Welcome to the world of novelty records which, in my book, contain fun songs incorporating amusing lyrics,
nonsense phrases, bizarre sound effects, cartoon voices, madcap satirical references and humorous examples
of puns, spoofs and wordplay.
Parody songs created and recorded by folks such as Homer & Jethro and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic also fit the genre
as do the countless weird and wonderful records that DJ Dr. Demento unearthed, broadcast and documented
in his series of compilation records.
Novelty songs have been around forever. In the 1920’s, there were humorous ditties such as
WHO TAKES CARE OF THE CARETAKER’S DAUGHTER WHILE THE CARETAKER’S BUSY TAKING CARE?,
SHE HAD TO GO AND LOSE IT AT THE ASTOR and BARNEY GOOGLE With His Goo-Goo-Googa-ly Eyes.
The 1930’s witnessed such titles as THE FLAT FOOT FLOOGIE and
THERE’S NO ONE WITH ENDURANCE LIKE THE MAN WHO SELLS INSURANCE
and in the 1940’s you could hear WHO PUT THE BENZEDRINE IN MRS. MURPHY’S OVALTINE
and MAIRZY DOATS AND DOZY DOATS.
In the 50’s and 60’s, memorable doo-wop and R&B songs bore such novelty titles such as
SH-BOOM, MOPE-ITTY MOPE, BUZZ-BUZZ-BUZZ, SHIMMY SHIMMY KO-KO-BOP,
OOH POO PAH DOO and PAPA-OOM-MOW-MOW.
Countless novelty records exist and here are just a few of my personal favorites…
(Leroy Van Dyke/Buddy Black)
by Leroy Van Dyke
Guitar by Andy Nelson
Country singer Leroy Van Dyke initially found fame with his imitation of rapid-fire auction calls.
BANANA BOAT (DAY-O)
by Stan Freberg w/Billy May’s Music
Interruptions by Peter Leeds
Comic genius Stan Freberg satirized a host of songs including this Jamaica tune
which had charted successfully for Harry Belafonte.
THE CHANUKAH SONG
(Adam Sandler/Ian Maxtone-Graham/Lewis Morton)
by Adam Sandler
Pro: Adam Sandler & Brooks Arthur
(Warner Bros: 1995)
Introduced by Adam Sandler on an edition of NBCtv’s “Saturday Night Live” in ’94.
Co-authors were SNL writers.
(Jack Ross/Elmer Nemeth)
by Jack Ross
Pro: Norman Malkin
A standout example of the kind of wordplay known as spoonerism.
COCKTAILS FOR TWO (Sam Coslow/Arthur Johnston)
by Spike Jones & His City Slickers
Vocal: Carl Grayson
Madcap bandleader Spike Jones lampooned existing songs
and utilized the sounds of pistols, toy whistles and cowbells!
COPS AND ROBBERS
by Boogaloo & His Gallant Crew
R&B singer/songwriter/producer Kent Harris used his Boogaloo alias on this streetwise narrative.
THE CURLY SHUFFLE
by Jump ‘N The Saddle
Pro: T.C. Furlong, Barney Schwartz & Mike Rasfeld
A tribute to the Three Stooges.
DOES YOUR CHEWING GUM LOSE ITS FLAVOR
(On The Bedpost Overnight)
(Billy Rose/Marty Bloom/Ernest Breuer)
by Lonnie Donegan & His Skiffle Group
A major UK hit in ’59, it eventually reached #5
on Billboard’s Hot 100 in ’61.
Adapted from the 1920’s song
DOES THE SPEARMINT LOSE ITS FLAVOR
ON THE BEDPOST OVERNIGHT.
DON’T GO NEAR THE ESKIMOS
(Lorene Mann/Sheb Wooley)
by Ben Colder
Pro: Jim Vienneau
Actor/singer Sheb Wooley topped the charts in ’58 with his novelty song
THE PURPLE PEOPLE EATER and then, using the alias Ben Colder,
he cut a series of comical country records including this parody of Rex Allen’s huge hit DON’T GO NEAR THE INDIANS.
