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Author Topic: Was Back in the USSR the 1st Beach Boys parody?  (Read 975 times)
CenturyDeprived
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« on: July 23, 2018, 03:01:13 PM »

I'm trying to think if there's an earlier example by any other band that directly is a parody of The Beach Boys?

Certainly many bands had been influenced by The Beach Boys at that point, and had copied/lifted or done covers/homages to the band in some sort... but I feel like Back in the USSR might be the 1st parody/joke version committed to tape. Does anyone know?

Separately, can anyone break down the vocal parts on Back to the USSR (the Beach Boys part)?

Who is singing the "dow dow dow" Mike Love-esque parts?
And who's singing the Brian falsetto?
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JK
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2018, 03:16:49 PM »

Here, from 4:52 to 5:13: "Little Deuce Coupe". "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" was recorded in 1967.     

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZLWD75KKGA
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2018, 03:19:15 PM »

Here, from 4:52 to 5:13: "Little Deuce Coupe". "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" was recorded in 1967.     

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZLWD75KKGA


Amazing. I had no idea of this!
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RubberSoul13
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2018, 03:25:44 PM »

The Turtles- "Surfer Dan"
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All Summer Long
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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2018, 03:54:55 PM »

I'm trying to think if there's an earlier example by any other band that directly is a parody of The Beach Boys?

Certainly many bands had been influenced by The Beach Boys at that point, and had copied/lifted or done covers/homages to the band in some sort... but I feel like Back in the USSR might be the 1st parody/joke version committed to tape. Does anyone know?

Separately, can anyone break down the vocal parts on Back to the USSR (the Beach Boys part)?

Who is singing the "dow dow dow" Mike Love-esque parts?
And who's singing the Brian falsetto?

"Mike" is John
"Brian" is Paul and/or George (I'm pretty sure it's Paul, maybe a mix, but can't remember off the top of my head)
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Chocolate Shake Man
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2018, 06:16:09 AM »

This is semantics, but I always considered the song more pastiche than parody. For me the difference is that pastiche imitates while parody makes fun of. And furthermore, it's a pastiche of not just a style but, in my view, two different songs: Chuck Berry's Back in the USA and The Beach Boys' California Girls.
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B.E.
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2018, 06:25:42 AM »

This is semantics, but I always considered the song more pastiche than parody. For me the difference is that pastiche imitates while parody makes fun of. And furthermore, it's a pastiche of not just a style but, in my view, two different songs: Chuck Berry's Back in the USA and The Beach Boys' California Girls.

Agreed.
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Don Malcolm
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2018, 09:09:09 AM »

Not semantics at all--a crucial distinction. There's also "influence," which is heard in uses of harmony, which would also need to be kept separate from pastiche and parody.

Clearly Murry was imitating the BBs when he took up with Rick Henn and the Sunrays. That's probably the first pastiche of the BBs, though I leave to others to decide where in the spectrum of influence one wants to place the post-1963 output of Jan & Dean.
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Theydon Bois
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« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2018, 04:04:18 PM »

Here, from 4:52 to 5:13: "Little Deuce Coupe". "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" was recorded in 1967.     

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZLWD75KKGA


Amazing. I had no idea of this!

... and actually identified as such in the sheet music (arranged for piano by Mother of Invention Ian Underwood):

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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2018, 04:31:36 PM »

This is semantics, but I always considered the song more pastiche than parody. For me the difference is that pastiche imitates while parody makes fun of. And furthermore, it's a pastiche of not just a style but, in my view, two different songs: Chuck Berry's Back in the USA and The Beach Boys' California Girls.

I kinda respectfully disagree.

Especially since the tune is called "Back in the USSR", which is a deliberate take/pun on the whole US pride type thing, it's (to my ears at least) an intentionally jokey reference to the BB's song Surfin' USA, and some of the lyrical themes of California Girls.

IMO, it's both an homage and also making fun of that Beach Boys aesthetic a little bit (but not in a mean way).  It's not just that the song goes into a Beach Boys style randomly for a bit simply because The Beatles appreciated The BBs' music; it's a very purposeful joke on US vs USSR, national pride, and very much a wink wink, nudge nudge thing, since the BBs always bragged about their girls, and sang about national pride.

Maybe it's a hybrid parody/pastiche, but to me it's a bit like when Get Smart did their Casablanca episode; there's undeniable parody involved.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2018, 04:50:14 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2018, 04:48:47 PM »

The Turtles- "Surfer Dan"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=subkObGLkDI
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Chocolate Shake Man
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2018, 07:35:15 PM »

This is semantics, but I always considered the song more pastiche than parody. For me the difference is that pastiche imitates while parody makes fun of. And furthermore, it's a pastiche of not just a style but, in my view, two different songs: Chuck Berry's Back in the USA and The Beach Boys' California Girls.

I kinda respectfully disagree.

Especially since the tune is called "Back in the USSR", which is a deliberate take/pun on the whole US pride type thing, it's (to my ears at least) an intentionally jokey reference to the BB's song Surfin' USA, and some of the lyrical themes of California Girls.

