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Gene Weingarten’s Song Challenge

E-I-E-I-Oh No!
When Good Children’s Singers Go Bad

By Gene Weingarten
The Washington Post


Artwork © 2006 Eric Shansby

My favorite children’s songwriter is Barry Louis Polisar, because he’s got edge. He’s a little wicked. His song titles all read like this one: Stanley Stole My Shoelace and Rubbed It in His Armpit. His alphabet song is like none you have ever heard: D, for example, is for doody balls.

So I challenged Barry to a children’s songwriting contest. To make it interesting, the deal was that each of us would have to write on a title subject chosen by the other. Once Barry agreed, I had him where I wanted him. This is the title I gave him:

A Discussion of the Laws of Commercial Zoning and/or Eminent Domain as They Impact the Small Business Model (to the tune of London Bridge Is Falling Down)

Barry never questioned this. He just wrote the song.

Jill and Andy made a plan
Got some land
Built a stand
There they worked hard,
hand in hand
Selling lemon-a-ade.

Then one day this big guy came
Had no shame
Made a claim:
He would have a grander aim
Than selling lemon-a-ade.

Jill and Andy heard the facts
They’d get the ax
To get more tax
Politicians turned their backs
They don’t like lemon-a-ade.

Jill and Andy had no clue
Never knew
This could be true
The county wanted revenue
And not from lemon-a-ade.

Now there is a great big store
Cars galore
A huge eyesore
You can’t walk there anymore
To get a lemon-a-ade.

There is so much you can buy
Green hair dye
A big bow tie
Christmas lights in mid-July
Who needs lemon-a-ade?

So load the kids into the car
Park on tar
Don’t walk far
Buy a pet rock in a jar
And powdered lemon-a-ade.

Having shown no mercy, I expected none. I was not disappointed. This is the title Barry chose for me, lifted from his son’s homework assignment:

An Examination of Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents,” Emphasizing How, in Surrendering His Freedom for the Conformity of Society, Man Has Sublimated His Natural Aggression but Replaced It With Existential Guilt and Neurosis (to the tune of Yankee Doodle)

Oog the caveman liked to whack
His neighbors on the noo-dle,
And steal their skins and food and girls–
The whole kit and caboodle.

Other cavemen did the same
All their heads were lum-py.
Everyone was always scared
And went around all jum-py.

So the cavemen came to feel
That violence was just aw-ful.
They made a rule that stealing things
And whacking was unlaw-ful.

But Oog, he liked to whack and steal
‘Twas in a caveman’s blo-ood.
It made him feel all proud and strong
And like a major stu-ud.

A peaceful Oogie was all sad
‘Twas one thing or another.
He became a nervous wreck and
Blamed stuff on his mo-ther.

We aren’t cavemen anymore —
We’re whiners and we’re grouches.
We spill our troubles to some clowns
While lying on their couches.

Please join us next time, when Barry and I explain the human sexual response through the soundtrack of The Little Mermaid.

Gene Weingarten writes the Below the Beltway humor column for The Washington Post. This column appeared on April 16th, 2006. Barry Louis Polisar’s song was co-written with his wife, Roni Polisar.