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Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?

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mauvepink 31 Jan 10 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,LTS on the sofa 31 Jan 10 - 10:01 AM
Will Fly 31 Jan 10 - 10:05 AM
autoharpbob 31 Jan 10 - 10:11 AM
mauvepink 31 Jan 10 - 10:29 AM
mkebenn 31 Jan 10 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 31 Jan 10 - 11:24 AM
Dave the Gnome 31 Jan 10 - 11:34 AM
mauvepink 31 Jan 10 - 11:35 AM
Dave the Gnome 31 Jan 10 - 11:35 AM
Steve Gardham 31 Jan 10 - 11:40 AM
mauvepink 31 Jan 10 - 11:48 AM
michaelr 31 Jan 10 - 12:22 PM
Leadfingers 31 Jan 10 - 12:31 PM
mauvepink 31 Jan 10 - 12:34 PM
michaelr 31 Jan 10 - 12:45 PM
michaelr 31 Jan 10 - 12:49 PM
Tattie Bogle 31 Jan 10 - 12:50 PM
Jim Dixon 31 Jan 10 - 12:54 PM
Johnny J 31 Jan 10 - 12:59 PM
mauvepink 31 Jan 10 - 01:03 PM
Young Buchan 31 Jan 10 - 01:04 PM
Bernard 31 Jan 10 - 01:06 PM
greg stephens 31 Jan 10 - 01:07 PM
Penny S. 31 Jan 10 - 01:13 PM
Leadfingers 31 Jan 10 - 01:13 PM
Gibb Sahib 31 Jan 10 - 01:17 PM
Tattie Bogle 31 Jan 10 - 01:20 PM
John MacKenzie 31 Jan 10 - 01:25 PM
oldhippie 31 Jan 10 - 01:29 PM
MGM·Lion 31 Jan 10 - 01:36 PM
Acorn4 31 Jan 10 - 01:56 PM
Snuffy 01 Feb 10 - 09:20 AM
Hamish 01 Feb 10 - 09:37 AM
autoharpbob 01 Feb 10 - 09:50 AM
dick greenhaus 01 Feb 10 - 11:22 AM
Acorn4 01 Feb 10 - 11:24 AM
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Subject: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: mauvepink
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 09:54 AM

One parody song I sing sometimes is "Islip, Long Island" to the tune of "Kilkenny Island", which I also sing at times. The latter is a very touching song and certainly on a serious topic. It is quite tragic and moving.

I love "The Fields of Athenry". The song has a place in my heart because of a person I knew and loved. It was very special to her. One night I heard someone sing a parody to the song and it upset me immensely. Whilst I know parody exists, and am guilty of it myself at times, it brought something home to me. I did wonder if "Islip Long Island" could be offensive to some folks and has made me wonder about not singing it again.

This last week I have been pointed to a parody of "The Green Fields of France/No-Man's Land/Willy McBride" and the issue has again raised itself. That song would be on my 'tearmakers' list. It's poignancy, irony and statement reach deep.

Is it me, being over sentimental,too serious, or are there songs out there that you yourself would hate to hear a parody of/do hate to hear a parody of? Are there any you would definitely never ever do? Which song affects you on that type of level that to tamper with it would be anathema?

(And to all who do parody songs, please do not take this personal. This is not an attack on you in any way. I know that parody exists in the real world, has it's place and can be great fun. As I say, I am guilty myself until this has been raised within me).

I would love your thoughts and comments

a reflecting mp


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: GUEST,LTS on the sofa
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 10:01 AM

The cynic in me says yes, but that's life, get over it.

The reasonable person in me says yes, you have to pick your audience, move with the wind and apologise where necessary.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 10:05 AM

I always move with the wind - sometimes not far enough...


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: autoharpbob
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 10:11 AM

I enjoy parody songs, and take them for what they are mostly - a bit of a laugh. Some are crueler than others, though, and I personally feel the "Green Fields of France" parody is disrespectful to a song that is for me very powerful. But the "Ghost chickens in the sky" or "Spencers dog Rover" kind of parody are great fun, are meant to be fun and don't detract from the original song in any way. The intention is what matters - in so far as you can divine that. For me the "Fields of Athenry" parody is well done and does not denigrate the song - just says someone is fed up with hearing it over and over. The "GFOF" parody seems to attack the very basis on which Eric wrote his song, and while the author is quite entitled to that view it is not one I share.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: mauvepink
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 10:29 AM

Correction!

