Arrival Songs

The English language has a rich tradition of songs celebrating the joys of orgasm. Here are just a few examples.

  • Sumer Is Icumen In (anon., 13th century)
  • Come Again (John Dowland, 1597)
  • Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus (Charles Wesley, 1745)
  • Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (Robert Robinson, 1757)
  • Come, Ye Disconsolate (Thomas Moore, 1816)
  • Oh Come, All Ye Faithful (English lyrics Frederick Oakley, 1841)
  • Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel (English lyrics Neale & Coffin mid-1800s)
  • Someday My Prince Will Come (from the 1937 animated Disney feature Snow White)
  • Come Dance With Me (sung by Frank Sinatra, 1959)
  • Come Together (John Lennon, 1969)
  • Here You Come Again (Dolly Parton, 1977)
  • Come Unto Him (Dan Carter, 1996)
  • Come Cover Me (Nightwish, 2000)
  • Don’t Know Why I Didn’t Come (Norah Jones, 2002)

The 1983 Frankie Goes To Hollywood hit ”Relax” must be seen as a reaction to this lyrical consensus, cautioning the listener to ”Relax, don’t do it, when you want to come”. It is perhaps no surprise that it was banned from radio play by the ever orgasm-friendly BBC.

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43 thoughts on “Arrival Songs

  1. From Ezra Pound:
    Winter is icummen in,
    Lhude sing Goddamm.
    Raineth drop and staineth slop,
    And how the wind doth ramm!
    Sing: Goddamm.

    Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
    An ague hath my ham.
    Freezeth river, turneth liver,
    Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

    Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,
    So ‘gainst the winter’s balm.

    Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
    Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

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  2. I can’t believe you forgot “Come as you are”, which is a fine track despite starting with a riff ripped off from Killing Joke’s “Eighties”.

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  3. “Seventeen Come Sunday”–English folk song, used by Vaughan Williams in his English Folk Song Suite

    “April Come She Will”–Simon and Garfunkel (1966)

    “Coming into Los Angeles”–Arlo Guthrie (I’m not sure what year he released this song; I have it on a compilation album from 1977).

    Then there’s the musical number in Blazing Saddles where Lily von Schtupp (Madeline Kahn) complains about men who are “coming and going and coming and going and coming and going and always too soon.”

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  4. Well, you didn’t want me to play this, did you?

    My daughter has perfect pitch, has a fine singing voice herself and is a severe critic of singers – so, she’s caught in the awkward position that she detests Boy George and thinks he’s really creepy, but admits that he was a good singer and listens to his songs quite often. I agree – he sings in tune, which most people, even most popular singers, don’t.

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  5. John, since there is no correlation between skills and what we may call ethical conduct / good behaviour your daughter’s beliefs are not paradoxical.
    Hell, if Adolph had gotten the right education he could have become a decent illustrator (but not painter).

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  6. This post made me laugh – thanks for that! Here’s our homegrown SA contribution to Arrival Songs : