forgotten but not gone…
I guess a lot of people have forgotten all about Melanie Safka, but back in the early 70s the American folk singer made more than an occasional dent on the US and UK pop charts. Maybe you remember:
- Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) [a wonderful song]
- What Have They Done to my Song, Ma?
- Ruby Tuesday (a cover of The Rolling Stones song)
- Lover’s Cross (a cover of the Jim Croce song)
Melanie’s greatest hit, however, was Brand New Key.
Brand New Key is a novelty folk song sung from the viewpoint of a girl with roller skates trying to attract the attention of a boy:
I got a brand new pair of roller skates,
You got a brand new key.
I think that we should get together and try them out, to see …
Some listeners claimed the song contained sexual innuendo with the key in its lock symbolising sex. Melanie’s take was a little ambiguous. She said;
Brand New Key I wrote in about fifteen minutes one night. I thought it was cute; a kind of old thirties’ tune. I guess a key and a lock have always been Freudian symbols, and pretty obvious ones at that. There was no deep serious expression behind the song, but people read things into it. They made up incredible stories as to what the lyrics said and what the song meant. In some places, it was even banned from the radio.
My idea about songs is that once you write them, you have very little say in their life afterward. It’s a lot like having a baby. You conceive a song, deliver it, and then give it as good a start as you can. After that, it’s on its own. People will take it any way they want to take it.
the most parodied song of all time?
There are surely few songs that have been parodied as often as Melanie’s, Brand New Key. Check it out:
- A UK comedy folk act named The Wurzels released a version called, I Got a Brand New Combine Harvester (Brand New Key). Believe it or not, it sat at #1 on the UK singles chart for two weeks in June 1976. This version of the song was used in the film Evil Aliens.
- Following the January 1994 attack on US figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, a parody of “Brand New Key” circulated on US radio stations. It was sung from the point of view of Tonya Harding, the attacker. She sang,
I’ve got a brand new pair of figure skates
You’ve got a busted knee;
They’re gonna lock up my ex-husband and throw away the key.
- With lyrics describing Best Film nominee Pan’s Labyrinth, Minnie Driver sang a parody of the song at the 2007 Spirit Awards. Her lyric went,
I blew a giant frog to smithereens
I got his golden key
- A Los Angeles pop-punk band named, The Dollyrots covered the song in 2007. It became a favourite when they later toured the UK—because concert goers remembered The Wurzels’ 1976 parody.
- Los Angeles indie pop duo The Bastard Fairies covered Brand New Key in a YouTube video accompanied by a band of ukulele players.
brand new key fax
- Brand New Key was written by American folk-pop singer Melanie.
- Brand New Key hit #1 on the US singles chart on Christmas Day 1971 and stayed there for two weeks.
- Brand New Key was also known as “The Rollerskate Song” because of its reference to roller skates in the.
- This was Melanie’s biggest hit. As well as reaching #1 in the USA, it reached #1 in Canada and Australia, and #4 in the UK.
- Melanie’s version of Brand New Key featured in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights and the 2010 movie Jackass 3D. It was also used on a commercial for Hewlett-Packard printers; and was sung by cast members in the UK television series, Dr Who.
- Covered a number of times by various artists, the latest cover version was in 2012 by Olivia Newton-John.
- Brand New Key lyrics.
brand new key – melanie – 1971-72 – video
combine harvester – the wurzels – 1976 – band new key parody – video
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