New Updates: A longtime reader who remembers something of those days reminded me that the theme song for Ted Kennedy was The Philanderer, a made-for-Rush parody that was not just mildly "leaving it there" but went after Ted full force. And absolutely deserved. A darling of the left, even called the "Lion of the Senate" in his later years, he was a Kennedy who was a vicious attacker of conservatives. That he had killed a girl and lied about it? Didn't matter. Rush had said that "abortion was the wine and wafer of the left, and Kennedy was the proof of that." There was also "My Boy Lollipop" for Barney Frank, but I had remembered the send-up "Banking Queen" for him instead. These were not the originals, these were Paul Shanklin cleverly reworking popular songs such as "Try to Remember" for Hillary Clinton or "The Candy Man" for Barack Obama. The shaft went home, and they hated it.
Beginning of Original Post: Tell me what these were update themes to. (Hmm. Apparently I'm the only one here who listened to Rush in the 80s.) The rest of you are going to enjoy these when I reveal the answers in a day or so.
Update: I thought this would be easy and fun for Rush lovers of a certain age, but I mostly only showed how different things were then. Limbaugh was much more serious whenever I tuned in and listened to him in later years. He was much more of an entertainer, and a clever one, in his earliest shows.
1. Up, Up, and Away was the Condom Update. In the late 80s the country was condom-mad. Colleges had condom days, school children were shown how to put a condom over a banana, and Rush would even put a condom on the Golden EIB microphone if he was going to say something extra controversial, so that we would be protected. This was one of the first things I heard on his show and thought "This guy is going to be awesome," long before I had heard much of his politics. This was Firesign Theater, Doonesbury, and Credibility Gap, but poking fun at liberal pieties instead of conservative ones. (That was part of why Trudeau was so infuriated by Limbaugh - he was doing the same sort of thing back at him. And worse, Rush was more 3D in all ways while Gary was forever 2D in style and spirit.) Now play the first 30 seconds of the song while awaiting what condom ridiculousness in the news he was going to report.
Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?
Would you like to glide in my beautiful balloon?...
Up, up and away, in my beautiful, my beautiful BALLOON.
2. You Don't Own Me was the Gay Culture update. More than once a gay man would call in, infuriated that he had tuned into a show that understood about gay culture so well to be playing this song - on AM radio! - and knowing how funny it was, only to find out as he listened longer that this was not being played to mock straight culture at all, but to turn the joke back on him, because it implied that this song was not brave and transgressive, but merely ridiculous. I don't think Rush ever said a word about the song other than to identify who was covering it. He just played it and let it sit there. So, first 30 seconds again...
You don't own me
I'm not just one of your many toys
You don't own me
Don't say I can't go with other boys
And don't tell me what to do
Don't tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don't put me on display 'cause
3. I tricked you a bit with this one to make it hard, but it looks like the whole thing was so difficult that I needn't have bothered. Born Free was the Animal Rights Update theme, but in a slightly different version. Andy Williams is still singing, but hoofbeats, gunfire, and finally screams of animals are dubbed in over. I am replacing the video below with the Rush version.
4. I Put a Spell On You was the Mario Cuomo Update theme.
When the sun shines on the mountain
And the night is on the run
It's a new day
It's a new way
And I fly up to the sun
I can feel the morning sunlight
I can smell the new-mown hay
I can hear God's voice is calling
For my golden sky light way
Una paloma blanca
I'm just a bird in the sky
Una paloma blanca
Over the mountains I fly
No one can take my freedom away
6. Born A Woman was the first of the Feminism Update themes. I heard he later switched to another one. These updates were a powerful introduction to me about misreporting. I heard him use the term Feminazi a number of times, and I noticed he was always careful not to use this to refer to all women, nor even to all feminists. He was describing both a certain type of feminist, but also that intense intolerance we now associate with wokeness. Yet I frequently heard women say that "he calls all feminists, or even all women, feminazis. I would push back on this, to no avail. It was clear that the pattern was now going to be "if you criticise any aspect of feminism, you will be regarded as hating women." The sentiment of the lyrics was not a speech by him, nor was there every any indication he felt women should be "cheated on and treated like dirt." He said the opposite. But it had been a popular song not long before. He didn't go scouring obscuring corners of record archives - this had sold a million copies twenty years earlier, and sung by a woman.
He knew it would infuriate, but could only be criticised by misreporting what he was doing. He baited them into lying, then corrected the misreporting. All he had done was play the song.
If you're born a woman
You're born to be hurt*
You're born to be stepped on, lied to, cheated on and treated like dirt
I was born a woman, I didn't have no say
Yes, I was born a woman, and I'm glad it happened that way
7. I'm a Loser was the Michael Dukakis Update theme for as long as he was making the news, which gradually lessened over the early years of the show.
I'm a LOSER, and I'm not what I appear to be. (1988)
*When looking this up, any number of guys thought it was really funny to point out it says "hurt," not "heard." Too easy. Dumb humor. Rush would not have approached it that way. He would play a song and not comment on the lyrics at all. Something like a Rorschach, where the response had to come from you.