Novelty Songs of the Fifties and Sixties

Dance party
Dance party | Source

As I said in a previous hub, novelty songs didn't begin in the fifties and sixties but they sure did proliferate! The list seems endless when you actually sit down and think about it. The more I research, the more I find, and the more I find, the more I remember. You must admit novelty songs make you smile and often stick in your head for days!

What songs could I possibly have forgotten? Well, needless to say I know this won't be a total and complete list but I hope it brings a smile or memory.

Poison Ivy

Late at night while you're sleepin' poison ivy comes a'creepin'
Arou-ou-ou-ou-ou-ound
She's pretty as a daisy but look out man she's crazy
She'll really do you in
Now if you let her under your skin

Poison Ivy

Back in 1959 the Coasters recorded this song. It was number one on the R&B chart and number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. It appears to me that the Coasters really liked novelty songs but more on that in a minute. In addition to singing, the Coasters crossed the line into comedy with their performances. Keeping within that genre (novelty songs) the Coasters had a string of hits that included; Charlie Brown, Yakety Yak, Along Came Jones, and Love Potion Number 9, to name a few.

Along Came Jones

The Witch Doctor

Ah, Dave Seville of Chipmunks fame...he sang Witch Doctor before he sang with the Chipmunks. The voice of the Witch Doctor in the song was Seville's voice speeded up. This song made it to number one of the Billboard Hot 100.

There have been several cover versions of this song including ones by Don Lang, Sha Na Na, and Homer Simpson!

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you
I told the witch doctor I was in love with you
And then the witch doctor, he told me what to do
He said that ....

(Chorus:)
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang...
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang


The Monster Mash

Who doesn't remember the Monster Mash? It was after all, the Mash, it was the Monster Mash sung by Bobby Pickett sounding like Boris Karloff. There were too many cover versions of this song to list and I believe it's popularity speaks for itself.

The Monster Mash caught on so much so that it is used every Halloween on most radio stations to this day. The video I posted from the Chiller Theater Expo in 2006 was Bobby's last live performance. Some of you might also remember Zacherly from Chiller Theater on Channel 11 (in NYC) he is the MC.

Jambalaya - Written and recorded by Hank Williams in 1951. Hank Williams copied the melody from an earlier recorded tune called "Grand Texas". While not a 'rock 'n roll' song per se, it was popular during the fifties and certainly can be considered a novelty song.

Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

(Chorus)
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma Cher amio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

Thibodeaux, Fontainenot, the place is buzzin'
Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
Dress in style and go hog wild, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

(Chorus)

Beep Beep

The Playmates and "Beep Beep". In an era of cars and more cars this novelty song was most definitely right for it's time. It was on the Billboard Top 40 chart for twelve weeks. The tempo of the song gradually increases as the Cadillac tries to get away from that little Nash Rambler...."hey buddy how can I get this car out of second gear!"

The Playmates also did Jo-Ann and Wait For Me. The Playmates broke up in 1965.

Chain Gang

Sam Cooke sang Chain Gang in 1960. It reached number two on the US pop and R&B charts AND made it to number nine in the UK. Legend has it that Sam Cooke and his brother Charles saw a chain gang while on tour. They felt sorry for the men on the chain gang and together they wrote this song which Sam Cooke sang. The video below is from a Charlie Sheen movie, Cadence.

My Baby Love The Western Movie

This song was recorded by the Olympics in 1958. The song starts off with a shotgun blast...then....

To save my soul I can't get a date,
Baby's got it tuned on channel eight.
Now Wyatt Earp and the Big Cheyenne
They're comin' through the T.V. shootin up the land.
Ah...um...my baby loves the Western movies.
My baby loves the Western movies,
Bam, bam, shoot 'em up Pow.
Ah..um..My babe loves the Western Movies.
I call my baby on the telephone
To tell her half my head was gone
I just got hit by a great big brick
She says thanks for reminding me about that Maverick
Ah..um...my baby loves the Western movies.
My baby loves the Western movies,
Bam, bam, shoot em up pow.

My baby loves the Western movies.
Well there's Jeremy Roller and Old Cochise
Jim Hardy, Jim Bowie and Sugarfoot.
They all have gun will travel
Give me back my boots and saddle uh huh.
Here's the story of the certain Wagon Train Mccord
A broken arrow has broken my heart.
A Jefferson Thomas with Bat Masterson
Unties my baby and the fight was won.
Ah..um...my baby loves the Western movies.
My baby loves the western movies.
Bam bam shoot em up pow.
Ah um, my baby loves the western movies.

