The Lumberjack Song – Monty Python – 1975

January 2, 2015

Wherever you live in this world, New YeLumberjack Song - Single Coverar’s Eve television can be pretty dire.  But this year, down our end of the planet, we were treated to the Monty Python stage show reunion which featured one of the best known and greatest comedy songs of all time – Monty Python’s, The Lumberjack Song.

Lumberjack song 2monty python fax

  • Monty Python is a comedy group who worked together between 1969 and 1983.  They are best known for their comedy show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus (which aired between 1969 and 1974).
  • Producing 45 episodes over four series, Monty Python members, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, went beyond mere comedy, often using their art to comment on political and social issues.
  • From the television series came touring stage shows, films, numerous albums, several books, and a stage musical.
  • Monty Python’s influence on comedy has been compared to The Beatles’ influence on music.
  • In a 2005 UK poll to find The Comedian’s Comedian, three of the six Pythons members were voted by fellow comedians and comedy insiders to be among the top 50 greatest comedians ever: John Cleese at #2, Eric Idle at #21, and Michael Palin at #30.

Lumberjack song 1the lumberjack song fax

  • The Lumberjack Song was written by two members of the Monty Python comedy troupe: Terry Jones, Michael Palin; and Fred Tomlinson.  Fred was a well-known musician who composed music for shows such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Two Ronnies and And Now For Something Completely Different.
  • The Lumberjack Song first appeared on Monty Python’s Flying Circus in mid-December 1969.
  • Michael Palin has been quoted as saying The Lumberjack Song was created in about 15 minutes.  Monty Python were unable to come up with a suitable conclusion to a barbershop sketch and the song just “evolved.”  It has since been used a number of times to complete a number of comedy sketches.
  • On 14 November 1975, The Lumberjack Son” was released as a single in the UK.  It was produced by a certain Python fanatic by the name of George Harrison and performed at The Concert for George in November 2002, on the first anniversary of his death (with Tom Hanks featuring).
  • In the original sketch, the girl is played by Connie Booth, John Cleese’s then-wife.
  • The Lumberjack Song lyrics.

the lumberjack song – monty python – 1975 – video

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Popcorn – Gershon Kingsley (Hot Butter) – 1972

May 29, 2014

Pop Corn Hot Butter coverOkay, so I didn’t hear this on the radio… I heard someone humming it.  I asked them, “Do you know the name of the tune you’re humming?”  Their answer astounded me… “That is,” they said, “one of my favourite all-time tunes.”  And, what were they humming…?

pop corn 1Popcorn, a 1972 instrumental by Gershon Kingsley’s band, Hot Butter!

gershon kingsley fax

  • Gershon Kingsley was born in Bochum, Germany way back in 1922.
  • Gershon went on to become a pioneer of electronic music through his discovery of the Moog synthesizer.
  • pop corn 3And, believe it or not, at 91 years old, he’s still producing music today – mainly Broadway musicals and film and television scores.
  • Oh, and commercials.  He’s won two Clio Awards for his work in advertising.
  • In the pop world, Gershon is remembered for his album, Music To Moog By which consisted mainly of Beatles, Beethoven, and Simon and Garfunkel covers, AND the famous, Popcorn.

popcorn fax

  • Popcorn was written by Gershon Kingsley in 1969, and first appeared on his album Music to Moog By.
  • In 1972, it was re-recorded and released by Gershon’s band, Hot Butter.
  • Hot Butter’s version was a huge hit, making it to #1 in nine countries—in France and Switzerland, it was the year’s top hit.
  • The origin of the name is, believe it or not, a point a great discussion amongst Hot Butter fans.  The track originally had no title.  Someone suggested “Popcorn”, with ‘Pop’ standing for pop music and ‘corn’ for kitsch.
  • Gershon tells a slightly different story saying, in 1969 he was listening to a popcorn machine and thought he could make a tune out of it. He spent the next day playing his Moog synthesiser looking for a catchy riff.  87 days later, it was recorded and on his Music To Moog By album
  • Popcorn has been covered by many artists including: Jean Michel Jarre, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Muse, James Last, Crazy Frog, Blue Man Group, and The Muppets.

