Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Back when Johnny Tillotson's “Poetry in Motion” was among the top hits, a comedy or parody version of it came out, but not by Tillotson.

I know Homer & Jethro made a lot of these type records, as did Stan Freberg, Ben Colder, and others. Yet I doubt any of them did the song I'm trying to identify.

It probably wasn't much of a hit, which explains why I haven't heard it since.

While on the subject, what are some of the other parodies by these singers?
—Gordon Bainbridge, Hammond, Ind.

DEAR GORDON: “Poetry in Motion” spent 15 weeks on the charts, peaking at No. 2 nationally and No. 1 in many markets. In January 1961, as this tune took the inevitable tumble, the parody you recall came along.

Titled “Enormity in Motion” (Capitol 4499), the singer is really Ferlin Husky though on this, as with his other comedy and parody tracks, he uses the pseudonym Simon Crum.

Two other Simon Crum parodies, with the original hit in parenthesis, are: “Don't Be Mad” (“Don't Be Cruel”); and “Hillbilly's Deck of Cards” (“Deck of Cards”).

None of these charted.

Here is a mere sampling of parodies by other artists known for spoofing the hits. Many have the same titles as the originals, with those that differ being noted:

Homer & Jethro: “Hernando's Hideaway”; “(How Much Is) That Hound Dog in the Window” (“That Doggie in the Window”); “The Battle of Kookamonga” (“The Battle of New Orleans”); “El Paso (Numero Dos)” (“El Paso”); “Are You Lonesome Tonight”; “Tennessee Border - No. 2” (“Tennessee Border”); “I Want to Hold Your Hand;” and “She Loves You.”

Stan Freberg: “Try” (“Cry”); “Heartbreak Hotel”; “I've Got You Under My Skin”; “C'est Si Bon (It's So Good)”; “Sh-Boom”; “The Yellow Rose of Texas”; “Nuttin' for Christmas”; and “Banana Boat (Day-O).”

Ben Colder (pseudonym for Sheb Wooley) usually added “No. 2” to identify his parodies: “Almost Persuaded No. 2”; “Still No. 2”; “Detroit City No. 2”; “Little Green Apples No. 2”; “Hello Walls No. 2”; “Don't Go Near the Eskimos” (“Don't Go Near the Indians”); “Harper Valley P.T.A. (Later That Same Day)”; and “Fifteen Beers Ago” (“Fifteen Years Ago”).

DEAR JERRY: Reading your columns inspires me to ask about a song I heard my parents and their friends sing at parties about 50 years ago.

I remember it being sung by a male chorus, and included lines about “That old Bill Fountain. We sang all night with all our might. Those were the greatest nights of them all.”

It will probably be easy for you to solve this mystery for me but I'll sure appreciate it.
—Tim Leahy, Port Washington, Wisc.

DEAR TIM: Right you are, this is an easy one.

It clearly is “The Bilbao Song” (nothing to do with Bill Fountain), the best known version of which is by Andy Williams (Cadence 1398), a Top 40 hit in early '61.

The title can be a bit misleading since the phrase “The Bilbao Song” is not used once in the lyrics. What we do hear are six mentions of “that old Bilbao moon” and two of “that old Bilbao shore.”

This tune is easily available on the CD “Andy Williams: I Like Your Kind of Love - The Best of the Cadence Years” (Varese Sarabande 5644).

IZ ZAT SO? Knowing the focus of today's parody question to be four specific artists, we stayed with just those.

However, we simply cannot address this genre and not mention “Weird Al” Yankovic, the king of parodies.

Al has 10 chart hits, each of which is a parody of someone else's hit.

Listed chronologically along with the original title, they are:

1983: “Ricky” (“Mickey”).
1984: “Eat It” (“Beat It”); “King of Suede” (“King of Pain”); “I Lost on Jeopardy” (“Jeopardy”).
1985: “Like a Surgeon” (“Like a Virgin”).
1988: “Fat” (“Bad”).
1992: “Smells Like Nirvana” (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”).
1996: “Amish Paradise” (“Gangsta's Paradise”).
2006: “White and Nerdy” (“Ridin'”).
2006: “Canadian Idiot” (“American Idiot”).

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