After a comment from reader Chris on the Roger Miller post from a few days ago I got to thinking about the difference between novelty songs and funny songs. I’m reminded of an early Simpson’s episode where Homer and friends form a barbershop quartet. While trying to think of a name for the band Principal Skinner says “We need a name that’s witty at first, but seems less funny each time you hear it.” They settled on the B Sharps.
Novelty songs are rampant in country music. From relics like the Neal Merritt penned and Little Jimmy Dickens’ sung May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose to Tim Tayshun by Red Ingle to Minnie Pearl’s Man (Uh Huh).
May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose, Little Jimmy Dickens
Tim-Tayshun (Temptation), Red Ingle
Man (Uh Huh), Minnie Pearl
or from the harder years:
She Got the Goldmine, I Got the Shaft, Jerry Reed
Uneasy Rider, Charlie Daniels Band
Get Your Biscuits In the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed, Kinky Friedman
Where does the novelty end and the humor begin? Does it have anything to do with extremely long song titles? What about these classics?
A Boy Named Sue, Johnny Cash live at Madison Square Garden
Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ With Lovin’ On Your Mind, Loretta Lynn
And what do we mean by novelty? It seems that the easy answer is novelty is silly. Or is it just humor we don’t find funny anymore?
You Can’t Rollerskate In A Buffalo Herd, Roger Miller
The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me, Roger Miller
Both of Miller’s songs are funny, though neither make me laugh. How’s that for a joke?