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Annoying Music for May Day

Truly Awful Songs to Spoil the Springtime Cheer

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Maypole dancers

Maypole dancers celebrate May Day 1941 in Green County, Ga. Library of Congress hide caption

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Jim Nayder

Jim Nayder is host of Chicago Public Radio's The Annoying Music Show. hide caption

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Spring is in the air. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and May Day is soon upon us. But somehow Jim Nayder, the Annoying Music Man, finds a way to spoil the beauty of it all.

In one of his occasional — or perhaps too frequent — visits to Weekend Edition Saturday Nayder rips open his vault of terrible recordings and plays (thankfully) a few songs he considers appropriate for May Day. NPR's Linda Wertheimer politely plays along as she and Nayder discuss the history of the holiday.

The Romans celebrated Flora, the flower goddess around the first of May. The Celts built bonfires. And, of course, May Day is international labor day. How appropriate that May 1 was the birthday of Mother Jones — Mary Harris. "She was the great labor organizer, fiery agitator for the union rights of coal workers, and I thought, what did Mother Jones have going on?" Nayder says, explaining his selection of "Me and Mrs. Jones" as performed by the Sunshine Girls. "She ended many a strike with that voice," he says.

Another selection features "Vegetable Music" by the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra. Nayder says it ties in very well with the ancient Roman tradition of honoring vegetation on May Day. "This is music played completely on vegetables and from time to time some kitchen utensils. I think the brussels sprouts were out of tune on this." Nayder wouldn't say whether any veggies were harmed in the process.

And because May marks the start of the vacation driving season, Nayder insists on playing "Vehicle" as performed by the O Henry Intermediate School #70 Stage Band. "Thank God somebody was there with a tape recorder," he says.

Nayder is host of The Annoying Music Show at WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio, and producer of ear-splitting collections, including The Annoying Music Show CD! and The Annoying Music Show Presents Songs For People CD! .

As if that's not enough, Nayder wants NPR listeners to submit even more annoying music suggestions, which will be featured on an upcoming Weekend Edition Saturday. You have been warned. Get submission details by e-mailing Nayder at



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