Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories LP Record

Walt Disney presents Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories in this LP record format. We have two so-so stories narrated by the preeminent voice-over artist Sterling Holloway.

Only one of the stories gets the cover, that being ‘The Elephant’s Child’, or ‘He Who Gets Spanked A Lot’, depending on what you decide to focus on in the story! Let’s have a look at the cover art:

Just So-So Stories

These stories are well crafted with word play well over the heads of most children. Parents will enjoy the ingenious turns of phrase while younger ones will like the rhymes and nonsensical script. But honestly, the first story is definitely about a dysfunctional animal family on the Savana!

We have a young elephant who just wants to learn about the world around him. He proceeds to explore by asking his family questions. Not bad questions. For example, he asks his Uncle the giraffe how he got his spotted skin pattern… and gets spanked. He had already been spanked by his mother and father for other innocent questions, and after Uncle Giraffe, he gets spanked three more times, once by a complete stranger!

The last question he asks is what the crocodile eats for dinner. Instead of treating this like a life lesson and teaching him about the dangers of the food chain and giving him the Circle of Life lecture… they just beat him again! What’s wrong with this family?

Wonders of wonders, the little pachyderm gets fed up with this treatment and goes off to find a crocodile to ask directly. Safe, right? Below is an excerpt from the story showing what happens when he steps on a log by the river and it turns out to be… a crocodile:

The Elephant’s ChildSterling Holloway

So the whole point of this story was to show how the elephant got its long nose, or trunk. As you can see from the audio file and the cover picture, it was when a crocodile tried to pull an elephant into the river so as to eat him for dinner.

The elephant child escapes and slowly learns how to use his new appendage to great advantage. But mostly he uses it to spank everyone who had ever spanked him, but harder! He also throws his relatives into walls, drags some of them through thorn bushes, and basically just beats the dickens out of everyone. I don’t think there was a moral to this story unless revenge is a virtue.

Finally, everyone tires of being abused by the elephant child and so they all head down to the crocodile to have their noses extended also. Once this is done, no one spanks anyone anymore and the world is a better place. The End.

I know. I was left wondering just what I had listened to, and why. I wouldn’t recommend this story for any normal child. Rudyard Kipling must have been an interesting man.

The second story, ‘The Cat That Walked by Himself’ is the tale of how the first man and woman domesticated the wild animals of the wild woods. First is the dog, who is bribed into becoming the first friend of mankind. But the cat isn’t fooled, and continues to walk alone. Next, the horse is bribed into becoming the first servant of mankind, but again, the cat isn’t fooled, and continues to walk alone. Finally, the hapless cow is bribed into feeding mankind with her milk. The cat is still a holdout, but the plot is about to thicken!

The cat decides that he wants to live in the humans cave, sit by their fire, and drink some of their milk. He tricks the woman into praising him three times and thus secures these things for himself. But he tells her that he still plans to walk alone. Yup. Sounds like a cat!

But he is undone when he realizes that he has no agreement with the man or the dog. They do agree to make deals with the cat to allow him to stay around if he provides certain services. The cat agrees but restates that he will continue to walk alone. This angers the man and the dog, thinking the cat ungrateful, and so they keep their end of the bargain, but promise to throw things at him and try to bite him whenever they see him.

And that’s why cats are sometimes useful but still aloof and get shoes thrown at them and why dogs try to bite them. Got that? Good. Now you can understand your cat.

On the back of the album cover is a nice biography of Sterling Holloway and the musical director, Tutti Camarata. It’s well worth enlarging the picture above to read it.

There is also a poem written by Kipling that might explain his odd storytelling choices on this LP. It basically shows why his cat sucks while his dog, Binkie, is indeed his Firstest Friend. Oh Rudyard, what goes on in that head of yours?

I never know what I’m going to get when I buy these old vinyl pressings. This time… I still don’t know exactly what I have! But whatever it is, it’s weird.

This entry was posted in Music, Nature, Records and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply