Karl Marx meets tin-pan-alley — Ain’t we got fun

Just posted a ruff version of the 1921 standard, Ain’t We Got Fun, and noticed that the words are interesting, particularly the third line in the second stanza:

‘the rich get rich and the poor get children’; Mmmm… sounds a bit like Karl Marx’s view of the proletariat — those lacking the ownership of the means production or distribution and only having their children (proles — Latin for children). Is this what Karl meant when he said the proletariat had nothing to loose but their chains? Unkind if true.

Words by Gus Kahn and Raymond B. Egan, Music by Richard A. Whiting.

(1st time through)
Ev-ry morning, ev-ry evening, ain’t we got fun.
Not much money, Oh but honey, ain’t we got fun.
The rent’s unpaid dear, We haven’t a bus.
But smiles are made dear, for people like us.

In the winter, in the summer, ain’t we got fun.
Times are rum and getting rummer, still we got fun.
there nothing surer; the rich get rich and the poor get children.
In the meantime, in between time, ain’t we got fun.

(2nd time through)
Ev-ry morning, ev-ry evening ain’t we got fun.
Twins and cares dear, come in pairs dear. Don’t we have fun.
We’ve only started as mommer and pop.
Are we down hearted? I’ll say that we’re not

Landlord’s mad and getting madder, ain’t we got fun.
Times are bad and getting badder, still we have fun.
There’s nothing surer the rich get rich and the poor get laid off.
In the meantime, in between time, ain’t we got fun.

Published in: on April 24, 2010 at 8:48 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very nice!

    Two questions:
    Where’d you find the chords for this?
    Are you thinking of releasing tabs for your nice chord solo arrangement?


    • Hi HH,
      Thanks for liking it (great old tune). I have to confess to making them up myself — basing my guesses on sheet music found here http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/ — I hope to publish the arrangement in a book on the social life of the ukulele, as soon as I get around to writing it.

  2. Thanks for pointing to the etymology of proletarian. I certainly didn’t know it. To be pedantic, though, Marx’s meaning for the word was the one he found it carrying following its use in the French Revolution. That is, it meant working class rather than the class that only owns children. For Marx, this working class, historically novel due to the novelty of capitalism, owned only its labour power. As the song says, children are not an asset, when considered this way, but a liability.
    Love your Blog!!

    • The proletariate was all about the impact of ‘industrialisation’ (a word which Thomas Carlyle invented) and how the factory system made it difficult for craftsmen, who made things by hand, to complete in a free market. Many felt they had to abandon their own tools and trade to work as unskilled labourers in someone else’s business/factory for wages — what Groucho Marx called wage slaves in the movie “Coconuts”, (by the way, he used to term to encourage his workers to give up the idea of receiving their own wages). Thanks for dropping by.

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