It is taking longer than expected to fetch the next song to play. The music should be playing soon. If you get tired of waiting, you can try reloading your browser.


Please check our Help page for information about troubleshooting Pandora on your browser.

Please ensure you are using the latest Flash Player.


If you are unable or do not wish to upgrade your Flash Player,
please try a different browser.


Please check our Help page for information about troubleshooting Pandora on your browser.
Your Pandora One subscription will expire shortly.
More Info
No Thanks
Your Pandora One trial will expire shortly.
Restore
Close
close
Your Pandora One trial subscription will expire shortly. Upgrade to continue unlimited, ad-free listening.
Upgrade Now
You've listened to hours of Pandora this month. Consider upgrading to Pandora One.
More Info
No Thanks
Close
Hi . Pandora is using Facebook to personalize your experience. Learn MoreNo Thanks
-0:00
0:00
Change Skin

We created Pandora to put the Music Genome Project directly in your hands

It’s a new kind of radio –
stations that play only music you like

 
Create an account for free. Register
Now Playing
Music Feed
My Profile
Create a Station
People who also like this

Napoleon XIV

The weirdest novelty record to hit the Top 40 -- indeed, a strong candidate for the weirdest hit record of any kind, period -- was Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" Against a clomp-clomp tambourine beat, Napoleon spoke-chanted his manic-depressive tale of failed romance, the vocals suddenly speeding up into an unsettlingly cheerful giddiness as sirens revved up in the background. Not a single note of music was played or sung throughout the track, which zoomed up to number three in the summer of 1966, as the necessary counterpoint to Barry Sadler's insipid, similarly off-the-wall smash that year, "The Ballad of the Green Berets." The implications of a song in which the narrator describes himself going crazy and being carted off to the loony bin selling a million copies had unsettling implications for a nation that prides itself on its stability and character. It engendered great controversy and only stayed in the Top 20 for five weeks, partially because many radio stations withdrew the record from their playlists, possibly because of complaints from concerned parents and other righteous citizens.

Napoleon XIV was actually Jerry Samuels, a 28-year-old recording engineer who had previously written small hit singles for pop crooners Johnny Ray and Sammy Davis, Jr., as well as making a conventional single of his own. "They're Coming to Take Me Away" was a sophisticated production feat for its time, with a maddening beat produced by tambourines, drums, and thigh slaps. The principal drum pattern was crafted by looping a ten-second piece of tape, and Samuels varied the speed of the vocals to simulate the off-the-rails state of a man going crazy while keeping the background tempo constant. Even weirder was the flip side, "!Aaah-ah, Yawa Em Ekat ot Gnimoc Er'yeht," which was -- you guessed it -- the A-side run backwards, a blend that yielded what was probably the most unlistenable piece of vinyl of all time.

To capitalize on the left-field success of "They're Coming to Take Me Away," Samuels/Napoleon XIV quickly produced an album of variations on the theme, such as "Bats in My Belfry" and "I Live in a Split-Level Head." Most of the material (unlike the single) was not written by Samuels, but by comedy writer Jim Lehner (once the head writer for Jonathan Winters) and composer Bobby Gosh (then writing with Sammy Cahn!), and the novelty quickly wore thin over the course of an LP. "They're Coming to Take Me Away" isn't the kind of single that lends itself to formulaic follow-ups, though Samuels/Napoleon XIV did release other singles, and recorded an unreleased album in the late '60s. Considering its title, For God's Sake, Stop the Feces!, it may have been better off remaining in the can.

Samuels went on to a career as unpredictable as his hit smash, making his living for a time selling marijuana roach clips to head shops. For a couple of decades he worked the piano bars of the Philadelphia area; on a Napoleon XIV reissue CD he proudly noted that "I became probably the most popular entertainer at nursing homes and senior facilities in the Philadelphia and Delaware Valley area." (Presumably he didn't play his hit single for those audiences.) That reissue CD combined the 1966 Napoleon XIV album with some additional material from the '60s and some later tracks recorded in 1995. ~ Richie Unterberger
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Revolutions In Sound: Warner Bros. Records - The First Fifty Years

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Dr. Dime to Show
Report as inappropriate
Crazy song lol (;
Report as inappropriate
Love
Report as inappropriate
dulze1
Did best song ever but I wish they would take away my sister
Report as inappropriate
tikka2701 is scard
Report as inappropriate
There coming to take ME away HA-HA!!
Report as inappropriate
??????????
Report as inappropriate
clcnowicki
Ha-Haa
Report as inappropriate
My family's theme song
Report as inappropriate
Ahhhhhhhhhh! : (
Report as inappropriate
I sang this yesterday and I scared my sister. I also sang this at school. XDXXDXDXDXDX D X D
Report as inappropriate
Love this !!
Report as inappropriate
ぉゔぇ位t!
Report as inappropriate
I love this!!!!! He's gone mad! A psycho! :) I like it!
Report as inappropriate
this is rlly funny :)

We're sorry, but a browser plugin or firewall may be preventing Pandora from loading.

