The 1951 Rolling Review Show … # 76
Welcome to the 1951 Rolling Review Show which twice weekly features pieces of music I have enjoyed at some time in my life. I hope you enjoy them as well. Let me know if you do.
Today I am taking you beyond your comfort zone.
“They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” – Napoleon XIV
“They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” is a 1966 novelty record by Jerry Samuels, recorded under the name Napoleon XIVand released on Warner Bros. Records. The song became an instant success in the United States, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 popular music singles chart on 13 August and reaching No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart.
The flip or B-side of the single was simply the A-side played in reverse, and given the title “!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC er’yehT” (or “!AAAH-AH ،YAWA ƎM ƎʞAT OT ʚИIMOƆ ƎЯ’YƎHT”) and the performer billed as “VIX ИOƎ⅃OꟼAИ”. Most of the label affixed to the B-side was a mirror image of the front label (as opposed to simply being spelled backward), including the letters in the “WB” shield logo. Only the label name, disclaimer, and record and recording master numbers were kept frontward.
The lyrics describe the effect on the mental health of an individual after a break-up. The main character seems to be addressing an ex-girlfriend, and describes his descent into madness after she has left him. And yes, before you ask … there was a backlash. It dropped rapidly down the charts in America because many radio programmers removed the song from their playlists, fearing an adverse reaction from people who might consider it to be ridiculing the mentally ill. I will leave you to decide for yourselves. You will find both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides featured below.