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Site History & Song Writing
Updated April 5, 2002
By Bill Tong, Webmaster & Author

The Role of Political Satire & Song Parodies

    Political satire has been used for centuries as a humorous means to afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted.  Musical satire can be an especially effective and morale-boosting means of communication.  While not all song parodies fit the category of satire (i.e., playful, silly parodies in the style of Al Yankovic are light-hearted, apolitical, and often ridicule the original song), the song parodies that you'll find at this web site are all political satire.  They aim specifically to humorously highlight and ridicule the foibles and folly of far right wing politicians and celebrities, especially those powerful enough to control the Republican Party and the nation today.   With the right wing corporate takeover of television and radio today, the Internet is one of the last bastions of freedom for protest, especially since we now have a president (actually it should be "resident") who was appointed by Republican cronies of the Supreme Court.

    These songs are meant to be sung out loud - at a party or political rally, and on a PA or karaoke system, if possible!  Of course, you may have to content yourself with initially singing them silently to yourself, depending upon where you are reading.  I carefully craft my parody lyrics to be as easy to sing as the originals - you'll notice most of the rhymes from the original lyrics have been preserved.  My fellow writers and I aim to educate as well as entertain.

    Most of my song parodies use rock and roll and pop songs from the 1950's through the 1980's, although I have also used folk songs, Broadway musicals, and television and movie themes, as well, so there should be something for everyone.   You'll also find over 1,000 MIDI music files specially selected by yours truly to provide musical accompaniment for nearly 90% of the songs on this web site.  Show this web site to your Republican friends, and many of them will probably get bent out of shape by some of my songs; many will sputter "Get over it" but most won't be able to refute the lyrics, so you'll probably get the last laugh.

    I've been writing song parodies since I was a kid, so I've had a lot of practice, and perhaps it's easier for me than for most people.   But, believe it or not, I didn't write my first political song parody until the summer of 1995, when Newt Gingrich, the new Speaker of the House, announced draconian budget cuts for government agencies that he and his right wing cohorts didn't like, such as the EPA. Outraged, yet amused by Newt's antics and flaws, I began to write satirical songs about him from songs whose lyrics I knew by heart. Within less than a year, I had written over 80 song parodies skewering the Republican right wing, with more than half specifically targeting Newt. I circulated this song book file around to friends via e-mail; after mid-1996, I stopped writing new songs for a few years as Newt began to encounter political difficulties. During late 1998, Newt's troubles culminated in his announcement that he was stepping down as Speaker of the House and resigning from Congress. Around that time, I had just stumbled upon the web site of my friendly rival and conservative counterpart, Mike Smith, and his site inspired me to create my own.

Site History (with web snapshots of the past provided by the Web Wayback Machine)

  1. December 10, 1998: The Boot Newt Sing Along Page was launched at EarthLink with about 80 of my songs written from 1995-96. My friend Mitch suggested adding matching MIDI files to my parody lyrics, which I thought was a great idea.
  2. June 1999: After running of of server space at EarthLink had to find a bigger web space, so I moved the site to Xoom, later taken over by NBCi.
  3. July 2000: Due to erratic reliability of the Xoom server, I created a mirror site at Geocities.
  4. August 2001: When NBCi ceased free web hosting services, I moved from Xoom to Tripod, which is now the main site location.
  5. April 3, 2002: When my Geocities web space allotment was exhausted, I set up the new mirror site at Envy.nu.

Though Newt retired,this site is still named "The Boot Newt Sing Along Page"

1.    It's a catchy site name, that requires little explanation:  this is the place to skewer right wing Republicans and to "honor" (cough, cough) Newt for his failed 1994 "revolution" through humor and song.

2.    Even though Newt left Congress in 1999, many of the freshmen members of Congress that helped the Republicans take control are still around; the Republican Party is still controlled by far Right looneys such Tom DeLay and Dick Armey; the Senate is still dominated by the likes of Trent Lott and Jesse Helms; the Religious Right and the NRA are powerful GOP lobbies.  So, the spirit and nastiness that Newt represented is still alive and well in the GOP.

   Since 1998, I've written more than 500 new song parodies.  I thought it would not as easy to write new ones as in 1998, because my favorite target, Newt Gingrich, has left the scene (but he might come back), and because I had done most of the pop songs familiar to me.  But with the coronation of King Shrub, I'll have 4 (hopefully no more than 4) years to make fun of him.   George W. Bush, a man of many nicknames and flaws, is a song parodist's dream subject - I've written more than 300 songs about him.  However, I do take song parody requests from fans, and the inspiration from other writers does help me come up with new song ideas.  In fact, a woman named Laurie e-mailed me from Florida during the November 2000 state recount, asking if I could come up with an song parody anthem she and her fellow Democrats could use during public protests - Laurie suggested the Chiquita Banana jingle, and I came up with the parody, Banana Republic, in about 30 minutes.