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser.

Please check our Help page for more information.

It looks like your browser does not support modern SSL/TLS. Please upgrade your browser.

If you need help, please email: pandora-support@pandora.com.

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser
or install a newer version of Flash (v.10 or later).

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please install Adobe Flash (v.10 or later).

[126, 71, 112, 93, 100, 99, 117, 84, 76, 117, 125, 104, 105, 75, 105, 65, 85, 68, 74, 78, 124, 97, 114, 79, 93, 83, 125, 94, 81, 85, 107, 117, 118, 94, 74, 108, 101, 82, 84, 65, 125, 77, 98, 114, 109, 72, 88, 115, 68, 88, 107, 104, 108, 109, 105, 64, 83, 65, 106, 120, 64, 65, 125, 66, 66, 82, 86, 111, 121, 125, 86, 105, 76, 71, 115, 124, 109, 120, 106, 83, 111, 79, 80, 101, 127, 104, 77, 81, 117, 79, 73, 79, 66, 83, 115, 96, 71, 112, 74, 122, 122, 112, 127, 79, 113, 103, 68, 111, 125, 101, 127, 111, 86, 112, 71, 112, 70, 79, 93, 66, 123, 86, 109, 121, 77, 95, 108, 91, 91, 117, 97, 98, 103, 90, 76, 126, 117, 66, 107, 120, 123, 84, 80, 102, 118, 107, 104, 71, 107, 108, 77, 105, 77, 68, 88, 84, 103, 109, 109, 72, 126, 81, 83, 89, 103, 98, 127, 76, 95, 120, 96, 73, 93, 66, 89, 100, 98, 79, 96, 124, 78, 126, 122, 69, 112, 78, 106, 101, 95, 94, 117, 127, 76, 107, 115, 122, 72, 117, 123, 114, 96, 75, 75, 119, 112, 73, 99, 121, 83, 67, 117, 120, 107, 76, 122, 114, 120, 92, 94, 95, 103, 114, 124, 73, 65, 69, 97, 110, 82, 98, 84, 116, 90, 72, 110, 76, 68, 121, 67, 79, 106, 118, 103, 96, 99, 117, 111, 66, 104, 76, 100, 106, 84, 92, 67, 117, 117, 90, 103, 123, 81, 104, 113, 101, 101, 74, 66, 121, 82, 82, 118, 64, 108, 96, 83, 125, 82, 107, 66, 126, 102, 108, 75, 99, 112, 71, 65, 102, 102, 97, 98, 103, 123, 97, 97, 126, 108, 82, 112, 124, 69, 110, 120, 64, 103, 102, 112, 64, 76, 100, 89, 73, 79, 74, 78, 85, 65, 93, 104, 121, 126, 80, 98, 74, 77, 79, 127, 66, 73, 127, 117, 101, 126, 89, 113, 115, 88, 93, 78, 76, 95, 69, 115, 107, 94, 65, 94, 104, 92, 125, 74, 113, 102, 115, 78, 118, 64, 81, 79, 73, 67, 72, 104, 74, 127, 81, 98, 79, 122, 117, 111, 96, 69, 113, 70, 65, 65, 82, 100, 82, 103, 65, 78, 125, 82, 84, 123, 75, 116, 122, 97, 76, 122, 110, 111, 95, 85, 106, 102, 109, 85, 108, 103, 67, 84, 92, 64, 79, 118, 64, 120, 114, 111, 107, 78, 121, 95, 116, 86, 98, 123, 67, 120, 89, 127, 95, 79, 67, 92, 116, 118, 100, 117, 65, 77, 76, 97, 68, 73, 123, 84, 125, 74, 121, 111, 87, 124, 77, 104, 71, 111, 97, 80, 114, 112, 73, 91, 87, 110, 101, 74, 107, 124, 88, 96, 101, 118, 117, 96, 105, 100, 107, 104, 79, 76, 117, 95, 104, 119, 78, 106, 84, 99, 105, 114, 79, 102, 98, 126, 117, 108, 98, 89, 117, 106, 78, 116, 103, 70, 70, 120, 109, 90, 78, 112, 77, 66, 108, 127, 110, 103, 117]