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Novelty Songs

John W. Pinkerton


The first novelty song I recall was Phil Harris' “The Thing.”  The song is about a fellow who discovers a “boom, boom, boom” on the beach.  The “boom, boom, boom” is actually played on drums.   We never learned what the “boom, boom, boom” was, but as a kid, I thought about it a lot.

Of course, novelty songs did not begin with my discovery of them.  On our Edison record player there is an old 78 with the title of “Who Dat Knocking at My Door?,” an amusing little duo obviously sung in blackface.

About the same time as “The Thing,” I was enjoying the song “Smoke!  Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” also by Phil Harris.

As a kid these were funny.  I laughed a lot.  As I've mentioned in other essays, I don't have a normal relationship to music.  My tastes run more to the clicks in broken records and Gregorian chants.  Go figure. 

Novelty songs got my attention early on.  “The Purple People Eater”  by Sheb Wooley is an early favorite.  “Alley Oop” by the Hollywood Argyles, “Charlie Brown” by the Coasters, “Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt, and “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” by Alan Sherman.

Later I was entertained by Steve Martin's “King Tut,” and “Eat It” by “Weird Al” Yankovic.

“Weird Al” is one of the kings of the novelty songs, and, yes, Al is weird, but Al is weird only because he is normal.

In my mind the all time king of novelty songs is Ray Stevens.  “The Streak” is my earliest example I recall.

Hello, everyone, this is your action news reporter

With all the news that is news

Across the nation

On the scene at the supermarket

There seems to have been some disturbance here

Pardon me, sir, did you see what happened?

Yeah, I did

I's standin' over there by the tomaters

And here he come

Running through the pole beans

Through the fruits and vegetables

Nekkid as a jay bird

And I hollered over t' Ethel

I said, "Don't look, Ethel!"

But it's too late

She'd already been incensed.

Boogity, boogity

(There he goes)

Boogity, boogity

(And he ain't wearin' no clothes)

Oh, yes, they call him the Streak

(Boogity, boogity)

Fastest thing on two feet

(Boogity, boogity)

He's just as proud as he can be

Of his anatomy

He goin' give us a peek

Oh, yes, they call him the Streak

(Boogity, boogity)

He likes to show off his physique

(Boogity, boogity)

If there's an audience to be found

He'll be streakin' around

Invitin' public critique

This is your action news reporter once again

And we're here at the gas station

Pardon me, sir, did you see what happened?

Yeah, I did

I's just in here gettin my tires checked

An' he just appeared out of the traffic

He come streakin' around the grease rack there

Didn't have nothin' on but a smile

I looked in there, and Ethel was gettin' her a cold drink

I hollered, "Don't look, Ethel!"

But it was too late

She'd already been mooned

Flashed her right there in front of the shock absorbers

Boogity, boogity

(He ain't lewd)

Boogity, boogity

(He's just in the mood to run in the nude)

Oh, yes, they call him the Streak

(Boogity, boogity)

He likes to turn the other cheek

(Boogity, boogity)

He's always makin' the news

Wearin' just his tennis shoes

Guess you could call him unique

Once again, your action news reporter

In the booth at the gym

Covering the disturbance at the basketball playoff

Pardon me, sir, did you see what happened?

Yeah, I did

Half time, I's just goin' down thar to get Ethel a snow cone

And here he come, right out of the cheap seats, dribbling

Right down the middle of the court

Didn't have on nothing but his PF's.

Made a hook shot and got out through the concessions stands

I hollered up at Ethel

I said, "Don't look, Ethel!"

But it was too late.

She'd already got a free shot

Grandstandin', right there in front of the home team

Oh, yes, they call him the Streak

Here he comes again.

(Boogity, boogity)

Who's that with him?

The fastest thing on two feet

Ethel? Is that you, Ethel?

(Boogity, boogity)

What do you think you're doin'?

He's just as proud as he can be

You git your clothes on!

Of his anatomy

He's gonna give us a peek

Oh, yes, they call him the Streak

Ethel! Where you goin'?

(Boogity, boogity)

Ethel, you shameless hussy!

He likes to show off his physique

Say it isn't so, Ethel!

