Quote: I know only two tunes; one is Yankee Doodle, and the other isn't. (U. S. Grant variant Lincoln)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 27 23:49:40 UTC 2013

Joel S. Berson
> And what about Lord Peter?  His first was "God Save the King".

Joel, do you remember which work contained the version of the joke you
mention above. I did not see it while I was searching. I did find the
variants below. Garson

[Begin excerpt]
In September 1888 “The Musical World” periodical in London printed
another instance of the joke which mentioned a culturally important
song of the British Commonwealth: [7]

[Begin nested quote]
We know a military man who complains that he has no “ear for music.”
He says he only recognizes two tunes—one is “God Save the Queen,” and
the other isn’t!
[End nested quote]
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
In 1891 an elaborate extended version of the joke appeared in “The
Musical Times” which was printed in London: [11]

[Begin nested quote]
Three ladies met at afternoon tea, and as ladies sometimes do, they
began to discuss the merits of their respective husbands. Mrs. A.
said: “My husband is not very musical; in fact, he only knows two
tunes, one is ‘God save the Queen’ and the other is the ‘Old
Hundredth.’” Mrs. B. replied: “Really, how strange, that is like my
husband; he knows two tunes, one is ‘God save the Queen’ and the other
isn’t.” “I am afraid,” added Mrs. C., “that my husband is even less
musical; he only knows ‘God save the Queen’ when he sees the people
stand up.”
[End nested quote]

In 1911 W. S. Gilbert who was the librettist member of the famous
Gilbert & Sullivan theatrical team died, and “The Bookman” published a
set of recollections about his life. A popular performer and friend
named by George Grossmith stated that he heard Gilbert employ a
version of the jest: [12] [13]

[Begin nested quote]
I heard a lady say to him. “Oh, Mr. Gilbert, you must be a consummate
musician, or you never could write such perfect rhythm.” “Indeed, I am
not,” replied Gilbert. “I only know two tunes. One is ‘God save the
Queen,’ and the other isn’t.”
[End nested quote]
[End excerpt]

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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