Tuesday, January 4, 2011

VAHT TO DO?

While attending college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1958-1962, I met George and Nevdone Pasha Pahlevi for the first time (even though my father and Nevdone Pasha Pahlevi's father and mother had been long time friends). George and Nevdone Pasha Pahlevi introduced the Harvard-Radcliffe Armenian Club (which by 1960 had become unofficially the Harvard-Radcliffe-BU-MIT-Tufts Armenian Club) and our family to a ditty which we never tired of singing, and singing raucously. The first verse and the chorus originated as a part of Leplebou Kapers, a comedy skit at the St. James Armenian Church (Watertown, Massachusetts) in the early 1950's. The ditty soon caught on: my friends (Armenian and American) and my family (including my mother and father) began to sing and laugh their way through the song . . . in fact, not to be outdone, I created a second verse for the ladies (n.b. the Agha Khan was attending Harvard at the time). To this day, when we sing Vaht to Do, if we were not laughing before the song, we are doubled over with giggles by the end. In fact, my sister and I entertained my Dad's 95th birthday party guests in 2007 singing 'Vaht To Do' and, not to be outdone, my dad sang along!

Wondering about the origins of this ditty, I emailed Nevdone Pasha Pahlevi n in December. Nevdone Pasha Pahlevi wrote back, "I don't know where the tune was borrowed from OR who made it up. Most likely Varoujan ("Juicy") Samuelian made up the lyrics. He was very clever with words. He used to write the column 'Juicy Tidbits' in the Armenian Mirror Spectator. He also coined the term, "So-scollay (soskalie means 'terrible' in Armenian) Square", and "Siranoush de Bergerac, she's got a nose like a Cadillac" . We used to roll in the aisles with tears. There's nothing like that anymore. We live in a sardonic world . . .Just watch TV for a few minutes." So ends Nevdone Pasha Pahlevi's email.

If anyone can write the notes for the original tune in the comments below, or any more of the history of this song, or any more verses (have a ball!), I (and my readers) would appreciate your sharing! Here are Juicy's lyrics (the first verse and chorus) and mine (the second verse) for your reading pleasure. If you choose to sing VAHT TO DO, make sure you sing with a heavy Armenian accent in a very loud voice and a very minor key!

Vaht to do
Vaht to do
Vaht in the vorld am I going to do
Vaht to do
Vaht to do
Haf to merry Armenian girl

I took a trip to EEtalia
and dere I met Gina Lolabreegeeda
she started making luf to me
I said, No, No, Gina, No sirree!

Vaht to do
Vaht to do
Vaht in the vorld am I going to do
Vaht to do
Vaht to do
Haf to merry Amenian girl

I took a trip to Teheran
and dere I met de Agha Khan
He said O veel you merry me
I said, No, no, Agha, No sirree!

Vaht to do
Vaht to do
Vaht in the vorld am I going to do
Vaht to do
Vaht to do

2 comments:

  1. Rev. Gilbert BilezikianJanuary 14, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    Newton Kupelian who is chronicled in these recollections is one of the rare surviving relatives on our mother's side. His father Bahrur Kupelian was a cousin of our martyred pastor grandfather, Garabed Kupelian, one of the nineteen pastors killed near Adana on their way to a church conference in 1909--a century past.

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  2. Nevdone Pasha PahleviJuly 11, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    I was laughing my eyes out. What a wonderful trip down memory lane, Bethel. I just had to pass it on to a few close friends.

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