Little Songs on Big Subjects

When we were very little, my brother and I had a record entitled Little Songs on Big Subjects. Sung by The Jesters, one of the first groups to record commercial jingles, the tunes, written by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer, emphasized tolerance. Zaret, who died in 2007 just a month shy of 100, told me in 2002 that he thought of the songs as short, catchy jingles.

We played the LP until the grooves wore out.

Little Songs on Big Subjects was a big hit. In 1949, The New Yorker, in a Talk of the Town piece about Zaret and Singer’s new project—songs about the just-born U.N.—noted that an executive of WNEW, a NYC-based radio station, estimated that tunes from Little Songs on Big Subjects had been broadcast (I’m guessing he meant nationwide) “almost half a million times to date.”

Little Songs on Big Subjects is long out of production. Searches on the web currently yield no copies for sale.

  Lou Singer & Hy Zaret    (c. 1948)
Lou Singer & Hy Zaret (c. 1948)

There were 11 songs:  “What Makes a Good American,” “Brown-Skinned Cow,” “Columbus Said, “Si, Si, Signor”,” “I’m Proud to Be Me,” “Close Your Eyes and Point Your Finger,” “Ol’ Commodore Gray,” “Traveling Broadens One,” “It Could Be a Wonderful World,” “There Were Thirteen Colonies,” “I’ve Got a Church, You’ve Got a Church,” and “American Hymn.”

A couple of tunes (“I’m Proud to Be Me” and “It Could Be a Wonderful World”) have been covered by others, but my favorite, “Close Your Eyes and Point Your Finger,” one of the first tunes I ever memorized, is MIA.

Here are the lyrics accompanied by the original Soglow illustration from the record:

Close your eyes and point your finger,
On the map just let it linger —
Any place you point your finger to,
There’s someone with the same type blood as you!

England, China or Alaska,
Mexico or Madagascar,
Indonesia, Ireland or Peru —
There’s someone with the same type blood as you!

No type of blood is better,
No type of blood is best,
Each type of blood is just as good —
No better than the rest!

Close your eyes and point your finger,
On the map just let it linger —
Any place you point your finger to,
There’s someone with the same type blood as you!

In the mountains or in the valleys,
Rich hotels or slum-like alleys —
Any place you point your finger to,
There’s someone with the same type blood as you!

Plumbers, bankers, men of science,
Clerks or teachers, dwarfs or giants —
Makes no difference what they are or do,
There’s someone with the same type blood as you!

It may be “A” or “AB”,
It may be “B” or “O”,
Whatever type it may be, sir,
There’s one thing you should know:

Nature has no fav’rite nation,
Color, creed, or occupation —
Any place you point your finger to,
There’s someone with the same type blood as you!

Someday you may be in danger;
Then along will come a stranger
With a bit of blood to pull you through…
A stranger’s blood may save your life for you!

Close your eyes and point your finger,
On the map just let it linger —
Any place you point your finger to,
There’s someone with the same type blood as you!

[These lyrics were copied from the original record sleeve.]
Words: Hy Zaret
Music : Lou Singer
© 1947 Oliver Music & Argosy Music (ASCAP)

*     *     *     *     *

Full disclosure: Singing under the name Pobba, I recorded “I’m Proud to Be Me” and “It Could Be a Wonderful World” on my CD “My ‘Magination.”

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94 Comments on “Little Songs on Big Subjects

  1. I have never heard these songs in their original format, but they still mean a lot to me nonetheless as I have heard you sing them countless times. I know the tune to the above song so well, just from listening to you, that I was able to finally sing the whole song for myself with the lyrics you posted. Thank you!!

    Promise me you will sing these to my kids as well?

  2. I remember as a child back in the early 50’s hearing some of these on tv and they were accompanied by some simple cartoons.

    1. I also remember these – simple cartoons and a catchy melody in the early 50’s- for example:
      If everybody should look the same
      Wouldn’t life be a mixed up game
      It would be a smart man who knew his wife

      But nature made each one of us look different etc

      1. Larry–
        You must be referring to a different album. The lyrics you quote are not on Little Songs on Big Subjects. I’d be interested to know where they are from.

