The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove

“The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” By Cliff Friend and Dave Franklin

“The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” was written by Cliff Friend and Dave Franklin in 1937. Warner Bros. caught wind of its creation and adopted the song as the opening theme to their popular show Looney Tunes. Since then, it has changed and evolved from this version to what we now know as the opening theme of the beloved show.

This version of the song starts off with a jovial instrumental track and a little boy crying that the merry-go-round was broken. A young male singer then comes in and launches into a tale of how the merry-go-round breaking down led to a successful date with a young lady, allowing him to “steal a kiss” and make her his. This version sees a return of the little boy from the beginning of the song, exclaiming happily that “the merry-go-round was fixed”. This orchestra’s rendition of “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” included an accordion player at this time that lended itself to the circus-y feeling in the song. The accordion creates the bouncy sound of typical carousel music that you would find in a circus or carnival, which is where you will also find a merry-go-round, malfunctioning or not.

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