HE DOESN’T KNOW THE TERRITORY – Parody of Rock Island from The Music Man

Inspired by a conversation overheard in a coffee shop with an appropriate and necessary amount of exaggeration added for the necessary effect – Include the budget proposal, the parade, robots, the internet and the most comprehensive thesaurus-style description of you-know-who to date.


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Broadway Production The Music ManTHE ORIGINAL SOURCE MATERIAL
Rock Island from The Music Man – Words and Music by Meredith Wilson

The Music Man was written (all phases of it music, book, lyrics) by Meredith Wilson, and he based it on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey.

The story is about a con man (imagine that) named Harold Hill, who pretends to be a great band leader and on that premise he sells instruments and uniforms to the naive Midwestern townsfolk. Naturally, he reassures them that he will teach them all how to play the instruments and their band will be a glorious thing.

The problem, as you probably know, or guessed, is that he is not a musician and can’t play or teach anyone to play any of the instruments at all. This is of no concern to him, however, as he plans to skip town before he has to deliver on his promise, once he’s collected all the money. The librarian is the only one who sees through his scam and ironically he ends up getting caught because he becomes enamored with her.

While this might sound like a shallow little piece of fluff, it’s actually a very heartfelt and touching production as Harold Hill brings more important gifts to the community than a band, unwittingly and as a testament to his deeper personality.

He brings love to the lonely librarian, confidence to her younger brother with a lisp, self-belief to the town ruffian, music to the jaded city council who forms a singing quartet and most of all hope and optimism to the entire community.

The show was a huge hit on Broadway, when it hit the stage in 1957 winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances. The cast album won the first Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and spent 245 weeks on the Billboard charts. The show’s success led to revivals, including a long-running 2000 Broadway revival, a popular 1962 film adaptation and a 2003 television adaptation (which I didn’t think did it justice). It is frequently produced by both professional and amateur theater companies.

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Slashing the student loans, slashing the Medicare.
Slashing the foreign aid, slashing the superfunds.
Slashing the PBS, slashing the learning centers.
Slashing the low income energy assistance.
Slashing all the federal work study programs.
Slashing Amtrak and the Endowment for the Arts.

Look, what-aya-talk, what-aya-talk, what-aya-talk, what-aya-talk, what-aya-talk?
What-aya get it?

You can talk, you can talk, you can bicker, you can talk, you can bicker, bicker, bicker, you can talk, you can talk, but the money is a flowing’ to the people at the top.
That’s the new entitlement, it’s different then it was.
No it ain’t, no it ain’t, but you gotta know the territory.

Why it’s the money at the top made the trouble, and they just want more, wanna get, wanna get, wanna get all the gold.
Now the party in power, gonna run up the debt, funnel money to the top.
Yes sir! Yes sir! Yes sir!
Nobody worries ’bout that high cost of war. No help for the poor anymore.

What-aya-talk, what-aya-talk?
What-aya get it?

That’s not it! Take a gander at the cost, at the current cost, at the present day cost, of the medicare, medicaid, social security entitlement costs.

What-aya-talk, what-aye-talk, what-aya-talk, what-aya-talk, what-aya-talk?
What-aya get it?
What-aya-talk, what-aya-talk, what-aya-talk?
What-aya get it?

You can talk, you can bicker, you can talk, you can bicker, but the money is flowing’ to the people at the top. That’s the new entitlement, it’s different then it was.
No it ain’t, but you gotta know the territory.

Why, the invention of the robot made the trouble.
Robots! Robots put the product in the sanitary package.
The robots build it and they put it in the sanitary package, made the everyday workin’ man obsolete, obsolete.
Obsolete. Obsolete. Obsolete.
All the jobs went out the window with the internet, underminin’ all the local stores. Made it hard to get a job, hard to get a job, made it pretty hard.
No it didn’t, no it didn’t, but you gotta know the territory.

Gone, gone!
Gone with the medicare, medicaid, food stamps!
Gone with the poor guy assistance programs!
Gone with the aid for the destitute kids!

Wait! The problem is comin’ from the Hill?
The Hill?

Trump the con manYes! The problem is comin’ from the Shill on the Hill!
‘Cause he doesn’t know the territory
Doesn’t know the territory?
Whats the fellows line?
Never worries ’bout his line.
Never worries ’bout his line?
Or the obsolete jobs, obsolete, or the robots building it and filling every sanitary package, or the funnel to the top.
Just a minute, just a minute, just a minute!
Never worries ’bout his line.
Never worries ’bout his line.
Or a doggone thing. He’s just a bang beat, bell ringing, big mouth, great go, neck or nothin, rip roarin’, BS in the bull’s eye, con-man. That’s the thing with the shill on the Hill.

Tell us what’s his line. What’s his line?
He’s a fake, and he dosen’t know the territory!
Look, whaddayatalk, whaddayatalk, whaddayatalk, whaddaystalk?
He’s a con-man
He’s a what?
He’s a what?
He’s a con-man.
And he sells fantasies to the people in the towns. Wants money for the military, money for parades.
He likes big walls, and military tanks, and the soldiers marchin’ in their uniforms, salutin’ as they go, like the Chinese do or the Russians or the French.

Well, I don’t know much about that but I do know we can’t afford to pay for big parades and walls, no sir. Overthrow a country, perhaps, and here and there a drone strike.

No, the fellow sells fantasy, imaginary threats.
I don’t know how he does it but he lives like a king and he grifts and he golfs,
and he blathers and he lies.
And when he gets caught, certainly boys, what else?
He blames it on us!
Yes sir, yes sir, yes sir, yes sir,
When he gets caught lying, certainly boys, what else?
He blames it on us!
Yessssir, Yessssir
But he doesn’t know the territory!

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5 Responses

  1. Marjorie French

    Look at Legendary Vocals on Facebook, his Scottish Melody. As with you it seems to be several gentlemen when it’s only one. Fascinating!!!

  2. Robin Birdfeather

    Excellently done. Always looking forward to the next one and you really nailed this one. I had almost forgotten about that song Or chant or spiel and you used it so effectively, thank you!

  3. Kateri

    Fabulous! Right on! You name what we got right on! And you hit every note right on!

  4. Virginia LePore

    That was a fantastic parody on “But he doesn’t know the territory”. The Music Man is one of my favorite musicals. And you hit all the right “notes” about the shill on the Hill!!!

  5. Adam Smith

    Arguably your best yet.
    I would venture to suggest that some of the other numbers in this great musical offer fertile ground as well. For example You’ve Got Trouble or 76 Trombones