popcorn – hot butter – 1972 – video

popcorn – crazy frog – video

popcorn – techno remix – 2013 – video

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I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – The Jackson 5 – 1970

December 5, 2013

Jackson 5 AlbumDecember 5, and I hear my first Christmas song of the season – at least it was a decent one and not that awful Feliz Navidad or Snoopy’s Christmas! Nope, it was The Jackson 5’s version of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – a song that never came near making any sort of dent on the charts, but which must have made the boys (or their father!) a fair whack of cash because it’s dragged out every Christmas for a season of high rotation.

Jackson 5 1the jackson 5 fax

What can I say that we don’t already know?

  • Originally just Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine, The Jacksons began performing in 1964. By the 1970s, Marlon and Michael had joined in and the name was changed to The Jackson 5.
  • Jackson 5 3For six and a half years, they were one of Motown’s most popular acts.
  • The Jackson 5 alone have sold more than 100 million records worldwide – that puts them as one of the best-selling music artists of all time, and that doesn’t include any of their solo records.
  • The Jackson 5 have the distinction of having their first four singles all hit #1 on Billboard – I Want You Back, ABC, The Love You Save, and I’ll Be There; I’m pretty sure not many acts claim that degree of success.

i saw mommy kissing santa claus fax

  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus wasn’t first recorded by The Jackson 5. It was written by a UK songwriter, Tommie Connor and originally recorded by 13 year old Jimmy Boyd. His version was released in 1952 and reached #1 on the US singles chart in December of that year.
  • new-yorkerThe song was originally an advertisement for Saks, Fifth Avenue, promoting the store’s 1952 Christmas card which featured a sketch by The New Yorker magazine artist Perry Barlow (see the cartoon right).
  • The original recording was denounced by the Roman Catholic Church in the US because it mixed kissing with Christmas. Jimmy Boyd met with the Boston Archdiocese to explain the song, after which the church changed its view.
  • Cover versions have been released by several artists including: The Ronettes, Bobby Sherman, The Jackson 5. Reba McEntire, Amy Winehouse, John Mellencamp, and Tiny Tim.
  • A movie based on I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus was released in 2001.
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus lyrics.

i saw mommy kissing santa claus – The Jackson 5 – 1970 – video

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Stars on 45 Medley – Stars on 45 – 1979

June 20, 2013

Stars on 45 MedleyIn 1979, Dutch band Stars on 45 began a short-lived phenomenon—the pop medley—with their hit; Stars on 45 Medley.

a band we’d forgotten

I confess, I’d forgotten about this song, until I heard it while I was out driving today—you may quite rightly ask what two-bit radio station I was listening to. In actual fact, the station was only playing it because, they claimed, it had been released 40 years ago today. That’s not quite true, it was released in December 1979.

what i didn’t know

Stars on 45 was a Dutch band that kicked off in early 1979. In the USA they were known as Stars On, and in the UK they were known as Starsound.

What I didn’t know was that Stars on 45, a manufactured band made up of studio session musicians, was the brainchild of Jaap Eggermont, drummer of the 70s band, Golden Earring.

