Language Logger, Benjamin Zimmer tries to figure out who got the first laugh with that locution. Does it come from country music or Spike Jones or does it go back to vaudeville ... or is it in the Bible?
Speaking of Spike Jones -- and unrelated to "self, Self" -- I turned the satellite radio all the way down to the 1940s channel the other day as I was watching for the light to turn green at the corner of Regent and Midvale, and they were in the middle playing his version of "You Always Hurt the One You Love." I was laughing in my car, something I almost never do -- unless I'm with a passenger, in which case, I laugh all the time and I might not even wait for the light to turn green.
So you were at the corner of Regent and Midvale, eh? Any more stray info you'd like to include in this post?
Yes, in fact, I'd like to say that I've noticed the mind's strange tendency to record and store the locations where the car was when a particular song was played on the radio or a passage read in an audiobook. I don't realize I've saved this unnecessary knowledge until I hear or think about the song or passage again and I picture the place where the car was. The reverse happens too: I'm driving through the place again and I remember the song/passage. I think that's awfully funny but also profound and quite mysterious. They mind has its own wild system of organization, and if you tried to organize your house, office, work, or life according to that system, you'd get all mixed up, wouldn't you? Perhaps not. Perhaps we are using this system, and it's why we're always failing to do much at all after all those times when we say to ourself, Self, you've got to get organized.
By the way: visualizing the placement of ideas in a physical environment is a classic mnemonic device, the one used by this fabulous character.
Tracking down links for this post and reading the Wikipedia entry for Spike Jones's "You Always Hurt the One You Love," I see that the first part of the song contains some "Amos and Andy"-style humor -- which you can hear in the clip found on this page -- and I hasten to add that I showed up in the 1940s zone of the radio after that part of the song had played. So don't knock me for laughing at that. But go ahead and hit me if you think I've failed to respond correctly to a song that makes a big joke out of domestic violence.