Everybody likes music. Most people have music they cannot forget. Some love music.
Except Salvador Dalí.
Could you ever imagine someone to make an outrageous statement like ‘I don’t like music’? That sort of stunning throwaway was indeed Dalí’s calling card: while he was a masterful painter he was an even greater showman (some say ‘clown’ – mostly those jealous of the money he made from his art).
Everybody has his or her most beloved tune, one which lingers all down the years.
Don Juan Matus told the gullible Carlos Castaneda ‘This is the melody you will be listening to at the hour of your death’. Since the famed and controversial Carlos kicked the bucket some years ago we have no way of telling whether or not it worked out that way or not.
And now, Dear Eater I mean Dear Reader (without meaning to interrupt your downing pork&pasta, wine&calimares, bread&water, beer&sausage – all the great grub at Ya Udah Bistro, a Menteng Mainstay for two decades, and now open in Serpong as well) now Esteemed Patrons of the Bistro let us survey to see what the Strangest Song you have ever heard is. This task is rendered immensely easier thanks to the instant reach of the internet – and thanks most of all to YouTube.
To ‘prime the pump’ – get us going with the theme– here’s an idea of what I’d call a ‘Startling Song’ involved mariticide – justifiable murder if you can imagine such an act. It dates from 1946 and was sung in Latin style by one Gracie Barrie, a performer about as Hispanic as Oliver North.
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan, two other definitely non-Latino performers, did a cute cover of the killer song.
At the time this was known as a ‘novelty song’ so it is not surprising that it is surprising. How about something much… more… thoughtful… from the immortal Peggy Lee:
(Well in fact she’s not exactly immortal as she got very sick and died a couple of decades ago… but her music will last long…)
Political commentary in the guise of a comic melody – and Tom Lehrer was the master in the 1960s. He was prohibited from singing five of his popular songs in a performance in straight-laced Adelaide.
Not strange enough for you? Well Lehrer was also a renowned mathematician, so consider this – a satire on mathematics?
One of the greatest philosophers of history, Voltaire, had an observation which it is difficult to disagree with:
Go ahead, Dear Reader – find me someone who is not fascinated by (if not obsessed with) the issue of money. So go the songs as well. Of the “strange songs” I present to you today, none is more covered, copied and covered again than Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford’s “Money – that’s what I want”. Since it was first released in 1959 the song, originally sung by Barrett Strong (and hitting Number 2 on the “Hot R&B Sides Chart” and Number 288 on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”).
Among the groups covering the song were the Kingsmen, Jr. Walker & the All Stars, Jerry Lee Lewis in 1964 – the Undertakers (U.K.) and the Rolling Stones. Not to mention John Lee Hooker. And the Doors. There is even a Chinese-language version recorded by Cheryl K for the 2018 film “Crazy Rich Asians”.
The Beatles covered it in 1963 (if you resided on the planet Earth at that time you must have heard it). Then in 1979 a weird group with the weird name “Flying Lizards” did a New Wave cover of the song:
Yes, comedy is the home of much strange music, and Spike Jones was the oddest of the odd – incredibly popular in the 1950s as he did caricatures of popular numbers.
He loved to make fun of the classics. Look at this, listen to it and tell me whether comedy is as good these days.
Hey it’s chowdown time! Our loyal readers and eaters will always be welcomed back to the classic Menteng area of Jakarta and to Ya Udah Bistro, where a great selection of realistically-priced Euro-Asian cuisine and drinks awaits you, along with an elegant, polite mood, good company and a breezy outdoor atmosphere where you can smoke and laugh and yell to your heart’s content. Now in Serpong as well.
Hey, thanks for reading our Ya Udah Bistro blog. Please check out some of the earlier newsletters on the Ya Udah Bistro website. We do appreciate your comments on these fanciful expositions as well. All Comments welcome!