Stars on 45 recreated hit songs, running them together to form catchy medleys. The idea was adopted by other bands, notably Hooked on Classics.

stars on 45 fax

  • Stars on 45 was released in December 1979.
  • The track listing for Stars on 45 was; Stars on 45 Intro / Venus / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I’ll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You’re Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45. In other words, Shocking Blue, The Archie’s, and eight Beatles songs.
  • The official title of the track was; “Medley: Intro Venus / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I’ll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You’re Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45.” That makes it the longest titled song to ever appear on Billboard’s Top Ten. (The reason for the long title was copyright requirements for the use of The Beatles’ songs)
  • Stars on 45 , peaked at #2 in the UK in April 1980 and #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on June 20, 1981.
  • The success of Stars on 45 Medley led to a follow-up single, Stars on 45 Medley 2. It featured: Good Day Sunshine/My Sweet Lord/Here Comes the Sun/While My Guitar Gently Weeps/Taxman/A Hard Day’s Night/Things We Said Today/If I Fell/You Can’t Do That/Please Please Me/I Want to Hold Your Hand/Stars on 45. It peaked at #67 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and the Stars on 45 phenomenon was over.

stars on 45 medley – stars on 45 – 1979 – video

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A Boy Named Sue – Johnny Cash – 1969.

May 30, 2013

 Johnny Cash-A Boy Named Sue-1970-single coverThe magnificent Johnny Cash hit #1 on the US singles chart only once.  It was in 1969 with the novelty country song, A Boy Named Sue.

american idol?

If ever I catch a glimpse of American Idol or X-Factor or one of the other Simon Cowell talent shows, I always think of people like Johnny Cash and Neil Young and Lucinda Williams and Macy Gray and Joe Cocker; people who are/were fantastic artists, uniquely talented, prodigious songwriters (well, not Joe), but with voices that, on the face of it, would appear quite uncommercial; and I wonder what the judges would have said to them if they auditioned for the show.

Johnny Cash 1It’s not that people on the Cowell-shows are lacking a tuneful voice. And it’s not that they don’t have talent. But, truly great artists have something more. There is a certain x-factor (‘cuse the pun) setting them apart from the rest. Johnny Cash is a case in point—a man whose music and personality are truly captivating.

san quentin i hate every part of you

On February 24th 1969, Johnny gave a concert for the inmates of San Quentin prison. It was recorded and became his 31st album release. His 30th album being the fabulous live Folsom Prison album.

A short while before the San Quentin concert, Johnny was handed the words of a poem written by comic poet, Shel Silverstein. He thought he’d try it out on the inmates. They loved it. The song was released as a single and became a hit around the world, peaking at #2 on the US singles chart.

sue trivia

The poem, A Boy Named Sue, was inspired by humourist Jean Shepherd, a close friend of Shel Silverstein, who was often taunted as a child because of his feminine-sounding name.

a boy named sue fax

  • A Boy Named Sue was a poem written by Shel Silverstein.
  • JOhnny Cash 4Johnny Cash recorded it for his Live At San Quentin album on February 24, 1969.
  • Peaking at #2 on the US singles chart, A Boy Named Sue was Johnny’s highest charting hit—his only top ten single in the US. He did, however, have numerous top ten and #1 hits on the Country charts.
  • Shel Silverstein also released a recording of “Boy Named Sue” in the same year as Johnny.
  • When originally released, the song was censored. The words, “son of a bitch” were bleeped over and the final line was edited to remove the word “damn”.
  • Shel Silverstein later wrote a follow-up named to A Boy Named Sue, called, The Father of a Boy Named Sue, telling the story from the point of view of Sue’s aging father.
  • A Boy Named Sue lyrics.

a boy named sue – johnny cash – 1969 – video

a boy named sue – shel silverstein – 1969 – video

the father of a boy named sue – shel silverstein – video

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Brand New Key – Melanie – 1971-72

December 20, 2012

Brand New Key - Melanie - 1971Well, it may not be a Christmas song, but on Christmas Day 1971, Melanie’s, Brand New Key was at the top of the US singles chart.

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.

Melanie Safka 3song about sex?

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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The Streak – Ray Stevens – 1974

August 16, 2012

The novelty song to beat all novelty songs, back in 1974 Ray Stevens’ The Streak hit #1 on the US, Canadian, UK and New Zealand singles charts.

an album or two

Ray Stevens has had an amazing career beginning in 1958 and, believe it or not, continuing through to this very day.  Yep, he’s still performing.

