Thursday, February 09, 2017

Stan Boreson - Just Doesn't Look Good Dead

No, no, that's NOT one of my Photoshop jobs. That actually is Stan, in a moment from his music video for "I Just Don't Look Good Naked Anymore."

Irwin Corey lived to be 102. Stan Boreson lived to be 91. For most of us, we can rationalize, "well, they lived a long life." But you can bet they would've wanted to live longer. This would be especially true of Stan Boreson, who was not only a very functional 91, but still had the company of his beloved wife Barbara.

So, all grim humor aside, you can be sure he didn't look good dead, and didn't want to be dead. He would've wanted to go on performing novelty songs, one of the last of the comic jingle-guys.

But "ordinary" novelty songs isn't what made him famous. It was Swedish dialect stuff.

Musical ethnic comedy? Back in the 50’s and early 60’s, there was tons of it on vinyl. You wanted Italian stupidity? Lou Monte. You wanted Jewish idiocy? Mickey Katz. Any accent, from Irish to ‘Negro,’ was hilarious, and singing in that dialect even more fun. As Jose Jimenez, Bill Dana got huge laughs from bleating a Latino-accented version of Hildegarde’s “Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup.”

Generally, members of the ethnic group being "insulted" laughed the loudest and wanted more. As offensive and nasal as Mickey Katz's schtick was, the Jews bought it. And in places where Scandanavian immigrants were plentiful (especially the states of Washington and Minneapolis), the record stores had plenty of Swedish accent comedy from Yogi Yorgesson (born Harry Skarbo, who also performed as Harry Stewart and even sang Japanese dialect as Hari Kari) and the team of Stan Boreson and Doug Setterberg, who began by covering Yogi's "Yingle Bells" Swedish Christmas parodies.

Ultimately, it was the solo Boreson (May 5, 1925- January 27, 2017) who became the “King of Scandanavian Humor. Boreson was also a big favorite on local TV in Seattle. He was still active even as CDs began to eclipse vinyl. On his website, you could order all of the classics, both the stuff with Setterberg and the solo albums, from “Yust Go Nuts at Christmas” and “Stan Boreson Fractures Christmas” to “Those Swedish Meatballs” and “More Scandihoovian Hits.” Fans were delighted when there would suddenly be a new novelty song from the old master.

Stan was married to his wife Barbara for 64 years, and she reports that the end “was peaceful.” After dinner, he collapsed. It was a stroke, and he didn't survive much longer after the attack.

Unlike Jewish dialect or many other ethnic dialect comedy, the market for Swedish goofery wasn't that large, and the Grammy award people didn't come nominating. The early albums with Setterberg and the later stuff on CD didn't exactly go Gold. Still, there was always the sliver of comedy record collectors who bought anything for the collection, and the larger swath of fans in Washington who loved him and his Swedish accent. Though not seen too often on TV, Boreson did get some recognition beyond local media. King Harald V of Norway presented him with the St. Olav’s Medal in 2005. Which is pretty impressive for anyone who knows what it is.

While it might be argued that Yogi Yorgesson’s name should come first, since he pioneered Scandanavian novelty songs and wrote many of them, Boreson was more prolific. As times changed, he wisely varied his act to include more than just dialect stuff. That includes your download below, a self-parody that most any elderly person could relate to. What makes it funny is hearing the self-deprecating Boreson make the sad reality into comedy. Comedy is when Stan sings about it. Tragedy is when it happens to you!

Stan Boreson, sans Swedish dialect… I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore

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