So you want to write song parodies?

Here are my two cents worth of advice...

1. Pick a familiar song. A good song parody depends upon familiarity of the song relative to your audience. Therefore, it's not a good idea to write a parody of a really obscure song; very few will recognize it.

2. Stay true to the original lyrics. While it's much easier to completely re-write your own lyrics and rhymes, wherever possible, I try to preserve as much of the original rhyme as I can when writing my parody lyrics. The better the audience knows the lyrics of the original song, the more they can appreciate subtle humor, especially if you are writing satire. Sometimes all you need is to substitute a word here or there. Here are some of my favorite opening lines (parody lyrics in italics):

From "The Christmas Song":
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...
Gun nuts boasting they will open fire

From "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers:
Well I built me a raft, and it's ready for floating...
Well he gave us the shaft, and already he's gloating

From "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon:
You walked into the party like you were walking into a yacht...
You're leader of the party of all the fat cats who own the yachts

From "Today" by the New Christy Minstrels:
Today, while the flowers still cling to the vine...
DeLay has the power to sling all his slime

From "Your Love Lifts Me Higher And Higher" by Jackie Wilson:
Your love is lifting me higher...
He's Rush, the shifty big liar

3. Parody lyrics should be easy to sing. A good song parody should ideally be as easy to sing as the original song lyrics; the parody lyrics should flow well with the music. Imagine your favorite singer singing your song parody on stage - would that singer trip over the parody lyrics that you've written? When writing, you need to be careful to count syllables and watch for awkward accents caused by certain placements of lyrics. So, you may need to rewrite your lyrics several times by substituting words with synomyms.

4. Start from the complete original lyrics. To avoid mistakes of recollection, I usually work from the original lyrics, which I later match up with a MIDI music file. Fortunately, you don't have to own a personal library of music books, you can simply go to the Internet.  My favorite lyrics web site is Lyrics World, a huge and well-organized site run by Paolo Filho, based in Brazil. You can find just about any pop or rock and roll song lyric there. What if you want to write a parody of a folk or non-pop song? You can find lyrics to most folk and traditional songs at the Mudcat folk/blues web site.   Do you want to try writing a parody of songs from Broadway musicals?  Try the Musical Heaven web site for these type of lyrics.  You can also use the Google search engine to find lyrics - type in the name of the song followed by the word "lyrics."

5. If you use MIDI accompaniment, match your lyrics to the MIDI music. There may be many versions of the same song, composed by various MIDI musicians. Compare and test several versions of a MIDI file to find the arrangement you like best. I usually choose an arrangement closest to the original recording of the song. Then, make sure your parody lyrics and verses are structured to match that particular MIDI arrangement. A really fast way to find a MIDI file on the Web is to use MIDI Explorer, a search engine created specifically to scour the Web for MIDI files.   For MIDI files from Broadway musicals, try the Broadway MIDI site.


WRITE YOUR OWN & JOIN THE FUN!

    Visit our ever-growing collection of guest song parodies - I have had the good fortune to meet other like-minded writers, including Skisics Surus, Sara Rose, Darrell Decker, Alvin Dover, Lydia Theys and Regina Litman.  Their brilliant work can be seen on the Guest Song Parodies Page.  Good luck. If you write an anti-Republican political song parody, send it in - if I like it, I'll post it at this site.  Please provide me with the original song title and the singer who made it famous - also, suggest a web link for a matching MIDI file, if you can.  Thanks!


What are MIDI files?
An easy-to-understand explanation for Net newbies

When you see this button on the pages of lyrics on this Web site, and you click on it, you are activating a link to a MIDI file that will play a particular song composed on a synthesizer. With a properly equipped computer, the song will play for you while you browse the lyrics. The sound quality of the MIDI playback will depend upon the quality of your computer sound card and of the MIDI software that is installed on your computer.

