Civilization (1947 song)

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"Civilization" is an American pre-pop song. It was written by Bob Hilliard and Carl Sigman, published in 1947 later included in the 1947 Broadway musical Angel in the Wings, sung by Elaine Stritch. The song is sometimes also known as "Bingo, Bango, Bongo (I Don't Want to Leave the Congo)" from its first line of the chorus.[citation needed] The sheet music gives the title as "Civilization (Bingo, Bango, Bongo)".


The song is a satire sung from the perspective of a native person whose village is visited by a missionary and other "civilized" people whom the native refers to as "educated savages." These visitors are trying to "civilize" the tribe. However, the native rejects them and sings about the major flaws in civilized society, ultimately deciding that he will stay where he lives (presumably the Congo in the song's lyrics).


At least five recorded versions made the Billboard charts: by The Andrews Sisters and Danny Kaye, by Louis Prima, by "Smilin'" Jack Smith, by Ray McKinley, and by Woody Herman.

The Andrews Sisters and Danny Kaye recording was recorded September 27, 1947 and released by Decca Records as catalog number 23940. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on November 14, 1947 and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 3.[1] The Louis Prima recording was recorded July 24, 1947 and released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-2400. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on November 7, 1947 and lasted eight weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 8.[1] The Jack Smith recording was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 465. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on December 26, 1947 and lasted two weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 14.[1] The Ray McKinley recording was released by Majestic Records as catalog number 7274. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on December 26, 1947 and lasted one week on the chart, at No. 14.[1] The Woody Herman recording was released by Columbia Records as catalog number 37885. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on December 26, 1947 and lasted one week on the chart, at No. 15.[1]

1947 charting versions

Recording artist Recording date Label and cat. no. Entered Billboard chart Peak position Weeks on chart
Louis Prima July 24, 1947 RCA Victor 20-2400 November 7, 1947 8 8
The Andrews Sisters and Danny Kaye September 27, 1947 Decca 23940 November 14, 1947 3 10
Jack Smith Capitol 465 December 26, 1947 14 2
Ray McKinley Majestic 7274 December 26, 1947 14 1
Woody Herman Columbia 37885 December 26, 1947 15 1

Note that all five versions were on the chart during the week of December 26, 1947.

Other versions

A recording by Joe Loss and his Orchestra with vocal by Elizabeth Batey was made in London on March 11, 1948. It was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label BD 6007. Dyan Cannon performed the song on The Muppet Show along with several Muppet jungle animals. Although Elaine Stritch sang it on Broadway, she did not record it until the 1977 album Make Mine Manhattan: Great Revues Revisited. It was included in her 2002 one woman stage show Elaine Stritch at Liberty. In 1967, a version of the song was included on Disneyland Records "Songs From 'The Jungle Book' And Other Jungle Favorites" (STER1304).

The song was translated into Finnish titled as "Bingo bango bongo" by Tapio Lahtinen. It was recorded by both Henry Theel and Olavi Virta in 1948. Lasse Mårtenson (1963), Hullujussi (1974), How Many Sisters (1983), and Lissun Baari (1997) have also released their versions in Finnish.[2]

An italian version translated by Alberto Curci was made popular in Italy sung by Nilla Pizzi and Luciano Benevene in 1947, and also sung by Sophia Loren in the 1954 movie Too Bad She's Bad. It was again brought to popularity in 1985 when Renzo Arbore used it in a popular TV show (Quelli della notte), and as a single release by comedy actor Christian De Sica in 1994.

Other appearances

  • The 1950 Screen Songs animated short Jingle Jangle Jungle features a lion inviting the audience to sing along to the song to explain why he doesn't want to join a circus.
  • "Civilization", performed by Danny Kaye and the Andrews Sisters, is featured on the in-game Galaxy News Radio in the 2008 video game Fallout 3, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic, retro-futurist United States in the year 2277 in the ruins of Washington D.C..[3] The song is also included on Diamond City Radio in Fallout 4, the fifth major installment of the Fallout series, which takes place in the post-apocalyptic ruins of Boston in the year 2287, as well as in Fallout 76 on Appalachia Radio.
  • Louis Prima's recording of "Civilization" is heard playing on the radio in Adrian Lyne's 1997 film Lolita.


  1. ^ a b c d e Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Record Research.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Fallout FAQ at
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