They all laughed - Lyrics and Notes

"They All Laughed" is a inspiring song written by Ira Gershwin that inspires you go on if when the odds are against your success, the world tends to laugh at you. Vision of the seeker is not limited to the myopic vision of the world. The humanitarian continues to service. The scientist continues to invent. The revolutionary continues to agitate. The seeker continues to seek.  The believer holds firm in his belief.  This reminds me of Tagore's Eklo Chalo, "Walk alone if no one supports you."  It also reminds me of Bhagat Namdev's Teri Bhagat Na Chhodon where he says, "I will continue to love even if people laugh at me." 

Here are the lyrics and some explanation on the lyrics that I found on the internet: 

The odds were a hundred to one against me
The world thought the heights were too high to climb
But people from Missouri never incensed me
Oh, I wasn't a bit concerned
For from history I had learned
How many, many times the worm had turned

Note: Missouri is known as “The Show Me State”. The singer is using Missourians as stand-ins for all the skeptics who think she can’t get the man she wants.  

There are a number of stories and legends behind Missouri's sobriquet "Show-Me" state. The slogan is not official, but is common throughout the state and is used on Missouri license plates.

The most widely known legend attributes the phrase to Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1897 to 1903. While a member of the U.S. House Committee on Naval Affairs, Vandiver attended an 1899 naval banquet in Philadelphia. In a speech there, he declared, "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me." Regardless of whether Vandiver coined the phrase, it is certain that his speech helped to popularize the saying.

Other versions of the "Show-Me" legend place the slogan's origin in the mining town of Leadville, Colorado. There, the phrase was first employed as a term of ridicule and reproach. A miner's strike had been in progress for some time in the mid-1890s, and a number of miners from the lead districts of southwest Missouri had been imported to take the places of the strikers. The Joplin miners were unfamiliar with Colorado mining methods and required frequent instructions. Pit bosses began saying, "That man is from Missouri. You'll have to show him."

However the slogan originated, it has since passed into a different meaning entirely, and is now used to indicate the stalwart, conservative, non-credulous character of Missourians.

They all laughed at Christopher Columbus
When he said the world was round
They all laughed when Edison recorded
They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother
When they said that man could fly
They told Marconi
Wireless was a phony
It's the same old cry
They laughed at me wanting you
Said I was reaching for the moon
But oh, you came through
Now they'll have to change their tune
They all said we never could be happy
They laughed at us and how!
But ho, ho, ho!
Who's got the last laugh now?


1. Reference to Wilbur and Orville Wright, the brothers, inventors behind the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered heavier-than-air aircraft in 1903.

2. Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was an Italian inventor who pioneered long-distance radio transmission, winning the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work.

(Chorus 2)
They all laughed at Rockefeller Center
Now they're fighting to get in
They all laughed at Whitney and his cotton
They all laughed at Fulton and his steamboat
Hershey and his chocolate bar
Ford and his Lizzie
Kept the laughers busy
That's how people are
They laughed at me wanting you
Said it would be, "Hello, goodbye."
But oh, you came through
Now they're eating humble pie
They all said we'd never get together
Darling, let's take a bow
For ho, ho, ho!
Who's got the last laugh?
Hee, hee, hee!
Let's at the past laugh
Ha, ha, ha!
Who's got the last laugh now?


1. The largest private building project in modern times, this commercial complex in midtown Manhattan started construction in 1930 and was still being built at the time this song was written in 1937, opening to the public in 1939. Many cynics were unsure if it there was a demand for it, considering it was being built in the midst of the Great Depression, but sure enough it became a popular destination and eventually a National Landmark in 1987.

2. Eli Whitney (1765-1825) invented the cotton gin, turning cotton into a profitable crop and keying the Industrial Revolution.

3. Robert Fulton (1765-1815) is widely credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat.

4. Milton Hershey (1857-1945) developed the first mass-producible milk chocolate bar, turning it from a luxury good into a widely accessible commodity via the Hershey Chocolate Company, which he founded in 1900. His inclusion in this song is particularly apt, since he went bankrupt numerous times in different businesses before his success.

5. Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry with his Ford Model T, nicknamed the “Tin Lizzie,” regarded as the first car that was affordable to middle-class buyers.