Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

Little Songs on Big Subjects: “Ol’ Commodore Gray”

In a previous post, I spoke about “Little Songs on Big Subjects,” tunes of tolerance written by Hy Zaret & Lou Singer and performed by The Jesters.

The album, recalled with great nostalgia by many, was recorded in the late-40s. It is long out of print and almost completely unavailable. The album was widely played on radio and was used in cartoons shown on early regional television. Here are the lyrics to one of the “little songs, “Ol’ Commodore Gray, and below, a link to its musical cartoon produced by the Anti-Defamation League in 1953:

Ol’ Commodore Gray had a dog and a cat
With a big bow-wow and a little meow.
They all lived together with never a spat.
How in the world did they ever do that?
With a big bow-wow and a little meow-meow
Bow-wow, meow, bow-wow, meow.

The cat and the dog had a barrel of fun
With a big bow-wow and a little meow.
Although they were different, they fooled everyone.
Commodore Gray proved a lot can be done
With a big bow-wow and a little meow-meow
Bow-wow, meow, bow-wow, meow.

Ol’ Commodore Gray often said to the crew,
With a big bow-wow and a little meow-meow,
Though each man among us is different it’s true
My cat and dog get along. So can you
With a big bow-wow and a little meow-meow
Bow-wow, meow, bow-wow, meow.

A big bow-wow and a little meow-meow.

Words: Hy Zaret
Music : Lou Singer
© 1947 Oliver Music & Argosy Music (ASCAP)

The YouTube video, by request, will not embed in this post. Here is the Anti-Defamation League’s link to their cartoon.


  1. Sonia Colby says:

    My husband was excited to find your blog regarding Value Tales. He also grew up with this album and knows all the lyrics and melodies that he has shared with our children and grandchildren. Unfortunately years ago while he was teaching he brought his album to the music dept of the school to share and it was misplaced. Would so love to find a copy. He would also agree the song MIA you mentioned in the March 2009 blog was a favorite and definitely sung the most. It is fun to hear our grown up children singing about blood types! Would love to hear more.

  2. carolyn McCoy says:

    I learned this song in elementary school in the late 40s. Another of my favorite value songs is “What makes a good American?” Are the words and music to this song posted anywhere?

  3. Bob Koorse says:

    I have to wonder if hearing this as a 5 or 6 year old growing up in Queens NY subliminally helped determine my world view.
    “What makes a good American, what do you have to be?
    Am I a good American, let’s take a look and see.
    Mm mm mm, (or similar)I stand up for my rights.
    Mm mm mm, but do I stand up for yours?
    What makes a good American, what do you have to do?
    Am I a good American, and by the way…are YOU?”

    Sorry I don’t have a way to impart the melody, but I just did it on my guitar and it can be done with two chords, e.g. C and G. Hope that helps.

  4. Ken Zimmerman says:

    Great song! I still sing it at age 78.
    May Channel 5 in New York long live in memory along with “The Magic Cottage” and Wilmer the Pigeon.

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