Any way you spell it.

Another installment in the never-ending Edinburgh Exorcism series.

Tartan terror!When you’re the top-ranked DJ in the top-ranked radio market in the top-ranked music-buying country in the world, you can get away with shenanigans every now and again.

Legendary DJ Dan Ingram of New York’s WABC was well aware of that. So were his millions of listeners. And after Jan. 21, 1976, so were the Bay City Rollers.

Ingram had his engineer take razor blade to tape and reconfigure the famous opening chant of the Rollers’ “Saturday Night,” which Ingram and all of his listeners had been hearing nearly nonstop for at least the previous month.

The hilarious results can be heard here, though I’ll add a transcription for anyone who has trouble picking up the exact sounds:

Ingram: “…and when they had trouble spelling it, it came out like this:”

The Rollers (bursting in without a moment’s pause after Ingram’s last word, the way good DJs cue it up):

S, A, T-U-R, D-A-Y, night!

S, A, D-A-Y, T-U-R, night!

S, S, D-A-Y, T-U-R, night!

D-A-Y, T-U-R, S, S, S, night!

D-A-Y, D-A-Y, S, T-U-R, night!

S, D-A-Y, S, T-U-R, night!

S, D-A-Y, S, T-U-R, S, S, S, D-A-Y, T-U-R, night! night! night! night! night! night!

S, S, S, S, S, S, S, S, A, D-A-Y, T-U-R, night!

(band kicks in)

I’ve loved this from the moment I first heard it, probably close to 10 years ago, courtesy of the excellent website.

For one thing, it sounds great. Each splice is done perfectly in rhythm. Each twist on the phrase is funnier and more bizarre than the last.

And when the choir of heavily echoed Les McKeowns starts yelling, “Night! Night! Night! Night!,” the whole thing takes on a sort of Dada momentum somewhere between the stomp of jackboots and the bark of a chained schnauzer.

But I love it even more because of the irreverence … the notion that one of America’s most popular songs is still fair game for a prankish DJ to have a little fun with.

(At first listen, I thought Ingram had it in for the Rollers — that he’d chosen to poke fun at them because he didn’t like the band, the record or both. I’m no longer sure that was the case. I think now that the song simply presented him with an opportunity to have fun, and he took it.)

I don’t listen to much Top 40 radio these days, even though I’ve got the local station programmed into my car radio for my kids’ sake. When I do listen, I don’t get the sense that any of the DJs I hear would cheerfully take the piss out of a top-selling record.

They might play part of a parody of a popular song, if they hosted the morning show, and if it were audibly different from the original. But I don’t imagine they’d actively make fun of a current hit.

Maybe you have to be New York’s bossest jock to get away with that.

One thought on “Any way you spell it.

  1. Big Dan was my hero, growing up 35 miles from the Big Apple. GREAT sense of humor. Sometimes he played various characters, a few of which would not be politically correct today (one was an ersatz native American who would show up from time to time: “Big Dan no here. I play records now!”). I’m convinced there was no rancor in the humor – just fun! His ability to talk over the intros of songs and end within a split second of the beginning of the vocal was unmatched.
    One of your previous blogs referenced his humorous improvising during the beginning of the great Northeastern blackout of (I think) 1965, which has been preserved. At least while on the air, Big Dan took nothing seriously!

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