Like most people I find parody songs amusing, actually sometimes brilliant, and often hilarious variations on popular music. They’re not as easy to write as they may seem but every so often a gem comes along that really shines.
My first exposure to parody songs came years before the world had heard of Weird Al Yankovic (the true king of parody) in the form of big band leader Spike Jones. Jones (1911 – 1965) was an expert at the satirical and had a madcap band of talented musicians to back him up.
So before I go any further yammering about Spike, is it just me or was this guy a dead ringer for Leonardo DiCaprio?
Yankovic has been churning out wild parodies since the mid-70’s and has even received respect of a sort from the artists of the original songs. Some, prone to litigation, have sued others for infringing while leaving Al untouched. I guess, in a weird, 21st century American way, that’s an honor!
I’ve chosen a bunch for your enjoyment and will say that part of the challenge for me here was choosing from so many. I’ve listed some that I finf funniest and have listed the original reference, where applicable, below.
- “Cocktails for Two” – Spike Jones and His Orchestra – Hilarious! And a video to boot. I’m still laughing at the film.
- “Amish Paradise” – Weird Al Yankovic – A great spin on Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise”. This really turned me on to the CD “Bad Hair Day” and later “Permanent Record”
- “Shaving Cream” – Dr. Demento. We used to sing this song at scout camp. Written by Benny Bell in 1946,
- “Folsom Pinball Blues” – Bill Kirchen. Bill was Commander Cody’s guitar picker for years and is quite the guitar god. This is a great parody of either The Who or Johnny Cash. Possibly both!
- “The Saga Begins” – Weird Al Yankovic. I need to finish up with the master and this great parody of “American Pie”.