From the revolutionary sketch show Monthy Python’s flying circus with Graham Chapman, John Cleeseand the whole Monty Python gang, in the Monty Python movies, and on the Broadway stage with Spamalot of Monty Python, the Pythons have always had a penchant for extremely silly songs. Songs from the intellectual ‘Galaxy Song’, filled with tons of galaxy facts, to the creepily silly ‘Traffic Lights’, a simple and laborious track dedicated to loving traffic lights. Most often the collaborative work of a singer-songwriter Neil Innes and actor Eric Idle, the songs had as much of an impact as the works they were associated with. Please note that the songs below are limited to those that have appeared on stage, in film or on television. Songs released on Monty Python‘s albums would easily make their own impressive list.
“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from The Life of Brian by Monty Python (1979)
Hands down, no argument, undisputed, great stiff upper lip testimony trait of the British, of Life of Brian from Monty Python. Perhaps the most upbeat song ever produced for a crucifixion scene, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is the most successful song on their discography, reaching the top 10 in the UK and also performed by Eric Idle at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
“The Lumberjack Song” in Monty Python’s Flying Circus (Season 1, Episode 9)
Ah, the life of a lumberjack, leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia. “Lumberjack Song” begins as a rousing celebration of manly manhood, sleeping all night and working all day, chopping down larch, giant sequoia, fir… even mighty Scots pine, with the chorus of Canadian Mounties who accompanies him. As the song progresses, however, the plaid-clad lumberjack is increasingly emasculated at the confession of wearing high heels, suspenders, and a bra — just like dear old dad.
“P*nis Song (Not the Noel Coward Song)” from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)
Since Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, an Eric Idle speed number that opens the infamous “Mr. Creosote” skit. The song’s intro is hilarious meaning that may take a rewind to understand. Well worth it, if you’re a pun fan. Then it’s just a torrent of alternate names for the…er, twig and berry. It’s actually amazing how many names can fit into 41 seconds of song. Quite a feat, really.
Monty Python’s “Every Sperm Is Sacred” The Meaning of Life (1983)
“Every Sperm is Sacred” is the second song on the list of Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, only longer and a much bigger theatrical spectacle than the previous piece. It’s a scathing satire of Catholic teachings on reproduction and how using contraceptives goes against God’s will, even if it means having to sell your 63 children for medical experimentation. The beauty of the skit, and of the song by extension, is that it’s not a parody of a musical piece, like a “Consider Yourself” by Olivier !but he is a musical staging, although with a radically different inspiration.
“Bruce’ Philosophers Song” from Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)
The faculty of the Department of Philosophy at Australia’s University of Walamaloo – Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce and the ‘new Bruce’ – follow a strict set of rules: don’t abuse the Abbos if there’s anyone watching , don’t get caught without drinking , no pooftas, and the all-important rule number six. This, of course, in the great tradition of the great philosophers of history, as told in this “Philosopher’s Song”, which follows Bruce’s sketch in Monty Python live at the Hollywood Bowl, but not on the original sketch of flying circus. It’s a prime example of the absurd associated with the intellectual, a who’s who of philosophers and their famous drinking abilities: Heideggar, a boozy beggar who might believe you under the table; Whittgenstein, a berry pig who was just as stuffed as Schlegel; and Socrates himself, a lovable and always pissed off thinker.
“The Liberty Bell” in Monty Python’s Flying Circus (Season 1, Episode 1)
In 1893, the famous American composer and conductor Jean-Philippe Sousa, composed the military march “The Liberty Bell”. He plays as part of an exhibition at the Liberty Bell Center, was played by the United States Navy Band at presidential inaugurations, in some performances at Marine Barracks, and is the official march of the Canadian Forces Public Affairs Branch…
…and forever ruined for such auspicious occasions due to his association with Monthy Python’s flying circus as the theme song, selected to avoid copyright fees due to its availability in the public domain. Rest assured that whenever it is played in public, there will be someone snickering and looking around to find other Python fans doing the same.
“The Spam Song” in Monty Python’s Flying Circus (Season 2, Episode 12)
“Spam” is one of the all-time classic Python sketches. Two customers try to order breakfast at a restaurant, where Spam is included in all dishes, including a Lobster Thermidor with Shrimp Mornay Sauce served Provencal style with shallots and eggplant garnished with truffle pâté, cognac and of a fried egg on High. Every time the waitress (Terry Jones) recites from the menu, a group of Vikings begin the “Spam Song”, their ode to the beautiful and wondrous Spam. It’s completely ridiculous, in almost every sense of the word, but wonderful all the same. Fun fact: the term “Spam” for junk mail is derived from this same sketch. Thank goodness the baked beans were off.
“Diva’s Lament (Whatever Happened To My Part)” from Monty Python’s Spamalot (2005)
From the hit Broadway musical Spamalot of Monty Python, “The Diva’s Lament (Whatever Happened to my Part)” is a powerful, audience-directed solo number by the disenchanted Lady of the Lake (technically, the actress playing the Lady of the Lake). She plays a key role in Act I, but does not appear in Act II up to this point. The brilliance is how the song is a diva moment of a diva actress decrying the lack of stage time for her diva persona in Act II. Fun fact: Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez originated the role, winning a Tony Award for his performance.
“Brave Sir Robin” in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Since Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the lilting song extolling the virtues of brave Sir Robin (Eric Idle) sung by his minstrels (or dinner, as we learn later in the film). It’s a simplistic comic – brave Sir Robin is anything but brave – but the list of things he’s supposedly unafraid of gets darker and more gruesome as the song progresses: not the least bit frightened by the gouged out eyes, his severed heart, his removed liver, or his limbs all chopped up and mutilated. The minstrels are so complimentary they sing how he bravado deflates and retires.
“Camelot (Knights of the Round Table)” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Also from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. After King Arthur (Graham Chapman) finds his knights, they travel to the legendary Camelot Castle (well, that’s just a model). The scene then cuts to “Knights of the Round Table”, a fantastic song and dance number in which several knights dance on tables, knock over fruit, hit people on the head and step on a spade while praising their lives. at Camelot. Who wouldn’t? They eat a lot of ham, jam and spam. They sing a lot from the diaphragm. Sequin vests and imitate Clark Gable. But it’s a busy life in Camelot. From time to time they have to push the stroller a lot. Then, when the song ends, Arthur rightly states that they should do not go to Camelot, because it’s a silly place. In other words, it integrates with all other songs and locales on this list.
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