'Please Mr. Kennedy' tackles the apparently pressing 1960s issue of being forcibly sent to space

By Alex Heigl
Updated December 04, 2013 01:00 PM
Courtesy CBS Films/Youtube

How do you write a “good bad” song? Or even a great bad one?

That was the challenge facing a hirsute Justin Timberlake and T-Bone Burnett, who were tasked with writing a cheesy 1960s folk song for the new Coen brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis.

They came up with “Please Mr. Kennedy,” an absurd little ditty about a man who’s afraid JFK will send him to space against his will.

“It’s not a joke song,” Burnett told The Huffington Post. “It’s dead serious.” And that poker-faced seriousness is where the humor of the scene comes from: Oscar Isaac’s earnest titular folkie cutting a song with Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver, who – to his mind – are novelty-song-writing hacks.

Driver’s spoken-word ad-libs are worthy of a Grammy on their own, and Isaac and Timberlake’s pre-song conversation about the proper amount of stuttered “puh-puhs” to lead into the verse is played just straight enough – it was apparently lifted from a real on-set conversation Isaac had with Ethan Coen.

Enjoy, and look forward to singing it the rest of the day – it’s the catchiest bad song you’ll hear.