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Subject: Song-Poem Records

Written By: SammyReed on 11/18/03 at 08:21 p.m.

    First of all, I'd like to paste a message I put in the 70's section a year ago in a post called "What is the worst song?":

This is gonna be kinda tough, because when I think I know what the worst song is, another one comes along, or pops in my brain.
   The worst I can think of right now is called "China Dolly". I had this on a 4-song EP called "Halmark". I don't know if this was the name of the record company or the group.
   It was a country song that was some sort of ballad I guess. It sounded like they were making it up as they went along, but it was written by somebody, because the EP lists not only the songs, but the name and complete address of the people who wrote each song.
   This song mentions China Polly, the China dolly as being "from beyond the Land of the Rising Sun". (That's Japan, you morons - oh, they said "beyond". Ok.) Some of the words are as follows:
What a gal,
My China Dolly!
On a fateful night
her lover was shot.
Oh, what a sight!
China Polly
Mounted him on her steed,
and vanished into the night.
Months & months she tended his wounds
with the odds of her land (?)
and finally he was in good health again.
   Note only 1 rhyme in all of that (unless you want to count "land" and "again"). This song was truly horrible.
   If there is possibly a worse song than this that comes to my mind, I'll mention it here.

    Several months ago, I found a website called www.aspma.com, the "American Song-Poem Music Archives", and found out that Halmark was a song-poem label.
    Song-poem records worked like this: There were ads in tabloids and elsewhere that wanted people to send in a poem. If that person's poem was one of the few chosen ones, the company sent them back a letter saying to send them so-much money, and they put the poem to music and made a record of the songs and mailed it to the poem writers.
    The ASPMA website has loads of information about song-poem records, as well as many mp3's of some of the more unusual songs found in these records. If you click the "discography" link, you'll be astounded at the number of song-poem labels there were!
    That website recently put up a lengthy article about Halmark Records (http://www.aspma.com/labels/halmark.htm). It mentions about them putting the addresses of the writers on the labels, the singers making the tune up (albeit not the words) as they went along, and other aspects that fit "China Dolly" to a tee!
    The "China Dolly" record is not listed in the site's Halmark discography, though. There were probably only 4 copies of that made, 1 to go to each poem-writer, so the ASPMA folks probably don't know about that particular one. A copy of each song-poem record is very hard-to-find, but the number of individual records themselves are plentiful.
    When I found out that that record, as well as another one I had, were song-poem records, I've been kicking my butt ever since for getting rid of them. I have since been fortunate enough to come across a few song-poem records, in a yard sale and a flea market, so I feel somewhat better.