Chain of Events


When I first saw today’s strip, I thought, ‘Isn’t that kind of racy for kids to be playing?’

But that is, of course, because the song ‘Unchained Melody’ has for more than 30 years been chained to a certain famous, and much parodied, pottery making scene in the movie Ghost. To the point that playing the first few notes of the Righteous Brothers cover of the song instantly cues many brains to expect slow motion montages of wet, spinning clay.

But the song was created 35 years before Patrick Swayze ever slid his hands over Demi Moore’s while Bobby Hatfield crooned. American composer Alex North, (most known for scoring Spartacus and the jazz infused soundtrack to A Streetcar Named Desire,) wrote the melody that has no bonds for the movie he was currently scoring. A completely forgotten 1955 prison pic called Unchained. (Which was based on a real experimental reform prison in Chino, California.)

Unchained (1955) - IMDb

North asked lyricist Hy Zaret, (famous for later writing children’s educational songs such as ‘The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas’) to write the words. The producers had requested that the word ‘unchained’ be used in the lyrics. Zaret refused, so instead the whole song was called ‘Unchained Melody.’

The first singer to record ‘Unchained Melody’ was African American opera singer and actor Todd Duncan, who had a bit part in the movie as an unnamed prisoner singing a shortened version of the song.

Since then “Unchained Melody” has reached number one on the UK four times with four different recordings. It is currently one of the highest grossing royalty earners for it’s copyright holders of any song.

Was that a great musical education? Maybe not. I mean, I stole most of those facts off of the internet and I knew NONE of this before I looked it up today. But I guarantee you it’s a better musical education that Lefty usually provides. And I suspect Batiuk doesn’t care at all about the song, its history, or if it would be appropriate, or even possible, for a high school band to play an arrangement of it. He just heard a song title and thought, ‘Heh, I can make a quick band joke outta this.’

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Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

32 responses to “Chain of Events

  1. Be thankful, snarkers, for small favors: today’s strip at least contains a decent gag, and more importantly, contains NO DINKLE.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    WHOA check out that pinned-up sleeve…that’s impressive. So apparently he bumped his annual year-end garbage dump arc ahead a few weeks this year, as this is clearly another “outtake” that just didn’t fit anywhere else. It’s funny how every time I see Becky I think “oh yeah, that’s right, SHE’S band director now” even though she’s been doing it for the entirety of Act III. That’s why Becky is possibly FW’s most nondescript character whose only real character trait is her missing arm. Which is why it’s so prominently displayed today.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Plus with the OMEA Convention coming up he has to butt kiss band directors. Batty thought he was enlightening the masses by giving them culture with their morning coffee, but again it all falls flat.

      Just another zero effort strip…

  3. Y. Knott

    Also, the Righteous Brothers weren’t siblings….nor were they pretending to be. They got their name when an African American audience member complimented them after a performance, telling them that they were “righteous brothers!” (In the 1960s sense of being a ‘soul brother’.) They were overjoyed, and figuring there was no possible higher compliment that they could get (and to show their soul credentials) they thereafter called themselves The Righteous Brothers.

  4. billytheskink

    Lefty leaves the band room door open while she leads practice? It’s amazing the rest of the faculty haven’t come for her other arm…

    • Sourbelly

      Ayers has to have the door open so we can see the taped up sign telling us it’s the band room. Because otherwise we’d have no idea. And, as always, the sign has been placed on the inside of the door, as one does.

  5. sorialpromise

    Never knew, and never wondered why it was called “Unchained Melody.” Now I know, and am blown away. This is why Comic Book Harriet is loved! Marry me, woman! I am sure my wife will understand. (I never asked this of SpacemanSpiff!) I only ask this one request, when does Les get mugged?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      If you butter me up any more Sorialpromise, you could deep fat fry me.

      Les DID get robbed in New York City right after his wife died. Unfortunately I don’t think the sad sack ever got mugged.

  6. Gerard Plourde

    I wondered whether there actually was a band arrangement that could convey the soulfulness of the melody. Surprisingly, I found this one from a concert by an international group of military bands in Bremen, Germany in 2002.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      That is an awesome find Gerard! Thanks. It does indeed work for a band. And I know that when I picture ‘soulful’ in my mind, I picture a plump German man playing a Flugelhorn.

      • Hitorque

        Yeah a good professional band can make any song work… But shouldn’t you at least try to tailor your music selection to the audience and event? Small-town middle America, teenagers and parents watching a game under the lights on Friday, the air thick with the aroma of the mountain of empty cans of Natural Light, vape pens and Wendy’s triple Baconators… Play some goddamned “Louie Louie” already — Not only has it been a horribly cliche marching band staple for generations, but everyone also knows the song (Even Batiuk must still have it on his tiny-ass pop culture radar), the crowd can groove to it, and Batiuk can STILL make an unfunny and uninspired joke out of it..

        • Gerard Plourde

          I think there’s another thing he’s not taking into account. In many places, schools with extensive music programs don’t have MARCHING bands. My son’s high school has a pep band that plays from the sidelines (in addition to a competition band, a jazz band and a pit orchestra). Music programs have evolved since the 1960s.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          “I’d like to hear a little less Louie, and a little more Louie.”

        • Mela

          I know that thanks to years of Dinkle everything seems to be marching band year round, but it is quite possible that the band is rehearsing for a spring concert where they would play non pep-band style pieces. And I’m going to show Becky a little bit of love here because she’s tried to do her own arrangement of this song, which takes a good bit of musical ability.

    • gleeb

      C’est manifique, mais n’est pas la musique militaire.

    • spacemanspiff85

      I was going to say this is one song I can’t imagine a band arrangement being able to do justice, but I was wrong, apparently. I do think it would be a lousy song for a high school marching band to do, though. 😛

  7. Hitorque

    Every time I think the Funkyverse can’t possibly get any more white bread, they set a new low…

    For the love of God, I thought marching bands were supposed to rev a crowd up?! Who wants to hear this shit during halftime on a chilly Friday night in October with the Scapegoats down 79-0 to Big Walnut Tech?

    But then of course Becky can’t be depicted as being TOO good at her job, lest she steal a little bit of Dinkle’s shine…

  8. Rusty Shackleford

    Another BattyBlog post is up.. In this post he pats himself on the back for breaking those nonexistent comics rules that he made up, so that he could tell Lisa’s Story the way he wanted to tell it.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      “A story should be no longer than 3 weeks.” So he spent 25 years killing Lisa.

      • And the funeral is still ongoing.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        I’m interested to see what happens with Wilbur in MaryWorth. Will they drag his death out for weeks on end? Has Moy been chatting with Batty and getting writing tips from him?

        • spacemanspiff85

          I just hope he’s actually truly dead. The past several months have been constantly making readers hate him, by having him try to murder a cat (among other things). That would at least be understandable if the writer was trying to make you not miss him so much when he’s dead, but if they expect you to rejoice that the guy who tried to strangle a cat because it interrupted his singing is still alive, that’ll just be insane.

      • William Thompson

        Well, she deserved a lot of killing.

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    Can we talk about our award votes, or do you want to keep them secret until the winners are unveiled?

  10. William Thompson

    Not really connected to today’s insult, but it has to do with Westview’s comic-book obsession:

  11. Charles

    A completely forgotten 1955 prison pic called Unchained.

    Completely forgotten? Starring Barbara Hale AND Chester Morris? I think not!

  12. be ware of eve hill

    Oops! Sorry. Wrong Unchained melody.

    • be ware of eve hill


      (victory dance)

    • Gerard Plourde

      This makes me wonder whether TomBa was somehow trying for a joke confusing these two songs. (I can’t imagine how he would do it, though.)