My initial post should be "Kilkenny, Ireland", of course, and NOT "Kilkenny Island" as I erroneously posted. My fault for having Long Island on my mind. I really should proof read before clicking 'submit'

I am most grateful to an observant member for bring this to my attention. Apologies to anyone from Kilkenny, Ireland

mp


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: mkebenn
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 10:55 AM

AHB, Ghost chickens? OMG Mike


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 11:24 AM

"Amazing grapes how sweet and round that soon will raisins be"

Parody or Mondegreen?

Don


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 11:34 AM

They are just the same as jokes and can be used to insult as well as amuse. Don't take either too seriously myself but the old 'horses for courses' adage comes in. As Liz says, make sure of your audience first. There are some artists who's parodies I would never class as insulting or hurtful - Les Barker and the Kippers to name but two, yet I overheard a couple of guys at Fylde one year discussing how disgusting it was what Les was going with 'our' music. I felt like telling them to get a life but then realised they have every right to that opinion. Wrong as it may be:-D

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: mauvepink
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 11:35 AM

"Amazing grapes how sweet and round that soon will raisins be"

Surely a Mondegreen? And I am not calling you Shirley! lol

There are some brilliant Mondegreens for sure. My latest misheard lyric was...

"Logs to burn, logs to burn, logs to save the coal a turn..."

which I thought was

"Logs to burn, logs to burn, logs to save the cold return"

You should start a thred on Mondegreens. I am sure it will get into the 100's at least :-)

mp


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 11:35 AM

Sorry - should have put my conclusion on. There has to be a line somewhere but that line is not fixed.

D


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 11:40 AM

Parody's in many ways are like jokes. Some jokes are very offensive, racist ones for example, and a similar situation can apply to parodies.

Also you have to take into account one man's meat is another man's poison. Some people will take offence at virtually anything. It's all about sensitivities. In parodying folk song the authors are usually long gone or are unknown so you can't offend them. However, as already pointed out, if someone absolutely loves a serious song and you sing a comic parody then that can be seen as offensive. As the man says play it carefully and judge your audience carefully.

Also another factor to take into account is fashion. What people accepted and laughed at say only 10 years ago may now be seen as offensive.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: mauvepink
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 11:48 AM

"There has to be a line somewhere but that line is not fixed."

I am sure you are right David. I guess the line changes now and then too with context and events. Individually it is hard to define where the line is crossed, as it is a subjective thing, but sometimes, as with jokes, we would all know when it has gone too far.

My supicion on me is that I err on the side of caution a great deal in many things, so would maybe find some things a little more risque than some others, which I can happily manage of course. It's when something is deliberately meant to hurt or insult I have more of a problem.

I, like you, would respect that others who do not feel as I do have a right to express their own views. The idea of this thread is to see what other ideas people hold. Whilst I err on the side of caution in a lot I would not consider myself prudish... perhaps more a dinosaur as I age lol

mp


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: michaelr
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 12:22 PM

Do you mean "Kilkelly"?

If so, I'd love to see a well-written parody of that song. Well-written being the operative word here - there are too many parodies that just aren't that funny.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 12:31 PM

Agreed Michaelr - TOO many so called parodies are not worth the hearing , but a GOOD parody is always worthwhile
However thre are SOME people who dont like even the IDEA of a parody ! Pick your audience with care !
I started learning parodies as sooon as I started learning songs ! I
still occasionally do 'The Songs They are a Changing' that I collected in 1965 , not THAT long after 'Times' was let loose on the world .


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: mauvepink
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 12:34 PM

Do you mean "Kilkelly"?

Indeed! Not only did I get the title wrong but also the right name. Apologies again

You will find Islip Long Island on Digitrad

mp


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: michaelr
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 12:45 PM

Islip, Long Island

Now that is what I call a well-written parody - is it by our own Jeri? I'll have to learn that one myself; it's funny as heck.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: michaelr
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 12:49 PM

I came up with a parody fragment myself some years ago:

The Idaho spud, he was short and round
The color of dirt, and his eyes were brown


...but that's as far as I got. Anyone for a song challenge?


