51 Weeks: 51 Songs From The Past: Week 39: David Bowie – The Laughing Gnome

Thank you for all the lovely messages of congratulations that came in with last week’s trip back to 1993. This week, I’m taking you all on a journey in my music time machine to the year 1967 where we’re about to meet up with not only a musical icon, but an unusual creature not often seen in the music world. Are you ready to meet an unusual pairing?

51 weeks 51 songs from the past poster

Well, it is the 1960s, so I’m guessing that an odd pairing was not seen as being that unusual back then. Afterall, the song you’re about to hear did eventually become a hit in the UK charts, but not in 1967 when it was originally released! It took a little longer to hit the charts when rereleased in 1973, but I’m glad that the artist saw a future in it despite it not charting in 1967. Take it away, Mr Bowie and friend…

This is one of my (what I call) ‘unusual’ favourites when it comes to music. In fact, when I heard the sad news of David Bowie’s death a few years ago, this is the song that instantly came to mind. Kinda strange when you think about all the other hits he’d had. However, I needed cheering up after hearing the news, and I had a strange thought that it was what Mr Bowie would have wanted me to listen to.

The Laughing Gnome went on to sell over 250,000 copies in 1973 but failed to chart again when rereleased in 1982. By then, David had moved on with his music but had also recorded the introduction to the very successful television animation of ‘The Snowman.’

I’ve always wanted one of those snowman scarfs that David wraps around his neck, but have never been able to find one. If you know where I can buy one, then please do let me know. ☃️

Do you have a favourite ‘Unusual’ song? Share a link to that song in the comments.

Thank you to everyone who left a link to a favourite song in the comments section of last week’s post. And a big thank you to Kat, Barbara, and Marie who joined in with publishing a blog post of a favourite song.

Want to join me in building up your 51 favourite songs from the past? There’s not much time left, but you can still leave a link in the comments section below and showcase your next song.

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  1. I just never know if I will recognize your song for the week or not! And this week- not. How interesting!! It’s definitely unusual and fun to listen to! 🙂 I wonder where the inspiration for this song came from.

    1. One of Bowie’s first songs, Kat. And only ever a hit in the UK (as far as I’m aware) taking six years to make it into the top 40. I believe he and a friend were messing around with the sound equipment in a recording studio when the inspiration for the song came bursting through the walls.

  2. Well oddly when he died I went hunting for the gnome song and couldn’t remember the title well enough to find it – I think I remembered it as a penguin for some reason! A friend who does Humanist funerals told me that, recently he presided at the cremation of a 65 year old woman, the stalwart of the WI and rotary who wanted, amongst others, My Way. Imagine his surprise when this was the version https://youtu.be/rDyb_alTkMQ. Personally it’s grim but certainly unusual. Having been stymied by the RMT union recently, perhaps this take on the Jam’s classic will do for me https://youtu.be/d__8ryEui6U (warning, not for the sensitive of hearing)

    1. Well, all I can say to those two songs is “More tea, vicar?”. 😀
      I can’t imagine the faces of the people at the funeral who would have heard that other version of ‘My Way’. I had to turn that one off, Geoff. He sang just like I do every day in the shower (and I’m Welsh!).
      As for the London Underground song, yep, get your point. If I’d have still been living in Brighton, I would have been singing that song…but maybe a little nicer? 😀

  3. I only became aware of this on the re-release, Hugh, so I was a bit confused when you mentioned 1967 at first. Love the song, and remember the video playing at the time. Also lent itself to some childish reworkings, if I remember rightly, though I can’t recall exactly what my friends and I did with the lyrics – and it’s probably as well.
    As for unusual songs, I tend to go to the novelty end of the spectrum…

    1. I remember this song Graeme, but never knew what it was that was really going on in the lyrics. Love the way the phone rings at the end and you can hear someone shouting “NO!”.
      As for The Laughing Gnome lyrics, I hope you’ll remember them one day and tell me what they were.

      1. Sadly this video doesn’t show the final bit on the phone which has the pleading continue. It’s a silly song, and there’s something about the singer that reminds me of a younger Woody Allen. I don’t like to admit it in public, but I’ve got a feeling that I have the single for this somewhere.

  4. Interesting post, Hugh. I enjoy much of Bowie’s music, but wasn’t aware of The Laughing Gnome (thankfully, or I may not have given him another listen 🙂 . )

    1. I think that video should come with a health warning, Chris. I mean you just can’t stop watching, can you? 😀 I remember when it became a huge hit in the UK and how it was always a dance ‘floor-filler’. It oozed lots of sex-appeal and was so very different to anything else in the charts at the time.

  5. Wow, once again, I’ve never heard of any version of the Laughing Gnome. Either I was living under a rock or maybe I was just too young, LOL. 🙂 xxx

  6. I miss that talent of David Bowie. I had never heard the Laughing Gnome before, but it is catchy (although Bowie could have sung the phone book and it would be amazing). Yes, that is a wonderful scarf, too! Now we lost Tom Petty, sad to see veteran talent leave the planet 😦

  7. From my past my unusual song is Mike Sarne and Wendy Richard singing, Come Outside, just love it!

    More recently Imogen Heap’s The Listening Chair.

    And here is how and why it was made, honestly worth the watch.

    Hugs to you Hugh xxxx

    1. Thanks, Willow. I never knew that Wendy Richard had ever released any records. Although, she did rather talk rather than sing. Still, it got her to the number one spot back in 1962.
      The Listening Chair is a strange song. I’ll watch the ‘how and why it was made’ later on.
      Thanks for joining in with your choices.
      Hugs to you.

  8. Ah….Bowie. When the movie “The Labyrinth” came out, my kids became huge fans, and I got to discover him all over again, from a child’s point of view. He was brilliant, innovative, one of a kind. I didn’t know this song, Hugh. Strange, but not unexpected.

  9. I love ‘The Laughing Gnome’ song by Bowie too. This week my unusual song is chosen by Mr Grump (he says it makes him cry)!! It reminds me of my uncle who always used to play it, and as kids we always watched his TV show back in the 70s. Some might say now that his show was a bit controversial to say the least, but some of it was funny. Anyway here is the song: https://youtu.be/8e1xvyTdBZI

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