Go Johnny, Go!

Sep 18, 2014
Originally published on November 5, 2015 10:11 am

Go, Johnny Coulton, go! Our one-man house band plays the Chuck Berry classic "Johnny B. Goode" with the lyrics rewritten to be about other famous guys named John. Can you sing your way to victory?

Heard in Episode 326: Too Soon

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR and WNYC. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and with me is our one man house band, Jonathan Coulton and our puzzle guru Greg Pliska.


EISENBERG: Please welcome our contestants, Jillian Schrager and Andrew Watterson.


EISENBERG: Jillian is visiting us from Ann Arbor.


EISENBERG: And Andrew from San Francisco. Welcome to you both.


EISENBERG: So Jillian, you've spent some time living in the wilderness. Can you elaborate on that for me?

SCHRAGER: I did in college. I was on a three month semester long wilderness course with Outward Bound.

EISENBERG: And what did you have at your disposal, everything that you could carry on your back? Or...

SCHRAGER: Yeah, not many major comforts. They sort of like to keep you off balance so you're challenged.

EISENBERG: So you're challenged?


EISENBERG: What was a highlight?

SCHRAGER: Man, I saw the northern lights in Minnesota. That was gorgeous.

EISENBERG: Yes, I'm from Canada. I've seen them a couple times. They're kind of amazing. They make you believe maybe there's something else other than you.


EISENBERG: Andrew, recently you drove across America?


EISENBERG: How long did it take you?

WATTERSON: Thirty-five days, I think? Seven weeks - or five weeks? Yeah.

EISENBERG: Five weeks? Nice. Any highlights from that trip?

WATTERSON: So I had a 28-year-old Volkswagen van which I knew was going to break down before we left.


WATTERSON: And then it broke down...


WATTERSON: ...Like in the first week in Nowheresville, Nevada. And so, you know, we got it towed away and I was just like I don't know, you know, like, what are the people around here like? And I get in the tow truck and the guy's like, so are you religious? And I'm sitting there next to my boyfriend and I was like oh man, this is going to go downhill so quickly.


WATTERSON: And in his defense, he actually ended up being really chill about it and I appreciated that. After he asked me if I was saved about 15 minutes later and I said no, he dropped the whole thing for the rest of the trip. But yeah.

EISENBERG: But he still helped you out?

WATTERSON: Religious tow truck driver.

EISENBERG: Don't worry, he's praying for you.


EISENBERG: So this game is called Go Johnny Go. So let's go Johnny Coulton.

JONATHAN COULTON: Yes, I'm going. Here I go. We've taken the Chuck Berry classic "Johnny B. Goode" and rewritten the lyrics to be about other famous guys named John. All you need do is ring in and tell us the name of each John. But, of course, we would appreciate it if you sang it as in (singing) go, go, go John legend go. Are you ready?

SCHRAGER: I guess.


COULTON: At least you don't have to go (yelling) goal because that's - those people looked really dumb - you guys are going to look great.

EISENBERG: This will be better.

WATTERSON: (Singing) Go, go John Legend, go.

EISENBERG: You mix up the games.

COULTON: OK, here we go. (Singing) You've probably seen a lot of movies this John scored. He's been nominated for more Oscar awards than any other human who's alive today. He did "Close Encounters," he did JFK. Not to mention "Star Wars" and "Jurassic Park" and a very famous film about a great white shark. Now go.


COULTON: Andrew?

WATTERSON: (Singing) Go, go, go John Williams, go.



EISENBERG: Nice voice.


WATTERSON: Thank you.

COULTON: You look like a boss.


COULTON: Fantastic work, Andrew. Here we go. (Singing) Here's a John who has a thing in common with pigs. He plays a big-time smoker into Lucky Strike cigs. If you need an advertisement and have money to burn, his character's an expert so just listen and learn. He hosted Saturday Night Live and hosted again. He's often on the list of all the sexiest men. Now go. Now go.


COULTON: Andrew.

WATTERSON: This is a total guess. (Singing) Go, go, go John Belushi, go.


EISENBERG: Was he on the list of the sexiest men?


COULTON: He's very low down on the list.

WATTERSON: I think he died before I was born.

COULTON: No, we're not looking for John Belushi. Jillian, do you have a guess?

SCHRAGER: (Singing) Go, go John Travolta, go.

COULTON: No, I'm sorry. That is also incorrect, although he is quite sexy.


SCHRAGER: He used to be.


COULTON: Who knows the answer?


COULTON: Jon Hamm.

WATTERSON: Oh. In common with pigs, I get it.

COULTON: Something in common with pigs, yeah.

WATTERSON: I get it.

COULTON: That line was never going to be any help to anyone, I knew that. (Singing) From Seoul in South Korea this John traveled far. You probably recognize him as the friend of Kumar. The character he played was named Harold Lee, a stoned investment banker from New Jersey. He also had a role in "American Pie," he called Stifler's mom a milf. Yeah, it's that guy.


COULTON: Jillian.

SCHRAGER: (Singing) Go, go John Cho, go.

COULTON: Yeah, you got it.


SCHRAGER: At least one, all right.

COULTON: (Singing) This John died very young at only 25, but published odes and poems while he was still alive. A British romantic fellow through and through, from Byron and from Shelley learned a thing or two. Where would we be without beauty is truth? The truth is beauty, oh fair youth? Now go.




WATTERSON: (Singing) Go, go John Keats, go.

COULTON: That's right.


COULTON: (Singing) He's a folk hero from way back in the day, helped to build the rails across the USA. Still driving through the mountains was the name of the game, blasting out the tunnels for the railroad trains. But then one day that John tried to race through the hill, he proved that he was faster than a steam-powered drill. Now go.


COULTON: Jillian?

SCHRAGER: (Singing) Go, go John Henry, go.

COULTON: Yeah, you got it.


EISENBERG: I kind of want to see man versus drill on Discovery or something like that. Wouldn't that be an awesome show?

COULTON: I'm sure it's in development.

EISENBERG: Yeah, I know. Someone's working on that.

COULTON: All right, this is your last clue. (Singing) This U.S. president was an honorable man. A lawyer, lived in Boston, not a redcoat fan. Still he defended them in a famous trial. He finally won the case, they were acquitted in style. The vice president under Washington, but when he was the president he only got one term - he was one-term president.


COULTON: Jillian.

SCHRAGER: (Singing) Go, go John Adams, go.

COULTON: That's right.


COULTON: Well done. Greg, who won that one?

GREG PLISKA: I have to say, Jillian is our winner. You'll be going to the final round. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.