Songs that scan to other songs

Some time ago I listened to Tom Lehrer’s classic bit (I forget from which album) on how professional musicians would have done the American folk song Clementine differently. (He began with the observation: “The reason most folk songs are so atrocious is that they were written by the people.”)

Playing around with the idea, it suddenly occurred to me that the lyrics to Clementine would scan perfectly to the melody of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy! Try it!

In a cavern, in a canyon
Excavating for a mine
Lived a miner Forty-Niner
And his daughter Clementine

Oh my darling, oh my darling
Oh my darling Clementine
You are lost and gone forever
Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Recently I shared this discovery with the Doper world on a GD thread – “What’s the deal with LaRouche?” – (The connection? The LaRouchies are huge Beethoven fans – what that would have to do with political ideology is not clear to me, but apparently it is to them.) And then Bryan Ekers pointed out, “The melody of La Cucaracha works, too.” Fancy that! So you could sing the Clementine lyrics to the tune of La Cucaracha – and the Ode to Joy lyrics (if you know them – it’s a musical setting of a poem by Schiller) to either one!

What songs do you know, whose lyrics would fit with other songs’ melodies?

(Leaving out, of course, songs that were written to trope the text of songs previously written, like a lot of Weird Al’s material, or those timeless classics from Mad magazine – “You’re a fat old hag, you’re an unsightly bag / Though you’re still my true love, Emmy Lou / You’re the emblem of the land I love / Your complexion is red, white and blue . . .”)

The Gilligan’s Island theme song and the hymn Amazing Grace scan with one another in this fashion as well.

:stuck_out_tongue: One reason I got interested in this was because of “Scans to Argo,” a memorable parody of the even more memorable Leslie Fish filk classic “Banned From Argo.” (Chorus: “With songs of seven iambs and a meter of 4/4 / we’ll all screw “Banned from Argo” up once more!”) The “Gilligan’s Island” theme was in there, but I don’t remember “Amazing Grace” –

I’ve tried and failed to find “Scans to Argo” on the Net . . .

I rather enjoy the Blind Boys of Alabama version of “Amazing Grace” sung to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun”.

So that should mean that the Theme from Gilligan’s Island should scan to House of the Rising Sun. I’ve also heard it sung to the tune of Stairway to Heaven.

Greensleeves and Breakin’ Up Is Hard To Do scan to each other.

I’m guessing that a lot of songs cross-scan. How would you go about looking for matches? Length of line and number of lines per verse? Ditto for chorus? Make a table and look for matches?

The lyrics of the Gilligan theme, “Amazing Grace”, and “House of the Rising Sun” can all be sung to each other’s tunes. And all of their lyrics can be sung to the tune of “Stairway to Heaven”, but you can’t sing the lyrics of “Stairway” to the tunes of any of those other songs.

Like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and the alphabet song.

I think that would work. Traditional hymnals list that sort of thing: for instance, above “Rock of Ages”, the 1940 Espiscopal hymnal has 77.77.77 at the top of the page, indicating six half-lines of seven syllables each per verse.

Robert Frost’s famous poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” fits Hernando’s Hide-away to perfection.

Who’s woods
These are
I think I know.
He lives
The village though.
He will
Not see
Me stopping here,

To watch,
His woods
Fill up with snow.


Of course there’s that whole “Anything by Emily Dickinson” and “Yellow Rose of Texas” thing.

“Oh Susannah” works in place of “Yellow Rose,” as well.

Sing the following words to the tune of the MASH* theme song:

Just a good old boys, never meanin’ no harm,
Been in trouble with the law since the day they was born.
Makin’ their way, trappin’ their kill,
Someday the mountain might get 'em, but the law never wi-iiiiiiill

It’s the Dukes of Mash!

That might have a little something to do with the fact that all 3 of those songs use the same freakin’ tune! :stuck_out_tongue:

Which means should be able to transpose the lyrics of the MAS*H theme song (Suicide Is Painless) to the Dukes of Hazard tune.

Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please
But, it’s not working for me. :frowning:

While it is a Weird Al song, he really merely brought it to our attention:

The lyrics to the Beverly Hillbillies theme fits perfectly over Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing.

The lyrics to the theme from “Green Acres” scan pretty well to “Purple Haze.”

(“Green Haze?”)

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun” (courtesy of the Bob Rivers Christmas album)

A pity that those aren’t the words to the Ballad of Hazzard County.

Just two good ol’ boys, never meanin’ no harm,
beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born.
Straightenin’ the curves, flattenin’ the hills,
Someday the mountain might get 'em but the law never will.

I don’t think that’s going to work.

I’m glad to see this thread; I had noticed the same thing myself and kept meaning to bring it up.

Several of us had noticed the Gilligan’s Island-House of the Rising Sun connection. We eventually came up with:

Gilligan’s Island
House of the Rising Sun
Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
America the Beautiful

which all work (try it yourself). Pinball Wizard sort of works too (the main theme scans but the chorus doesn’t).

Anyone have any others?

the DJ at WBER in Rochester once commented after playing Du Hast that “It’s Tricky” could be sung over it. I didn’t believe him till he started playing it again and sang over it…it worked!

The words for “America the Beautiful” can be sung perfectly to the melody of “Auld Lang Syne”.

Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.

Like Twinkle twinkle little star, and others already mentioned, these lines are in trochaic meter, a long or heavily accepted first syllable followed by a short one. The Davy Crockett meter is particularly strong in this regard:

DAY’ vee, DAY’ vee CROCK et

So any words that are trochaic will fit into the scheme and will enter your head and not leave it for days on end while you go around muttering random words in a rhythmic beat and frightening little children and impressionable adults.