Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stan Freberg

I was a cab driver. That was a long time ago. I did 12 hour shifts, and I listened the radio. And one evening I was listening to CBC and they played a comedy routine of a guy doing Old Man River, but the radio police made him change it, because it was not, in today’s terms, politically correct. The skit was called Elderly Man River.

Years and years later I got this collection of hits by Stan Freberg, and I thought back to Elderly Man River, and I said I bet that was Freberg. And hey, I was right.

He was, I guess, the Weird Al Yancovic of his day. Some of the stuff is really funny; some is downright dumb. I picked up The Best Of Stan Freberg at a store called Red River Books, which I will describe in a later entry. I promise. I remember that the LP came just in a dust jacket, no cardboard cover.

Stan Freberg:

The Yellow Rose Of Texas – It was the snare drum that gave this song its character, so of course it’s the snare drum that bears the brunt of Freberg’s humour. This was a hit in the fall of ’55, not long after the Mitch Miller original.
John And Marsha – “John! Marsha!” over and over. I don’t know what this is a spoof of, but John and Yoko did a similar thing on their Wedding Album, and that wasn’t a spoof, but it sounded like one.
St. George And The Dragonet – An obvious spoof on the TV show Dragnet. One of the funnier tracks. “Overacting.” Gets me every time.
Banana Boat (Day-O) – The calypso classic, joked out. The bongo player is bugged out because the singer is too loud. So the singer has to run in and out of the room. And he don’t dig spiders. From the spring of ’57.
Trouble – I think this is from The Music Man. This is too close to the original to be any kind of funny.
Tele-Vee-Shun – I don’t know what this is a spoof of. I probably should, but I don’t.
C’est Si Bon – This is funny, but I don’t know what this is a spoof of either.
Heartbreak Hotel – Here is where Freberg pulls no punches. He takes the mickey out Elvis for all he’s worth. It’s a bit mean, it’s very funny, and it has no effect whatsoever. From the summer of ’56.
Rock Island Line – What’s funny about this is that he doesn’t have to change one word of the actual song to create a very funny record.
The Great Pretender – This is the best. The rebel pianist.

I ain’t gonna play that klink klink klink jazz!
You play that klink klink klink jazz, or you don’t get paid tonight!
klink klink klink klink klink klink

The Quest For Bridey Hammershlagen – This must be Reveen.
Try – A spoof of Cry, but Johnny Ray is so over-the-top that it’s not entirely necessary.

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