“The Bathing Suit She Wore” – Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas

UPDATE: Fixed, thanks to commenter Jamie.

This is maybe my favorite song from this staple of my and my family’s holiday season. Well, there’s “Brothers”. Here: lemme talk a bit about one of the things that makes this movie so great. If you haven’t seen it, for shame. One of Henson’s best. The story?based on a book by Russell Hoban that I haven’t read but which would make (hint, hint) an incredible Christmas present?follows Emmet and his mother, who both destroy or sell each other’s money-making items in order to enter and hopefully win a talent contest. Their talents are both singing (though Emmet can also play the washtub bass), and they learn in the end that they’re only so-so unless they sing and play together.

Or maybe they learn that certain men who write a lot of bluegrass and roots music get mad that audiences fall so easily for effects-laden rock ‘n’ roll.

At any rate, Emmet and his friends go into the talent show with the plan to play a song called “Barbecue”. Here are some lyrics:

When you meet somebody who don’t like soul food,
They still got a soul.
Well, it don’t mean that you got no rhythm
If you don’t like rock ‘n’ roll.
But if your tastes are like mine
and like cider not wine,
then your very favorite thing to do
is get a pretty girl dancing to jugband music,
and a mess of mama’s barbecue.

In other words, it’s a divisive, defensive song about petty people with insecurities. Sure, it’s catchy, but then Yancey Woodchuck gets up there before they’ve had a chance to play, and what do you know? He plays “Barbecue” on the banjo (and sounds precisely like Bob Dylan while doing it).

“C’mon!” Emmet says, pushing his fellow bandmembers into the alley. “We gotta rehearse a new song.” What they rehearse is “Brothers”, which might be the best song in this movie:

How much alike we are,
perhaps we’re long-lost brothers.
We even think the same.
You know, there may be others.

We can always use a friend.

This family just keeps growing,
this family doesn’t have to end.

In other words, it’s a song about unity and finding truth. And so many relentless bars of minor chords! It’s the right proper antidote to the stupidity of “Barbecue”. Barbecue! Of all the ridiculous things to apostrophize.

(You can hear the song here, but there’s this behatted creature whose noises sometimes cut in to the music, so watch out for it.)

At any rate, here’s the tab for “The Bathing Suit She Wore”, which may have some issues. I feel like there’s some tricky changeup in the second line of the verses. Let me know if you come up with something else.

G          G7  C             D7
Long, long ago there lived a lady
G           A         C          D7
Simple, but elegant as any on the shore
        G             G7       C
She was known for her generous silhouette
    Eb7         G          A
And yet she was known even more for
    C                G
The bathing suit she wore

Even tho it was her bathing suit that made her famous
It was almost heaven sent
Many times when it was drying on the line
A tourist would mistake it for a circus tent

Now she has gone
Now she has left us
Left with sweet memories
And left with something more
We've made curtains and handkerchiefs
And clothing for the poor
From the one bathing suit
That your grandma otter wore
From the one bathing suit
That your grandma otter wore

8 thoughts on ““The Bathing Suit She Wore” – Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas”

  1. The tricky changeup is that it’s G-A-C-D7 in the second line. Also, the cadence after the Eb7 is:

  2. My comment is this– Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas is reason enough to fall in love. =)

  3. I love Emmet Otter it’s really cute and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie when I was a tyke I still do enjoy it to this day as I bought it on DVD but when it came out on HBO in the 80’s the folks were quick enough to burn it onto a VHS tape marked simply as “Christmas” along with other holiday flicks that they were also quick enough to snag the VHS was however buried for years and we moved from our home to my Grandmother’s home after my grandparents passed but this last Christmas we dug up that VHS tape and found that through all kinds of extreme heat and cold from the front porch of the house for a few years that Surprisingly The VHS and every single show on it had survived and was still as clear and as sharp as the day it was recorded off the TV technology….it never ceases to amaze but yes after this little anecdote of mine I do have a question do you suppose that you could also post the chords (tableture) to the song at the end of the movie that Ma and Emmet and the gang were singing when Doc Bullfrog told them all they needed was each other I believe it’s called our world I’ve been trying to find it to no avail and you would just make this uke player’s day if you could post that

  4. James, I have the chords for you. I will try to post a link or something in the next few days to YouTube. We do it in music class (kids). Great tune!

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