Somebody Stole My Gal

Somebody Stole My Gal, written by Leon Wood in 1918, is, in my not-very-humble opinion, a terrific song. According to Bumbastories’ staff of certified “math experts”, 1918 was over 100 years ago. Yikes! They had a pandemic back then too. Yikes again! Nevertheless and all the same, Somebody Stole My Gal is a swell song, which is why I’m posting about it again.

Like a lot of the ragtime-influenced songs of the era, it does a bit of playing with the circle of fifths, which I’ll try to explain. You see, at first it goes from C to G to C, a simple I to V to I. But then the C descends to an A chord, which I have to admit I can’t explain at all. Nevertheless that’s what a lot of these old songs do. From the A it goes to the D, then to the G, and then back to the C. Always going to the next fourth. No minor chords, just straight-up major chords. The second time around, in the second verse, however, it tosses in an E chord, which would be a modally borrowed third I think. But then it snaps back to the C; then C7, F, D. Then C, A, D, G, C. Whaaat?

Try it. It’s great fun to play. I must’ve heard this song a million times as a kid, but never cared much for it. But in the 70’s, I heard Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band do it (check out Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band), and my feet got to tapping. And they’re still tapping! (Which is usually cool, except for sometimes in libraries and maybe some other public places. But since the libraries are mostly closed right now, I think we can all just tap away!)

8 thoughts on “Somebody Stole My Gal

  1. The unexplained drop to A is actually simply that it is going into the classic VI-II-V-I progression which is ALL based on movement of fifths. Orginally/classically, it would have been a minor vi which is acting as a substitute I, but with the blues treatment they all become dominant 7ths! Simples 😊

    1. Thank you. I’ve been trying recently to study the theory, and that piece had me stumped. So the ii becomes major also with a blues treatment. Thanks!!!

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