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Monday, 7.25.05:  Love Thy Neighbor

Kitty Mom, in her sixtiesAs I was racing through my stack of Bing Crosby songs, preparing them for auction, this one made me do a double-take. For a change, my mental filing system made a fast retrieval: "Love Thy Neighbor" was a song my grandmother had sung on one of the old family 78s. I'd never heard of it before, but there was something so lilting about it that it stuck with me.

It was at their Valentine's Day party of 1944. Someone had turned on the recording machine and everyone gathered around to sing their little ditties. Kitty Mom must have been first in line because the machine didn't start her recording till she was halfway through the chorus. Her "beautiful girl" is a "wonderful boy." She wavers off key -- it's late into the party, after all -- and at 54 she's not hitting those high notes like she used to. But listen -- there's still magic in her voice.

Never treat others with scorn,
We're only here 'cause we're born
Although you're "way up"
Bing Crosby, Carole LombardYou may not "stay up,"
Stop tooting your horn
Why boast of the wealth you possess
High on the hill of success,
On friendship you never should frown,
You'll need the same friends
On the way down.

So Love Thy Neighbor,
Walk up and say "How be ya!"
Gee! but I'm glad to see ya;
Pal, "How's tricks?" What's new?


Love Thy Neighbor,
Offer to share his burden,
Tell him to say the word 'n'
You will see him through,
Especially if there should be a beautiful girl next door,
Say to that girl next door,
Don't think I'm bold but my mother told me to
Love Thy Neighbor
And you will find your labor,
A great deal easier,
Life'll be breezier
If you Love Thy Neighbor.

It's an interesting song -- certainly a jaunty movie tune and not a hymn. It expresses the typically Irish-American warning about not getting too big for your britches. And you "love thy neighbor" not because it's "what Jesus would do" but because, very practically, we all need each other in the long run.


Words by Mack Gordon
Music by Harry Revel

From the movie "We're Not Dressing" with Bing Crosby and Carole Lombard (1934)



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