Unexpected the Third

or, A Pair of Parodies

In the last post, I mentioned Spike Jones who, in an earlier era, gained a certain notoriety for his parodies of well-known compositions.  Of course, he was neither the first (nor the last) to gain fame by the “light-hearted” treatment of some familiar tunes.

Case in point (#1)…

William Shatner has been many things… portraying a Federation captain, a Shakespearean character, a policeman, a lawyer… even a sometime author and singer.  Singer?  Well, that subject is open for discussion.  But he has made his mark as an interpreter of some popular songs. When you are in a certain frame of mind, you might enjoy an investigation of the Shatner catalogue… but one example will suffice for our purposes.  Mr. Tambourine Man was a hit first for its composer, Robert Zimmerman aka Bob Dylan.  Here he is performing live at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964…

The Byrds took Dylan’s song and gave it a rock’n’roll sensibility in their interpretation.  Here they are performing the song about a year later…

In 1968 Shatner, soon to be retired from his initial role as Captain Kirk, gave us this “unexpected” version of Mr. Tambourine Man from his album, The Transformed Man

After listening to that, you may be inclined (pardon my paraphrase) “to explore strange new songs, to seek out new Shatner in new recordings, to boldly go where no musician has gone before”…

Now for my next song...
And now for my next song…

or, you may react as Kirk himself did…

shatner-khan
NO MORE!

 

Case in point (#2)…

 

Alfred Matthew Yankovic (better known as Weird Al) has made a rather successful career by doing his “unexpected” versions of pop songs.  I mentioned Pharrell WilliamsHappy  in an earlier post.  Weird Al gave his own twist in recording Tacky

He’s been doing it for years (if Wikipedia is to be believed, from about the age of sixteen).  My first exposure to him came in the wake of Madonna‘s #1 hit (1984) Like A Virgin (Can you believe that’s thirty years ago?!)  First, the original…

Part of Weird Al’s success (I think) is his ability to (usually) keep the music (somewhat) true to the original recording while slicing and dicing the lyrics.  His version here is titled Like a Surgeon and note how he also parodies elements of the original video…

And, if “views” are to be believed, while Madonna can take credit for about two million visits to one site for her song on Youtube, Al has garnered over five million at another for his version.

In summary… 

Musical parody is indeed a worthy study of its own, one which might be undertaken in depth by those interested in such things .  But for our purposes we’ll seek “the unexpected” in more subtle ways in the next post…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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