(Boogity, boogity)

If there's an audience to be found

He'll be streakin' around

Invitin' public critique


Perhaps not on the same plane as Whitman, but on a plane to which I can relate.  You're welcome to Whitman; I'll choose Stevens.

If you feel inclined to investigate novelty songs further, you might peruse the list below.  Good luck.

1. They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa - Napoleon XIV

  2. Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers

  3. Charlie Brown - The Coasters

  4. The Purple People Eater - Sheb Wooley

  5. Alley Oop - The Hollywood Argyles

  6. Witch Doctor - David Seville

  7. Open The Door, Richard - Dusty Fletcher

  8. Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah - Allen Sherman

  9. Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer - Elmo & Patsy

10. Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor - Lonnie Donegan

11. Mr. Custer - Larry Verne

12. The Flying Saucer (Pts 1 & 2) - Buchanan & Goodman

13. King Tut - Steve Martin

14. Eat It - "Weird Al" Yankovic

15. The Streak - Ray Stevens

16. The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) - The Chipmunks

17. Disco Duck - Rick Dees and his Cast Of Idiots

18. Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini - Brian Hyland

19. Transfusion - Nervous Norvus

20. Ahab The Arab - Ray Stevens

21. Junk Food Junkie - Larry Groce

22. Time Warp (from Rocky Horror Picture Show) - Transylvanians

23. Along Came Jones - The Coasters

24. The Chanukah Song - Adam Sandler

25. Leader Of The Laundromat - The Detergents

26. Tip Toe Thru' The Tulips With Me - Tiny Tim

27. The Name Game - Shirley Ellis

28. Gitarzan - Ray Stevens

29. Snoopy vs. the Red Baron - The Royal Guardsmen

30. Rubber Biscuit - The Chips

31. Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport - Rolf Harris

32. Fat - "Weird Al" Yankovic

33. Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces - Cheech & Chong

34. I Put A Spell On You - Screamin' Jay Hawkins

35. My Ding-a-Ling - Chuck Berry

36. On Top Of Spaghetti - Tom Glazer & the Do Re Mi Childrens Choir

37. Dead Skunk - Loudon Wainwright III

38. White & Nerdy - "Weird Al" Yankovic

39. The Curley Shuffle - Jump In The Saddle Band

40. Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead - The Fifth Estate

41. Smells Like Nirvana - "Weird Al" Yankovic

42. Osama Yo' Mama - Ray Stevens

43. Valley Girl - Frank & Moon Unit Zappa

44. Another One Rides the Bus - "Weird Al" Yankovic

45. Beep Beep (The Little Nash Rambler) - The Playmates

46. Convoy - C.W. McCall

47. Dinner With Drac Part 1 - Zacherle

48. My Bologna - "Weird Al" Yankovic

49. Pac-Man Fever - Buckner & Garcia

50. Why Don't We Get Drunk - Jimmy Buffet

51. Shaddup You Face - Joe Dolce

52. The Twelve Days of Christmas - Bob and Doug McKenzie

53. My Girl Bill - Jim Stafford

54. Dancin' Fool - Frank Zappa

55. The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun - Julie Brown

56. Shriner's Convention - Ray Stevens

57. I'm My Own Grandpa - Lonzo & Oscar

58. St. George And The Dragonet - Stan Freberg

59. The Mississippi Squirrel Revival - Ray Stevens

60. The Mouse - Soupy Sales

61. Disco Sucks - Chuck Wagon & The Wheels

62. Fish Heads - Barnes & Barnes

63. Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen

64. I Lost On Jeopardy - "Weird Al" Yankovic

65. Lumberjack Song - Monty Python

66. Cows With Guns - Dana Lyons

67. Don't Eat the Yellow Snow - Frank Zappa

68. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat - Paul Evans & The Curls

69. Like A Surgeon - "Weird Al" Yankovic

70. The Eggplant That Ate Chicago - Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band

71. Santa Claus and His Old Lady - Cheech & Chong

72. You Can't Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd - Roger Miller

73. Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies - "Weird Al" Yankovic