In that time he’s released an amazing 112 albums! Yep, 112 albums!! The first was 1,837 Seconds of Humour in 1962, the latest Encyclopaedia of Recorded Comedy Music in 2012. But wait, an astounding 33 of those were greatest hits compilations.

whichever way you look at it…

Ray has certainly been prolific. Born in 1939, the American singer signed his first recording contract when he was 16 years old and has had hits across several genres of music in the years since.

awards galore!

Ray’s been nominated for 11 Grammy awards and has won twice. The second was in 1975, for the arrangement of his country and western version of the jazz standard Misty.

The first was rather interesting because the song won two awards, one each for different artists.  It was 1971 and Everything Is Beautiful won the award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for Ray and the award for Best Inspirational Performance for Jake Hess.

Ray in an inductee of the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

And, check out some of his other awards…

  • 1969: Gold Single — “Gitarzan”
  • 1970: Gold Single — “Everything Is Beautiful”
  • 1970: Grammy — “Everything Is Beautiful” (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance)
  • 1974: Gold Single — “The Streak”
  • 1975: Grammy — “Misty” (Best Arrangement of the Year)
  • 1980: Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
  • 1980: Georgia Music Hall of Fame
  • 1984: Gold Album — “He Thinks He’s Ray Stevens”
  • 1985: Gold Album — “I Have Returned”
  • 1986: Music City News Comedian of the Year
  • 1986: #1 Country Album Plaque from Billboard — “I Have Returned” (week ending March 15, 1986)
  • 1987: Music City News Comedian of the Year
  • 1987: Platinum Album — “Greatest Hits”
  • 1987: Gold Album — “Greatest Hits, Volume Two”
  • 1988: Music City News Comedian of the Year
  • 1989: Music City News Comedian of the Year
  • 1990: Music City News Comedian of the Year
  • 1990: Gold Album — “All-Time Greatest Comic Hits”
  • 1991: Music City News Comedian of the Year
  • 1992: Music City News Comedian of the Year
  • 1992: #1 Home Video Plaque from Billboard — “Comedy Video Classics”
  • 1992: Ten Times-Platinum Home Video — “Comedy Video Classics”
  • 1993: Billboard Home Video of the Year
  • 1993: Music City News Comedian of the Year
  • 1993: Platinum Home Video — “Ray Stevens Live!”
  • 1994: Music City News Comedian of the Year
  • 1995: Platinum Home Video — “Get Serious!”
  • 1995: Country Weekly Golden Pick Award “Best Comedian”
  • 2001: Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame
  • 2002: Gold Single — “Osama Yo’ Mama”
  • 2009: Christian Music Hall of Fame

don’t look ethel!

The Streak was one of Ray’s greatest hits. For those who have forgotten, the song is a series of three newsflashes in which an action-news-reporter reports on streaking events at the supermarket, the gas station, and the basketball court.

The reporter interviews a man who gives his views of what happened. The man warns his wife, Ethel, not to look but is always too late. After the third interview the man sees the streaker again and, horrors, Ethel is running with him!!

the streak fax

  • The Streak, written by Ray Stevens was released in March 1974, the first single from his 16th album Boogity Boogity.
  • The Streak was Ray’s second #1 US hit (after Everything is Beautiful). It spent three weeks at the top of the charts and a week at #1 on the UK singles chart. It also hit #1 in Canada and New Zealand and was a hit in a number of other countries.
  • The Streak sold over 5,000,000 copies.
  • Five days after the release of The Streak, one of the most high-profile of all streaks took place. It was at the Academy Awards when advertising executive Robert Opel streaked past David Niven on live TV.
  • The Streak was Ray’s fourth novelty hit. The first was Ahab the Arab in 1962. Then came Along Came Jones and Gitarzan in 1969.
  • The Streak lyrics.

the streak – ray stevens – 1974 – video

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