Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Break-in songs (Mr. Jaws!)

If a schoolkid turned in an assignment that borrowed lines from other people’s writing, the teacher would call him a cheater. But when Dickie Goodman did it with music, people called him a genius.

We never knew what they were called -- I just thought of them as those fake-news jokey songs--but they were actually called “break-in” songs. They featured Goodman delivering comedy lines that led into snippets of popular songs of the day.

These corny-as-Mazola parodies covered everything from the energy crisis to “Star Wars.” One classic number, 1975’s “Mr. Jaws,” took a bite out of the hit shark movie. (“Mr. Jaws, why are you grabbing my hand?” “Woooooouldn’t you give your hand to a friend?”)

Kids didn’t catch every reference in the songs (“King Faisal?”), but they loved hearing bits of familiar hits played for laughs. It was early training for a love of parody that would be fed by “Saturday Night Live” and Weird Al Yankovic.

And once you heard one of Goodman's parodies, you couldn't help it -- those lyrics were forever marked as punchlines, and when you heard them out of context (like...in the song they actually came from), you couldn't help put replay the break-in song in your head.

Goodman’s son Jon is still making break-in songs using his dad’s voice and cutting in snippets from modern musical hits. And, of course, rappers use Goodman’s technique all the time – they just call it sampling.
Which break-in songs do you remember best?


1 comment:

Nilliem said...

I don't know how serendipity works for other people, but you just made my day!! I've been tryin to remember the name and/or artist of this song for weeks. I can't wait to go home (can't see it here) and check it out.