Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A $162 single: ROSE BROOKS and "They're Coming to Take Me Away"

Turning from the dire mental dilemma facing Ms. Smith in the post above, let's lighten the mood with the dark and soulful…"They're Coming to Take Me Away,"apparently the lone single from Rose Brooks. On some of the collector websites, this single has gone for pretty impressive prices. Hey, what's with the racist "white label" pressing getting so much more than the regular one? What's up with THAT??!!

Jerry Samuels had a controversial hit with the song. As kids rushed to buy it, some adults protested that it should be banned for making fun of the mentally ill. It was really just a looney tune, but in the character of "Napoleon XIV," Samuels' creepy and possessed vocals did take comedy to the edge, and the unique drumming and speeded up vocal parts were ahead of their time. Quite a few retards dismissed the song as no big deal, because, after all, it was about a guy's lost dog, wasn't it? "I'll put you in the ASPCA you mangy mutt!" Uh, no.

This novelty hit spawned a wide variety of copycat and answer versions. Among the two DOZEN versions of the song, you'll find one done by comical effeminate gays (Teddy and Darryl), a pure copycat job (Duke of Waterloo), a Jewish-accented answer song from the crazy's girl ("I'm Happy They Took You Away" by Josephine XIII), and "Down on the Funny Farm Oy Vey" (Josephine XIII).

There was also a kind of answer song, "Don't Take Me Back" (Henry IX) in which our hero decides he likes his peaceful life in the nut hatch. Foreign versions? Sure, there's "Ze nemen me eindelijk mee ha-ha" from Hugo de Groot and "Ellos me quieren lievar" from Napoleon Puppy among others. And the song has continued to resonate in strange ways, having been covered by Tiny Tim (via Genya Ravan producing) and everyone's favorite musical tranny, Amanda Lear.

Below, the soul version from Rose Brooks, who was getting taken away to the funny farm years before Richard Pryor's overtly titled album "That Nigger's Crazy." It really didn't take all that long before the revolutions in pop music and in comedy, which were breaking down barriers in the late 60's, yielded a totally new field on which to play. The mutations in the 70's turned even the mild mannered Rupert Holmes into singing a love ballad called "Let's Get Crazy Tonight." Through the 80's and 90's, and now into the 21st Century, we are happily surrounded by the spawn of people who took way too many drugs while listening to their favorite crazy music. Halloween songs from the post 60's happily dabble in paranoia ("Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell") re-write old horror movies into much more psychotic rock ("Ballad of Dwight Fry" by Alice Cooper) or even offer light-hearted commentary on being put away ("Baldry's Out" by Long John Baldry).

"Lets get retarded!" the Black Eyed Peas chanted not too long ago. And here? An early pop tune that let's us know that blacks don't just get the blues. The caged bird can sing in the nut house, too.

COMING... To Take Me Away

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