By Carl Kuckell
Appleton, Wisconsin (AP)-This past Sunday, 83 year old, Arnie Glurm, aka “Arnie Wheeler,” while on his death bed, admitted to friends and family that he, in fact, was solely responsible for putting “the bomp in the bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp,” back in November of 1959, causing an unnamed female to fall in love with singer/songwriter, Barry Mann.
It was Mann, who, two years later, in 1961, asked the infamous question in one of his own songs, “Who Put The Bomp,” causing a worldwide search for the mysterious tune that actually changed the mind of the young girl who originally had doubts about the love between her and Mann. In Mann’s song, the lyrics state:
I’d like to thank that guy that wrote the song
That made my baby fall in love with me
Then, after a subtle but effective drum fill, he sings:
Who put the bomp in the bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp?
Before passing away quietly in his sleep, Glurm shared with his loved ones that it was his 1959 minor hit, “Give the Schnook a Break,” that was able to sway the young woman’s love towards Mann and away from then upcoming pop icon, Gary “Flash In The Pan” Cartman, who’s career coincidentally fell flat after losing her affections.
Glurm also disputed Frankie Lymon’s own claim that it was he that “put the bomp in the bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp” in Lymon’s musical response to Mann, which was released the very same year under the title, “I Put The Bomp.” According to Glurm’s son-in-law, Walter Fleck, Glurm’s very last words were, “That little bastard, Lymon, was too full of shit at the time to have written a song that powerful. He had already peaked at 14 with ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love.’ That was three years before Mann and that young lady even met. It was my song that convinced her. By the time 1959 came around, I was on a fuckin’ roll!”
The young woman, who had remained anonymous since the release of “Who Put The Bomp,” was rumored to be Shirley Fenton of Jackson Heights, Queens, who worked as a waitress in a diner, two blocks away from where Mann was struggling as a songwriter. Since Mann went on to marry one of his songwriting partners, Cynthia Weil, in 1961, soon after the release the song, he refused to confirm any relations with Fenton, though many that knew the two, still insist they were very much in love by the end of the fifties.
Gladys Drepp, 73, of Albany, New York, states, “I remember Barry and Shirley constantly holding hands, eating ice creams, doing all the things lovebirds did back in the fifties. When they broke up, everyone was so shocked because Barry waited so long to win her love. But then, out of nowhere, he fell for Cynthia and everything came crashing down, especially for Shirley. I don’t think she ever really recovered.”
Fenton died under mysterious circumstances in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village on Christmas Eve, 1964. At the time, Mann had “no comment.”
Ironically, Arnie Glurm’s career as “Arnie Wheeler” also came to a somewhat of a tragic end when his left hand became mangled inside a player piano, when drunk and claiming he could force the machine to translate anything he sung. The machine obviously did not listen to Glurm’s commands and “chewed up” three of his five fingers. After the accident, Glurms was unable to write or perform, leaving him no other option than to leave show business and return to Wisconsin, where he worked as a shoe salesman until he retired in 1991.
Whether or not Glurm’s deathbed confession is accurate or not is now one for the musical scholars to debate. And debate they will. Already, counterclaims and rebuttals are surfacing, bringing this shocking story to an unbelievably climactic peak, one that may even become bigger than the song Glurm claims to have inspired.
Still, one last question remains unanswered. And since Glurm has passed on, the chances of solving the mystery may, unfortunately, go unfulfilled. If Arnie Glurm did, in fact, “put the bomp in the bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp,” then who “put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding dong?”
Perhaps we’ll never know.
companion video by Davis Fleetwood at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcbZGfv_WjQ
also appears on http://operationitch.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/snl-palin-the-end-of-jokes/
Recently, for a very brief moment, one had the feeling that Saturday Night Live, after years of catering to the mainstream, had once again strayed away, regenerating the controversial balls they had lost years and years ago. Tina Fey’s portrayal of Sarah Palin was not only hysterically funny on a comedic level, it was satirically accurate, in regards to the Vice Presidential candidate’s ignorance of the issues, refusal to speak with the press, and condescending approach to the “average American.” It was a satirical indictment of what is very, very wrong with the McCain/Palin ticket. Anyone in this country with half of a brain cheered the portrayal, since we all felt the McCain/Palin ticket were taking us for fools. It also articulated a frustration many of us had been feeling since 2000, when the most inarticulate and most grammatically incorrect President in the history of our country seized control of our nation, driving its future into ruins. Although over the past eight years, SNL rarely criticized, mocked or satirized the Bush Administration, it seemed as if they finally were once again taking an anti-establishment stance, by taking legitimate comedic jabs at the most unqualified and frightfully conservative Vice Presidential candidate this country has ever known.
But that was then. By now, SNL has already had Palin appear on the show, doing her own comedy routine, “responding” to Tina Fey’s portrayal, alongside the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels. Her appearance on the show, no doubt, will show what a “good sport” she is and how she can take any criticism, including Fey’s more than accurate interpretation of her patronizing of “Joe Six Pack.” SNL, as they have always done since the mid-eighties, have once again played it “safe,” by bringing in the brunt of the joke and allowing them to respond in their own charming way. Although they have been selling themselves for over twenty years as “cutting-edge,” the truth is, the last thing they would ever want to do is upset the powers that be. And in case that happens to be McCain and Palin down the line, it must have seemed like a good idea to soften the accuracy of the joke by allowing Palin proper response time. No doubt, the fact that NBC is owned by General-Electric had something to do with this.
The problem here is not only political (which it is, and we’ll get to that), or economical (which it also is, TV=money), but it lies in the most fundamental aspects of good comedy that have been betrayed by Lorne Michaels, servant to the establishment and killer of all things funny. From a comedic standpoint, there was no need to bring Palin in to “respond” to Fey’s portrayal. The joke had been executed effectively and that should have been that. Time to move on to the next zinger. I don’t remember Gerald Ford being brought onto the show a week after Chevy Chase portrayed him as a clumsy, imbalanced goofball. Nor was Mr. Rogers ever brought on the show to challenge Eddie Murphy’s hilarious version of Roger’s program, “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood.” To bring in Mr. Rogers would have been going for the cheap laugh, stealing away the effects of the social satire that Murphy was articulating.
Palin’s presence was an insult to Fey’s spot-on, and truthful performance, which should earn her an Emmy, if the gods above are just and fair. Bringing Palin on the show was the equivalent of the chicken returning to the scene of the crime to justify “why he crossed the road.” Pointless. Senseless. And most importantly, not funny.
Politically speaking, obviously, Michaels cowardly chose to not “take a stand,” so he did what was fair and brought Palin in to make light of the entire affair, again, weakening Fey’s indictment. The problem is, and this also brings us back to the fundamentals of comedy: A joke always takes a side. It has to. Otherwise, it’s not funny. There has to be a victim. Jokes are never fair and never polite. There is always a subject addressed in the joke and that subject is always ridiculed. That is the point of jokes. Groucho Marx never came out at the end of a Marx Brothers movie and apologized to Margaret Dumont for mocking her throughout the film. To do so would’ve robbed us of all the laughs he generated by ribbing her from all angles. Abbott never apologized to Costello and Charlie Brown never kicked that football. If it had been any other way, we never would’ve watched.
What Michaels did, by allowing Palin on the show, was apologize for the hilarious examination of Palin’s posture, presentation, and inconsistencies by Tina Fey. By doing so, he failed to stand behind the joke, as well as Fey. What he did was an insult to Fey and her abilities as a comedian. He took back every laugh enjoyed, as we relished in Fey’s highly creative approach, bringing to light the stupidity, the patronizing tone and the frightfully effective touches of the Sarah Palin character.