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 12:50 PM

Mauvepink,there already is a huge long thread of over 200 Mondegreens somewhere on this site, so no need to start a new one!
thread.cfm?threadid=32340


A friend who writes songs (but not tunes) recently decided to write a song about the victims of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very good and powerful (and serious) set of lyrics.........but then decided to use a well-known Woody Guthrie song as the tune, and his new title sort of rhymed with the original, so that, in a way, it was parodying the original. He asked what I thought, and I felt it was just too well-known a song to use the same tune, (quite apart from any issue of permissions/copyright if he should ever want to record it.)What do others think?


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 12:54 PM

"You should start a thread on Mondegreens"??????

PLEASE DON'T. There are already 14 threads with "mondegreen" in the title, and several more probably started by people who didn't know the word "mondegreen." (One of them called it "Monigan.")

Here's a good place to start: any new mondegreens?. Follow the links to other threads.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Johnny J
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 12:59 PM

In most cases, they are harmless. However, I find that parodies soon become even more tiresome than the so called "cliched" songs on which they are based.
Eventually, the original doesn't sound quite so bad after all!


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: mauvepink
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:03 PM

Thanks Tattie Bogle for the link :)

Copyright issues aside, there are quite a few songs that use the same tunes (though they all escape me just now). Hymns often do it of course. There is one song using Tchiakovsky's "Pathetique* that works well, so I suppose using other's tunes is not unusual. Parody uses the origibal tune all the time of course. I never heard of anyone suing over an parody but I suspect it has been done. Maybe Folk folk are more generous with their songs?

Using a very well known song to sing an equally well writtem lyric to could be a problem inasmuch as the original would always come through and so mess up two good song lyrics. Maybe using someone's tune to get your song written is a good way of writing the lyrics but then manybe you should try then to put your own tune to it or collaborate.

Once again... a hard line to draw where copyright is not an issue

mp


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Young Buchan
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:04 PM

No matter how serious and how tear-jerking a song is, a parody is not insulting. It is a separate song in its own right. It may be good or it may be complete Krapp, but it is not insulting.
What is insulting is to take a serious song of this type and simply sing it for laughs. I have been in a folk club when someone sang Grace Darling complete with funny voices calling for help, sound effects of the sea and ludicrous actions. I find that insulting. Not so much insulting to Grace Darling (though others may find it so) as insulting to Walter Pardon's granny who loved the song enough, and took it seriously enough, to pass it on to us.
Nor am I blameless. As a callow young folksinger I sang Fanny Adams for laughs - no moustache to twirl, but otherwise pure melodrama. A while afterwards I returned to the recording from which I had learnt it - the old gypsy singer, Vashti Vincent. It suddenly struck me that she was singing it absolutely serious and that to her it was a real record of a paedophilic murder which she felt should never be forgotten. I felt genuinely sick at what I had done to it. I have never repeated it. I stick to parodies.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Bernard
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:06 PM

A master of parody, of course, is Les Barker... he has done a few parodies of Bill Caddick's 'John o'Dreams'... Bill is so upset about it that he sings them himself!!

Sometimes we can cause more upset by trying too hard not to upset...


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: greg stephens
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:07 PM

The Green Fields of France/Willy McBride parody(if you are taking about the same one as me) is absolutely hilarious in my opinion. And it is not all disrepectful to the song, though it is extremely cruel to some of its singers.
I have had the dubious pleasure of hearing one of my own songs viciously parodied. I can't say I enjoyed the experience at the time but I laughed later. Forty years or so later.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Penny S.
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:13 PM

I do parodies, but not usually because I want to send up the original - except "South Australia", where the copyright statement at the foot banned the process, and I did "South Circular" (available here somewhere) as response to a challenge. Usually it's because I have something I think amusing to say, and it seems to want to fit a known tune. So I've done "The bold allotmenteers" who go hunting for the snail to the tune of "The Bonny Ship the Diamond", and "I've been a school teacher for most of my life" (also round here somewhere). I've also done some G&S versions in school. I wouldn't think what I've done would be disturbing to any old sailors, or real lovers of the Wild Rover.

It's a trait I've inherited from my father. Somewhere, there is a copy of an accountancy magaizine with one of his titled "The VATman cometh", which he lost his copy of, as, apparently, did the publisher.