IMO, it's both an homage and also making fun of that Beach Boys aesthetic a little bit (but not in a mean way).  It's not just that the song goes into a Beach Boys style randomly for a bit simply because The Beatles appreciated The BBs' music; it's a very purposeful joke on US vs USSR, national pride, and very much a wink wink, nudge nudge thing, since the BBs always bragged about their girls, and sang about national pride.

Maybe it's a hybrid parody/pastiche, but to me it's a bit like when Get Smart did their Casablanca episode; there's undeniable parody involved.

I hear you but I disagree with your analysis.

For one, it seems to elide the fact that a central source text for the song is Chuck Berry's Back in the USA. Look at the first verse of both songs:

Back in the USSR:

Oh, flew in from Miami Beach B.O.A.C.
Didn't get to bed last night
On the way the paper bag was on my knee
Man I had a dreadful flight
I'm back in the U.S.S.R.

Back in the USA:

Oh well, oh well, I feel so good today
We touched ground on an international runway
Jet propelled back home, from over the seas to the U. S. A.

There's definitely a humour in the song but the target is not The Beach Boys. Rather, McCartney is just taking this rock and roll convention (and to be fair, most of it comes from Chuck Berry here and not The Beach Boys) and considers it from the perspective of "the enemy" in order to show that the Russian man has the same story as the American man and when it comes right down to it, we are all the same. Now a more serious version would simply argue that people have the same values everywhere and the same capacity of making good choices, flawed choices, etc. But The Beatles are a bit more creative than that and from a more musical perspective say, just as an American can write "Back in the USA," a Russian can write "Back in the USSR" and just as an American can write California Girls, a Russian can sing about Moscow girls.

So, sure, it's funny in that that's the Beatles take on it but it would be the equivalent of writing a song from the perspective of a man from Holland in the style of Blue Suede Shoes, called Yellow Wooden Clogs. The target wouldn't be Elvis or Carl Perkins. I mean, I guess it could be, but not if your goal is to show that people all over the world have the same concerns.
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JK
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« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2018, 02:13:16 AM »

So, sure, it's funny in that that's the Beatles take on it but it would be the equivalent of writing a song from the perspective of a man from Holland in the style of Blue Suede Shoes, called Yellow Wooden Clogs.

Only no self-respecting man from Holland would give a sh*t what you did with his yellow wooden clogs. LOL
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 02:15:11 AM by JK » Logged

Chocolate Shake Man
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« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2018, 04:33:57 AM »

So, sure, it's funny in that that's the Beatles take on it but it would be the equivalent of writing a song from the perspective of a man from Holland in the style of Blue Suede Shoes, called Yellow Wooden Clogs.

Only no self-respecting man from Holland would give a sh*t what you did with his yellow wooden clogs. LOL

Ha!
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« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2018, 04:38:45 AM »

I pity people using cuss words to look cool. Here: Jk using s-word. Hate to disappoint but it doesn't make anybody look cool. Btw, what's clogs? Can any of you 2 tell?
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« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2018, 06:53:54 PM »

The correct answer is "homage."

Very clever song all the way.
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« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2018, 06:58:38 PM »

Paul writes clever songs! :D

Btw, looks like I stumped Chocolate Shake Man & JK as they didn't answer question what's "clogs". Maybe it's top secret. Tongue
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« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2018, 09:34:33 PM »

Clogs are a type of shoe.
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« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2018, 12:06:16 AM »

The Four Seasons' "No Surfin' Today"(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xRmb3wtbNA), which was the B-side to their 1964 single Dawn (Go Away), was probably one of the first song to "parody" The Beach Boys, though I'm not very sure about this.
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« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2018, 09:12:10 AM »

It was the Four Seasons' response to "Surfers Rule."
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« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2018, 03:01:04 PM »

Clogs are a type of shoe.
Shoe? Interesting. When I read JK's & Chocolate Shake's back & forth, it seemed by description "wooden", they talk about type of house in Holland. I didn't know that shoes can be wooden. Either way, glad the question is answered. I MUST know if I'm curious about various things. Question's point is to get the answer to it. Duh.
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« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2018, 03:44:55 PM »

It was the Four Seasons' response to "Surfers Rule."

Oh wow, that is interesting! I didn't know that there was a back-and-forth "war" of sorts.

While this was almost certainly done in a joking/ribbing manner between The BBs and The Four Seasons, this almost seems like a very early version of the east coast/west coast rap wars that would happen years later, where artists would mock other artists, and then the other mocked artist would return the favor.

Is there an earlier example of that type of back-and-forth "feud" between artists, where they'd be busting each others' balls with released material making fun of each other?

Also - did either band (The BBs and The Four Seasons) personally know each other at the time of these songs?
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« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2018, 04:19:49 PM »

Is there an earlier example of that type of back-and-forth "feud" between artists, where they'd be busting each others' balls with released material making fun of each other?

Happened all the time in, for instance, calypso music.  There were even duets between rival artists attacking each other!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHkoYHqlkfY
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