Monday, December 10, 2007

Hee haw and Merry christmas

Driving home from church yesterday I heard a Christmas song which I had never heard before. The tune was called "Dominic, the Italian Christmas Donkey. " It was a gimmick song from 1960, aimed at the Italian American market. The simplicity (and moronity) of the song was so pure, that I became entranced with it for the rest of the day. There are several hilarious versions on u-tube (one x-rated) that I watched last night. I actually lost control of myself at one point and was unable to stop laughing. This very seldom happens to me. It put me in a wonderful mood.

The late 50s and early 60s were a golden age, maybe the golden age , of the gimmick song. The Flying Purple People Eater, the Monster Mash, Hello Mudah, Hello Fadduh, all were huge hits, I can still sing all the verses to each song. It was also a golden age for the parody song, where someone would take a big hit and make a joke song out of it. There was a revival of this in the 80s , but the stuff was never as clever as the earlier parodies. Alan Sherman's Classic album, My Son the Nut, is the kind of thing that would not sell today (even if people did still have turntables).

I was trying to recall the Alan Sherman songs, most were parodies of known tunes aimed at a Jewish audience. "The Streets of Miami" was a Jewish take off on 'The Streets of Laredo", "My Zelda" was a sendup of the calypso hit "Matilda". The country is not ethnic enough, and far too sensitive, for songs like those to make money now.I guess that's too bad. Of course, I saw an HBO special on Don Rickles this weekend and see that at 80 he is still walking around stages in Las Vegas spewing out insults of anyone's heritage, nationality, lack of hair or waist line.I thought that Rickles was funny when he made fun of Frank Sinatra, his humor loses a lot of its bite when he picks on some fat guy who happens to be Italian American. Rickles must be the last guy in the world getting laughs off of "boy the Irish sure drink a lot" jokes.

But back to the gimmick song. Maybe there are still a lot of them around. The invention of the cd and then the mps player meant that I froze myself in the music of my past. I hardly never listen to the radio anymore, and so for all I know there are still some gimmick songs running around. But they can never top the days of Dominick and Alan Sherman and the immortal Dave Seville...."Simon...Theodore....ALVIN ! "


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