Allan Sherman’s ‘letter from camp’ song “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” is, I suspect, one of the humorous songs that most kids know…but, unlike, say Tom Lehrer (or, I’m guessing, Dr. Demento), most kids and former kids aren’t very familiar with any of Sherman’s other songs, which are mostly humor — often urban and suburban Jewish — using familiar tunes.
He did about ten albums (according to Wikipedia), starting with MY SON THE FOLKSINGER, but until recently, only about ten or twenty songs were easily available, through a “best of” CD (which I own). (There’s actually two different “Best of” CDs, I believe — some different selections, and different performances.)
Allan Sherman also wrote several books — his autobiography epitomizes “funny people are often very unhappy.” And, among other things, according to Wikipedia, he created and was the original producer of the TV game show, “I’ve Got A Secret.”
I bought probably six or seven of his albums (vinyl) as they came out, but don’t still have them all. (I do still have a turntable.) I’ve picked up one or two of the older albums at yard sales, but there’s some I don’t have, and haven’t hunted for online. (A quick eBay check suggests that copies of all his albums can be obtained.)
In 2005, Rhino Records announced the six-disk MY SON THE BOX, with 149 tracks, including 31 unreleased ones — “everything Sherman waxed for Warner Bros., and more. The albums My Son, The Folk Singer; My Son, The Celebrity; My Son, The Nut; Allan In Wonderland; Songs For Swingin’ Livers Only!; My Name Is Allan; Allan Sherman Live!!!; and Togetherness are included in their entirety, along with previously unreleased outtakes, alternate versions, and live performances, as well as “Sue Me” (with Debbie Reynolds) from the Guys And Dolls soundtrack.”
(“Sue me” can be found on the four-CD set, Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre (Finian’s Rainbow, Kiss Me Kate, South Pacific, Guys and Dolls), also starring Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Jo Stafford, the McGuire Sisters, and Sammy Davis Jr., which is interesting enough to warrant borrowing, but not, IMHO, quite good enough to justify purchasing at full price–although the Guys & Dolls, which I’m listening to my library’s copy of right now, is a lot of fun.)
Given that MY SON THE BOX was a limited-edition product — 4,000 copies — I wanted one, and knew I should get it quickly, before they all sold. But the $139 price tag gave me pause.
I periodically checked our library’s online catalog, but no luck. A month or so ago, I had the library search their extended lending network, and while two libraries had it, both declined to let me inter-library-loan it, the bums.
Then I heard a tune on one of our local radio stations that was inarguably Allan Sherman, but one I’d ever heard — even they have a copy of the set.
Earlier this month, however, 1) I got $75 for participating in a focus group by one of Boston’s local non-profit music stations. (“Finally, a focus group where I’m really in the target demographic” is what I said when I saw the other people in the waiting room.) 2) Collectors Choice Music, whose catalog I get and sporadically purchase from, had MY SON THE BOX on sale for $109.95. 3) They were offering free shipping for purchases over $50, made before December 18. 4) Their email included an “additional 15% off” offer.
That brought the purchase price down to $93.46, and I’m investing my focus group fee, bringing the net to $18.46.
I’m expecting it to arrive any day now. Happy holiday to me!