“What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander.” Lyrics and music by Cliff Friend (1934). Recorded by Sam Browne and “Girl Friend” (i.e. Elsie Carlisle) with piano accompaniment by Eddie Carroll and Bobby McGhee in London on March 2, 1934. Regal Zonophone MR 1254.
In “What’s Good for the Goose,” Sam Browne and Elsie Carlisle take on the roles of a man and a woman who clearly have a history together. As each contemplates the possibility that the other is seeing other people, they begin to engage in an extended threat of tit-for-tat reciprocity by way of commonplace expressions, many involving barnyard animals (“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander”; “the little red hen”; “till the cows come home”). Sam and Elsie were famed for their songs of vituperation during this period (compare “I’m Gonna Wash My Hands of You”), leading the comedian B. C. Hilliam (“Mr. Flotsam”) to write in Radio Magazine
A crooner named Elsie CarlisleIs a girl with a very nice stisle;But the cheek that she getsFrom Sam Browne in duets —Now how can this chap be so visle?”
Songwriter Cliff Friend was a productive Tin Pan Alley composer remembered particularly for “My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now” and “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down,” which provided the theme for Looney Tunes.
“What’s Good for the Goose” was recorded in February 1934 in New York by Chick Bullock, by Ozzie Nelson (as Owen Fallon and His Californians, with vocals by Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Hilliard), and by Dick Robertson. In London there were also versions done by the B.B.C. Dance Orchestra under the direction of Henry Hall (with vocals by Len Burmon), Harry Roy and His Orchestra, Jack Jackson and His Orchestra, and Howard Flynn and His Orchestra.