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No, Don't Be Chicken Again!

So anyway, The Queen and I were in the car, listing to a NPR quiz show. (We were also driving somewhere. I don't want to give you the impression that we just sit out in the car and listen to NPR quiz shows.) One of the multiple-choice questions was something along the lines of "In 1962 President Kennedy formed the President's Council On Youth Fitness, the official theme song of which was what?" The host then gave, as possible answers, three equally ludicrous song titles, including option C: "Go You Chickenfat, Go!"

"Go You Chickenfat?," The Queen said incredulously, while the contestant hemmed and hawed. "Well, it's not that one."

"Yes it is," said I.

At that moment the contestant guessed B, only to discover that she was wrong. "No," said the gameshow host, "the correct answer is C: Go You Chickenfat, Go!"

The Queen looked at me with what would have been respect if this particular piece of obscure knowledge hasn't been so astoundingly stupid. "How on earth did you know that?" she asked.

"Touch down, every morning -- ten times!," I told her. "Not just, now and theeennnnnn..."

I took her expression of horror as encouragement, and continued.

"Give that chickenfat, back to the chicken and, don't be chicken again."

"Oh my God," said The Queen. "Are you singing the Chickenfat Song? Do you know the words to The Chickenfat Song?"

"No, don't be chicken again!" I replied.

It's true. I know the whole goddamned Chickenfat Song. And here it is. [mp3 link. Warning -- you will have this song in your head for at least a week after hearing it. I am so totally not exaggerating.]

Apparently this song -- actually called "The Youth Fitness Song," written by Meredith Wilson and recorded by Robert Preston -- was distributed by the Presidential Council on Youth Fitness to every school in the United States. And that's where I -- and thousands of other people -- heard it.

Indeed, I heard it every single day, as I and a couple dozen of my elementary school classmates did our morning PE exercises. I don't remember how old I was, or what grade I was in, or what teacher played it for us, but I'll be pickled if I don't recall every single word of this six minute, thirty second song.

With crap like this lodged into every nook and cranny of my memory, is it any wonder that I can't remember my own zip code?

Posted on February 10, 2003 to Storytelling





Comments

yes, I was imprinted on this in elementary school too! It's a mesmerizing song. I didn't remember it was Robert Preston singing, though I've always liked him and the Music Man is one of my favorites. (I think I imprinted on the gym teacher, also!)

Posted by: Anita Rowland on February 10, 2003 5:29 PM

Psst. Matt... try 98103.

Posted by: Peter Sarrett on February 10, 2003 9:47 PM

Wh--You mean *everyone* didn't sing the Dukes of Hazzard theme in PE??

Posted by: K on February 10, 2003 11:05 PM

I am going to listen to this, but mostly on your dare. Kriss Kross didn't have the effect on me that you said it would - except when reading DY and thinking about things not to think about. I think.

Oh, and hi, Peter - fancy meeting you here! :-)

Posted by: Chris M. Dickson on February 11, 2003 6:44 AM

Ah, crap. I didn't even click on the link and I've got the song stuck in my head. I feel this sudden urge to run the 600-yard dash. No, wait -- no I don't. It will pass.

Posted by: aine on February 11, 2003 8:18 AM

I can not believe my ears....that is horrid. And your school representatives subjected youths to this? It's sheer and utter terror. What a nightmare. How could they do that to kids? I'm going to go write a congressman now.

Posted by: Mike on February 11, 2003 12:07 PM

I'm just impressed someone was able to come up with a recording of the song -- the NPR archives apparently didn't have it, and I despaired of ever hearing it. Thank you, Internet. Thank you.

And hey, Arianna Huffington was a gas.

Posted by: Chris @ Stomp Tokyo on February 11, 2003 12:49 PM

You think that's rough? When I was in the 6th grade, our entire elementary school was required to show our patriotism and support for the U.S. troops stationed in the Gulf. This we did by lining up in the hallways every Wednesday (because Wednesday was somehow the appropriate day) to hear Lee Greenwood's classic "I'm Proud to be an American" blare over the shitty PA system.

And we had to (*forcing back further painful memories*) SING ALONG.

Posted by: Amy on February 11, 2003 12:54 PM

Good lord, you're evil.

I hate you!

:-)

Posted by: Dean Esmay on February 12, 2003 2:55 AM

We had the album.

Oh, the horror.

Posted by: Nancy on February 12, 2003 8:16 AM

It's my Chicken Fat. I'll be damned if I'm giving it back to the Chicken.

Posted by: BillB on February 12, 2003 1:07 PM

I knew that song because the lead character in the teen-loser book The Cat Ate My Gymsuit has to do aerobics to that song. I have never heard it myself, until now, that is.

Posted by: jessamyn on February 17, 2003 10:42 PM

I prefer beef fat, myself. Why the cow would want it back is beyond me.

Posted by: Jami on February 20, 2003 9:40 AM

woohoo, thirtysomething former students of hosford elementary school in portland, oregon, REPRAZENT!!!!!

i am deeply indebted to you for resurrecting this extremely painful childhood memory for me. as you were.

