Cover submission

processed One Meatball [Josh White] cover by Shinehead

Submitted by


On March 8, 2008

Cover of

Processed by


On May 15, 2010

Created performance

One Meat Ball
One Meatball
Dave Van Ronk

Additional comments and sources

One Meat Ball

The liner notes indicate that the original was released in 1956.

Artist & Release already on site:


Rubaiyat - Elektra's 40th Anniversary


Comment by Isa
2009-02-22 12:25:35 UTC

According to Wikipedia:

"One of his most popular recordings during the 1940s was "One Meatball," lyrics a song about a little old man who could afford only one meatball. The song is an adaptation by the American songwriters Hy Zaret and Lou Singer of a song called "Lay of the One Fishball" lyrics by Harvard Professor George Martin Lane, which was to the tune of an English folk song called "Sucking Cider Through a Straw" lyrics. When offered the song he immediately recorded it and it became the first million-selling record by an African American male artist. The Andrews Sisters (Added in the meantime) and Jimmy Salvo soon recorded their own versions, which also became hits (other cover versions were recorded in subsequent years by Bing Crosby, Lightnin' Hopkins, Lonnie Donegan, Dave Van Ronk (Added in the meantime), Ry Cooder (Added in the meantime), and Shinehead)."

Last updated by Limbabwe on 2013-03-21 18:57:40 UTC

Comment by tsk
2009-02-23 22:29:53 UTC

My question is now that "One Meatball" has been suggested for inclusion in the database, are you going to do so? If not, is it because you can't establish when the original version was issued? If that is the reason, will the editors make an effort to ascertain the first recording of the song? I'm also curious about the use of a Wikipedia quote in response to this topic, since I understood from the Submission Guidelines that Wikipedia was a disfavored source. Is that correct?

In any event, should "One Meatball" ever make the database, I have three or four covers to suugest be included. And always remember: "You gets no bread with one meatball".

Comment by wally creek
2009-02-23 23:59:41 UTC

tsk wrote:
My question is now that "One Meatball" has been suggested for inclusion in the database, are you going to do so? If not, is it because you can't establish when the original version was issued?
There is no assignment of this task to any editor in particular. However, it looks like Isa might have begun work on it. This is an all-volunteer site with editors contributing in their spare time, and whoever decides to work on a research project is who will get it done. Still with "only" 90,000 songs in the database, we are always looking for more originals/firsts to add. We will always be looking for more originals/firsts to add. And that will depend on whether the original/first version can be established in the first place.

And, as you suspect, if no original can be established, then no covers can be entered in the database. You have no doubt found some songs missing from the database because of that. For example, I've found that the standard "Sweet Lorraine" was first done by Rudy Vallee, but I still need the label and release date (and other details) before it can be entered in the database.

Wikipedia is indeed considered a untrustworthy research source by Second Hand Songs. As as example, the article on Josh White quoted above notes a "Jimmy Salvo", which should be Jimmy Savo. And the song is "One Meat Ball" in many versions, perhaps including White's. Here, it's just Isa's counterexample to Elektra's bad meatball research. If an appropriate part of a Wikipedia article is properly footnoted, then I would tend to trust it. In any case, just one source does not necessarily prove things; the more sources, the better. And a Wikipedia article may still provide a starting point for research, so it's useful that way.

Patience is requested for "One Meatball" to make it into the database. Always feel free to submit covers, but realize that no work will be done on them until the original/first gets into the database.

Last updated by wally creek on 2009-02-24 00:08:06 UTC

Comment by tsk
2009-02-24 12:56:28 UTC

Thanks Wally. I'll stick to suggesting covers of songs already in the database since they seem to have a much higher chance of actually being included at some point.

Comment by bradmartin321
2009-03-22 01:43:41 UTC

My brother has a copy of the original sheet music. It was my dads or grandfathers.He says:

"One Meatball was written by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer and published in 1944 by Leeds Music Corporation of New York. According to the sheet music it was featured by Josh White at Café Society Downtown and Jimmy Savo at Café Society Uptown in NYC as “Presented by Barney Josephson at his Famous twin Edition Night Club Café Society”.

What more do you need to know to include it?

Comment by tsk
2010-05-16 00:00:41 UTC

The original and several covers have now been added to the database.

Change by shs
2015-08-14 18:00:00 UTC
Conversion from forum topic to cover submission