In 1956, a calculated move or two by the Disney company launched a major Davy Crocket fad. Davy Crocket merchandise of every kind was seen for a summer or so, and millions of otherwise rational kids started wearing coonskin caps all over the English speaking world (in her book on British culture, THE LANGUAGE AND LORE OF SCHOOLCHILDREN, Iona Opie notes that home-made caps outnumbered “official” ones by a ten-to-one ratio). The fad ended as quickly as it had begun, leaving in its wake a whole slew of parodies of “The Ballad of Davy Crocket,” some of which had spread through Australia before the real song was even released there. The parodies long outlasted the fad.
Some popular examples:
Born on a table top in Joe’s cafe
dirtiest place in the USA
Killed his father when he was only 3,
polished off his mother with DDT
Davy, Davy Crocket, king of the wild frontier
Australians, possibly not yet aware of who the heck Crocket was, often changed the last line to “The man who is no good.” Other variations had him “killed his pa when he was only four / now he’s looking for his brother in law!”
Born on a roof top in Battersea
Joined the Teds when he was only three
Coshed a cop when he was only four
and now he’s in Dartmoor forevermore
Davy, Davy Crocket, king of the teddy boy gang
(Teddy Boys were sort of the British version of greasers).
A particular favorite, collected by Sherman from a kid who learned it in the 70s:
Born on a mountaintop in Palestine
raised on gefilte fish and Mogen David wine
he was bar mitzvahed when he was only 9,
but his name wasn’t Crocket, it was Finklestein
David, David Finklestein, king of the wild frontier
Interesting note about Davy Crocket – he really did claim to have killed hundreds of bears. Some contemporaries said they didn’t believe him. They believed he could kill bears, all right, but not that he could count to the hundreds. When writing The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History, I couldn’t figure out if he was actually that dumb, or if he just acted that way as part of the “just as dumb as you, a real man of the people” image the Whig party wanted for him. There are plenty of politicians around today where I wonder the same thing.
Anyway, the songs long outlived the Crocket fad, and new versions kept appearing. Which ones do you know?