L'il Abner

Music By: Gene de Paul

Lyrics By: Johnny Mercer

Distributed By: Masterworks Broadway

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In 1934, a comic strip appeared in newspapers around the United States Al Capp's Li'l Abner featured the escapades of a clan of hillbillies living in the poor mountain village of Dogpatch, Kentucky.  In 1956, L'il Abner became a successful Broadway musical and, in 1959, the musical was adapted into film format.  Starring Peter Palmer in the title role, Leslie Parrish as Daisy Mae, Stubby Kaye as Marryin' Sam, Stella Stevens as Appasionata von Climax and Julie Numar as Stupifyin' Jones, the movie contained songs with music by Gene De Paul and lyrics by Johnny Mercer.  In January 2014, the L'il Abner Soundtrack was made available for digital download by Masterworks Broadway.

                L'il Abner takes place near Sadie Hawkins Day.  In Dogpatch, that's the day that the women of the town chase after the men in the town with marriage on the mind.  But in the midst of this grand tradition, the town receives the news that they are the most unnecessary town in the nation and the powers that be have declared Dogpatch the most likely spot to perform atomic bomb testing.  The citizens of Dogpatch must come up with a plan to elevate the town's status. 

                Meanwhile, Daisy Mae Scragg has set her sights on marrying L'il Abner Yokum.  Though he resists the idea of marriage, Abner has a secret crush on Daisy Mae.  But Earthquake McGoon (Bern Hoffman) is a rival for Daisy Mae's heart and devises a plan to get Abner out of the picture.  Can Daisy Mae capture and keep L'il Abner's heart?  And can the people of Dogpatch save their beloved town from the government?

                Okay, so I did find some of the songs on the L'il Abner Soundtrack to be quite amusing, poking fun at hillbilly stereotypes like not bathing daily and not working for a living.  I thought the story of the incompetent Confederate General that the town praises, Jubilation T. Cornpone, was hysterical, as was the tongue-in-cheek political song, The Country's in the Very Best of Hands.

                That  being said, I wonder if the new generation of musical fans will have any idea what L'Il Abner is really about, having been born long after the comic strip ceased to exist and the frequency of atomic bomb testing had been put behind us.  While the hillbilly aspect of the songs is funny, I think the main meaning of the songs will be lost on the new generation.  I can see diehard musical fans downloading this album with the intent of adding it to their vast collection, but the L'il Abner Soundtrack will likely be passed over by the younger generation.


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