Top Ten Monty Python Songs
ne of the greatest sketch comedy troupes of all time, Monty Python broke many of the rules and traditions of the form, irrevocably changing the way that comedy is performed on television and in improv theaters. The Python’s, however, relied on many of the old tricks of the trade, namely songs, which helped to set their surreal brand of comedy into a framework that was easily understandable. What follows are ten of the best.
10. “The Spam Song” [Flying Circus]
Apparently the word “Spam” is a Viking war cry that is repeated in a melodic format in small dingy coffee houses. I mean, this barely qualifies as a song, but only a true Python fan would lead the harmonizing “Spam SPAAAAAAAAMMM!! WONDERFUL SPAM!!!” in addition to the “SPAM spam spam spam SPAM spam spam spam” chorus.
09. “Isn’t It Awfully Nice To Have A Penis?” [The Meaning Of Life]
Eric Idle’s ode to his genitalia (the “One-Eyed Trouser Snake”), though not even a minute long, is far, FAR superior to any song that may/may not include feeling humps, looking at lumps, and/or letting one lick the lollipop.
08. “Galaxy Song” [The Meaning Of Life]
Though Physics teachers may suspect the accuracy of the units of measurement that are presented in the song, all can agree that there has never been a greater track written with the sole purpose of making a person feel insignificant enough that they would want to donate their liver to medical research. Well, maybe it’s a close second to “You‘re Beautiful” in that department.
07. “The Liberty Bell” [Flying Circus]
The title song from Flying Circus instantly identifies everything the Pythons ever did as being distinctively British. There is something about the pomp of the tune that just feels British. I mean it’s like it really takes you into the entire culture. It’s like one minute you’re in front of your television, and the next you’re standing beside Big Ben eating a bloody crumpet with some ol’ guvna staring at all the tarts that prance ‘round the square. And you babble on about the birds you met at the footer last fortnight and how their supposed to come and chat you up again at that little old pub ‘cross the…
*The Colonel marches in*
“Right, stop that Mr. Writer! This blurb is beginning to get silly! Now I’m warning you not to let this Top Ten list get silly again. I thought this was all supposed to be about songs or tunes or something like that, not some ridiculous Canadian fairy of a writer trying to pass himself off as British. Go on, back to your list!
06. “Every Sperm Is Sacred” [The Meaning Of Life]
Monty Python by way of a Roman Catholic Oliver Twist. From a cinematic standpoint, the whole segment is actually brilliantly choreographed. Just as any good Python does, it gives you sheer enjoyment out of something that you don’t expect. Once you’ve covered the goofiness of an exploding overweight man and surreal quality of “The Middle of the Film (“Fishy fishy fish!”), hit them with an energetic musical number about the sin that is masturbation. Which is somehow more believable subject matter.
05. “Eric The Half-A-Bee” [Various Albums]
The single best thing that their comedy albums ever produced. Perfectly timed and written to its rhyming scheme. Proves that MF Doom has got nothing on these guys. No word of a lit, I have two male cousin, both under the age of 14, who can sing and recite this entire skit/song with a little can-can dance included. It’s just brilliant.
04. “Philosopher’s Song” [Live At The Hollywood Bowl]
The Bruces showed up many times throughout the Python’s careers, but they saved their best performance for 1980’s genius performance at the aforementioned Hollywood Bowl. And actually stands as a decent introductory sequence to a good many philosophers (“There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach you ‘bout the raising of the wrist,” “Immanuel Kant was a real pissant / Who was very rarely stable,” “John Stuart Mill, of his own free will / On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill”).
03. “Lumberjack Song” [performed in German for The German Episode]
Sure, the original is great and everybody knows it, but the version they recorded for German television is the most fun you will ever have laughing at something in a foreign language. For those who have not seen it, picture the entire song in Deutsch, sung by Michael Palin dressed in a lederhosen and a Hitler ‘stache, his girlfriend by his side looking very much like Heidi, and his backup singers dressed in German army garb. Couple this with the changing of the end of the final line from “my dear papa” to “mein unkle Valter.”
02. “Sit On My Face” [Various Albums and Live At The Hollywood Bowl]
A reworking of an old World War I cheer tune, usually sung by a female to troops at sending off parties, to celebrate the beauty and romance accompanied with oral sex. Sheer unadulterated genius.
01. “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” [Life Of Brian]
Hundreds of men and women, hanging on crosses, waiting for the inevitable hand of death to grip them and take them away from their fate of crucifixion…whistling and singing their sorrows away. It’s a great cathartic moment in cinematic history. Optimism springs eternal. The song and message ain’t half bad either. It still stands as the only Python song to have actually cracked the top 20 on the British charts. It may have even taken off in the U.S. if The Mamas & The Papas or even The Monkees had sung it.
And now for something completely different:
By: Matt Sheardown
Published on: 2006-03-17