Milwaukee Record is proud to present Public Domain. The monthly video series features Milwaukee musicians setting up at Colectivo Coffee to adapt some of the world’s best-known songs in ways they’ve never been heard before. Watch the entire series here.
The first installment of our 2018 season features Milwaukee rapper, actor, and filmmaker WC Tank covering a century-old song that was a hit in two generations. “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral” was written by lyricist and actor James Royce Shannon in 1913 to be performed by Chauncy Olcott in the musical Shameen Dhu. That version shot to the top of the charts that year. In 1944, Bing Crosby covered the so-called “Irish Lullaby” in the film Going My Way, which resulted in Crosby selling over a million copies of the 30-year-old standard. Since Crosby’s cover nearly 75 years ago, “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral” was adapted by Van Morrison, referenced in Dexys Midnight Runners’ famed “Come On, Eileen,” and sang on film and television by the likes of Dean Martin, Steve Martin, Rhea Perlman, and Lisa Simpson. Now, WC Tank takes his turn.
This inventive take on the Michigan-born songwriter’s most famous number—”The Missouri Waltz,” aka the state song of Missouri, is a close runner-up—is an uncharacteristically uptempo rendition of the almost exclusively somber song. With the help of some familiar looking backup singers, Tank climbs to Colectivo’s roof, conducts from The Back Room’s floor, and peers through the skylight as he adapts Shannon’s beloved ditty. “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral” has been covered countless times in its 105-year existence, but never like this.
The video was shot by Kelly Anderson and edited by Wes Tank. Travis Whitty produced the opening sequence. Public Domain is sponsored by Colectivo Coffee Roasters, Milwaukee Pride, and Transfer Pizzeria Café.