Archive for June 19, 2013

Of Litigation and Happy Birthdays

I have questions about this cake...

If you have questions about your birthday song, I have the perfect birthday cake for you.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records of 1998, the song “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language. People young and old grown up hearing the song dozens of times per year, as it gets trotted out for every birthday for every person they know. A cursory search of IMDB reveals that the song appears on the soundtracks of nearly 500 TV shows and movies.

According to the Warner/Chappel music publishing company, “Happy Birthday to You” is also still under copyright. That’s right: you technically have to pay money to sing “Happy Birthday to You”. However, the copyright for “Happy Birthday to You” is soon coming under fire in the US courts, a conflict that just boiled up in the news over the last couple weeks.

So what’s all this about, then?


Mad Max 2 – music box

This Week’s Spotted in the Wild

It has been a busy few weeks at Sound and the Foley Studios (aka my apartment), but our dear owl-eared listeners have not been slacking. Below are recent discoveries by readers of this blog.


Listener Gerry Masi writes: “Hello, Frank Zappa used it in his song Zomby Woof (sic). [The Villains Theme] comes after the guitar solo in all the live versions of the song (complete with villain laugh). Thanks for your investigations, we have been wracking our brains trying to find any info on this. Hear it at 4:22 [in the clip below]. … That’s a cover band BTW.”

If I’m not mistaken, the singer in that video is also our owl-eared listener above. Well played, Gerry! Glad we could help, and thank you for the link!

I did poke around the Internet to find a live Frank Zappa recording that also included the Villains Theme, but I haven’t found one yet. Looks like I need to listen to a lot more Zappa. Not that I mind. I do loves me some Zappa.


Listener Ken Hite writes, “Perhaps some mention should be made of Italian pop band Baltimora‘s joy-inducing 1985 New Wave song ‘Tarzan Boy,’ which uses the Tarzan yell as the melodic throughline of the refrain.”

First, I feel silly for missing this one. Second, I am suddenly 10 years old again, sitting cross-legged in front of MTV, surrounded by my collection of snap bracelets, prismatic unicorn stickers, and Stephen King novels (which were covered in prismatic unicorn stickers). Thanks for the time travel, Ken!

That Other Jungle Sound (Fixed)

(Note: an obviously unfinished version of this article accidentally went live on Tuesday. This one is the real deal.)

A few days ago, I wrote a post wherein I mentioned the Tarzan yodel:

Striking and iconic, the Tarzan Yell is one of the most famous sound effects in the history of film, recognizable even to people who’ve never seen an actual Tarzan film. But where did it come from?

Read more