What’s with all the parodies?

A lot of lyricists write parodies, especially when they’re learning to write lyrics. It’s fun, and when they’re good, people like them and they’re fun to sing at parties and such. I made a little splash with my first parody, Send in the Clowns, which I wrote when I was in college. Maury Yeston was my music theory professor and mentor, and he got me Stephen Sondheim’s address and encouraged me to send it to him. Steve loved it, and played it for lots of his friends, and encouraged people to sing it in nightclubs. More than twenty years after I wrote it, Steve still referred to it as his favorite, and he has seen many, many parodies of that song. You can’t make money off parodies (unless they’re in something like Forbidden Broadway), and you have to be careful, because you can’t violate the copyright of the underlying authors. But if you’re just writing and performing them for fun, well, they’re fun!

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