The Brooklyn writer Paul Ford returns to our studio with a three-pack of songs that, in hindsight, enjoyed a surprising amount of acclaim in their day. Or, as Ford explains: "These are just jewels of weirdness."
Those jewels include Bill Cosby's absurd satire of a perfectly good Stevie Wonder track, Paul Hardcastle's dance hit about Vietnam War casualties and the heartwarming triumph of scatter-rapper ("scrapper," maybe?) Scatman John.
Here's how Ford described his triple-play of oddities to John Schaefer.
Bill Cosby, "Little Ole Man" (1967): "It's just weird, right? It's not necessarily bad. Later in one of his comedy albums, he sort of pointed back to that song and said it was inspired by his grandfather."
Paul Hardcastle, "19" (1985): "The sample is from a documentary called Vietnam Requiem. It's all about how the soldiers in Vietnam were all very young ... Paul Hardcastle was apparently thinking, 'When I was 19, I was just going to clubs and hanging out. This is crazy. I better make a synth-based song using these samples.'"
Scatman John, "Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)" (1994): "If you go online, he touched a lot of lives. There are very fond remembrances. The song itself is about how you can overcome stuttering, and if the Scatman does it, so can you." Ford also detected a theme on the album's tracklist, which features "Scatman," "Scatman's World," "Welcome to Scatland," and "Song of Scatland."