Allan Sherman “My Son, the Folk Singer”

I never heard of Allan Sherman before playing this 1962 record, but apparently he went through a period of widespread success and popularity, which is why this record exists and I was able to pick up a copy for nothing. According to the internet, his popularity declined after the JFK assassination 1963—is that true? Did the masses lose their taste for frivolous humor after that time, and if so, does that partly explain why I grew up only occasionally cracking a smile—I wonder. Anyway this is essentially a comedy record comprised of goofy folk songs with lyrics that are sometimes pretty obvious and sometimes rather obscure. Kind of typical of me, I find myself annoyed by the stuff I understand, and intrigued by the stuff I don’t. I supposed if I understood the stuff I don’t understand I’d be annoyed by that too. The overall tone is that kind of humor that says “this is humor”—but I actually really like the singing style of Allan Sherman, I guess because he sounds like an urban Jewish guy to me, like the kind of co-worker who cracks you up daily. Let’s see, where is he from? Chicago, moved around a lot. I guess a lot of these songs are parodies, where you have to know the thing it’s parodying to make sense—but again, I’m wondering if I personally like stuff that doesn’t make sense to me. Anyway, it’s a live album, and the audience is finding it all hilarious—from the individual, tittering laugh, to bursts of uncontrolled laughter, to the full on roar. For me it’s pretty much torture to hear people laugh like that. Now that I think of it, I don’t much care for live recordings, in general, but live comedy is the worst. I mean, if you’re there, then it’s live, and when it’s a recording of something live, it’s not live anymore, is it—it’s just annoying. I don’t like recordings of live “specials” either, or podcasts that are recorded in front of a live audience—I can’t listen to them. The audience on this album is recorded really loudly, too, it’s just unbearable—I mean, just torture me, okay? The cover, though, is great—well, not that great, but there is a woman in a black dress holding a dead chicken, and a bagel lying on the floor, it’s goofy, and, yeah, it’s almost a good album cover.

2 Responses to “Allan Sherman “My Son, the Folk Singer””

  1. 1 Jeff Curtis
    April 19, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Wow, I’m really surprised you never heard of Allan Sherman before this! But then, I grew up with my parents having a copy of his album, “My Son the Celebrity,” and being aware of his big hit from the early 60s, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3_xiUYMnXA). I also, probably influenced by him, grew up being a big fan of novelty songs, and Sherman was kind of the king of that back then. I have at least 4 of his albums. Without him, there would probably have been no Weird Al Yankovic.
    I understand what you’re saying about live recordings, whether they’re comedy or music, but it’s almost unavoidable with comedy records — I think the only comedy records without live audience laugh tracks that I’m aware of are the sort of psychedelic comedy productions of the Firesign Theater and most of the Monty Python records. Maybe Cheech and Chong had some records without laugh tracks (my radio show trainee played their “Earache My Eye” on the show this week, and it didn’t have a laugh track, and was hilarious). It doesn’t really bother me to hear the audience laughing, though.
    I will also say that, thanks to Allan Sherman’s parodies of all kinds of songs from his time and earlier, I was made aware of popular (and even some classical!) music of earlier eras that I might otherwise never have learned about. Allan Sherman was like the audio equivalent of Mad Magazine for me.

    oh yeah — and his holiday classic, The Twelve Gifts of Christmas, is one of the best xmas songs ever!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4kqHqhvvsc

    • April 27, 2019 at 8:20 am

      Of course I remember some Allan Sherman stuff, but I didn’t associate it with a name or a face. I especially remember that Hello Muddah Hello Faddah song – which is a lot funnier to hear it now with all the lyrics, than my memory of it, which is just a repetition of the title and melody accompanying Hello Muddah Hello Faddah. I wonder if that part of the song was horribly misused in some heinous TV commercial from my childhood? Sometimes I feel like I’d like to take out a class action suit against all of advertising. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of Cleveland’s late night TV hosts used some Allan Sherman stuff here and there – they used to use tons of bits of things from popular culture and in most cases that was my first or main exposure to the stuff. Which is a much better and more forgivable use of misappropriated material, though they probably didn’t pay like advertisers hopefully did. Anyway, as far as live stuff goes, I’m not crazy about live records usually, but then I have a problem with audience reactions in general, which is really my problem, not people’s problem – though you could say, in general, people ARE the problem – which – well, depending on the day, I either pray for human extinction or just outright love them all – I guess I should seek help??

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