Senior Year, 1958: Class Clown
by Justin Farrar | May 3, 2011
Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell smoke in the auditorium. You know the culprit: Put a tack on teacher's chair, tied a knot in Susie's hair. Always writing on the wall, always goofing in the halls, always throwing spitballs. Walks into the classroom cool and slow, calls the English teacher Daddy-O. And being such a funny fellow (destined to be inducted into the Animal House upon soon entering college no doubt), we can assume that our jokemeister loved plenty of funny songs, right? ( National Lampoon High School Yearbook parody writeup on Herbert Leonard "Wing-Ding" Weisenheimer: "knows the real lyrics to 'Louie Louie'.")
Well, in-depth research has indicated that 1958 was probably the funniest year for funny songs ever; even if The Coasters wouldn't hit with "Charlie Brown" until a year later, "Yakety Yak" was still pretty much a laugh riot. As were plenty of other vocal-group R&B smashes and even more so teen exploitation beep-beep-short-short-splish-splash novelty numbers that weren't even real rock 'n' roll at all. David Seville's "Witch Doctor" was the No. 1 song in the country for three weeks in the spring; Sheb Wooley's "The Purple People Eater" was No. 1 for six weeks in the summer. "Yakey Yak," The Silhouettes' "Get a Job," The Everly Brothers' "Bird Dog" (first line: "Johnny is a joker, he's a bird, a very funny joker"), and The Champs' "Tequila" class-clown favorites all topped the pop chart during '58 as well. The Big Bopper did a song with both the Witch Doctor and Purple People Eater in it, and rockabilly juvenile delinquents were still raving; Eddie Cochran wanted a job almost as much as the Silhouettes did.
Anyway, these trends and more including a couple numbers that'd probably be deemed politically incorrect today, so be forewarned are reflected in the playlist here. If our class clown was truly familiar with Louis Prima, I guess he must've had hilarious parents as well.