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Song Parodies -> "The Test Card Onscreen"

Original Song Title:

"The River of Dreams"

 (MP3)
Original Performer:

Billy Joel

Parody Song Title:

"The Test Card Onscreen"

Parody Written by:

Edward Genereux

The Lyrics

This parody, my 113th and third straight of Billy Joel, eulogizes the long-lost tradition of the television sign-off. For the majority of the medium's history, broadcast stations would leave the air for the night within a couple hours of midnight. Before they went to P.A.L. bars or a test card, however, they would transmit an elaborate ritual in which the day's news stories would be recapped, one last weather forecast would be given, upcoming programming would be previewed, a short prerecorded inspirational message called a "sermonette" would be preached, technical details would be read and the national anthem would play. I am old enough to remember the nightly sign-off ritual. Sadly, that tradition quickly almost vanished in the late '90s and early 2000s in the wake of the Communications Act of 1996, which led to increased corporate control of the airwaves and the increasing importance of non-stop cable networks. In order to have a chance to compete, broadcast stations (except in remote markets) felt that they must do likewise. And what did we get? Trashy infomercials, celebrity "news" and other crap. It's probably too late to turn back the clock of technology, but 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the legislation that killed sign-offs, so that's why I set about writing this parody.
In the middle of the night, they used to end the broadcast day
With the anthem of the land and the test card displayed.
I was a lad of but seven when the ritual I saw,
But that wasn't to last 'cos the Prez signed the law.

At first I knew not the meaning thereof
On account of my age, but years down my life's road,
I saw a sign-off and I fell in love,
Even though the transmission was thirty years old!

In the middle of the night, I was living in the past,
With a sign-off marathon in an age that screams "fast,"
As in 24/7, though the broadcasts be trash.
What became of needed rest? Don't they know they might crash?

As I did ponder, my eyes did well up
Out of mourning for times that shall never return,
Even though my tears might fill many a cup,
Even though I can dream, even though I should yearn.

In the middle of the night, I did finally go to bed
At around 2 AM, or so to myself I'd said.
But as I lay there sleeping, I fell into a dream
Where I was seven again, and the sign-off did beam
In the middle of the night...

(Instrumental break)

Not sure which channel was signing off;
God knows I often do forget some details.
But it is no big loss
When all that matters is that I'd not give it for sale.

In the middle of the night, as I watched the PAL bars glow,
I felt happy again without overnight shows.
But my clock alarm did sound, thus concluding my dream.
Still, I'd give everything for the test card onscreen
In the middle of the night...

(Ad lib and fade)
Note the "they" in the parody lyrics refers to broadcasters.

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Overall Rating: 2.0

Total Votes: 4

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