Is the Song “I’m Henry The VII, I Am” As Dumb As it Seems?
Q: The song I'M HENRY THE VII, I AM is so stupid...there has to be something more to it. Right?
A: Correct. Even though it's an irresistible singalong song, it can still be irritating. For example, it was used in the Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore film “Ghost” as Swayze tortures Whoopi Goldberg by singing the song over and over...the ironic part is: two characters in the film have the same names as one of the song's lyrics (“she wouldn't have a Willy or a Sam”)...Swayze's character was 'Sam' Wheat and the guy who kills him was named 'Willie.” The song dates back to 1910 when it was the signature song of Harry Champion (on later recordings, Champion changed the name 'Willie' to 'William' because 'willie' was also a British slang term for the male....well, you know). In 1961 the song was recorded and revived by British vocalist Joe Brown, who influenced the Herman Hermits version. The Hermits single zoomed up the charts (#1 in the summer of '65) and became the fastest-selling song in history (up to that point). Peter (Herman) Noone evidently didn't know any other lyrics other than the chorus, so he ad-libbed “second verse, same as the first” and repeated it twice more during the song. The Harry Champion version is one you need to seek out...it's SO different from the Hermits version; there are more lyrics than you're used to; the original song lyrics start out: “You don't know who you're looking at - Now have a look at me - I'm a bit of a nob I am - Belong to Royaltee - I'll tell you how it came about - I married widow Burch -And I was King of England - When I toddled out of church - Outside the people started shouting, 'Hip hooray' - Said I, 'Get down upon your knees its Coronation Day'” Obviously, I can't list all the lyrics here, but you can hear the Harry Champion version at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd_isJDKq-U.