        1. Steve – these were jingles with simple drawings that appeared on New York City area TV. 1951? 1952? They were catchy, and included the lyrics cited by Jack Turner above. I was four or five years old —

          I remember: “George Washington liked good roast beef, but Hamilton liked fish.
          But when Uncle Sam served liberty, they both enjoyed the dish.
          Oh, I may not know a lot of things but one thing I can state:
          both native born and foreign born have made our country great.”

  3. ahhhh!!! My husband and I are nearing the final steps of adopting children and had this strong desire to obtain a copy of the album I listened to over and over again as a child. I didn’t recall the group or album title but knew it had “Close Your Eyes and Point Your Finger” and “It Could be a Wonderful World.” Did the search and just found your website. Please let me know if you ever find a copy of the album!

  4. I am a musician in Austin, TX. I have the original 78s. If anyone wants a copy for personal enjoyment, I hope to digitize them when the weather is bad for golf.

    1. Wow, I have been looking for these for years. I remember the lyrics to about three. Now that I have grandchildren, I would like to pass them on. How may I obtain a copy from you?

      Thunder Bay, Canada

    2. Did you ever get around to digitalizing this album? (Little Songs on Big Subjects)
      It is an absolute FAVORITE of my childhood, I could almost sing every song! I would love to purchase a copy if you’re selling them. Thanks, Naomi Mayer

    3. I would love the music. I sang these songs in church years ago and want to introduce them to my church (now a minister) but have NO musical ability.
      Would love to get a copy of the music


      Close your eyes and point your finger

    4. If you do digitize them, I’d love to get a copy for a friend- He sung a couple of them to us on a church retreat this past weekend [Nov 5-7, 2010], and I’d love to surprise him with a copy.
      Thanks — let me know the cost, and I will mail you a check!
      Austin TX

    5. Two years ago you wrote that you had the 78 record of Little Songs on Big Subjects, and that you may be putting them on CD. Those songs were such an important part of my growing up and I’ve been searching for copies or, at least, the words for years.

      Did you ever digitize the album?

      My husband and I plan to travel to Austin for the first time at the end of April, but, of course, I’m happy to pay for shipping and whatever you want for the copy.

      Kitty Wells (sorry, not THE Kitty Wells)

    6. I would love a copy of this record, which my brother and I listened to as very small children. Lately (2012, now 2013) many of the songs have been in my head, maybe it’s something to do with the political situation at the moment??So, did you ever digitize it?

    7. Please let me know how to get a CD of Little Songs on Big Subject. As the only Jewish family in a Chicago suburb, my mother brought the record to my third grade class in 1948-49. At the time I was soooo embarassed, but it is sooo appropriate now. My brother had our family copy in Austin. He moved to Houston and I don’t know if the album left with him. The “Brown Cow” song is probably too. politically incorrect to republish it!

    8. Hello,

      I just saw your response to a thread saying you were planning to digitize the songs from Little Songs on Big Subjects. Have you ever done that? If so, I would love a copy. IF not, do you plan to? I look forward to hearing back from you. Thanks!

    9. I would love to have a digitized version of these songs. A friend copied the original 78 record on a tape for me, but I am afraid I will wear it out.

  5. I too learned the “little songs on big subjects” when I was about 4, and I too have been searching on the ‘net for a copy. I actually remember the lyrics to a few of the songs, e.g., “you can get good milk from a brown-skinned cow” and “I’m proud to be me” and “it could be a wonderful world” and several others. UNICEF must have an archival copy somewhere????

  6. I too grew up with this album, which I still have. I’d like to tranfer it to a CD so my younger family members can enjoy it.

  7. I did not know these songs were on a record. When I was a child in Pasadena, CA, we sang them in Unitarian Sunday school. I can still remember most of them… “George Washington liked good roast beef, Haim Solomon liked fish. But when Uncle Sam served liberty, they both enjoyed the dish!” I would love to see the lyrics to all the songs… are they available anywhere?

    1. That’s the one I was trying to remember…
      I remembered the verse as:
      George Washington loved good roast beef,
      and Jefferson loved fish,
      But when it came to liberty,
      They both said “that’s my dish!”

        1. Thanks for the clarification….I remember the cartoon & the song but wasn’t 100% sure of the words. I got the song about Jefferson-ski-witz mixed up with the other.

  8. Does anyone know how I could get a copy of this album (or preferably CD)? – I’m looking specifcally for the song “Close Your Eyes and Point Your Finger”. Thank you so much.

