Graham Reid | | <1 min read
Because a parody only works if you know the original it might be useful to check out the video clip here (kinda cute in its own way) before playing American comedian Freberg's poke at it.
The original of Rock Island Line was by Leadbelly in the Thirties but Donegan's version of 1955 was emblematic of the skiffle era in Britain where young white guys with acoustic guitars, home made one-string teach chest bass and a washboard would perform old country blues. (It was, like punk, a DIY movement)
The skiffle movement - kicked off by Donegan's Rock Island Line -- swept up the young Lennon and McCartney in the days before rock'n'roll.
Donegan was its biggest star and enjoyed a string of hits, among them Cumberland Gap, Grand Coulee Dam, Jack O'Diamonds and Midnight Special.
American comedian Freberg -- as we also see here -- had an ear for popular culture and could pen a parody with speed and accuracy. Nothing was beyond his wit, his targets included advertising, politics, television, rock'n'roll, teen idols, popular songs (his version of Harry Belafonte's Banana Boat Song is hilarious) radio dramas . . .
And here skiffle.
The Stan Freberg box set Tip of the Freberg; The Stan Freberg Collection 1951-1998 is well worth seeking out, especially of you don't take any of those subject as seriously as some.
For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.