I ended the 350 Jersey Songs project — 350 daily posts on songs by Jersey artists, or about some aspect of the state, or recorded here — in September. But there are, of course, more songs to write about. So here’s a bonus entry, on “HoHoKus, NJ,” by the Andrews Sisters.
I knew about the song while I was doing the project, and searched in vain for a YouTube video I could embed. There was none then, but one was posted last month; you can watch it below.
The song, written by Al Stillman, Ray Block and Paul McGrane, has a lot of fun with the Bergen County town’s name — whic may be derived from the Delaware Indian word “Mah-Ho-Ho-Kus,” which means red cedar, though there are other possible explanations as well.
“I remember ’twas September/When the crocus first awoke us/In Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ,” sing LaVerne, Patty and Maxene Andrews.
But then the song goes on to play with other Jersey town names as well: “I’ll go my way, you go your way/And we’ll never meet in Rahway,” “All the sweater girls in Teaneck/Wear a devastating V-neck,” “It’s lonesome in Passaic/But the town that takes the ca-ik/Is Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ.”
The song was written in 1947, and recorded by the Andrews Sister in 1949. The trio visited the town to promote the song by singing it, and other songs, on the town green. There is a very detailed account of that event on pages 104 and 105 here.
Of the three songwriters, lyricist Stillman has the most substantial career, with other credits including the Christmas season standard “Home for the Holidays,” the Johnny Mathis hit “Chances Are” and “Jukebox Saturday Night” (recorded, most famously, by Glenn Miller).
To see the 350 Jersey Songs, listed alphabetically by artist, click here.