  9. I am a vintage paper dealer and whenever I come across a book or record album of this fabulous series on songs, I save it. I have a a couple of copies. They are very wonderful to own, read and listen to.
    I memorized the words to all the songs in the 1950’s and carry them always in my mind and try to instill their importance in the mind of my 11 year old daughter. I don’t think she needs any more prompting from me or anyone. She is so “color blind” already that I appear to be a racist to her just because I dare to even divide people into races. She sees us all as earhtlings. homo-sapiens.
    Anyplace you point your finger to… there someone with the same type blood as you!

  10. I’ve recently reconnected with an old classmate from 5th grade. Our teacher played “Little Songs on Big Subjects” till we had each memorized all the words.

  11. I can’t wait to hear your CD…it will bring me back to 1960…Hyde Park…near the University of Chicago (from whence our President hails)…to Bret Harte Elementary School – Miss Betty Bodian’s 5th grade class – Room 206. She taught us every single song on that album. We wrote the lyrics for our penmanship exercises. If you are able to locate one of those albums, please let me know! Thanks again.

    1. I still remember Betty Bodian, 6th grade, 1968. She influenced me more than any other
      teacher at Bret Harte. What else do you remember? Is she still alive? Thanks…

      1. Betty Bodian was the best teacher. She influenced us to become the people that she knew we were. All were empowered in her class to think, learn, laugh, be civil and care. I think of her often, with fondness and awe.

      2. I loved Ms. Bodian. Everything I ever really learned I learned in 6th grade with the remarkable, magnificent Betty Bodian. She was the best teacher any child could hope for. Even now, a half a century later, I thank Betty Bodian for preparing me on so many levels for the world. A great teacher can do that.

  12. Miss Bodian was really unforgettable … Sad to report that we lost her on April 20, 1996 … a few months shy of 90 …

  13. Ol’Commodore Gray is on YouTube, and probably It Could Be a Wonderful World although not in the first pages of hits. Anyone know of others on YouTube? I, too, would love a copy of the music and/or sheet music. We had a song book and I suppose my mother played them. She could still sing with us when Alzheimers had removed most memories.

  14. Thanks so much for this, Steve. Wow. These were unique treasures. Wasn’t there one more: “George Washington liked good roast beef, Chaim Solomon liked fish, but when Uncle Sam served liberty … they both enjoyed the dish?” Was that not from this album?

    I’ve alerted my friend Peter Muldavin, AKA “Kiddie Record King.” I suggest that anyone looking for anything from back then contact him: He is a find and has pretty much whatever you’re looking for.

  15. I have a set of the Jesters singing Little Songs on Big Subjects which is in fairly good condition. My computer program can clean out 99% of the noise. I could then make CDs from them along with most of the art work from the jacket cover.

    The contents are:
    1. What makes a good American?
    2. Brown-skinned cow
    3. Columbus said “Si, si, signor”
    4. I’m proud to be me
    5. Close your eyes and point your finger
    6. Ol’d Commodore Gray
    7. Traveling broadens one
    8. It could be a wonderful world
    9. There were 13 colonies
    10. I’ve got a church – you’ve got a church
    11. American Hymn
    11. There were 13 colonies

    What’s it worth? I don’t know. Make me an offer.

    J. B. Roth

    1. I would love a copy of the CD you are making. I have no idea what to offer. I want to use it in my church because the songs were so important to my childhood and still relevant today.
      what next???

  16. I was in 4th grade and learned many of these songs. Thanks for remembering along with me.

    Now I have grandchildren and would love to share these with them – unfortunately the world still needs the messages these songs convey.
    If anyone finds a CD or even the original book, I would be so interested.


  17. Hello Mr. Cotler,

    I was searching the web for Little Songs on Big Subject which is a 2-record set of 10″ 78RPMs. I have that set, but I wanted more info on it. Thanks for having a photo of Hy Zaret and Lou Singer on your website.
    I have professionally digitized the tracks onto CD and I’m enjoying the songs as I did when I was 4 back in 1950. If you would like me to email you those tracks in mp3 format, I’d be glad to do so.

    What you might not know is that the Bachelors also recorded those songs on the VOX label. I beleive I also have that set.

