The song was never meant to be sung in the film, but was instead an "exploitation song" made at the request of publisher Irving Berlin, Inc. for use in the film's promotional campaign; other songs in this category are "Jiminy Cricket" and "Monstro the Whale". Nevertheless, the song's melody can be heard in the film's underscore when boys are crowding for cigars at Pleasure Island's Tobacco Row.
The song was included as a bonus on the 2009 Blu-Ray and Platinum Edition DVD releases of the movie.
Chorus: Honest John, they call him Honest John
But I wouldn't trust him as far as I could
Throw an elephant over my shoulder
Throw a curve with a 10-ton boulder
Honest John, look out for Honest John
'Cause he's only honest by reputation
Though you'll find him in church on Sunday,
He'll steal pennies from a blind man Monday
Any old time that anything is gone,
Look for Honest John
There is one in every city
One in every neighborhood
He's doing well, but to hear him tell
He's always doing good
He belongs to all the lodges
Wears a politician's smile
Any time that you run into him
It's time to run a mile
Honest John: (spoken) I'm Honest John, they call me Honest John.
Chorus: But I wouldn't trust him as far as I'd trust
Robert Taylor with my new honey
Or a burglar with all my money
Honest John: (spoken) Honest John, my friend. They call me Honest John
Chorus: But don't ask him out to your house because he'll
Steal the bulbs right out of their sockets
He's so crooked, he'd pick his own pockets
Any old time that anything is gone...
Honest John: Well, musical sweet potatoes, hmm? Might bring a nice track and no one would suspect Honest John...
Police Officer: Calling all cars, calling all cars - four musical sweet potatoes missing and last seen but eyed by Honest John. Look for Honest John. That is all.
(continued sung verse)
Chorus: Any old time that anything is gone...
Look for Honest John!