another flip

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 1 06:48:12 UTC 2011

Flip n.2 6. 1960 --> 1947
Flip-side (under Flip n.2) 1949 --> 1947
Album 6. 1957 --> 1954 ?

Under OED flip n.2

6. Abbrev. of flip side n. at Compounds.
> 1960    Melody Maker 31 Dec. 6/1   The same can be said of the flip, also
> featured in the film.

I have not done an extensive search, but this one actually predates the OED
citation for "flip-side":

 flip side n. the reverse, or less important, side of a gramophone record;
> alsotransf.
> 1949    Down Beat 11 Mar. 14   The flip side (South) will be a shade slower
> but with the same general routine.

Take a look at the 1940s Billboard. It's full of references of what bands do
"for the flip".
Billboard Nov 1, 1947. p. 34
> Count Basie (Victor 20-2529)
> Brand New Wagon--FT; VC.
> Futile Frustration--FT.
> ... For the flip, the band ensemble gives evidence of its closely knit body
> and power-packed blowing for "Futile Frustration," an instrumental jazz
> overture show piece rather than a riff opus for the hop and holler coterie.
> ...
> Sunny Williams Trio--(Super Discs 1030)
> Reverse the Charges--FT; VC.
> The Boogie Man--FT; VC.
> ...
> For the flip, it's the conventional rhythm torch in "Reverse the Charges,"
> with Williams making a romantic play in his piping. ...

There are at least 4 more such passages in the same issue. October 11, 1947
issue has more.

Here's the question--what came first, the flip or the flip-side? Before you
answer, consider that "the flip" might have been already in use for the
bottom of the inning, for the second game of a double-header, etc.

But... Catalog records (not just GB and WorldCat) suggest that this book is
from 1943:
Experiences in journalism: a text for student writers and school editors. By
John Emmett Mulligan. 1943
p. 218

> Eddie Fisher can't miss a hit with "He's My Friend" and the flip side
> "Green Years." Eddie also has a wonderful new album "May I Sing To You."
> Don't miss it!

There is a small problem. OED has album n.1 6. only dating back to 1957:

6. A long-playing gramophone record or a set of such records.
> 1957    Gramophone Apr. 427/2   That he was too little appreciated in his
> lifetime makes this memorial album (another record is to follow) even
> more‚Ä•important.

And there were no "long-playing" records in 1943. Perhaps the scanned
material if from a later edition of Mulligan's text. Sure enough, Green
Years reached #8 in the charts and [He's] My Friend #15 in ... 1954. Good
news--it still antedates "album". Bad news--it's not 1943.

So we'll have to settle for both "flip" and "flip side" appearing in the
same year (officially, at least, according to GB):
The Billboard. July 26, 1947. p. 27 [full page ad for Mercury Records]

> It's HARRY COOL at his best
> 'Ragtime Cowboy Joe'
> Flip Side
> 'Who Takes Care of the Caretakers Daughter' [sic]

The same issue has a bunch of "flips" (p. 31 is the first, but there are
several more hits):

p. 31
The Billboard Music Popularity Charts. Record Possibilities.

> I Have But One Heart. Frank Sinatra with Axel Stordahl Ork. Columbia 37554
> A plaintive Italian love song that looks to catch on because of Sinatra and
> Damone diskings. ... Damone's flip is "Ivy."

Record Reviews

> Charlie Spivak (Victor 20-2319)

... Tommy Mercer's balladeering and a bit of his own trumpet tones to carry
> the side. For the flip, Spivak tackles a spiritual in "Throwin' Rocks," but
> doesn't know what to do with it. ...

p. 134

>  Margaret Whiting (Capitol 2438)
> ... Frank de Vol's ork creates the romantic scene here as well as for the
> ballad flip. ...
> James Wakely (Capitol Americana 40016)
> ... Flip is a typical sagebrush ballad that sings the praises of the
> outdoors. ...
> Wingy Manone (Capitol B442)
> ... Flip holds a watered down brand of blues with neither words nor melody
> deserving the elaborate ork setting.

The verb "flip" is also used here several times... I am sure earlier issue
have similar references, but GB does not show any more copies. So, for the
moment, it's 1947 for both "flip" 6. and "flip-side". It is possible that
the noun flip developed from the verb flip, then overspecified in flip-side.
Or, possibly, flip-side showed up first and was then shortened to flip, as
OED lemma suggests. There is more digging to be done on this subject.


The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list