Eight Silly Songs From the 1950s and 1960s
What Year Was It When You Were a Teenager?
Those Teenage Years of Angst and Rebellion
Many of us, were either teens or pre-teens in the 50s and 60s, and some of the crazy songs we listened to had our parents shaking their heads in wonderment or disbelief.
"What's become of the youth?" they cried. "How can they listen to such nonsense?"
Whatever your age or musical era, parents worldwide have been saying exactly the same kinds of things ever since Socrates!
Here are 8 of my favorite goofy songs, in no particular order; which is to say, their order here has nothing to do with where they landed on the pop charts of the day.
Ready? Here we go! Please step into the time machine capsule...
Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?
Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
Purple People Eater
The Witch Doctor
Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah
1. Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?
Originally sung by: Lonnie Donegan,
Written by: Marty Bloom, Ernest Breuer, and Billy Rose
This has to be one of the goofiest. I never related as I wasn't a big gum chewer, nor did my bed have posts.
However, I vote this one up for a crazy, goofy song, and fun memories of singing the chorus at the top of our lungs with a group of friends.
Does your chewing gum lose its flavor
on the bedpost overnight?
If your mother says don't chew it,
Do you swallow it in spite?— Marty Bloom, Ernest Breuer, Billy Rose "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor..."
2. Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini
Sung by: Brian Hyland
Music and lyrics by: Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss
The Hyland version reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, selling over a million copies, and was also a hit around the world.
This song is funny in its own right; but upon re-listening to it as an adult, I realize it ends without resolving her problem.
Funny how you don't notice those subtleties as a kid.
… It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini
That she wore for the first time today.
An itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini
So in the locker she wanted to stay.— Paul Vance, Lee Pockriss
Written by: Dallas Frazier
Originally sung by: Gary Paxton
The song was originally penned in 1957, three years before its initial relase.
The title doesn't give much away, and in searching for an accompanying video, I came across more modern meanings to the term. It seems to have become associated with professional basketball.
Hmm, interesting. When I was a very young child, "alley-oop" meant either driving over a hump in a country road, or your dad picking you up suddenly, and giving you a slight toss before catching you immediately. What thrills!
It was also covered by the Beach Boys, and later also recorded by the composer, Dallas Frazier, in 1966.
But dinosaurs? Or dina-sawas, if you prefer the pronunciation in the song. Enjoy this for what it is: pure goofiness.
There's a man in the funny papers we all know (Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)
He lived 'way back a long time ago (Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)
He don't eat nothin' but a bear cat stew (Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)
Well this cat's name is-a Alley Oop (Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)— Dallas Frazier
4. Beep! Beep!
Released: November 1958
Written by: Donald Claps and Carl Chicchetti
Originally sung by: The Playmates: Donald Claps (a.k.a. Donny Conn) drummer and lyricist, Carl Cicchetti (a.k.a. Chic Hetti), pianist and composer, and Morey Cohen (a.k.a. Morey Carr)
Ha! this one still makes me laugh today! Can you imagine the humiliation of that Cadillac driver?
I've never had a car that could 'out-race' any other, but, with careful attention to my driving and surroundings, I've often beat much 'hotter' cars off the line at the stop light; and without even trying. They tend not to like it, and roar past at the first chance they get.
This silly ditty hit number 4 on the Billboard top forty chart for twelve weeks.
While riding in my Cadillac, what, to my surprise,
A little Nash Rambler was following me, about one-third my size.
The guy must have wanted it to pass me up
As he kept on tooting his horn. Beep! Beep!
I'll show him that a Cadillac is not a car to scorn.— Carl Cicchetti, Donald Claps
5. Purple People Eater
Released: May 1958
Written and sung by: Sheb Wooley
It was the beginning of the space race, and entertainment featured a lot of movies and songs dealing with aliens and outer space themes.
This song fit into that groove very well, and into the genre of funny songs. Surprisingly, it made it into the top of the pop charts, staying at number 1 from June 9 to July 14 in its release year.
Another space-themed song from the era, which really wasn't a song, but a pleasantly melodic instrumental bit called Telstar, after a new satellite of the same name, was also popular at this time. I used to enjoy making up ice skating moves to that tune. (Nothing fancy; I wasn't that great of a skater, but I had fun.)
It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater
(One-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater)
A one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater
Sure looked strange to me
6. The Witch Doctor
Written and performed by: Ross Bagdasarian, under the stage name of David Seville.
Talk about a song with lyrics that make virtually no sense at all! The "story line," such as it is, isn't much better.
The Witch Doctor is repetitive to the point of enjoyment by a 2-year-old wanting to have the same bedtime story read several times each night!
Nonetheless, it was another favorite for groups to sing (maybe holler would be a better description) at gatherings or pajama parties to drive the adults bonkers.
The version included here is by the original artist in "collaboration" with Alvin and the Chipmunks.
He told me
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bang bang
Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla bang bang
Ooo eee ,ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla ,bang bang
Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla bang bang— Ross Bagdasarian a.k.a. David Seville
7. Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated, Quick...
Written and performed by: Ray Stevens
This song didn't make #1 on any of the charts, but it was Ray Steven's first to get into the top 100, peaking at #35 in 1961.
The premise is that of a spoof on the multitude of 'wonder drugs' then being introduced into television advertising of the era. Many of those were of dubious value, and smacked of the same kind of empty promises made by the quack medicine salesmen of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
I'm sure the animated selection below is newer than the original, but it's interesting to watch if you're fascinated by how they can match animations with the musical beat and melody.
Get ridda that runny nose (sniiiff), that naggin' cough (cough), that sneeze (achoo),
That wheeze (gasp) and other injuries.
Take the wonder drug that cures all your ills,— Ray Stevens
8. Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah
Released: August 1963
Written by: Allan Sherman, Lou Busch, Amilcare Ponchielli
Sung by: Allan Sherman
Allan Sherman was a comedic genius with music. He took many folk songs and had his way with the lyrics. The results are hysterical.
The tune is that of Amilcare Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours, from the opera, La Gioconda. It was introduced in 1876, so this is a case of a piece of classical music spanning time.
The lyrics, by Sherman himself along with Lou Busch, are based on actual complaint letters Sherman received from his own son when the boy was at camp.
Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at Camp Grenada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining— Allan Sherman
End of the Line
Our journey is over. Please exit the capsule to the right, and take all your belongings with you. We wouldn't want to cause a paradox for the next time travelers.
We hope you enjoyed the trip, and will travel with us again.
Feel free to comment on your favorites, or add others not included on this trip, or memories you had in this flashback.
© 2017 Liz Elias