As a TV producer (he produced game shows such as "I've Got a Secret") in the early 1960s, Sherman found that the little song parodies he performed to amuse his friends and family were taking on a life of their own. He released an LP of these parodies, "My Son, the Folk Singer", in 1962. The album was so successful that it was quickly followed by "My Son, the Celebrity", and "My Son, the Nut".
The first two LPs were mainly Jewish-folk-culture rewritings of old folk tunes, but by "My Son, the Nut" in 1963, Sherman had begun to appeal to a larger audience, and adjusted both his subject matter and his choice of parody material to the popular audiences of the day.
His pointed parodies of classical and popular tunes savaged summer camp (Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh to the tune of Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours), encroaching automation in the workforce (Automation to the tune of Fascination), space travel (Eight Foot Two, Solid Blue to Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue), the exodus to the suburbs, (Here's to the Crabgrass to the tune of English Country Garden), and his own bloated figure (Hail to Thee, Fat Person, which blames his obesity on the Marshall Plan).
Sherman's large body of parody work was brilliant on many levels: His choice of material was itself funny, his lyrics were self-contained and consistently funny (and usually led to a climactic punchline), and yet spookily paralelled the sounds of the original, and his choice of topics was always timely and relevant. Finally, his humour was charming, self-deprecating, insightful, and never seemed to be trying too hard. His brilliance inspired a new generation of developing parodists such as Weird Al Yankovic, who pays homage to Sherman on his own first LP.
It is unfortunate that most of his topics were relevant only to his own time and place; unlike those of Tom Lehrer, they don't date or travel very well. But anyone familiar with the American concerns of the era will still find his songs hilarious.
Sherman's personal life was rather miserable, both before and after his sudden success as a singer-songwriter. An excellent biographical article details his rise and fall, as well as the follow-on story of his son Robert Sherman, who was the original "Boy from Camp Granada".
Sherman is credited with introducing Bill Cosby to a national audience, and thus launching that popular entertainer's career.
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