Reading My Way Around the World

Saturday 16 May 2015

Teaching McFadden to Waltz

For many years I have collected gramophone records.

I have some gems in my collection including some very funny songs - at least I think they're funny.  Mostly they're old music hall songs, Irish style, songs that probably originated in America on Tin Pan Alley.

I love this one  - Teaching McFadden to Waltz.  I remember my mother singing the chorus of this when we were children

"One two three, balance like me
You're quite the fairy but you have your faults
For your left foot is lazy, your right foot is crazy,
But don't be unaisy I'll teach you to waltz" 

Being more politically correct now people usually sing
"you're quite the dancer but you have your faults", 
but this recording is from 1935 I think, sung by the Baritone Sam Carson.
According to the iMDB there was a short comedy film made of this in 1911 in the US.  

This is a very posh gramophone player in this video - mine is the one from the photo above.

Here are all the words

Teaching McFadden To Waltz
Clarence McFadden he wanted to waltz
But his feet were not put on that way
So he saw a professor and stated his case
And said he was willing to pay
The professor looked down in alarm at his feet
As he viewed their enormous expanse
So he tacked on a crown to his regular price
For teaching McFadden to dance

One two three, balance like me
You’re quite the fairy but you have your faults
Well your left foot is lazy your right foot is crazy
But don’t be uneasy I’ll teach you to waltz 

He took out McFadden before the whole class
And he showed him the step once or twice
But McFadden‘s two feet got tied into a knot
Sure he thought he was standing on ice
At last he broke loose and struck out with a will
Never looking behind or before
But his head got so dizzy he fell on his face
And rubbed the whole wax off the floor

McFadden soon got the step into his head
But it would not go into his feet
He hummed Maggie Murphy from morning to night
And he counted the steps in the street
One night he went home to his room to retire
After painting the town a bright red
Sure he dreamt he was waltzing and leaped out his legs
And kicked the footboard off the bed

When Clarence had practiced the steps for a while
Sure he thought that he had it down fine
He went to a girl and he asked her to dance
And he wheeled her out into the line
He walked on her feet and he fractured her toe
And he said that her movements were false
Sure the poor girl went round for three weeks on a crutch
Through teaching McFadden to waltz.


  1. No time to read all that - will try and return later. Funny how political correctness changes so much.

  2. Thanks for this ...a lot of these old songs are lost to the general population, now. I hope you can post more ;)

  3. I love gramophones! Actually, old radios, old TV sets, let's say vintage! Some people say I was born in the wrong era and I agree with them. I loved this post and to learn this now - one two three, balance like me :) and I was singing it! Never heard it before and I like the words fairy, not a dancer :) This is so sweet! I love to read about your memories!

  4. I love listening to records as well. There are certain songs which I've heard having been 'digitally remastered' but they just don't sound the same without all those pops and crackles.

    I've never heard this song before, but I like it. :-)

  5. Do you have "the hobble bobble dress" by any chance?

  6. Thank you for that, my father did this song many many years ago.
    It brought back many happy memories


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