Recognize any TV westerns here? Of course Wyatt Earp and Cheyenne and Maverick...Jim Hardy....Wells Fargo; Old Cochise....Matt Dillon's horse (Gunsmoke); Sugarfoot with Will Hutchins...Jefferson Thomas might just be Thomas Jefferson in reverse...so, now, are you thinking about old TV westerns?

My Boomerang Won't Come Back

British comedian Drake sang this song in 1961. The song became a hit on both sides of the ocean but not without problems. As wikipedia.org states, "Most of all, Drake raised eyebrows with the chorus:

"I've waved the thing all over the place/practiced til I was black in the face/I'm the big disgrace of the Aborigine race/My boomerang won't come back!" After the BBCrefused to play the tune (despite its popularity in record shops), a new version was recorded, substituting "blue in the face"; this version (on Parlophone Records) entered the UK charts in October and eventually peaked at #14.

United Artists released the record in America, and, not wanting to deal with complaints like the ones in Britain, issued a 45-only version that not only featured the line "blue in the face" but was considerably shorter than the UK version (which was 3:32), clocking in at 2:44.

Despite its less-than-flattering treatment of the Aboriginals, Aussie record-buyers apparently had no problem with the original, "black in the face" version; although there was no hit parade as such in 1960s Australia, musicologist David Kent has calculated it reached #1 there in December 1962."

Tan Shoes And Pink Shoelaces

In 1959 a young girl sang about her boyfriend and his peculiar dressing habits as noted in the song's name with "a polka dot vest" and a "big Panama with a purple hat band"...a little strange at any time but especially when other guys were wearing jeans and white tee shirts! Sung by Dodie Stevens.

Lyrics and chords for Ahab The Arab

Ray Stevens 
Ahab, The Arab  
 
INTRO: Am  F (3x)  C 
 
N/C                   C 
Let me tell you 'bout Ahab, the Arab 
    F                    C 
The sheik of the burnin sand 
        C     
He had emeralds and rubies just drippon offa him 
       F                          G 
And a ring on every finger of his hand 
          C  
He wore a big ol' turban, wrapped around his head 
       F               Am    C 
And a scimitar by his side, and 
N/C 
Every evenin, about midnight, he'd jump on his camel named Clyde 
 
And ride 

Ahab the Arab

"Let me tell you 'bout Ahab the Arab, The Sheik of the Burning Sand..." The 1962 hit by Ray Stevens. Arab is pronounced Ay-rab in the song...This song made it to number five on the Billboard Top 40. In addition to singing, Ray Stevens was a songwriter, music producer, music arranger and was responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development while he was at Mercury and Monument Records. You may also remember Ray from his 1970 hit "Everything is Beautiful".
Back to Ahab, the song is about Ahab's love for Fatima and of course there's the famous "Clyde the Camel"....ring any bells? Oh, and, it is said one of the Arabic chants in the song actually says, " "Let's twist again like we did last summer, baby!""

A long time ago, when the Earth was green
There was more kinds of animals than you've ever seen
They'd run around free while the Earth was being born
And the loveliest of all was the unicorn

There was green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
The loveliest of all was the unicorn

The Unicorn Song

Made popular by the Irish Rovers (who were actually a Canadian Band) in 1967. The song was written by Shel Silverstein (said to be a student of fables and legends), a writer of children's books. Who doesn't love unicorns and the fantasy of them?

The funny thing about this song is its seemed to seep into Irish culture and is still popular in Irish pubs today. It's a catchy tune that's sure to get stuck in your head! If you've never heard it you may be safe, but if you have and you read the words, KaBoom, its in your head with it's green alligators.

Tie Me Kangaroo Down

Though this song was first released in 1957 it became popular when re-recorded in 1960 in Australia and the UK and then again in 1963 when it became popular in the US. It was written and sung by Rolf Harris. A fun song about a dying man...I think in America, along with the rhythm of the song, it was the Australian phrases that caught attention. Its a great children's song and is still popular today.

Mother-in-Law

Who, fictionally, likes their mother-in-law? This novelty song capitalizes on the fictional dislike of mother-in-laws by describing this guy's mother-in-law like all the bad ones you've ever heard of. Sung by Ernie K. Doe it became a hit in 1961. According to songfacts.com, "In 1994, K-Doe opened a bar and music venue in New Orleans called "The Mother-in-Law Lounge" with his wife Antionette. " A one hit wonder that made it to number one and live on in our memories.