I'm not myself very happy about the couple of comedians (?) who parody the whole act of Flanders and Swann, since a) they are not as skilled, and, more importantly, b) they cover that by going somewhere a Quaker wouldn't.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:13 PM

A different lyric to a Known tune is NOT a parody ! To be a true parody , it should reflect the Original in Content AND structure !


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:17 PM

I have a parody of "Greenland Whale Fisheries" that is 100% X-rated. The trick with these songs is not to sing them unless you are requested. That way, if you offend anyone, the blame lies elsewhere!


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:20 PM

Yes, John O'Dreams is the song that uses the melody (changed time signature) of the first movement from Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique". and is also Les Barker's "Custard Creams", which is one of my favourite LB songs (OK not a true parody, LF - and the best parodies are those that change the fewest words from the original text!)


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:25 PM

Like I said in the previous thread on this subject there are a lot of crap parodies out there, and more are being committed daily.
The Oh No Not the Fileds of Athenry is a good example, the best thing about it, is that it parodies an awful, maudlin, boring song.
Pete St John has written some good songs in his time, and I sing one regularly, but Athenry was aimed straight at the green beer drinkers of this world.
Sorry if that upsets those for whom the song has some meaning.
I honestly think, a parody must in many ways be better than the original song.
So many of them add nothing, and say nothing, except "Aren't I clever"
Rant over


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: oldhippie
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:29 PM

And I've been wondering if playing No Man's Land followed by the parody (and the other related song) on my radio show would be offensive to the listeners.

However, I'd really to get a recording of Islip to use in the same manner. I think that would be well received.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:36 PM

Some parodies become more famous than the originals — Lewis Carroll springs to mind here: his "You are old, Father William" has completely outlived Southey's original.

A folk example:— I just started singing Sydney Carter's brilliant "A Reel of Recording Tape' to myself as I read this, and honestly took about 5 minutes to remember the name or words of the song it parodied - "The Dundee Weaver". Not that that is a bad song; but Sydney Carter's is better, sharper, more satirical — in fact more memorable altogether.

However, my first reaction on reading the OP was, "How could anyone bring themselves to parody Willy McBride? Surely there must be some limits to filthy taste." I hope no-one has done The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. If they have, I do not wish to hear it, thank you!


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Acorn4
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 01:56 PM

There are different sorts of parodies;

The Billy Connolly "D.I.V.O.R.C.E" parody takes the mickey out of the original and deservedly because it is so naff.

The "Green Fields of France" to me is different as it takes the mickey out of drunks in bars and the fact that a well known song is often appallingly treated.

Most of the times Les Barker's parodies are not aimed at the original song, but using a well known and familiar song to highlight a humorous angle on something - the "Nolans and Elton John" doesn't really make any cooment on "Lowlands" but the humour comes across by the twist in the application of the lyrics and tune.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Snuffy
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 09:20 AM

And The Band Played "Stairway to Heaven" takes the mickey out of ageing rock musicians, without (IMHO) any disrespect to Bogle's original. YMMV.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Hamish
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 09:37 AM

When Dave Taylor of Leicester started his parody of Through Bushes and Briars ("Through pissheads and through bikers..."*) I thought "Uh, oh: what a travesty of that beautiful song".

I have since adopted it and people always want the words when I've performed it. The original is such a good song that it survives.

*It's on his MySpace site and is called "The Barmaid"


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: autoharpbob
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 09:50 AM

Snuffy, that's brilliant! A perfect example of a parody that takes the mickey out of the song style, uses the format of the song, and comes up with something hilariously funny in its own right, but doesn't denigrate the reason the original song was written. If people don't agree with what a song is trying to say, they should write their own songs expressing their ideas - not take that song and twist it.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 11:22 AM

Well, some songs need to be insulted and hurt. The degree to which some Singer Songwriters/Folksingers take them selves seriously can be truly appalling.


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Subject: RE: Parody songs: can they insult and hurt?
From: Acorn4
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 11:24 AM

Thanks for the plug, Hamish. Cheque is in the post.

In fact the link you put up is for the "On the Fence" site - me and Julia.

The link to the Barmaid is on my own Myspace:-


The Barmaid

I never intended any harm towards the original which I love, particularly the version by the Trio Threlfall; it's just something that people will hopefully recognise and make associations with (trying to get served at a crowded bar).


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