74. Stranded In The Jungle - The Cadets

75. Big Bruce - Steve Greenberg

76. I Love Rocky Road - "Weird Al" Yankovic

77. The Jolly Green Giant - The Kingsmen

78. Jingle Bells - Singing Dogs

79. Martian Hop - The Ran-Dells

80. Highly Illogical - Leonard Nimoy

81. Earache My Eye - Cheech & Chong

82. Star Trekkin' - The Firm

83. Barbie Girl - Aqua

84. Yogi - Ivy Three

85. Living With A Hernia - "Weird Al" Yankovic

86. Cause I'm A Blonde - Julie Brown

87. Gumball Wizard - Brad Stanfield

88. Hamster Love - Big Daddy

89. I Saw Elvis In A U.F.O. - Ray Stevens

90. Monster's Holiday - Bobby "Boris" Pickett

91. The Elements - Tom Lehrer

92. Telephone Man - Meri Wilson

93. Life Sucks, Then You Die - The Fools

94. Harry the Hairy Ape - Ray Stevens

95. Elvis Was A Narc - Pinkard & Bowden

96. Addicted To Spuds - "Weird Al" Yankovic

97. Mr. Jaws - Dickie Goodman

98. Troglodyte (Cave Man) - The Jimmy Castor Bunch

99. Wildwood Weed - Jim Stafford

100. Rappin' Rodney - Rodney Dangerfield

101. Eat My Shorts - Rick Dees

102. Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) - Hombres

103. Dead Puppies - Ogden Edsl

104. Would Jesus Wear a Rolex - Ray Stevens

105. Spam - Monty Python's Flying Circus

106. The Twelve Pains Of Christmas - Bob Rivers

107. Halloween Dance - Reverend Horton Heat

108. He's My Blonde-Headed, Stompie Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Boy - Little Pattie

109. Who Are The Brain Police? - The Mothers of Invention

110. Gimme Dat Ding - The Pipkins

111. Shaving Cream - Benny Bell

112. White Trash Christmas - Bob Rivers

113. Little Old Man (Uptight-Everything's Alright) - Bill Cosby

114. The Nitty Gritty - Shirley Ellis

115. The Scotsman - Bryan Bowers

116. Yoda - "Weird Al" Yankovic

117. I'm A Nut - Leroy Pullins

118. Pencil Neck Geek - Fred Blassie

119. Polka Dot Undies - Bowser & Blue

120. Got A Match? - The Daddy-O's

121. Kill The Wabbit - Ozzy Fudd (Mark McCollum)

122. Eskimo - Corky & The Juice Pigs

123. Christmas at Ground Zero - "Weird Al" Yankovic

124. The Hunting Song - Tom Lehrer

125. I'm At Home Getting Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed) - Banjo & Sullivan

126. The Smoke Off - Shel Silverstein

127. Short Shorts - Royal Teens

128. My Boomerang Won't Come Back - Charlie Drake

129. I Want My Baby Back - Jimmy Cross

130. Car Phone - Sheeler & Sheeler

131. Stress - Jim's Big Ego

132. It's A Gas - Alfred E. Neuman

133. The Thing - Phil Harris

134. Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen) - Baz Luhrmann

135. Comin' Back For More - C.W. McCall

136. Everything Reminds Me Of My Therapist - Nancy Tucker

137. Deteriorata - National Lampoon

138. I Wanna Be A Flintstone - The Screaming Blue Messiahs

139. Sensitive New Age Guys - Christine Lavin

140. Super Bowl Shuffle - Members of the Chicago Bears

141. Bras On 45 - Ivor Biggun & The D. Kups

142. Carrot Juice Is Murder - The Arrogant Worms

143. Butt Scootin' Boogie - Barry Martin

144. All Likkered Up - Roger Alan Wade

145. My Jeans Are Too Tight - Gerry House

146. In Heaven There Is No Beer - Clean Living

147. Hanukkah Rocks - Gefilte Joe & The Fish

148. I Farted on Santa's Lap (Now Christmas is Gonna Stink for Me) - The Little Stinker

149. The Ketchup Song - Las Ketchup

150. Who Put The Turtle In Myrtle's Girdle - Sid King And The Five Strings