I am a big fan of novelty songs. Some songs are so goofy that I just love listening to them. Novelty songs do something to me that I can't quite explain.
I have taken the liberty to assemble six such goofy songs in this Hub. I have provided links to video versions of them for your viewing pleasure.
My favorite novelty song of all time is The Israelites by Desmond Dekker and the Aces. Dekker co-wrote the song, which became a # 1 hit record in the U.S. and the U.K. in 1968.
The Israelites was the first song from Jamaica, and the first ska (its musical genre, a forerunner to Reggae) song, to become an international best seller. Desmond Dekker, from Kingston, is referenced in the Beatles own ska tune, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, with the lyric line "Desmond has a barrow in the marketplace."
Desmond Dekker died of a heart attack at his home in England in 2006.
Shame on You
Shame on You is a western swing song written and performed by Spade Cooley, with vocals supplied by Tex Williams. Shame on You was the #1 song for 31 weeks in 1945. I dig the style and the lyrics of Shame on You.
Spade Cooley (1910-1969) was from Oklahoma. He was a fairly big star before he murdered his wife. He was not only a bandleader but also hosted a popular television program and acted in 38 western films. Two short films were made about him in the 1950s.
Tragically, his wife asked him for a divorce while he was drunk, and he beat her to death. He served eight years in prison before dying there of a heart attack. Tex Williams was from Illinois, born in 1917, and he died of pancreatic cancer in 1985.
Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport
Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport is a novelty song written and performed by Rolf Harris. Rolf Harris was from Perth, Australia, the most isolated metropolitan area in the world. There he was a champion swimmer, before moving to England in 1952, where he still lives today.
Rolf Harris has been married for 52 years to the same woman, herself a sculptor and jewelry designer. Harris is also a painter and the long-time host of a British television program.
The distinctive percussive sound heard throughout the song is an instrument invented by Rolf Harris, the Wobble Board, actually a 2 foot by 3 foot piece of Masonite. He also played the aboriginal wind instrument the Didgeridoo.
Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport hit # 1 on the U.S. charts in 1963, having done the same in the U.K. three years earlier. The song has been heard in many American television series, including the "Farewell, Nervosa" episode of Frasier, when it was performed by Elvis Costello.
A live recording is extant of the Beatles playing Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport with Harris on BBC Radio.
My Boy Lollipop
My Boy Lollipop was the first ska hit song, going to # 2 in the U.S. and the U.K. in 1964. It proved to be a massive hit, selling over seven million copies. My Boy Lollipop is by the Jamaican singer Millie Small, the possessor of an unusual voice.
I'm not sure what My Boy Lollipop is about, but many artists around the world have covered the song since. Rush Limbaugh, the American radio personality, uses the song to alert his regular listeners that he has an update regarding the antics of gay congressman, Barney Frank. To quote Forrest Gump, "That's all I'm going to say about that."
Millie Small, the daughter of the superintendent of a sugar plantation, settled in London in the 1960s and lives there today.
My Boy Lollipop
Please Mr Custer
Please Mr. Custer is a novelty song about a soldier who begs General George Custer not to make him fight in the Battle of Little Big Horn against the Sioux Indians.
Please Mr. Custer was sung by Larry Verne, who was from Minneapolis (b. 1936). The sold over a million records and reached the top of the charts in the United States in 1960.
I see a lot of humor in it. It was my favorite song as a five-year-old. Larry Verne went on to a thirty-five year career as a Hollywood set designer.
Please Mr Custer
Basketball Jones was written by the hugely successful counter-culture comic duo Cheech and Chong. It is a parody of the 1972 soul ballad Love Jones.
Basketball Jones was made into an animated short film in 1974, featuring a character named Tyrone Shoelaces; his singling stylings were voiced by Cheech Marin.
Basketball Jones features an all-star band with George Harrison on guitar; Carole King on electric piano; Tom Scott on Saxophone; Billy Preston on organ; Nicky Hopkins on piano; and vocals by Ronnie Spector and Michelle Phillips.