Are there more novelty songs from the 50s and 60s? You betcha! How about Quarter to Three, The Lion Sleeps Tonite, Lollipop, Palisades Park, and more...If you've read this far, you've had enough for one day. It's been fun looking back...share your memories, comments or even suggestions in the Comments section below and of course, feel free to share this hub with your friends.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

Hubs about 50s and 60s Music

The Turbulent 60s as Reflected in the Song "Get Together" by the Youngbloods - by Paul Kuehn

Great Soul Singers of the Twentieth Century - by Weestro



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Comments 40 comments

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Mary, I really was not born until 1977, but my parents listened to so many of the songs and the music from the 50s and 60s while I was growing up that I became quite familiar with so many songs and artists too. You covered so many great novelty songs here, including one of my all-time Halloween favorites with the Monster Mash (totally bringing back some great memories). Have voted up and shared too!!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thank you for getting here so quickly Janine and for voting and sharing. Whether you know who Boris Karloff is or not, you surely know the Monster Mash, its become a Halloween staple! Happy to bring back memories.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

What a FUN HUB! I appreciate music from all eras. I don't remember the 50's and 60's too much, but I still enjoy the tunes when I hear them. Nice tribute hub Tills. Keep on singing and dancing! :)


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

Mary -

Great job, once again! Didn't remember a couple of these as the 50's were filled more with my cries than memories. You've done your homework well, and did a great job of presenting it! Fantastic!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Mary - another fun hub! I quite liked Ray Stevens when I was a kid, 'Everything Is Beautiful' and 'The Streak'. I am, of course most familiar with Rolf Harris, an Aussie who has lived in England for most of his life (and still does) and he has done quite a few novelty songs, including the one you have chosen. We hardly ever get novelty songs now, it's a shame.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

LOL....great Mary! is there any more politically incorrect song than "Ahab the Arab".....can you imagine that coming out today? Wonderful list and I'm almost afraid to say I knew every one of these songs. :)


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Mary, as a music lover, I totally felt for these novelty songs. The first picture of those ladies is so familiar to me, because I have one of mom and my aunts with the same color code dressing, even the white shoes. You must remember those sepia color pictures way before Polaroid. Your passion and your delightfulness is truly contagious! Honestly, I became familiar with Tan Shoes And Pink Shoelaces after the Nixon era. 45rpm records were there to remind us of a wonderful time that won't be back. These Novelty songs rock! Ahab the Arab must've influenced Tom Selleck and dire Straits!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Til....I am singing....knowing all the lyrics without looking!....also "cringing" that we actually liked these crazy, goofy tunes. But oh, how much fun they were! My personal favorite? The Monster Mash. LOL.

Another SMASHING hub, GF....Up....+++


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

This is a pretty novel list. My favorites are Mother-in-law (I do like mine, thankfully) and Jambalaya. Used to hum Jambalaya in my mum's car as it was her favorite song! You got me humming!!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

SS glad you liked it...all of these songs were fun ones.

Billy, most definitely that song would never get airtime today! Knowing every one just shows you're about my age ;)

Lord, that picture is of my 8th grade graduation dance...so many good tunes, and you're right, its a time that won't be back which is unfortunate in many ways.

Oh Effer, how can we not love those crazy tunes, they're our past ;) As for the Monster Mash, it caught on in a flash!

Michelle, gotcha! I love it when I get a tune stuck in someone else's head ;)


DFiduccia profile image

DFiduccia 4 years ago from Las Vegas

What a trip down memory lane. I remember all of these with a lot of good times.

DF


Lynn S. Murphy 4 years ago

A couple I didn't know but I've always loved the 60's music, with its fun sly lyrical innuendos and the voices and harmonies - not to mention the dancing. Classics!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

What a lovely hub about novelty songs of the fifties and the sixties. I am posting a link to this hub in Epigramman's group, 'Let's just talk music and cinema.' Voted up and superb!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

Oh my gosh! With the exception of the boomerang song, I think I knew the words to all of these songs! That pretty much dates me, doesn't it? No kidding, this is a great list of funny and fun songs. Should I be embarrassed that I have most of them on my iPod? Thanks for the smiles!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

DF glad you enoyed the trip :)

Lynn the 50's and 60's did have some great music, oh and the dances..the Twist, the Mashed Potatoes, the Pony, the Jerk....I think I'd better cut it off here.

Thank you Martie I really appreciate the link and vote!

We're all in the same boat Stephanie...we have Sirius radio in our van and that's all we listen too...its always tuned to the 50's.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Oh dear...the fact that I knew most of these songs...there is no disguising my age. Ha! What a fun hub to read and listen to the videos. Brought back many fun memories. Thanks! Up votes and sharing.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

My step-father was a DJ back then and we had a closet with every record that came-out in the 60s . . .

The brilliant Stan Freberg had one that was a parody of "Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream)", mocking the Rock & Roll industry, that started-out with dialog "You guys want to sell a few records? Then stick some old rags in your mouth and take it from the top" (for those too young, the joke was that, unlike 'real' singers like Sinatra, you couldn't understand anything Rock & Rollers were saying).

