Definitions

yakety yakked

Yakety Sax

"Yakety Sax" is a 1963 45 rpm single written by Boots Randolph and James Q. "Spider" Rich, and recorded by Boots Randolph.

The composition includes pieces of assorted fiddle tunes such as "Chicken Reel", and written for a performance at a venue called The Armory in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. There is also a bar of "Entrance of the Gladiators" worked into it.

This piece of music is not to be confused with the Leiber and Stoller song "Yakety Yak", recorded in 1958 by The Coasters. The tunes are similar, and both feature the "yakety sax" sound, but are distinctly different melodies. Randolph had recorded an earlier version of "Yakety Sax" that year for RCA Victor, but it wasn't until his re-recording for Monument Records that it became a standard.

Other noteworthy performances

  • Guitarist Chet Atkins recorded a variant version of "Yakety Sax" in 1965 called "Yakety Axe." Atkins' version used a similar tempo and showcased his country guitar picking style in place of a saxophone. The title change referred to the colloquial term for an electric guitar as an "axe". He later recorded a slower-tempoed version, with verses that he recited rhythmically to the music. One of his lines references getting a "Shave and a Haircut", which happens to be the closing notes of his previous instrumental version of the tune, though not his vocal remake.
  • Bill Haley & His Comets recorded this piece on at least two occasions, and it was a staple of their live performances, usually featuring saxophonist Rudy Pompilli.
  • Glen Campbell once performed "Yakety Axe" on The Tonight Show, with his guitar held behind his head.
  • An electronic version (titled "Yakety Moog") was recorded on the album Switched On Nashville by Gil Trythall.
  • The bass line in the Phish song "It's Ice" closely resembles the main saxophone melody.

Television and film

Yakety Sax is often used on television as a soundtrack for outlandishly humorous situations. It is frequently used to accompany comedic chases.

References

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