King of Spain (song)
"King of Spain" (sometimes written as "The King of Spain") is a song by Canadian musical group Moxy Früvous, and was the second independent song to hit number one in Canada, after The Barenaked Ladies' "Be My Yoko Ono".
The song first appeared on their self-titled independent cassette release in 1992. It was later re-recorded for their 1993 major-label debut album, Bargainville. Two live versions were also released on 1998's Live Noise.
The song is essentially a modern re-telling of The Prince and the Pauper; it tells the story of a dethroned Spanish monarch, who, after switching places with an identical peasant friend, comes to Canada and gets a minimum wage job at Pizza Pizza. He also mentions working as a turf vacuumer at SkyDome and a Zamboni driver at Maple Leaf Gardens (or Montreal Forum in the indie tape version). The song is narrated by The King, who, throughout the song, tells of the things he did as king and what he would do if he ran Canada. He also suggests that world leaders such as Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin should call him if they need help running their countries.
While the song is mostly a cappella, there are some percussion instruments (such as conga and shaker) providing accompaniment. The band dubbed this style "quasi-a cappella". The lead vocal is performed by Dave Matheson (who wears a "King of Spain" hat while performing the song live), with Jian Ghomeshi, Mike Ford and Murray Foster performing backup.
As with most of their other songs, the band is known to change it when performing it live. The first chorus is usually performed with no accompaniment, with the callbacks usually being changed to spoken improvisations. The spoken vocals in the second verse ("There's a roof overhead / and food on our plates") is usually improvised by Foster and Ghomeshi (examples: "There's a roof overhead / And poutine on my face!"; "There's a cone on your head / Bonita!"). The "Leafs call me up to drive the Zamboni" line is usually changed to represent a local sports team in the city they are performing in. The "some of you are probably wondering..." spoken section is usually extended. The end of the song is usually segued into the unreleased song "Green Eggs and Ham." The band is also known to play a grunge version of the song (known as the "Cranky Monarch Version" or "Grunge of Spain"), which is featured on Live Noise.
A video of the song was made in 1992, and features the band busking outside the Bloor Cinema with Matheson as The King. It also features an "audience" made up of local celebrities such as Ed Mirvish and Daniel Richler.
The Johnstones, a Canadian ska band, often cover this song during their live shows.