Ten Bum Tunes

My children are now of an age where the use of the word “bum” in a pop song does not immediately elicit hoots of inappropriate laughter. But it helps.

 

  1. “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum” by Harry McClintock. The quintessential hobo anthem, a Depression-era classic that provides snappy answers to stupid questions such as “Why don’t you work as other men do?”

 

  1. “Hallelujah I’m a Bum Again by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers. A completely different song than the one above, much more melodic and lyrical and rather less funny and scruffy too. Popularized by Al Jolson in the 1933 film Hallelujah I’m a Bum, directed by Lewis Milestone from a script by Ben Hecht and S.N. Behrman.

 

  1. “The Bumblebee Tuna Song,” by Mephiskapheles. The catchy TV commercial was turned into an even more potent ska dance tune by a band which frequently visited New Haven’s Tune Inn club.

 

  1. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Some might say it goes “Duh Duh Duh Dum,” but truly it’s “Bum Bum Bum Bum.”

 

  1. The Dragnet Theme. The only constant for every rendition of this classic police procedural, whether on radio, TV, TV again, the Dan Ayckroyd/Tom Hanks comedy, or TV again.

 

  1. “I’m Just an Old Son of a Bum.” Obscure 1930s sheet music. A comic hobo ditty with umpteen verses, one of which goes:

 

A college fellow asked me once

If I had gone to Yale

I said “Could you repeat that please

Did you say ‘Yale’ or ‘jail’?!

I’m just an old son of a bum.

Just an old son of a bum.

Just an old son of a, just an old son of a,

Just an old son of a bum.

 

  1. “Son of a Bum,” Mel Tillis. Again, unrelated to the song of virtually the same title above.

 

  1. “The Bum Bum Song,” Tom Green. Aka “The Lonely Swedish,” this is the first bum song on this list to be about a rump, a posterior, a bottom. It was an extraordinarily popular song, with millions of (free) downloads, a #1 placement on MTV’s Total Request Live show in 1999, and a reference on Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady.”

 

  1. “The Bum Bum Song,” Blink-182. Again, no the same as the one above. But also about an ass. And even ruder, if such a thing is possible. Homophobic too.

 

  1. “The Beach Bum Song,” Bright Eyes. A token indie tune for the bum list.   Doesn’t use the word “bum” in the lyrics at all, just in the title. The main image is of a “postman sleeping in the sand.”

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