I get a lot of looks when I sometimes use the term ‘Great Googly Moogly’ at work . . . in certain circumstances it completely appropriate, and besides that it is fun to say. Why are most people so pedestrian that any phrase remotely out of the ordinary gives the impression of temporary insanity? In response to that mindset I have done a little research and come up with some history of the three great words. Everything I found haas been taken from different sources on the Web, and I have tried to give credit where credit is due:
Great Googly Moogly is a phrase which has been used in popular music (particularly Rhythm & Blues) lyrics by various artists dating back to the 1950’s . Known examples include Frank Zappa’s Nanook Rubs It (1973) and Howlin’ Wolf’s Shake For Me (1986). There is some evidence (unverified) of earlier uses by other musicians:
At the very least, R&B legend Screamin’ Jay Hawkins uttered it as an exuberant exclamation of extreme excitement in “Person to Person” (1957): the line in question finding SJH extolling his far-away (cheerbabe?) girlfriend to “bring your big fine foxy great googly moogly lord-look-at-that self on home.” I’ve got some vague recollection that SJH used the phrase in other tunes – and I know Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper lovingly borrowed it on a track or two of their first few albums in the mid-1980s. –Gil R.
More recently, the phrase has moved into the non-musical world. It was spoken by Harry (Orlando Jones) in Ivan Reitman’s 2001 science fiction movie Evolution , used in a television commercial for Snickers , and has been printed on a line of casual clothing . An example of contemporary (2005) use is the Disney Channel program Maggie and the Ferocious Beast; Beast says it several times per episode.
And this is from http://www.arf.fu (a site that has notes on Zappa songs):
This is an expression I have heard older blues artists use in songs. Somewhere in my voluminous collection is a Muddy Waters (or somebody like him) song where the phrase is used. I have been reviewing my collection to try and find the exact song, but it is going to take time.
From: Richard S Johnson
Howlin’ Wolf said it in one of the spoken parts of “Goin’ Down Slow”. Is that what you’re thinking of? I hope this helps.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (OnTheCornr)
I suspect that Zappa’s use of “Great Googly Moogly” was more directly inspired by “Stranded In The Jungle” by the Cadets and/or the Jayhawks (the two groups had competing Top 20 versions simultaneously in 1956). “Stranded In The Jungle” was always one of FZ’s favorite songs, and he performed it onstage at least once (the band with Bianca Odin, Halloween 1976 NYC). “Stranded” also predates Howlin’ Wolf’s use of the phrase in “Going Down Slow,” which was recorded in 1961.
From: email@example.com (Chase Kimball)
I have that particular Howlin’ Wolf song, and reviewed it. I am not sure if that is what I am thinking of though. I have the sound of some high energy blues baritone shouting it into the microphone in my head, and Mr. Burnett says it with a great deal of resignation. Perhaps I am mixing up his statement of the creed with the way Zappa says it. However, I have spent a lot of time with my blues CDs trying to find what is in my head, and have utterly failed, so perhaps my memory is faulty. In any event, my original post still stands and is vindicated, and I think the FAQ file should reflect the proper origins of Great Googly Moogly. Certainly Zappa and Burnett deserve no less.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stan Ivester)
I had also heard the “Great googly moogly” in a 50’s blues record I just can’t remember if it was a Howling Wolf or Muddy Waters, but I’m pretty sure it was one of them.
I believe that was “If I Never Get Well Again” by Howlin’ Wolf. Obviously, Frank listened to that song when he was young and well. I wonder if he listened to it again when the lyrics described his own situation.
From: email@example.com (Biffyshrew)
The title of this song (at least as it appears on the classic “rocking chair” LP) is actually “Going Down Slow.” This recording is from 1961. Is there another version with a different title?
An earlier citation of the phrase “great googly moogly” is “Stranded In The Jungle,” a simultaneous hit in 1956 in competing versions by the Cadets and the Jayhawks. Zappa played this song live in 1976, and also played it on the radio a time or two.
From: Charles Ulrich’ forthcoming book Project/Object
“Great googly moogly” is an expression that had been uttered by Willie Dixon in Howlin’ Wolf’s 1961 recording of “Going Down Slow”. Another variant, “great googa mooga”, was uttered by Prentice Moreland in the Cadet’s 1956 recording of “Stranded In The Jungle”, a song which FZ performed on the fall 1976 tour.
What else can I say except GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY!
PS: Click here for “Great Googly Moogly Redux”