The chant has jelled into the consciousness of Americans when a political foe is kicked to the curb. On Saturday Donald Trump’s motorcade boogied back to Washington following another round of presidential golf when the crowd lampooned as one: “Na na na na … na na na na … hey hey goodbye.” Ah ridicule, a pol’s worst enemy.
Trump can thank two Bridgeport kids–Paul Leka and Gary DeCarlo–for the love. It’s one of those things that causes both joy and jeers, depending on your political point of view.
Over the years it has taken on an enduring life of its own when in reality the song was just a B-side accident that zoomed to number 1 for two weeks in December 1969, supplanting The Beatles’ gems “Come Together” and “Something”, which had held the top spots. Not bad company.
Speaking of how something comes together (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that’s a little overwritten) I asked Leka (gulp!) 35 years ago about co-writing one of the signature chant songs in the history of Rock & Roll. The bluesy beat needed something to lengthen it, he recalled sitting at a piano in his Downtown recording studio, and it was as simple as throwing in a na na chant banged out by Leka on keys, DeCarlo adding the hey hey and golden voice to the lead.
The record company loved it, Leka and DeCarlo came up with the name Steam to promote it. The song was picked up by radio DJs in the south and soon took off like a blizzard of absentee ballots.
Both DeCarlo and Leka who produced songs in his Bridgeport music studio for Stevie Wonder, REO Speedwagon, Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson and Harry Chapin have passed, but what a legacy about love lost. And a verbal needle in the spine of the commander in tweet.