Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday Video Fun: Baz Luhrman-Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (1999) & Les Crane-Desiderata (1971) & National Lampoon-Deteriorata (1972)

Since it's New Year's, that's a good time for some life advice (hang in with this, it'll all be worth it when you see the last video). Happy New Year everyone.



"Sunscreen" was written in 1997 by a columnist in the Chicago Tribune, Mary Schmich. It was not a commencement address given by Kurt Vonnegut as it is commonly miscredited. "Sunscreen" resembles the 1927 poem "Desiderata" which became popular in the late sixties, emblazoned on posters and such. In 1971 Les Crane, a radio (and later television) talk show host, made a spoken word recording of "Desiderata" which was released as a single and became a top ten hit in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. They didn't normally make videos back then, but this is a homemade video, looking good with photos of England's Lake District.



There may never have been a record more ripe for parody than "Desiderata". And there may never have been a group of comics more talented at the art of song parody than those at the National Lampoon. In the early seventies, through record albums like National Lampoon Radio Dinner and a nationality syndicated radio show in 1974, they produced a great many song parodies which were all amazing in their writing (hugely funny), and in their execution; Christopher Guest was most especially good at sounding exactly like whoever was the subject of the parody.

The names of the people who worked at the National Lampoon read like a who's who of comedy: Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Christopher Guest, Michael O'Donoghue, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, Gilda Radner, Harry Shearer, Harold Ramis, Joe Flaherty, Richard Belzer, Tony Scheuren, and Flo & Eddie, just to name a few. When NBC first put Saturday Night Live on the air in 1975, they turned to the National Lampoon to fill their writing and air staffs; Second City TV did the same.

The parody was written by Tony Hendra and read by Norman Rose. Christopher Guest did the music and Melissa Manchester sang the backup parts. "Deteriorata" comes from the Radio Dinner album. There are lots of homemade videos of "Deteriorata" and they're all lame except for this one.






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