Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wild Thing (music, comedy)

by “Senator Bobby”/”Senator Everett McKinley” (Bill Minkin)
Wikipedia Entry

In the 60s, music still had a novelty side.  You could have a hit with a song that was purely humorous, and even if it wasn’t a song (more on that later).  And “Senator Bobby” had one with his version of “Wild Thing.”

First, a little background.  The song “Wild Thing” was a number one hit by the UK group the Troggs in 1966.  It has a catchy but heavy guitar riff behind it with a growling vocals filled with sex and menace. 

And, in 1967, Senator Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen had a surprise hit single (#16) with “Gallant Men,” a spoken word recording praising the military, a hawk’s ideal in the Vietnam era.*  That album including it won Dirksen a Grammy Award for best spoken word album.

That’s where comedian Bill Minkin came in.  He had the brilliant idea of using Dirksen’s dramatic voice to use the “let’s get sexy” lyrics of “Wild Thing,” with the nom de comedy of Senator Everett McKinley.

Of course, records needed to have two sides, so Minkin did the same thing with a more liberal senator:  Robert F. Kennedy.  Internal evidence indicates that this was supposed to be the B-Side of the record, but it was released as the A-side.  Recorded as by “Senator Bobby and the Hardly-Worthit Players,” the song reach #20.**

The Dirksen parody was not neglected, though.

(Sounds a little like Elvis, doesn’t he?)

Both songs are a bit dated, if only because of the references to political figures of the time, and the Kennedy family. 

I would also guess that the assassination of RFK put a damper on it being played, though by then the song was old news, so it didn’t affect Minkin the way Vaught Meader was affected by JFK’s death.  Minkin became friends with Martin Scorsese, with bit parts in Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.  He also hosted The King Biscuit Flower Hour for 20 years.

*It made Dirksen the oldest person to have a top 40 hit until he was surpassed by Moms Mabley two and a half years later

**Though the Senator Bobby version was released as the A-side of the single, it’s clear that it was meant to be the B-side, which included the parody of Dirksen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a good memory and I seem to remember seeing Senator Dirksen sing this song on 60 minutes. I would have been about 18 or 19 at the time so 1968 or 1969. Can't find a reference anywhere on the web to confirm this. Maybe my memory is cross connected to another one but I do remember laughing my face off seeing this elderly political statesman sitting in a recording studio on a stool singing "Wild Thing" with a very deep voice and heavy glasses like I wore. Definitely not Bill Minkin who did the vocal on this record. Not sure who the interviewer might have been but Harry Reasoner comes to mind. Senator Dirksen died September 7 1969 so perhaps done before that.