We also had one by Walter Brennan called "Space Mice", in which space mice ask Brennan, in song, "Tell us Mr. Earthman, tell us if you please, is it true that the moon, is made out of cheese"


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

What a fun trip down memory lane, including the dance party photo.

I grew up in the 50's and 60's and the thing about all these songs is that they were just plain fun, easy to sing a long with, and left you feeling good.

I still smile and sing along when I hear them, so thanks for sharing this.

Voted up across the board.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Peggy, our age is not to be disguised (too hard anyway) but to enjoy all those memories ;) Thank you for the votes.

Mickey you must've had a blast with all those records around! Thanks for sharing more of our past.

HBN glad you liked my photo...since I took the photo I wasn't in it. Glad I could make you smile.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

It's gonna take an ocean of calamine lotion.....Love Poison Ivy. That's a great song! Also, can't tell you how many times I've sung the Unicorn song in an Irish Pub. Funny, but I seem to sound better and better as the evening wears on. Fun hub!


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

Yikes - I guess we all forgot about "The Purple People Eater" . . . that must have been the biggest one of them all back then.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Glimmer I guess pubs make any song sound better..after a while.

Oh Mickey, you didn't read my first hub on Novelty songs! (1950s & 1960s Music: Novelty songs), you'll find the Purple People Eater in his tree there!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

Oh, what a great Hub to wake up to! The Witch Doctor and Monster Mash are two of my favorites. But as read through your Hub, I realized I loved/love them all! I so enjoyed the videos you included. Thanks for the memories...voted up, interesting, funny and awesome. :)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Linda, glad I could start your day off on a 'happy note'!


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

. . . oops, I didn't see there was an earlier hub, sorry - yes, "The Purple People Eater" needs to be in the 1st round of novelty record tributes. And, yes, it was a tremendous treasure to have such easy and instant access to such a broad scope of recordings during that era . . . from standards by Bobby Darin, to new acts like Sonny & Cher, to comedy records from Bob Newhart, to DJ promotional stuff that was never released to the public. It was pretty cool.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

As I replied to your last comment, you must've had a blast! Thanks for reading here Mickey.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I loved this hub as it brought back so many memories. I remember these sons from junior high school. Those were good times. Thanks for the tirp down memory lane. Awesome hub.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

You are most welcome Pamela. They were certainly fun songs.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

My favorite songs were Lion Sleeps Tonight and Will You Love Me Tomorrow. I have 50-60 songs on my iPhone. My granddaughter played this music at her wedding last year. She remembered me playing it in the car whenever she was with me.

Enjoyed your hub and voted uP!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

How could I forget The Lion Sleeps Tonight? So many songs I guess Moonlake. We must be of the same era...thanks for the vote!


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Mary,

As the youngest in my family, with sibs up to 15 years older, I know a few of these songs and enjoyed listening to those I didn't.

My sister was addicted to The Lion Sleeps Tonight...so of course her nuisance kid sister got up in her ear with the chorus... and you know what I'm talkin about...!

You have a fun mix that I will come back to...The Chain Gang and Tan Shoes with Pink Shoelaces were especially cool.

Voted UP and across the board. Hugs, Maria


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Oh yes, I know what you're talking about...my brother was 6 years older and that's why I know what you're talking about ;) Thanks for the vote and hugs back at ya!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

A great list of memories. Thanks for providing YouTube videos so a whole new generation will enjoy them. Interesting fact about Agnes Moorehead, aka Endora -- she was quite a distinguished Broadway dramatic actress, so it's unusual that she's more remembered for her comedic turn on "Bewitched." Voting this Up and Interesting.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

So glad you stopped by alocsin....yes, she was great, probably the epitome of mother-in-laws at the time as well. Appreciate the vote.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Great selection again MAry - a nice addition to the previous compilation. There are so many that could border on funny/annoying/ but always entertaining category for the family to indulge in... voted up/shared!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

I can't help but love that music! There are so many, many more Mohan! Glad you enjoyed.


Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

I think "Tie Me Kangaroo Down" strike a chord the most with me. I remember hearing it on the radio playing outside while my uncle painted the house one summer. I enjoyed them all though.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

That's what its all about Sherry, our memories! Thanks for reading.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Mary-this was a great hub! It brought back so many memories, haha. Thanks for sharing. I can recall some others-one of the funniest first 45's I had in the house was called, 'Alley Oop'-do you remember that one?

Rated up/Funny


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

So glad you enjoyed Denise...actually, Alley Oop was in my next hub. There are just so many great songs or should I say novelty songs, from that era?

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