Posted by: r@d@r on March 3, 2003 5:19 PM

Wow, the web is fantastick [sic]. I've had this song in my head ever since I heard it back in the late 60s (when I was in the Army and in shape, though I'm actually in better shape now in my own 60s). I was telling a patient about this song today and told her it had sounded like Robert Preston, a la the Music Man, and so I plugged "Touch down every morning" into the old Google and came up with this site, including the song and confirmation that my memory was correct, although I never knew for sure the singer was Robert Preston. Hooray for the web! You made my day.

Posted by: Dr. Joe on April 17, 2003 8:04 PM

I've never even heard of that song.

Posted by: sales leads on May 2, 2003 2:12 PM

The horror.

The horror.

Posted by: wildsoda on May 14, 2003 3:31 AM

I never got to hear songs like that in P.E. when I was in (Catholic) high school. I was too busy cowering in terror while the "coaches" cackled maniacally and rubbed their hands together while trying to think of new ways to torture me.

Seriously, one of our P.E. teachers was this mad old bastard named Brother Melchior, who had two scary guard dogs (a Doberman and a German Shepherd), one of which was named "Satan." I'm not making this up.

I'd rather hear Robert Preston sing "Gay Paree" or "The Shady Dame from Seville" from "Victor/Victoria," and keep the chicken fat.

Posted by: Chuck on June 6, 2003 2:19 PM

O.K. you have to know, I have been looking for this sone for over 20 yesrs, back in the late 60's and early seventies we did this every morning in P.E., I love this soneg. It brings back good memories. I purchased the record yesterday for $1.00 at a record store. Yeah! Go you chicken fat go!

Posted by: Linda on August 10, 2003 10:32 AM

Had a dream about this song last night. When it first came out, I was @5 or 6 and it was played routinely on either Captain Kangaroo or Lucy's Toyshop (Ohio kid show of the '60's). I loved it and remember my mom getting down on the floor with me to "do Chicken Fat!" Downloaded it this morning and I'm in CHICKEN HEAVEN!

Posted by: Cindy on October 6, 2003 5:10 PM

I blame that song for my sedentary life, a fondness for Marlbor Light's and an overwheming desire for Scotch I didn't do perky in the '60's, I sure as hell don't do it now. Although I have a burning desire to go find one of those horrid gymsuits that the school initials embroidered them. Oh well I guess it's back to therapy now. You just had to bring up gym class didn't you.

LOL We actually had to do it for Parent's Day.

Posted by: Mary Kay on October 7, 2003 7:39 AM

I'm in 11th grade and for one of my classes i am a teacher's assistant to one of the first and second grade teachers. Today when i was walking to the first and second grade classroom i looked in the door and saw the kids dancing. As i entered the room i hear "Go you chickenfat." As soon as i heard that i thought if defective yeti and i did all i could to keep from bursting out in laughter.

Posted by: Jon Yarum on November 3, 2003 2:50 PM

I've been searching forever for the Chicken Fat song! I have fond memories of this as a child and would like to pass it on. I can't find any site on the web to download it. (There is only one which cannot be accessed any longer, it seems) If anyone knows of a site...please pass along. Much appreciated!

Posted by: Elisa on November 8, 2003 9:02 AM

I hated that gawdawful song!!! We had to hear that lame ass record in P.E. elementary school in the 1960's. There was a teacher...I think her name was Mrs. Cray who obviously loved it and got into it. I remember thinking she was a goofball.

Posted by: Dan on November 22, 2003 8:27 PM

For those asking, the Chicken Fat song can be found at this web site:

http://birdhouse.org/blog/archives/000703.php

Posted by: Ajay on December 12, 2003 3:39 PM

I just had my entire advanced ballet class in stitches trying to tell them about how I would do the CHICKEN FAT song in school. I was born in 1957. No one had heard of it. They thought I was nuts.

I was almost singing it to them, although I could not remembr it all. WHERE do you get it????

I WANT IT!!!!!

bubb@macomb.com

Can it REALLY be found at that website???

Please help!

Posted by: Anonymous on January 7, 2004 7:50 PM

This is what I love about the Internet. While some people are downloading porn, I'm downloading a little piece of my childhood.

I was trying to explain to someone at the office what the "Chicken Fat" song was. So, I Googled it and found a copy.

Like an earlier poster, I watched Lucy's Toyshop out of Columbus, Ohio. (I still have my old Dragon puppet that I won from her toybox, too!). I learned the song on her show and then exercised with it through grade school.

I also would do it with my Mom. It was a good bonding experience. :)

Go, you chicken fat go!

I found it here:

http://www.daveross.com/songs/robertpreston.mp3

Posted by: Alane on January 13, 2004 5:08 PM

My father never raised his hand to any one of his children, except in self-defense.

Posted by: Craig Barbara on February 27, 2004 2:24 AM

My 3 year old and 2 year old hear this song at the end of dance lesson for little one's (playtime) anyways, both of them get on the mat and love this silly song.

Posted by: Scott on March 4, 2004 6:28 AM

I still have my Chicken Fat 45. Just no place to play it. I was so glad to find an MP3 on the net. :) I have very fond memories of this song.

Posted by: Candace on April 8, 2004 2:38 PM

I tried to go to the address listed but it wouldn't download. I'd like to use it for our Day Camp. I think the kids would get a kick out of it and it would bring back memories for the parents.

Posted by: Michael on July 5, 2004 8:16 AM