The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and Other Stories illustrated the musical rhythm of Saroyan’s writing style (the story “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8” is a fine example of this), and you can see that his early artwork contains marks reminiscent of sheet music. Although Saroyan didn’t play any instruments (other than noodling on a harmonica), he was a music lover, playing his pianola regularly in his San Francisco homes. He also surrounded himself with musician friends, including Artie Shaw, Alan Hovhaness, and his cousin Ross Bagdassarian (stage name David Seville, who created Alvin and the Chipmunks).
Collaborating with professional composers, Saroyan wrote the lyrics to many songs, including “Come On-A My House,” made popular by Rosemary Clooney in 1951. The story goes, Saroyan and Bagdassarian were driving cross-country making up new lyrics to old Armenian folk songs, and ended up with “Come On-A My House,” which is presented here in four forms, held at the Forever Saroyan archive: the original napkin that Saroyan wrote the lyrics on, early typed lyrics, preliminary sheet music, and finally the recording featuring the voices of Saroyan and Bagdassarian.
He also had a close relationship with Alan Hovhaness, who wrote the music for Saroyan’s play, Jim Dandy, as well as homages to their Armenian roots in “Girakgi Picnic” and “Bari Bari.” In all the examples below, Saroyan wrote the lyrics that others then performed and recorded.
Words and music by Ross Bagdasarian and William Saroyan
Recorded 1951 by Bagdasarian / Saroyan
Other versions were recorded, the most famous by Rosemary Clooney in 1951.
Read this article to learn more.
Words and music by William Saroyan
Recorded by Danny Kaye in 1951