HOW DRY I AM

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • The song written by Irving Berlin and was originally titled “The Near Future” in 1919. It
    is better known for the small part of its lyric that took on a life of its own: “How Dry I
    Am”. The term “Dry” in that time period meant abstinence from alcohol, and support of
    Prohibition. Those who took the opposite approach and/or view were often called “Wet”.
    Prohibition became fact in 1920, in “the near future” after the song was issued. This
    portion of the song…
    How dry I am, how dry I am
    It’s plain to see just why I am
    No alcohol in my highball
    And that is why so dry I am
    …became known for its ironic use, by people getting drunk and singing it, sometimes in
    harmony, in all manner of popular media, especially Warner Brother’s cartoons. That
    usage necessitated removing the parts that overtly denied drinking, which tended to
    reduce the song to these two lines:
    How dry I am, how dry I am
    Nobody knows how dry I am…
    On the other hand, the origin of the ditty “How Dry I Am” predates Berlin’s song and the
    prohibition era. It is documented as a song being sung by day-laborers in 1907 and is
    certainly much older.
    How dry I am, how dry I am
    It’s plain to see just why I am
    No alcohol in my highball
    And that is why so dry I am
    Waiter, Waiter
    [Waiter:]
    What do you want? What do you want?
    [Man:]
    I’m just as thirsty as can be
    [Waiter:]
    What’ll you have? What’ll you have?
    [Man:]
    Suggest a little drink for me
    [Waiter:]
    Of the very finest soft drinks we have all the best
    [Man:]
    I don’t know a thing about them
    What would you suggest?
    [Waiter:]
    Have a little Coca-Cola
    Really, it’s a lovely drink
    Percy, Clarence, Reginald, too
    They will recommend it to you
    Have a little Coca-Cola
    It’s the very best I think
    It isn’t alcoholic but you can have a frolic
    If you take enough to drink
    [Man:]
    They are much too dry
    [Waiter:]
    Then how’d you like to try
    Sarsaparilla, try sarsaparilla
    Sarsaparilla ought to do
    Rockefeller drinks sarsaparilla
    And what’s good enough for Rockefeller
    Is good enough for you
    [Man:]
    Go and tell John D
    His drink won’t do for me
    [Waiter:]
    Then have a little glass of grape juice
    It’s the only drink to buy
    Really, it’s fine, simply divine
    It’s recommended by William J. Bryan
    Eve’rybody’s drinking grape juice
    Ever since the town went dry
    I’ve heard them tell, sir
    That grape juice and seltzer
    Is just the little drink to try
    [Man:]
    That won’t do, I’m afraid
  • [Waiter:]
    Then try some lemonade
    A little lemon, a little sugar
    A little vichy and a straw
    Makes the very nicest little drink you ever saw
    You ought to buy one, come on and try one
    For it’s the finest drink that’s made
    Drinks like this’ll wet your whistle
    Have a glass of lemonade
    [Man:]
    That won’t do I fear
    I’d like a glass of beer
    [Waiter:]
    Then have some Bevo
    Have a drink of Bevo
    It’s the grandest imitation that we know
    If you care for beer, it’s the drink you should pick
    It tastes like lager but it hasn’t got the kick
    [Bevo Girl:]
    Bevo, have a drink of Bevo
    Though it hasn’t got a punch up it’s sleeve-o
    [Waiter:]
    Those who drink it insist that a Christian Scientist
    Could easily come staggering home on Bevo
    [Man:]
    How dry I am, how dry I am
    It’s plain to see just why I am
    Oh, how I call for alcohol
    And that is why so dry I am
    [The Spirit of Alcohol:]
    I hear you calling me
    I am the Spirit of Alcohol
    For let me assure you one and all
    I’m not dead, I’m only asleep
    Some day I’ll come back to you
    [Chorus:]
    We hope you do, we hope you do
  • [The Spirit of Alcohol:]
    When your laws are not so blue
    [Chorus:]
    We hope you do, we hope you do
    [The Spirit of Alcohol:]
    When you give Prohibition your shoe
    [Chorus:]
    You bet your life we’ll kick it
    Because it’s very wicked
    [The Spirit of Alcohol:]
    Say to Mister Temperance you’re through
    [Chorus:]
    That’s what we’ll do, that’s what we’ll do
    [The Spirit of Alcohol:]
    I’ll come back someday
    With a hip, hip hooray
    Until I do, I’ll give to you
    A little cocktail that is new