My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Nothing novel?

I recently stumbled on this Roger Miller medley on The Muppet Show.  Songs include ‘Do-Wacka-Do’, ‘Dang Me’, ‘My Uncle Used To Love Me But She Died’, and ‘You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd’.  These are real novelty songs.  If you like these shortened versions, be sure to check out the entire songs at Roger’s Last FM page.

Certainly, in every era of country music since Miller’s hey day, there have been those artists whose catalogs have been chock-full of humor and irreverence.  Tom T. Hall was a master a conveying pathos with humor in a lyric.  Listen to ‘The Year That Clayton Delaney Died’ or ‘Ballad of Forty Dollars’.  And then others made entire careers out of comedic music, such as Ray Stevens and Cledus T. Judd.

The 1990s saw the rise of the likes of Joe Diffie and Tracy Byrd, who still injected humor into traditional country music, but gone were the sad overtones, and any sign of irreverence. I don’t blame Diffie, or other of his ilk, but it just seems to me that the shift in the usage of the novelty song in country music sparked forth the desire for more and more artists to venture into the comical side of their music in order to hit on the charts.  Humor began to exist as a commodity rather than an extension of the art, and essentially it began to take on a larger role in the genre’s form.  Now we’re to the point that the term novelty song doesn’t really describe the attempts at humor, mostly because there’s nothing novel about most of them.  But I digress.

For me, the best way to enjoy the real wealth of country music’s novelty songs is in its past, and not the ditties of today.

What do you think?  And what are some of your favorite novelty songs?

P.S.  I didn’t realize it – or had forgotten about reading it – until I googled ‘novelty songs in country music’ to do a little research for this post, that Country California already asked you what your favorite novelty song was back in January, so be sure to check out their post too.

5 responses to “Nothing novel?

  1. Razor X November 16, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I think part of the problem why novelty songs don’t work as well these days is because radio playlists are a lot tighter, meaning that songs are played more frequently within a day, which can cause novelty songs to wear thin more quickly. And once an artist starts showing a humorous side too often, they can get quickly typecast by radio. That’s what ruined the chart careers of Joe Diffie and Tracy Byrd. Brad Paisley seemed to be going down the path of doing too many humorous songs; he seems to be doing more serious material now.

  2. Bob November 16, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Back in June at the Bluebird Cafe, I saw Karen Staley sing a parody of HW, Jr’s “Family Tradition” called “Thyroid Condition”. It was hilarious, brought the house down. It can be found on Karen’s MySpace.

  3. Paul W Dennis November 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I think Razor X hit it squarely on the nose – with tighter playlists, novelties wear out more quickly – that and the fact that many artists take themselves too seriously and don’t want their music to have fun poked at it . The last gasp for parody in country music was Pinkard and Bowden about twenty years ago. Forty years ago you had many artists who would engage in musical parody – Homer & Jethro, Sheb “Ben Colder” Wooley, Dee Mullins, Don Bowman , Jim Nesbitt and others

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