Favorite Novelty Song?

Novelty songs are easy to dismiss as fluffy filler, but there’s an undeniable art to writing a really good one. Jerry Reed’s “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)” has had some sort of strange hold on me recently, but one of my all-time favorite novelty songs is David Frizzell’s “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home.”

Penned by DeWayne Blackwell, who was also a writer on Sammy Kershaw’s “Yard Sale” and a little Garth Brooks tune called “Friends in Low Places,” “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino” features some legitimately clever, funny songwriting and a note-perfect performance by Frizzell. Give it a listen and see if you don’t agree:

Anyway, here’s the question of the day: What’s your favorite novelty song? It can be a classic or something of more recent vintage (Brad Paisley comes to mind). Feel free to provide a link if you’d like.

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About C.M. Wilcox

A freelance writer and humorist with an abiding love of country music, C.M. Wilcox's cutting, clear-eyed take on the genre has drawn the attention of Country Weekly, The Washington Post, and The Tennessean in the years since this site began. He lives near Sacramento and can be reached by email at CMW (at) countrycalifornia.com.

Things People Are Saying

  1. I’m gonna go with “Cow Patti” by Jim Stafford. For sentimental reasons.

  2. The thing is, I don’t really know a novelty song when I see one. “I’m gonna hire a wino” has a sense of humor, but is also pretty freakin serious with his wife pretty effectively running down all of the hurtful behaviors her husband is engaging in meanwhile he not only has to bear the shame of listening to it, but also repeating it.

    I mean, is Hank’s “Dear John” a novelty song because it has a few jokes in it?

    I don’t know, the I just don’t get the difference between a novelty song vs. a legit song that uses humor vs. a stupid worthless song (I hate Brad Paisley)

  3. I have to admit that novelty songs are one place where I could definitely use a lot more education, probably because a lot of the artists who did them best were never quite A-list stars or anything. But I love a good silly number and I agree they’re as much an artistic endeavor as anything, so I’m excited to hear other people point the way to some good ‘uns.

    In the meantime, it’s hard to go wrong with Roger Miller, and my favorite of his is “The Moon is High (And So Am I),” the lyrics of which actually read pretty serious, but not enough so to overcome the lunatic performance. It’s wonderful.

    I don’t know if this is qualifies as a novelty song or a legit song that uses humor as Ben coined, but I actually find Jack Ingram’s “Love You” to be a pretty decent hoot, too. Just to give a modern example.

  4. @ Ben
    I don’t know. I see “Wino” as primarily humorous, though it’s certainly built around a kernel of serious truth (as are most good songs, novelty or otherwise). I wouldn’t hold it up as the best, most precise example of what a novelty song is, but it’s certainly somewhere in the range.

    I think you’re right that “novelty song” is a pretty ambiguous term, so I’d expect that everyone will answer according to their own definition, which is fine. Of course, those interested in trying to hash out a solid universal definition of the term are welcome to do so.

  5. This one’s easy. Jerry Reed, “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” Especially that part trying to bribe the judge.

  6. I think that Jerry Reed and Roger Miller are the best at novelty songs. I don’t hate Brad Paisley, but he could probably polish his skills a bit there. I really like the Ingram song that Dan mentioned and the Frizell one too. The Frizell song seems like a novelty song to me, even if it’s based on a serious topic.

  7. I think my favorite novelty song is “Marie Leveau” by Bobby Bare, al least under a somewhat broad definition of what a novelty song is or can be. If that one doesn’t count then I’ll go wiwh “Yabba Dabba Doo (The King is Gone)” by George Jones.

  8. I’ve really cooled toward Paisley’s novelty songs over the years, Leeann. I’m with you and Dan in enjoying “Love You” (and I’ll also second any nice thing said about Roger Miller, one of my favorites).

    Mike, your mention of one Jones song reminded me of another, “Her Name Is…” Total cheesy goodness.

  9. “Hire Me A Wino” is my all time favorite country song and although humorous I don’t consider it a “Novelty Song”. Novelty songs by their very nature tend to be silly at their core, while comedy and humor songs can have real depth. Ray Stevens and Jim Stafford intentionally wrote novelty songs while Shel Silverstein, Jerry Reed, and Roger Miller wrote serious songs at times that were very humorous in their approach to the subject matter at hand.

    One of my all time favorite country “humor” songs is David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Call Me By My Name” which is truly a dang near perfect country song.

    For true novelty songs its hard to beat Rodney Carrington these days as he is a gifted singer, guitar picker, and cleverly twisted songwriter. My favorite would have to be “Show Them To Me” and I was surprised at the audience reaction to the song on YouTube. The question is whether those brazen hussies in the audience were paid plants or spontaneous flashers.

  10. great analysis Rick. I agree wholeheartedly.

  11. Buck Owens – who’s gonna mow yr grass

  12. Two words: Holler Back

  13. George Jones has recorded some of the best songs that fit this category. In addition to the 2 mentioned already – and I really love the dark humor in ‘The King is Gone’ – one of my favorites is a duet with Tammy Wynette called ‘Did You Ever?’.

  14. “Alright Guy” No Question. I Can’t get enough of that song!!!!!!!!


  1. [...] Country California wants to know your favorite novelty song. [...]

  2. [...] I googled ‘novelty songs in country music’ to do a little research for this post, that Country California already asked you what your favorite novelty song was back in January, so be sure to check out their post too. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Glass [...]

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