Just for Fun: Allan Sherman

by Glenn on September 1, 2017

Earlier this week I was between audio books in the car. I needed a palate cleanser and turned to an artist from my childhood, Allan Sherman. Not sure how many times I played Sherman’s My Son, the Celebrity on the record player as a kid.

I found a used copy of a CD, The Best of Allan Sherman, which was delightful because it had songs I remember, including a favorite that I can still sing all the words to (“Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other”) but a number of titles that were new to me.

Sherman was a parodist, a forerunner of Weird Al Yankovic. His success, it seems to me, was based on a public that was familiar with tunes and lyrics and enjoyed hearing what Sherman would do with them. There were lots of puns, for example his reworking of Auld Lang Syne became,

“I know a man, his name is Lang,
And he has a neon sign.
And Mister Lang is very old,
So they call it Old Lang’s Sign.”

Sherman takes the Civil War era song, “Aura Lea,”

and sings,

“Every time you take vaccine
Take it orally
As you know the other way
Is more painfully.”

The humor is pretty dry, so he’s an acquired taste. But his comedy is clean, which I appreciate.

The great surprise on this album was a song, “Good Advice.” The words are clever, of course, but it’s the rhythm section, especially the piano, that I find mesmerizing. I’ve listened to this one track a number of times, now, because I enjoy the playing so much.

I don’t know what you call this type of music. It has a show-stopping/big finale quality about it.