“Istanbul is Constantinople”

LORELAI: I do know Instanbul is Constantinople, so if you’ve got a date in Constantinople, she’ll be waiting in Instanbul.

Lorelai refers to the 1953 novelty song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)ā€, with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy and music by Nat Simon. Written on the 500th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans, the lyrics humorously refer to the official renaming of the Turkish city Constantinople to Istanbul. It’s said to be a response to the 1928 song “C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-I-N-O-P-L-E”, recorded by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra.

It was originally recorded by Canadian vocal group The Four Lads and peaked at #10 on the charts, becoming their first gold record. It’s been covered several times, and Lorelai might be thinking of the 1990 version by alternative rock band They Might Be Giants, from their album Flood. Released as a single, it went to #61 in the UK, and has been used on the soundtracks of several animated series, including Liquid Television and Tiny Toon Adventures in the 1990s.

The song is a part of the repertoire of the Yale a capella group, The Duke’s Men of Yale. As we later discover that Richard was in a different a capella group at Yale, is it possible Lorelai first learned the song from her father?

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