Today’s featured song: Mr. Jonah by Bobby Dee & The Scam, a 45 rpm record from 1984.

Track 23 on Tape JM-31 is a fun song, one that was quite unusual to hear on Christian radio stations. The story I relate here was researched for Jerry Bryant’s Full Circle Jesus Music radio show, specifically on episode #148 (which you can find on this page); I cannot locate info about this anywhere else on the Net. This track for a short time in 1984 actually went to the #1 spot on Christian stations in some markets. The creator of the song, Bobby Dee, was an overnight DJ on WZZD, a Christian station in Philadelphia.

Bobby Dee got the idea one night to do a take off on the “break-in” music sampling records that had been popularized in the 1960s and 1970s by Dickie Goodman. Goodman used brief clips taken from popular records of the day to use as answers to questions that he as an interviewer asked of people in various situations. The first time this was used was in June 1956, with The Flying Saucer Parts I & II. Over the years, Goodman did many of these records, using political and pop culture as his inspiration, and they were popular novelty records.

Because he felt the radio format he had to work with was a little stuffy, Bobby Dee decided one night to make a recording that worked just like Dickie Goodman’s records, but using cuts from the popular Christian music songs of the day. He used the scenario of interviewing Jonah about his experience in the belly of the whale. He put it together, and played it one night.

When the general manager of the station heard about what he had done (people were calling the station to request the “song”), he was promptly fired for straying outside of the recommended play list. However, so many people called to ask it to be played again, the station re-hired him. Dee did a more professional recording of Mr. Jonah, and this got wide airplay. I do not know if any other such break-in music sampling record was ever done for Christian music after this, but I am glad that I had the opportunity to hear and record this from KCRO in Omaha, back in the summer of 1984.

Since it has no lyrics, what I will list below will be the titles and artists of songs that are used in this unique record.

When You Gonna Wake Up – Bob Dylan
I’m Saved – Carman
I’m Not Religious, I Just Love The Lord – Scott Wesley Brown
We Are Persuaded – The Bill Gaither Trio
I Have Decided – Amy Grant
Mourning Into Dancing – Leon Patillo
Pray For Me – B.J. Thomas
Givin’ It Up – Fireworks
So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt – Keith Green
Alive Again – (not sure who this is)
America (In God You Used To Trust) – David & The Giants
I Threw Away My Idols – Dion DiMucci
He’s Returning – White Heart
Take A Stand – Glad

2 responses to “Jonah!”

  1. Hello. I’m 29 but grew up listening to a lot of these songs from tapes my dad recorded off the old WXRI in Norfolk, VA. Not sure about “Alive Again” but “Pray For Me” was from B.J. Thomas’ “Love Shines” project from 1983.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.