What does MIDI stand for?
    MIDI stands for "Musical Instrument Digital Interface," an electronic communications standard originally developed during the early 1980s for music synthesizers, so that different brands of synthesizers, commonly known as "electronic keyboards," could be connected together and played simultaneously from one master keyboard.   As personal computers became more sophisticated, the line between electronic keyboards and personal computers became blurred; so that by now, a decent multi-media home computer can perform all the functions of not only an electronic keyboard, but also those of a recording studio.   MIDI is an essential tool for contemporary musicians, who can now collaborate and trade their compositions across the world via the Internet.  There are hundreds of thousands of MIDI compositions available at thousands of Web sites on the Internet.   If you have ever seen a hotel lounge piano playing by itself, look for the MIDI control module mounted on the bottom of the instrument.   An acoustic piano retrofitted with a MIDI module and a motorized playing unit will actually duplicate and even enhance the original performance of the musician who recorded the MIDI composition in a studio. Imagine a virtuoso piano piece playing back with the sound of a flute, or at double the original speed of performance!

How are MIDI files different from digital sound files such as .WAV or .AVI files?
    MIDI files are to electronic music what sheet music is to acoustic music.   A MIDI file is a set of computer instructions that contains performance information (not sound waves) that describes what notes were played, and in what manner (how fast, how hard, and for how long were the notes played).   So, just as sheet music contains playing instructions for a musician, MIDI files contain playing instructions for the computer or synthesizer.   The advantage of using MIDI files is that they are usually much smaller than .WAV or .AVI files, so they can be downloaded quickly when using a Web page browser.

Why can't I hear the MIDI files when I click on them?
  Your personal computer must have a sound card (if you have a Mac, that capability is already built-in) and software that can decode MIDI files.   Netscape Communicator 4.0 or higher for Windows usually has the software plug-in included for playing MIDI files.   (Earlier versions of Web browsers may need additional software, such as Crescendo, which you can download here.  Mac versions of browsers can use Crescendo or a plug-in known as MacZilla to play back MIDI.)    Some Windows PCs may include a more sophisticated, stand-alone application such as Media Player, or the Yamaha "soft synthesizer" SYXG50.

    You must also have a set of speakers or headphones attached to the audio output jack in the back of your computer.   You will not be able to hear a MIDI file by plugging in headphones to the CD-ROM audio jack located in front of your PC.

Why does playing the MIDI music remove the lyrics from the screen?
    On some versions of Netscape Navigator running on Macs (including my own), the MIDI file does not automatically open in its own browser window. Instead, it "bumps" the lyrics window in order to play the file. When you hit the "Back" button, the lyrics come back, but then the MIDI file stops playing. To remedy this, click on the musical icon at the upper left corner of the lyrics page, and HOLD the mouse button to get the pop up menu, scroll the mouse to select "New Window with this link." Now that you have two browser windows open, you can click back on the lyrics page, and have the MIDI musical accompaniment running simultaneously.

Where can I find MIDI files on the Internet?
    There are thousands of MIDI sites on the Web. If you know what song you are looking for, the fastest way to find it is to use a special search engine called MIDI Explorer, which can be found at http://www.musicrobot.com - just enter the key word(s) of the title. Also, you can use any of the popular search engines such as Yahoo, Excite, AltaVista, HotBot, etc. - just enter the word "MIDI."

How do I save MIDI files so I can play them later?
  If you are using Netscape 4.0 or later, a small rectangular window will pop up when a MIDI files is played.  On an IBM-compatible, click on that rectangle once with the right mouse button and select "Save As", then select the location on your hard drive (or floppy disk) to save the file.   The file will probably be called "Untitled.mid", so you should make up a name up to 8 letters long, followed by ".mid."   (If you don't change the file name, your next file will save over and erase the previous MIDI file because the name is the same as the last.) On a Mac, saving MIDI the file to your hard disk is a bit more straightforward - the original file name (sometimes fairly long) will be used. You should save the MIDI file on your Mac as "source" and not "text."

Can I edit MIDI files?
  Yes, you can edit MIDI files, but you will need special software for composing and editing MIDI files.   This type of software usually allows you to change the instrument sounds, tempo, add drums and percussion, extra tracks, reverb, special effects etc., and connect an external keyboard through a MIDI interface, which is a special type of 5-pin cable box.  Most popular consumer keyboards made by brands such as Casio and Yamaha have a MIDI interface that will work with a computer MIDI interface.   This means that if you hook up a MIDI keyboard to your computer, you can not only compose and record your keyboard songs, but you can also send MIDI files from your computer to be played out on your keyboard.  Some of the well-known MIDI computer applications include Cakewalk, CyberPlayer, etc.   You can also download and try out freeware or shareware MIDI software by going to this site on the Internet:

http://www.download.com

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