“So Is Your Old Lady.” Words by Al Dubin, music by Joe Burke (1926). Recorded by Elsie Carlisle with piano accompaniment by Carroll Gibbons on May 25, 1926. Zonophone 2757.
Transfer by Clive Hooley (YouTube)
“So’s your old man!” is a somewhat dated rejoinder to an insult, a suggestion that one’s interlocutor can take what he has said and apply it to his own father. One still hears the term “old lady” used to refer to a man’s wife or girlfriend. In this playful 1926 song, lyricist Al Dubin combines the two expressions in an exchange between a wife and a husband, the latter of whom has been philandering a little too obviously. The wife tells him to do as he likes, but to remember that while he is pursuing his affairs, “so is [his] old lady” — a threat of reciprocal infidelity. At her first recording session in 1926, Elsie Carlisle handled the quick patter and formulaic repetition in the lyrics deftly, bringing something both cute and slightly titillating to the taunting threats of the wife. Carroll Gibbons’s piano playing complements Elsie’s quick, crisp delivery quite nicely. This recording was also released on the Ariel label (issues 940 and 1006) but attributed to Maisie Ramsey — Elsie’s first known pseudonym!
Other versions of “So Is Your Old Lady” were done in 1926 in America by the Original Indiana Five, Ruth Etting, and Warner’s Seven Aces. In Britain the song was recorded by Jack Hylton and His Orchestra, Teddy Brown and His Café de Paris Band (with vocalist Lionel Rothery), Bert Firman (the take was rejected), Hilda Glyder, Victor Sterling and His Band (directed by Nat Star), and the Edison Bell Dance Orchestra (with vocals by Tom Barratt).