The Lumberjack Song

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The Lumberjack Song is one of the best-known and most popular songs by the Monty Python comedy troupe. The song was written by Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Fred Tomlinson.

It first appeared on the ninth episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, "The Ant: An Introduction" on BBC1 on 14 December 1969. The song has since been performed in several forms, including film, stage, and LP, each time started from a different skit. At an NPR interview in 2007, Michael Palin stated the scene and the whole song were created in about 15 minutes, concluding a day's work, when the Python crew was stuck and unable to come up with a conclusion to the barbershop sketch that preceded it.



The common theme was of an average man (originally played by Michael Palin, in later live versions this would be Eric Idle) who expresses dissatisfaction with his current job (as a barber, weatherman, pet shop owner, etc.) and then announces, "I didn't want to be [the given profession]. I wanted to be... a lumberjack!" He proceeds to talk about the life of a lumberjack ("Leaping from tree to tree"), and lists various trees (i.e. fir, larch, Scots pine). Ripping off his coat to reveal a red flannel shirt, he walks over to a stage with a coniferous forest backdrop, and he begins to sing about the wonders of being a lumberjack in British Columbia. Then, he is unexpectedly backed up by a small choir of male singers, all dressed as Canadian Mounties (several were regular Python performers, while the rest were generally members of an actual singing troupe, such as the Fred Tomlinson Singers in the TV version).

In the original sketch from the programme and film version, the girl is played by Connie Booth, John Cleese's then-wife; in the live version, the girl is played by Python regular Carol Cleveland. In the version from the film And Now For Something Completely Different, it follows on from the Dead Parrot sketch with Palin's character leaving the pet shop as Eric Praline asks "I'm sorry, this is irrelevant, isn't it?."

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