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Songs Of My Life: Piero Umiliani – Mah Nah Mah Na

This edition of the Songs Of My Life is a bit of special. Typically, I try to share my personal connection with a song with me with you. I will do it in this version with you as well – but I get most of you have similar associations with it. The original story of this song is truly entertaining though – did you know that Mah Nah Mah Na, which you typically memorize with Jim Henson puppets, was originally a soundtrack A-side of a soft porn movie? Here is a very interesting edition of the Songs Of My Life.

 

Mah Nah Mah Na – The Story Of The Song

When I tell you the original story of Mah Nah Mah Na, I better start with all the truth and shocks first before you can enjoy the posting. First of all, I need to tell you that the song is originally not called Mah Nah Mah Na, but Viva la sauna svedse. With some limited knowledge of Italian, you will know that this means “Hooray to the Swedish saunas”. WTF?

Under this title, the song has been part of the soundtrack of the movie Svezia, inferno e paradiso – “Sweden, Heaven and Hell” (1968). Depending on the source you are using, the movie is either described as a documentation on the vast level of sexuality in the Scandinavian country at these times – or as a 1960’s soft porn movie. I have never seen the full movie, so I will not judge. You can look into this YouTube video which shows the original appearance of the song in the film – looks very odd to be from a today’s perspective.

Mah Nah Mah Na is Italian

I will stick with the name of the song which you are used to. However, there is no clear spelling of the title, the original single also refers to Mah Na Mah Na and to Manah Manah – so you are free to choose. The song has been recorded by Piero Umiliani, who is one of the most famous Italian composers for sountrack music. He was born on 17th July 1926 in Florence and died in Rome on 14th February 2001. He was active as a composer between the late 1950’s and early 1980’s. Mah Nah Mah Na has been released as a single in late 1968 and initially just had average chart placements in the USA and Canada. However, in 1977, the song came back into the charts in some markets and was a Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom. The reason for that was a cover at The Benny Hill Show. 

 

Mah Nah Mah Na – A Song in Countless Cover Versions

There is a massive number of covers of the song – and it even hits genres you would not expect. The UK metal band Skin, for example, did their own interpretation of the song. The Brazilian band Pato Fu added a South American touch to the song. The Pittsburgh Steelers honored their player Troy Polamalu with a very special version for the Super Bowl in 2006.

The song has been used for memes, comedy and even commercials.In 2007, for example, the car brand Saturn tried to sell their Aura with a touch of Mah Nah Mah Na (which would not work too well for me). Less serious is a mashup on the 2016 Presidential Election TV duels:

 

Mah Nah Mah Na – My Story Of The Song

Like most of you, likely, you associate Mah Nah Mah Na with Sesame Street and the Muppets. Even in that part of the Jim Henson universe, you find a bunch of versions of that song. The original one, dated as of 1969, features two girls and a bearded guy:

However, if you are not a 1960’s kid, you likely rather relate to the Muppet Show version. If you some all the Muppet version up, you likely reach some 300 to 400 million YouTube streams in total.

I always thought that Mah Nah Mah Na is in fact a Muppets or Sesame Street song. I ran into the name of Piero Umiliani maybe some ten years ago. Finally, I ran into an article about Umiliani just a few weeks ago, as there are still tribute albums and re-recordings of his wide range of songs – and found out about the real origin and the movie behind this track. I will rather try to keep it linked in my mind to Jim Henson and his puppets, for sure.

 

Mah Nah Mah Na – Spotify

I guess lyrics to this one is not necessary. Here is Mah Nah Mah Na on Spotify:

 

Songs Of My Life Playlist

I created a playlist with all the Songs Of My Life songs so far. It will be updated with very new episode:

 

 

Title picture: Muppets – Mah Nah Mah Nah (2014 music video) – YouTube screenshot

 

Flyctory.com about Italy

Here are all postings related to Italy:

 

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