Interview With The Pirate of Parody
How A Parody is Born
We are in Charleston, West Virginia, after a performance by “The Pirate of Parody.” This songwriter’s name is a mystery to preserve the identity as a result of a parody song he wrote about the governor of West Virginia.
[Doak Turner] Tell us the story about the “Bob Wise Song.”
Pirate of Parody You might call the song a political parody. I am a parody artist, having written parody songs for the past ten years about a variety of characters. I love to write about politicians who “screw up” and have extra marital affairs or do other politically incorrect things. Bill Clinton is a prime example. I recently wrote a song about the governor of West Virginia, Bob Wise, who confessed to having an affair with one of his employees. Bob is a married man, and his employee is a married woman. They used to go on trade missions together to places like Italy, Spain, Canada and who knows what was happening on those trade missions between these two people. Probably not the kind of trade that taxpayers thought should be happening on these trips! I decided to write a little parody song about the two of them. I was in a friend’s vehicle cruising down the road one day when the governor’s name was mentioned on the radio. It suddenly dawned on me that maybe I should write a parody about the governor’s affair.
[Doak Turner] When and how did you find out about the Bob Wise affair?
Pirate of Parody The newspapers, radio and TV, even national TV. The governor had an affair with the wife of a Charleston, West Virginia, musician (who is, by the way, an excellent guitar player). The husband had been observing the governor for several months, learning what was going on between the governor and the musician’s wife from a private investigator he had hired. They collected a tremendous amount of evidence, and didn’t reveal anything for several months. When the musician was ready to “spill the beans” to the media, the governor announced that he had an affair, and had been unfaithful to his wife and family. Governor Wise did not reveal the woman’s name, and it later was revealed in the paper who the woman in the affair actually was and that she was an employee of the State of West Virginia. There was an article in The Charleston Daily Mail today actually with the husband of the woman involved in the affair, details of how he found out about the affair, and when she admitted to it.
The press hit the affair pretty hard for a couple weeks, then it died down, THEN a local radio station in Charleston, WV, WQBE – 97.5 FM received a parody song in their mailbox! It was a random drop of a CD. The radio station began playing the song, and it brought the affair back to everyone in West Virginia’s attention, as the power of radio can do to many controversial issues. WQBE put the song on their website, and have averaged 250,000 hits per day as a result of the song! They had over A MILLION hits in ONE WEEK as a result of having the song on their website. The normal average number of hits to their site is 6,000.They took it off the web, which is good, because now I have my own website,
[Doak Turner] What is your site and where can someone order the song?
Pirate of Parody At www.piratesofparody.com . The site offers everyone the opportunity to purchase a CD of the song. The site, of course, has this particular song, as well as one that I wrote about Bill Clinton about five years ago. The Bill Clinton song was played on the nationally syndicated John Boy and Billy Big Show that is broadcast to nearly 100 radio stations across the country. You can go to the website and download a couple 30-second sound bites, and then order the CD. I just like to make people laugh, and that’s what parody is all about.
[Doak Turner] How did you start writing this particular Bob Wise song?
Pirate of Parody When I was thinking about doing a song about the governor, the key was to choose the right song for the subject. The first song that came to my mind was to the tune of “Barbara Ann” by The Beach Boys. The words “Bob, Bob, Bob” just hit me and I knew that it was a great hook. I did a rough draft, and after a couple days I finished it. I do write serious and legitimate songs also, and understand the craft of songwriting. It took me a week to craft the song to the point where I was happy with the lyrics. Once I had the song crafted and did not think I could improve it, I recorded it in my living room with a sixteen track digital Yamaha recorder. I downloaded a drum track from the Internet. I did the bass on my electric guitar, and the same guitar for the rest of the song. There are a couple harmony tracks on the CD. I mixed and played the song back to myself and thought the song was pretty cool. I played it about 50 times and knew I needed to get it to the radio station ASAP. I had a hunch it would be a big hit on the radio station, but had no idea it would be so big on the Internet and be heard throughout the country.
[Doak Turner] What about the legal aspects of the song – using the theme from the song “Barbara Ann.”
Pirate of Parody There is a fair use law. You cannot be denied the right to use the song. Just like any song, you have to pay royalties. I got a mechanical license for the song and pay eight cents per copy, or $80.00 for 1,000 discs that I had duplicated. I went through the Harry Fox agency to obtain the license.
[Doak Turner] How did you find out the license information?
Pirate of Parody Bob Noon, who is an attorney and songwriter from Logan, West Virginia, shared the information with me. He has a site called www.lawsongs.com that features parodies, and he also performs around the country. He informed me that you can obtain mechanical licenses online at www.harryfoxagency.com.
[Doak Turner] The CD is available from your website. How did you pick the production house for your CD’s?
Pirate of Parody Friends of mine that have studios recommended a couple places for me. I called Disc Makers in New Jersey, and they gave me the best package for the project.
[Doak Turner] I heard the computers at the State of West Virginia offices were banned from going to the WQBE – FM radio station website – is there any truth to that subject?
Pirate of Parody That was only at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston. That encompasses several blocks of buildings with state employees. The computers there were blocked from accessing the radio station’s website. Some of the state’s computer gurus configured it so the computers would not go to that particular website. I heard the song was running crazy once it was loaded on the computers from the website, then the block on the computers was enforced. The word had spread like wildfire to the employees.
[Doak Turner] What would you like to see in the future?
Pirate of Parody This song launched my career as a parody artist. I have been a closet parody artist for years. I’ve listened to Weird Al Yankovick, Pinkard and Bowden, and other popular parody artists for several years. I told myself that I could do these types of songs, but never had the motivation until now to sing the songs in public.
[Doak Turner] You played the song live for the first time tonight in a songwriters round in Charleston, WV. What are your thoughts on playing it live, as it is a mystery.
Pirate of Parody I perform around town, and if I play it, the media will [probably] discover me. Until now it has been a mystery. There was a big article in The Charleston Gazette a week or so ago, I think it was June 1st, as I was in Nashville working on a couple other songs and playing the famed Bluebird Café, the Mecca for songwriters. After that particular story broke, a couple days later, the TV stations got interested in the story and went to WQBE – FM to interview the morning DJs. When the TV crew left the radio station, they said they were on the way to the governor’s office to try to get an interview with Governor Bob Wise. Of course, the governor declined to comment on the song.
The TV station made it a headline for that evening’s news, promoting it all evening to be sure and stay tuned for the latest information on the song –“ Film at 11” type of thing. It was the top story, “Flash – top story,” as the TV news aired that night. They alternated between playing parts of the song and interviewing the DJs at the radio station. They nearly played the entire song on the TV. It was a five-minute story on the local Charleston, West Virginina, news that particular night!
[Doak Turner] For the hot question of the interview, Mr. Pirate of Parody, “What do you do for a living besides write songs”?
Pirate of Parody I work for The State of West Virginia (laughter). That is all I am going to say about my day job! Many of my friends have told me to leave the song a mystery. I am protected by the first amendment. Of course, the governor was a former US Congressman, serving in the House of Representatives for approximately twenty years. He knows all about first amendment rights. That and the state civil service code protect me. They can always black ball a person and make life miserable though. The fact it is a mystery is great.
[Doak Turner] Thanks, Mr. Pirate of Parody, for your time and best of luck in your parody and songwriting career!