    Benjamin Roth-Aroni

  18. Hi,
    I was looking for a copy of “Little Songs On Big Subjects” and was directed to this site. I too had this album when I was but a mere child and listened to it over and over again. I would love a copy to give to my grandson who is turning 8yrs old this month.
    You offered to make a copy of the CD for
    10 dollars. Please let me know where to send the check.
    Thank you for your generous offer.
    Audrey Whitman

    1. I am a Kindergarten Teacher. A retired grandmother at our school, who was volunteering in my class, started singing “I’m Proud to be Me”. I just loved the message. She told me about the “Little Songs on Big Subjects” album that she used to play to her 4th Grade class. Could you please let me know how I could purchase a CD for my class?

      1. Hello Sandy,

        You can purchase the CD with original artwork for $15. Go to PayPal and send the money to
        I have already sold two sets.

        J. B. Roth

    2. I will also buy the cd of the songs for $10 if the offer is good, let me know

  19. I Steve,

    I just found the 3-record 78rpm set of the Bachelors singing “Little Songs……” It has a song that the Jesters’ set does not have. It’s called “The Poor Old World”. Tomorrow, I’ll scan the words and email them to you as well as digitize the tracks and get them off to you as well.
    Benjamin Roth-Aroni

  20. I have clean audio files of the Jesters singing Little Songs on Big Subjects. I can make a CD for $15 and mail it.
    Pay through PayPal to

    with your mailing address in the email that accompanies payment.

    J. B. Roth

    1. WOW! I’m sending the $15.00 via Pay Pal for a copy of Little Songs on Big Subjects -an album that left an indelible impression lasting almost 50 years. THANKS! Jackie B

    2. I’ve been looking for Little Songs on Big Subjects. My sister, brother and I grew up on them, late 40s early 50s. I will send you $25 PayPal for them. Thsnk you!!!

  21. Just remembered another stanza from one of them”

    I may not know a lot of things,
    But one thing I can state:
    Both native-born and foreign-born
    Have made our country great.

  22. I was just Googling around when this song hit my head and I thought I’d see if I could find it by inputting “any place you point your finger to” and “same type blood as you.” And up it came. I’m 74 years old and recall listening to this ditty on a battery-powered radio in the backwoods of West Virginia when I was a kid. It’s really comforting to be able to resurrect it.

    1. Edward–
      If you look in this comment thread, you can learn how to get a copy of this out-of-print album.

  23. I love all these comments about this record that made such an impact on kids so long ago. I and my group from Canada, The Travellers recorded a kids record in 1970 which sold almost 100,000 copies. I remembered the song If We Could Consider, from somewhere, and included it in the kid’s record: “THE TRAVELLERS SING FOR KIDS”
    Whenever I perform for the past 40 years anyhow, I always start with If We Could Consider whether it is an adult or a kid’s show. I’ve never seen the original, but I have just ordered a repro of it, to hear all the songs.
    Jerry Gray
    The Travellers
    If anyone wants THE TRAVELLERS SING FOR KIDS that includes If We Could Consider let me know at The CD is still available from me.

    1. The name of the song (by Zaret & Singer) was It Could Be a Wonderful World, not If We Could Consider. It was recorded by Pete Seeger and the Weavers, among others.

  24. Steve Cotler is my tutor at Healsdburg California’s Fitch Moutain School. He is the most intelligent person i’ve ever met.

  25. I have just uploaded the Jesters version of Little Songs On Big Subjects, and you can download them for free at I also loved these songs as a child in the 60’s. Bless my liberal, civil rights activist parents.

    Enjoy, James

  26. Thank you all for these comments. They played the record to my grade school class in New York (in the late 1940s) many times, certainly enough times for me to memorize the words. The ending of the “brown-skinned cow” song goes: “the color of the skin doesn’t matter to me”.

    1. The words to the last verse are:

      As the peach pit said to the apple core,
      “The color of our skins doesn’t matter anymore.”
      Ho-ho-ho, can’t you see?
      The color of your skin doesn’t matter to me.

  27. I loved these songs as a child and have looked for them periodically over the years. My dad was a civil rights activist in the 60’s, so these songs were my first introduction in the 50’s to the importance and value of all kinds of people.

