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

Flow: Call (Neda) (2010)

Flow: Call (Neda) (2010)

So, what are the first words which come to mind when you hear the word "Iran"? Probably not hip-hop, heavy metal, folk-rock or blues. Or Pink Floyd, as in this piece by the... > Read more

Faster Pussycat: You're So Vain (1990)

Faster Pussycat: You're So Vain (1990)

Jac Holzman's Elektra was one of the most diverse record labels in the last half of the 20th century. He started it in 1950 and the first recording pressed (just a couple of hundred copies) was of... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Simone Felice

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Simone Felice

The surname gives it away for lovers of Americana. Simone Felice was one of the much acclaimed band The Felice Brothers whose 2007 album Tonight at the Arizona was a best of Elsewhere selection,... > Read more

KAL: Romology; Rock'n'Roma (Arc Music)

KAL: Romology; Rock'n'Roma (Arc Music)

Although this group from Belgrade led by singer-songwriter Dragan Ristic have been a very popular and energetic live act, and previous albums have topped world music charts, to casual... > Read more