THE FLYING SAUCER Pts.1 & 2
(Bill Buchanan/Dickie Goodman)
by Buchanan & Goodman
The granddaddy of all break-in records.
HELLO MUDDAH, HELLO FADDAH! (A Letter From Camp)
(Allan Sherman/Lou Busch)
by Allan Sherman
Pro: Jimmy Hilliard
Arr & Cond: Lou Busch
(Warner Bros: 1963)
Tune was adapted from the Italian classical ballet
DANCE OF THE HOURS by Ponchielli.
I TAUT I TAW A PUDDY TAT
(Alan W. Livingston/Warren Foster/Billy May)
by Mel Blanc
Music by Billy May
Actor and voice impressionist Mel Blanc sang this song
built around the Sylvester & Tweety characters from the
Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon films.
THE INTRO AND THE OUTRO
by The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Pro: Gerry Bron
(UK Liberty: 1967)
Bonzo leader Vivian Stanshall namechecks an imaginary
list of celebrities playing musical instruments.
THE LAUGHING GNOME
by David Bowie
Pro: Mike Vernon
(UK Deram: 1967)
David Bowie sounding like Anthony Newley
with one of the chipmunks!
LILY THE PINK
(Trad. Arr: John Gorman/Mike McGear/Roger McGough)
by The Scaffold/
Pro: Norrie Paramor
Arr & Cond: Mike Vickers (Capitol: 1968)
The Scaffold was a British trio led by Paul McCartney’s brother,
Mike McGear. Backup vocalists on this track included Tim Rice.
THE NAME GAME
(Shirley Elliston/Lincoln Chase)
by Shirley Ellis
Pro & Arr: Charles Calello
Song was briefly performed by Howard Stern
on the ‘Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ in May 2019.
(Al Frazier/Carl White/Turner Wilson Jr./John Harris)
by The Rivingtons
Pro: Adam Ross
Song was sampled (along with another
Rivingtons hit THE BIRD’S THE WORD)
by The Trashmen in their 1963 smash
by The Chips
(Josie: 1956) https://youtu.be/Hz0UvIZw-Y0
Doo-wop song successfully revived in ’79 by The Blues Brothers.
SMOKE! SMOKE! SMOKE! (That Cigarette)
(Merle Travis/Tex Williams)
by Tex Williams & His Western Caravan (
Capitol Americana: 1947)
Giant crossover hit by country singer/songwriter Tex Williams.
(Nacio Herb Brown/Arthur Freed)
by Red Ingle & The Natural Seven
Vocal: Cinderella G. Stump & Red Ingle
Cinderella G. Stump was really Jo Stafford.
(Charles R. Grean)
by Phil Harris w
Orch cond: Walter Scharf
(RCA Victor: 1950)
Chart-topping novelty by radio/tv/film actor and musician Phil Harris.
THE YING TONG SONG
by The Goons w/Maurice Ponké & His Orchestre Fromage
(UK Decca: 1956)
Featuring the key ‘Goon Show’ characters from the BBC radio series namely Bluebottle
(voiced by Peter Sellers), Eccles (Spike Milligan) and Neddie Seagoon (Harry Secombe).
Novelty records also come in the form of seasonal songs such as the various Monster and Voodoo favorites
ranging from MONSTER MASH to WEREWOLVES OF LONDON that are revived each Halloween.
Then there are the Christmas-time novelties such as GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER
by Elmo & Patsy, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS (IS MY TWO FRONT TEETH) by Spike Jones & His City Slickers
and of course THE CHIPMUNK SONG (Christmas Don’t Be Late) by David Seville & The Chipmunks.
Which leads to my final choice:
by Stan Freberg as Scrooge
Featuring Daws Butler as Cratchet with Marvin Miller & Wil Wrightwith
The Jud Conlon Chorale & Billy May’s Music
Stan’s superb commentary on the commercialization of Christmas.
As in all my postings, the recordings listed above are selected personal choices
and are in no way intendedas a definitive collection of the genre.
Please send any comments or suggestions to
© Alan Warner, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material
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