In 1942, Bing Crosby’s “Deep in the Heart of Texas” lodged itself deep in the hearts of Texans and just about everyone else. The horn-heavy ditty painted a pretty picture of the Lone Star State, with its “big and bright” stars at night and “wide and high” prairie sky; and the chorus even featured a few infectious hand claps. In fact, the song was so popular that it bordered on infamy.
“You don’t know your hymns like you ought to. You don’t try to know ’em,” a Tennessee pastor scolded his congregants in July 1942. “But every last one of you can sing with perfection ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas,’ hand-clapping and all.”
A decade later, the catchy track was still causing mild societal issues—this time, across the pond. When the BBC broadcast it during a “music-while-you-work” program, factory employees couldn’t resist the urge to partake in the clap-happy chorus.
“Some hammered enthusiastically with their tools on anything handy—generally expensive machinery. Others were so busy clapping they forgot to perform some essential operation as the assembly belt went by,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in November 1952.
To prevent such pandemonium from happening again, the BBC banned the tune from the program. “Deep in the Heart of Texas” wasn’t the only jaunty song added to that particular do-not-play list. In general, the BBC was exasperated with American songwriters for churning out so many hits with interactive elements—“whistles, shouts, shots, handclaps, and other effects”—that could harm workplace productivity. Doris Day and Frankie Laine’s duet “Sugarbush,” which also includes some clap-like noises, was similarly forbidden.
Another outlawed number mentioned in news reports was “The Musical Typist,” most likely a reference to Leroy Anderson’s 1950 orchestral composition “The Typewriter.” Jerry Lewis later spoofed the piece—which features the clacks and bells of an actual typewriter—in his 1963 film Who’s Minding the Store?
As for Bing Crosby, the BBC would ban his dulcet tones from airwaves again mere years later. His rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was deemed to exude such “sickly sentimentality” that it could damage public morale during World War II.