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Shoo Fly By the Light of the Moon: Songmanteaus

October 1, 2010

Is there a word for how a song can, once rattling along in your head, suddenly become another song? It keeps happening to me—maybe it’s an age thing? This morning I woke up with this in my head:

Shoo fly, don’t bother me / Shoo fly, don’t bother me / Shoo fly, don’t bother me — and dance by the light of the moon.

For those of you not familiar with ancient Americana songs, that’s a nonsensical combination of lyrics from “Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me,” and “Buffalo Gals.” It’s happened in a hundred different ways. Once it was this:

Angie, Angie — will you still love me tomorrow?

The Rolling Stones and the Shirelles—there’s actually something appropriate about that, isn’t there?

There really should be a word for this phenomenon, so in the case there’s not one yet (and if you know of one please let us know), I’m making one up: Songmanteau. If Lewis Carroll can do it—then so can we. (And you may as well mimic the master.)

Had any songmanteau moments of your own? Please let us know in the valley, er, comments, below.

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Tasha
Tasha
October 1, 2010 9:18 am

This happened to me just the other day!

Old MacDonald had a farm
B-I-N-G-O
With a cluck, cluck, here
and a cluck, cluck, there
B-I-N-G-O

I was mighty confused, but now I know why!
Craziness…

Thom
Thom
October 1, 2010 9:43 am

Holy cow – I think I’ve don tte exact same one! too funny.

Gene Burnett
October 1, 2010 10:49 am

I would call it “plagiarism”. ;~) Just kidding. But sometimes when it happens to me, it’s because the two songs share the same melody like : “Oooooh baby to you know what that’s worth? We’ll make Heaven a place on Earth.~Shot through the heart and you’re too blame. You give love a bad name.” (Belinda Carlisle into Bon Jovi). More often for me, it’s because the two songs are in the same key or share the same melodic structure and my brain gets the two “files” confused.

Thom
Thom
October 1, 2010 11:55 am

Yes, a similar melody and beat and measure structure.

Jake
Jake
October 3, 2010 7:18 pm

Oh Tanenbaum…
Glorious and free…
Oh Tanenbaum,
We stand on guard for thee…

(“Oh Tanenbaum” and “O Canada”)

Thom
Thom
October 4, 2010 10:23 am

Oh man I almost fell off my chair, Jake. that is hilarious, and a perfect example.

Miles
Miles
October 9, 2010 4:10 am

I had one the other day trying to remember a song from a cartoon when I was young. I started singing:

Casper, the friendly ghost,
The friendliest ghost I knoooow
With his corn-cob pipe, and his button nose,
And two eyes made out of coal…

Dayna Klemen
December 26, 2010 9:39 am

welcome, its good thought.. 😛

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