  28. I was singing songs from the album tonight and found this website. My brother and I got it from a record club as the monthly offering. My mother took it to my third grade class in 1948, foreshadowing Brotherhood Week. I may have been the only Jewish student in the school. I recall being mortified. I think the song with the line, “You get white milk from a brown skinned cow; the color of your skin doesn’t matter no how,” would be seen as politically incorrect today, though well-meaning. I am happy to know I can hear it again some sixty plus years later.

  29. I’m so glad people remember them. I sang them all when they were published in People’s Songs (remember that?).

  30. Dear Mr.Cotler, I am a resident Indian and I was so delighted to find the lyrics of the song “close your eyes and point your finger” which we used to sing in junior school way back in the 50’s at Bangalore, specifically while celebrating UNO day. I am looking for the lyrics of another similar song which has words somewhat like this…”to the wheat fields, to the corn fields, where the yield is all too low; comes a farmer….da da daa daa, daa da daa daa…UNO.

  31. The Michael Feinstein Initiative holds the papers of Hy Zaret, the lyricist for Little Songs on Big Subjects. Songs from his other works “Science Songs” and “Experiment Songs” are now available on iTunes with more to come.

  32. I grew up on these songs and came upon the 78 album when my mother died and made a CD for my grand-kids. At the time I looked for information about “the making of” (more than what was on the cover) and could find nothing. Tonight I came across the CD, started listening and did a Google search. How wonderful to find that you have republished this work. I still know all the words. These songs help shaped the adult me.

  33. I remember when I was growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, in the 1950’s, there was a television commercial using the lyrics to “George Washington liked good roast beef, Chaim Solomon liked fish. . . ” In retrospect, it surprising that tolerance was advertised in that manner in a relatively homogeneously WASPish town. On the other hand, I went to grade school at J. C. Nichols School, which was nearly half Jewish. We celebrated Hannukah and Passover along with Christmas and Easter and sang Hebrew songs in choir. Also, K. C. had Rabbi Samuel Mayerberg, who was a prominent advocate of civil and human rights who was perhaps most famous for speaking out against the corrupt Pendergast Machine, which dominated K. C. politics for decades. Although I myself was born and raised as WASPish as they come, I’ve always counted myself blessed to have grown up in a place that had such a yeasty mix of Jews and Gentiles.

  34. I would like to find how to pay royalities for Little Songs on Big Subjects by the Jesters for my website about to be published.
    Can you send me information on paying royalties for using these songs.
    nancilee Wydra 772 xxx 5538 text or email above

    1. I must admit I prefer the Jesters version—recorded in the late 40’s—over the Gilbert/Bibb version.

  35. I prefer the Jesters’ version, too. I just bought the Argosy version from Amazon. Some of the songs have been changed, “I’ve got a Church” most glaringly. But I am very happy to have so much of the original music, if not the performances.

  36. As children, my sisters and I learned all the songs on the album. I do have the original 78, but not the original filmstrip. I would like to introduce these songs to my preschool aged students, but I would like to have illustrations.Also, perhaps some songs need to be updated, such as Brown cow. What do you think? How about illustrated children’s books with the best songs?

  37. I just realized I have the lyrics and original cartoons inside the album! I haven’t looked at it recently. It says copyright by Argosy Music Corp. Is that the publisher you mentioned?

  38. We recently updated our web site to include dozens of links to old recordings, including the Bachelors’ and Jesters’ version of “Little Songs on Big Subjects”.


  39. I never knew these were an album! I only remember some of them from the little short cartoons on TV when I was 3 years old. They really stuck with me, though of course at that time I had no clue what they meant – they were just fun jingles. In later years when I remembered them, I figured they had been just public service announcements. The only one I really remember was the ‘brown-skinned cow’ and the ‘peach pit and apple core’ but there was another one where they pointed out that different names just indicated where ancestors came from, and that (for instance) if Jefferson had come from elsewhere his name would have been Jefferski or Jefferoff or…

    Now that I know there were more I’d like to hear them, to see if they’re buried in my memory. Or maybe those were the only ones broadcast as cartoons? We could certainly use some of them now, to counter prejudice starting with toddlers!

  40. Thank you for this complete posting. I was trying to remember some of the lyrics this morning for Close Your Eyes, but had no recollection they were so extensive. It was probably my favorite song from this collection too, but I also loved many of the others. I recall that the album was a publication of the UN. Is that correct?
    Many thanks!

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