Tim Smolko (Athens, Georgia)
American record producer Dickie Goodman made a career out of writing novelty songs. From the mid-1950s to the 1980s, his songs poked fun at current events, politicians, dance crazes, films, and especially the Russians. He is best known for creating and popularizing the “break-in,” a technique of inserting brief portions of popular songs into a ludicrous narrative to comically respond to, and comment on, current events. This practice began with his first recording, “The Flying Saucer” in 1956. Using razor blades, adhesive tape, a steady hand, and a hefty dose of patience, Goodman spliced together various portions of reel-to-reel tapes to make these songs. Taking advantage of the spate of alleged UFO sightings in the 1950s, “The Flying Saucer” used hits by Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and others to comment on an alien spacecraft landing on Earth.
Goodman created several songs with Cold War themes, his first being the 1959 instrumental “Stroganoff Cha Cha.” It is an unlikely mishmash of Russian and Cuban music. This song shows that even a cheesy instrumental novelty song without lyrics can be meaningful and even prophetic. This Russian/Cuban alliance in sound was released in February 1959, not only before the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, but before Nikita Khrushchev had even met Fidel Castro.