I was discussing this with someone recently: there are certain songs I would never know if not for Monty Python. That’s true of every show that uses real songs, of course, but it seems like Python used or at least mentioned some songs that absolutely no one would remember otherwise. In particular, the sketch “The Attila the Hun Show” has single-handedly kept alive the cheesy theme song from The Debbie Reynolds Show, a flop sitcom (an I Love Lucy knock-off starring Reynolds) that John Cleese and Graham Chapman saw and decided to make fun of. Why pick this show and this theme song among all others for their parody of bad U.S. sitcoms? Because they happened to see it, that’s all. The guy who sang the song has posted his single of it on his YouTube channel, and mentions that it was used on Python – but not that it was used on The Debbie Reynolds Show, because who remembers that?
Another song permanently associated with Python is Clodagh Rodgers’ Eurovision entry “Jack in the Box,” used as a recurring bit in the first episode-length story, “The Cycling Tour.” Python liked to make fun of Eurovision and song contests in general (like the Agatha Christie sketch that devolved into a song contest and ended by bringing on the winning entry, “Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong”), but not realizing this when I first saw it, I figured Clodagh Rodgers must have been as big as the other singer mentioned in the episode, Eartha Kitt. Turns out she wasn’t.
Then there’s the sketch about the hippies living in the man’s stomach – one of the Python sketches that strikes me as not quite right for the show. (Like some of the “Science Fiction Sketch,” it always struck me as closer in tone to a regular late ’60s/early ’70s sketch show. Maybe it’s the hippie jokes that do it.) The song they’re playing in his stomach is the children’s song “Going to the Zoo” by Julie Felix, which isn’t all that hippie-ish, but it works. I guess they needed to find some song that would involve only an acoustic guitar.
Also from Eurovision comes the song that, in the “Communist Quiz” sketch, only Chairman Mao could identify: “Sing, Little Birdie” by Teddy Johnson and Pearl Carr.
Finally, the closing theme to the Richard Greene “Robin Hood” TV series is pretty famous in its own right, but I actually heard it as “Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore” before I ever heard the original.