Stan Freberg: Rock Island Line (1956)

 |   |  <1 min read

Stan Freberg: Rock Island Line (1956)

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.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

The Beach Boys: Wouldn't It Be Nice (vocals only, 1966)

The Beach Boys: Wouldn't It Be Nice (vocals only, 1966)

In our recent interview with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their classic Pet Sounds album, we noted that while accepting he was the genius in the band he... > Read more

Graham Parker: Between You and Me (1975)

Graham Parker: Between You and Me (1975)

It's all every well to ridicule Dick Rowe of Decca Records for turning the Beatles down after an audition in '62 ("Not to mince words, Mr Epstein, we don't like your boys' sound. Groups are... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

DYLAN HORROCKS INTERVIEWED (2010): The graphic novelist as social commentator

DYLAN HORROCKS INTERVIEWED (2010): The graphic novelist as social commentator

At the launch of the long overdue local publication of his graphic novel Hicksville in Auckland recently, Dylan Horrocks said he grew up in two places: In New Zealand and in comics, and both were... > Read more

BIG QUESTIONS IN HISTORY edited by HARRIET SWAIN: Puzzlers and problems

BIG QUESTIONS IN HISTORY edited by HARRIET SWAIN: Puzzlers and problems

History is, as a wise man once observed, just one damned thing after another. But we remain endlessly curious about it: each new generation or political ideology seeing it through its own prism and... > Read more