Toward a poetry and poetics of the Americas (30)

'That Da Da Strain'

Mamie Medina (lyrics)


Have you heard it, have you heard it,
That Da Da Strain?
It will shake you, it will make you
Really go insane.
Everybody’s full of pep,
Makes you watch your every step.
Every prancer, every dancer,
Starts to lay ’em down,
Everybody when they hear it
Starts to buzzing ’round;
I get crazy as a loon,
When everybody hums this tune:

Da-Da, Da-Da,
Da-Da, Da-Da,
Because the feeling
Sets your brain a-reeling;
Just like you’re falling,
That runabout refrain, [?]
When everybody starts to
Da-Da, Da-Da,
Da-Da, Da-Da,
I want to do it once again,
I’m simply wild about that Da-Da, Da-Da Strain!

Oh, Da-Da Da-Da
Da-Da Da-Da,
Because this feeling
Sets your brain a’reeling,
Just like you’re falling,
That runabout refrain, [?]
When everybody starts to Da-Da,Da-Da, Da, Da-Da
I want to do it once again,
I’m simply wild about the Da-Da, Da-Da Strain.

Da, Da-Da, Da-Da,
Da-Da, Da-Da,
Da-Da, Da-Da,
Because that feeling
Sets your brain a-reeling.
Just like you’re falling,
That runabout refrain, [?]
Oh, Da-Da, Da-Da,
Da-Da, Da-Da,
I wanna do it once again,
I’m simply wild about that
Da-Da, Da-Da Strain!




The full text of “That Da Da Strain” (1921) makes a curious and little-noticed connection to the European Dada activities that immediately preceded and accompanied it. The melody, minus words, became a traditional jazz standard that persisted over the next several decades. The composers, when credited, are generally given as Mamie Medina (lyrics) and Edgar Dowell (music). It should be noted, however, that the otherwise undefined “Da Da” parallels precisely the invention by Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Kurt Schwitters, and others of what was then a radically new sound poetry — a twentieth-century poetry without words. Relevant also: the later development of scat singing as a jazz variant of sound poetry on deeply American grounds.

All of this aimed here toward a new omnipoetics.


Transcribed from vocals by Ethel Waters, recorded 5/1922. From Ethel Waters 1921–1923, The Chronogical Classics, vol. 796.



Ella Fitzgerald, USA, 1917–1996

from Lady Be Good

Scat Version


dih-dl-eh-dee-oo-dee-oo-dee-doo-dl-oht /doh-dl-eh-dley-oh-dloo-leht / doh-dl-eh-dley-oh-dl-ih-dee // bah-dah-dee-ah-dah-yoh-leh-yah-doh-ah-eh-ah-doh-leh-eh-ah-doh-ley-ah-dl-oh-ley-ah-dl-oh-ley-ehn / bihp / blee-bihp /// hiht / dee-dloo-dn-ah-dm-bah-bee-ih-bihp /// liht / dee-doo-dn-lah-dl-ah-dee-ih-dee-oo-dee-dihp / doo-dee-dih-dee-loh-dl-ey-oo-loh-dl-ah-dl-ah-dl-oo-dooh-doo-dl-ee-boy //// bee-ih-dih-dih-dl-oo-dee-oo-dl-oo-bee-oo-bihp /// bee-ih-dih-doo-dl-oo-dee-oo-dl-oo-bee-oo-bihp-boy-doo-dl-ee-lah-dl-ah-loh-dley(uh) // bah-bee-oo-dn-lah-dee-oo-duh-leh-doh-duh-dey-duh-duh-duh-duh-rihp / ah-oon-doht-leyt-doh-dey-doh-deh-duh-doo-dee-lih-dee-doo-dn-lah-dey-lah-dl-ah-dl-oh-dee-dee-dl-ah-dl-oh-beyl-yihp // bah-boh-beh-doom-bohp-behm


