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July 31, 2022 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Why "Yakety Sax" makes anything funny and has morphed into the soundtrack of political failure (SL Salon)

Don't miss the footage of Boots Randolph and Chet Atkins dueting on "Yakety Sax" and having a grand old time of it.

Previously: Benny Hill This!, Boots Randolph obituary
posted by Faint of Butt (24 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
This isn't the only time a British show took an American-penned song and used it for a TV show, forever altering the original's reputation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:44 AM on July 31 [26 favorites]


Also previously.
posted by escabeche at 7:13 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


This isn't the only time a British show took an American-penned song and used it for a TV show, forever altering the original's reputation.

Off-topic but boy did I think this was going to be Peep Show and "Flagpole Sitta"!
posted by escabeche at 7:14 AM on July 31 [10 favorites]


It has roughly the structure of a limerick. The first, second and fifth lines are longer and “rhyme” rhythmically and melodically. And the shorter third and fourth verses also rhyme, winding you up for the punch line in the fifth.
posted by sjswitzer at 7:18 AM on July 31 [28 favorites]


That obit calls him a "Nashville saxophonist" which is true. But given that he was born in Paducah, Kentucky (where my family is from!) and they don't have much else to brag about, whereas Nashville is stocked with heroes, maybe they could let us have this one.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:25 AM on July 31 [17 favorites]


I think the version on Benny Hill was sped up a bit, which makes it even more ridiculous and unhinged.

I think the oddest transatlantic recontextualisation is George Romero's use of Herbert Chappell's The Gonk.

(Chappell seems to have made a habit of accidentally writing iconic music - something he wrote for the background of a Peter Wimsey adaptation ended up as the theme for the frankly beloved 70s animated Paddington series).
posted by Grangousier at 8:40 AM on July 31 [9 favorites]


tribute.avi
posted by groda at 9:06 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


While reading the article I wondered if this song had been combined with that other constant internet meme that is a sign of political failure. It has… YT link.
posted by njohnson23 at 9:06 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: Don't have anything to brag about? Surely you're forgetting Benjamin Ford, The Duke of Paducah.
posted by charlesminus at 9:55 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


It has roughly the structure of a limerick.

Amazing. I would never have noticed that if you hadn't mentioned it.
posted by mhoye at 9:56 AM on July 31 [7 favorites]


The other song I associate with mistakes and pratfalls is the one Marv Albert used for his "Wild and Wacky sports bloopers" segment on Letterman. I know I've heard that music elsewhere but can't find the name of it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:51 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


Isn't Steven Curtis Chapman from Paducah? That guy's like the Christian Garth Brooks.
posted by box at 10:55 AM on July 31


The Box Tops, "Deep In Kentucky" name-checks Paducah.
posted by jonp72 at 11:15 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


I know I've heard that music elsewhere but can't find the name of it.

Euday L. Bowman's 12th Street Rag.

You probably heard it all the time in Spongebob Squarepants.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:20 AM on July 31 [6 favorites]


Yes, I mean, Paducah also has lesser-known veep Alben Barkley and MLB journeyman Terry Shumpert, but we would cheerfully take the Yakety Sax guy, too.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:37 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Too much is never enough.
posted by rhizome at 11:54 AM on July 31


You probably heard it all the time in Spongebob Squarepants

Thanks, JoeZydeco! Not a Spongebob watcher, but it's a pretty ubiquitous piece of music.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:56 AM on July 31


Liverpool chasing away a bunch of EDL fascists using Yakety Sax in 2017:
YT link
posted by finisterre at 2:59 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


> This isn't the only time a British show took an American-penned song and used it for a TV show, forever altering the original's reputation.

Off-topic but boy did I think this was going to be Peep Show and "Flagpole Sitta"!


And I just now realized this also works for Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and the Eagles' Journey Of The Sorcerer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:08 PM on July 31 [9 favorites]


I had no idea that was an Eagles tune.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:32 AM on August 1 [6 favorites]


Speaking of re-contextualised music ...

Years ago, while visiting the US, I went to see a first-run movie in the theatre. I can't remember the name of it now, but it was some sort of kidnap drama. In one key scene, the background music used was Dvorak's New World Symphony, which worked perfectly well in the context of that storytelling moment.

Or at least, it did for everyone but me. To Brits of my generation, that music will forever be the Hovis theme, which was driven relentlessly into our heads by this 1970s TV ad. The second I heard it, I was no longer engrossed in the movie, but wondering whatever happened to Old Ma Pegarty.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:49 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


I'm going to have to add Yakkety Sax to the thumb drive attached to my mini megaphone for when I see someone carrying an assault rifle into Walmart.
posted by hypnogogue at 7:15 AM on August 1 [7 favorites]


Benny Hill Funeral by Robot Chicken
posted by ovvl at 4:22 PM on August 1


It's been bugging me where I've heard that guitar funk strum and tambourine sound before and then I finally remembered.

Was that just a 60's thing? Were there any other pop songs of the time that used it?
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:59 AM on August 2


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