Gregory {Greg} Downing gd2 at IS2.NYU.EDU
Wed Apr 12 02:24:57 UTC 2000

At 01:38 PM 4/11/2000 -0400, you wrote:
>Can't comment on the etymology/usage of the start of this thread, but
>remember that a long number of years ago there was a pop song with the
>taunting refrain
>Can't for the life of me recall the context nor the musical group, but it's
>obvious that it did represent imitating the mockery of little kids. Is this
>Bernie Kane

I don't know if it's relevant or not -- But I can add that I once read a
published account of the making of this song which said that it was a B-side
and in order to get the A-side played the producers tried to make the B-side
as unplayable (from a top-40 radio viewpoint) as possible -- i.e., hugely
long for a single in those days, sung a bit out of tune in places, and so
on. The "na na etc." was sung in places where they had no lyrics written --
a common practice among popular songwriters (note the "na na" etc. that
ended up on the final version of "Hey Jude" in the same era.) In order to
sabotage the song further, the producers ended up leaving the nonsense
syllables in on purpose.

Naturally, the B-side became a # 1 hit and an ongoing part of the popular
culture, and the A-side, which those involved in its making were sure would
be a big hit, never got played by radio stations. The "group" was called
Steam -- it was just an ad hoc set of studio musicians hired to perform the
would-be hit song and its deliberately sabotaged B-side.

(I just realized that this ties back into the b/w = backed with discussion
recently seen on this list.)

This story is not necessarily in conflict with your own speculation.

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing at or gd2 at

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