boo-dih-loo-dooh-oo-bee-ooh-booh-eh-eeooh //// buh-dih-loo-dl-doo-bih-doo-dih-beeooh-bihp // bih-dl-ih-dl-ih-dl-ee-dl-ah-dl-ah-dl-ee-dl-ee-dee-dl-ah-dl-ah-dl-oyl-yah-dee-dl-ah-dl-ah-dl-oh-dehn-dey-oh-doh-ley-dn-dey-lah-dl-ey-doh-dl-ey-doh-dl-ey-bahp //// bey-bey-oh-beyb-bey-deh-lee-dooh-dee-dl-ah-dl-ah-deh-dl-ee-doo-dl-ah-lah-dl-ah-doh-bl-eh-bah-loh-beym // tis-ket-a-tas-ket // lost-my-yellow-bas-ket // bah-dih-doo-breh-bah-bree-boym //// boo-dooh-dee-bih-boo-bree-oy /// booh-oo-ee-dih-ee-dl-ah-dl-ah-duhp / bweem //// duh-dee-dl-ah-dl-ah-di-ee-dooh-dee-dn-ah-bl-oh-buh-bee-uh-boym /////// boo


boo-bih-ohn-luh-dih-boo / bih-ohn-luh-dih // boo-/-bih-ohn-luh-dee-dlee-oo-dl-ah-dih-dl-ey-doo-di-ah-dih-dl-ey-doo-dl-ah-lahd-lehn // bah-bee-oo-dlee-leh-leh-loh-leh-leh-leh-noh-neh-leh //

een-dee-ee-nee // ee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nuh-yee-yuh-yih-yihn //// ee //// bee-lih-duh-dee-dih-duh-dee-lih-duh-dee-dih-duh-dee-lee-doo-dl-ee-dih-duh-dee-dooh-dooh-dee-dih-duh-dee-doo-dl-dee-dl-uh-ee ///// buh-uh-ee ///// buh-uh-ee-nee-nee-nee-ih-nih-nih-dee-uh


eet-dih-dee-laht / dah-ee //// uh-boo-bee-un-boo-bee-un-boo-bee //// ih-bih-dooh-yooh-dooh-dooh-doo-dey-oo-dah-doo-dey-doy-ah-doo-dah-dm-dey-ohb-dey-oh-dluh-oh-boy / bah-buh-doh-dleh-ley-ley-boy ////// bih-dl-ey-dih-dih-dl-ah-dl-dih-bee-oo-dee-oo-dl-ah-dl-ah-dl-doo-dee-oo-doh-oy-dee-doo-dl-uh-bee-doo-deh-doo-dl-oh-ehm //// boh-dl-oh-dl-oh-dl-ah-boh-ehr //// boh-dl-oh-dl-oo-dl-iht-doo-ehr // boh-dee-dn-lih-dee-dn-dah-dah-dn-lih-dee-ah-lee-ah-ah-OO-DOO-BOW-BAH-OO-DN-BEE-DLEE-AH / oh-dee-dee-dlee-oo-dn-dee-bah /// oo-dee-oo-dee-oo-dee-oo-dee-oo-dee-oo-bee-uh-loot-deel / ooh-bee-oot / bih / oo-bee-oot-dee-ih-dee-oo-dlee-doh-dl-oht


doh-dley-dey-ey-ey-ah-ah-buh-dee / doh-dley-dey-ey-ey-oy /// ooh-dn-dee / ooh-dn-dee / ooh-dee-dn-rih-bih-blee-oo-boo-boym /// oop-bop-sh’-bam-a-klook-a-mopl // dee-dih-lih-dl-dih-dee-lih-dl-uh-ooh-ee /// ee-ih-dih-dn-dih-dlee-ah-bih-doo-dih-dee-ah-bahp / blee-ah-dl-ah-doh-loh-dl-oh-deyl // bah-blee-oh-doo-dah-dee-doh-lah / dee-oo-dee-oo-doo-loh-dl-oy-uh-oym /////// beh-oh-dl-deh-dih-deh-dih-dee-dah-doo-deh-doot-dee-oo-bahp / beh-oo-daht / bee-oo-bahp / bee-ooh-behm // I’m-just-a-lonesome-babe-in-the-woods // Oh,-lady,-oh,-lady /// lady-won’t-you-be-so-good-to-me? // bah-bee-doo-dlee-dah-bee-doo-dn-doo-boy


Transcription by John Bloomberg-Rissman after Justin G. Binek