2003   OCTOBER 3   #276

Robert Preston - Chicken Fat

A song written by Meredith Wilson of "Music Man" fame. It was commissioned by John Kennedy for his new Youth Fitness Program. A copy of this record was sent to every school in the U.S. with the idea that it would be played over the P.A. every morning while students did calisthenics. Imagine Harold Hill leading a Jazzercise class. There is a 6:30 School Version, and a 2:30 DJ version.

- J.D. Mack

TT-6:29 / 6MB / 128kbps 44.1khz

(Image courtesy of J.D. Mack)

Eric Williams writes:
Here's an amusing little footnote to yesterday's song. As revealed in an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air", recorded in 1999 and replayed this June, "Chicken Fat" was the first record ever purchased by Adam Schlesinger of the band Fountains of Wayne (and Oscar nominee for writing the title song of "That Thing You Do!"). Thought you might like to post a link to the interview. The pertinent discussion falls at 18 minutes into the interview:
Host: TERRY GROSS with ADAM SCHLESINGER and CHRIS COLLINGWOOD who are co-founders of the band "Fountains of Wayne"

Palomino Royale writes:
Thanks, sort-of, to J.D. Mack for contributing "Chicken Fat" to 365 Days. I find it nostalgic in a queasy way. When I was in Jr. High gym class, they would play this every day during calisthenics. Every damned day! God, but I got sick of it. So when I got older and moved away from my little home town, I was surprised to find that most of my new friends had never even heard Chicken Fat. Now, finally, I can help them understand how bad I had it as a kid.

Suzanne Baumann writes:
It wasn't just from town to town: it varied from teacher to teacher! My sister tried to describe Chicken Fat for me when we were in junior high. We both went to the same school in the mid-late 1980s. Her phys ed teacher always played it; mine never did (although he had us jump rope to Ready For the World's "Oh Sheila" a few times). I remember sneaking into the gym once (I had a thing for sneaking into unoccupied classrooms back then) and seeing the Chicken Fat tape. I had to play it to figure out what the hell my sister was talking about. Got about as far as the first "nuts to the flabby guys" and then taking off when I heard someone coming up the hall. At long last I can now hear the entire thing.

Bob Purse writes:
At our school (grades 4-? Our calistentics theme (used primarily in a phys ed show held every two years), was, believe it or not "Washington Square" by the Village Stompers. By the time I got to be (had to be?) part of this routine, that record was about ten years old, but they were still playing. Dr. Demento's played "Chicken Fat", a bunch of times, but usually just the short version. Nice to have this copy of it. A recording made at that same grade school is coming up in the project in a few days, by the way......

mcknigs writes:
Wow. I've been talking about "Chicken Fat" to people for years. I think I heard it everyday in gym in 4th grade (c. '67?) -- at least during the winter when we couldn't go outside. I probably heard it a fair amount in 2nd and 3rd grade too. IIRC, Bob McAllister used to play it regularly on his kids show in Baltimore, and or Wonderama. It always surprises me that something I heard so many times would be so unknown to so many people. I have to echo the "thanks-sort of" sentiment.

Stormy Hunter writes:
I remember actually hearing a different version of "Chicken Fat" at my school. It was on the Kimbo records label and now that I hear the original, I remember how cheesy the Kimbo version was by comparison.