Ya Got Trouble

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"Ya Got Trouble" is a song by Meredith Willson from the 1957 Broadway musical The Music Man, and its 1962 filmed version The Music Man. It is one of the most popular and recognizable songs in the musical, and Robert Preston's performance in the film is admired. Willson considered eliminating a long piece of dialogue from his draft of The Music Man about the serious trouble facing River City parents. Willson realized it sounded like a lyric and transformed it into "Ya Got Trouble".[1]


A smooth-talking, yet corrupt, traveling salesman takes up the occupation of a musical-instrument dealer and tries to convince the citizens of River City, Iowa, to fund his idea for a boys' marching band instead of a pool hall. The stubborn citizens are reluctant to do this, and the song is his description of what could happen should the citizens choose the pool hall.

Title variations[edit]

The song is sometimes listed as "(Ya Got) Trouble".[2] The original Broadway cast album lists the song title as "Trouble", both on the record jacket and label. "You Got Trouble" is a common misspelling of the song title.

Notable covers[edit]

American humorist, satirist, and advertising innovator Stan Freberg covered the song for Capitol Records in 1958.[3] Though Freberg often directly parodied songs (or "kidded" them, in his phrase), his recording of "Ya Got Trouble" was a straightforward recording of the song, arranged and conducted by his longtime collaborator Billy May. Freberg wrote that the subtle parody in the recording lay in the fact that it was recorded in an empty concert hall, as were many Broadway soundtrack albums, with the characteristic echo of such large empty space. Also, during the 2010 Writers Guild Awards, Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, did a parody of the song entitled "Ya Got Trouble" but it was about unscripted shows. MacFarlane also sang the song in his second BBC Proms appearance with The John Wilson Orchestra, "Prom 59: The Broadway Sound", on August 27, 2012.

When hosting the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards, Conan O'Brien sang a parody of the song about how NBC's ratings were starting to slip at the time.


  1. ^ Bloom, Ken and Vlastnik, Frank. Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of all Time, pp. 215-16. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, New York, 2004. ISBN 1-57912-390-2
  2. ^ Hischak, T.S. (2008). The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 515. ISBN 9780195335330. Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  3. ^ Evanier, Mark. "Stan Freberg Discography". Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  • The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity, Raymond Knapp. Princeton University Press, 2005