail than Arthur himself! Julius’ “fall from grace” culminated in Arthur Godfrey actually firing him on the air, stating that the song Julius sang on that particular day was his “swan song” – although the boy did not understand what that meant when Arthur stated it on the air.
Arthur Godfrey also had a long-time musical arranger and conductor, Archie Bleyer. After Julius’ dismissal, Archie also disassociated himself from Mr. Godfrey by leaving his organization in 1952 to form a new record company – Cadence Records. One of the premier artists for the new label was Julius La Rosa. (Archie Bleyer soon had additional, huge success with The Chordettes, The Everly Brothers, Andy Williams and Johnny Tillotson on his label.) This is probably the first hit on Cadence – the Italian novelty song “Eh, Cumpari” – sung with a twinkle and a smile by Julius La Rosa.
The song is a cumulative song, in which each verse contains all of the previous verses as well. It is sung in Sicilian and is about the sounds of musical instruments.
A rough translation reads as follows:
Hey buddy, [music] is playing.
What is playing?
And what does it sound like—the whistle?
[vocalized instrument sound] the whistle, [nonsense rhythm words]
u friscalettu = whistle [small flute]
u saxofona = saxophone
u mandulinu = mandolin
u viulinu = violin
la trumbetta = trumpet
la trombona = trombone
Adapted by Julius La Rosa and Archie Bleyer. The song reached #1 on the Cash Box charts, and #2 on Billboard in 1953.
Oh wow how I’d love a copy of the record that’s pictured there!
This song was in full swing when I was born and hence I have heard it my entire life. I love it. If you search it here you’ll find it posted a few times. I will never tire of it and sometimes sing it along with Julius. And hey, it’s Sicilian, right next door to my wonderful Calabrese ancestors. It gets no better than that.
If I leave a carcass they better play this at my funeral.
What a wonderfully beautiful song by a fun, fabulous guy.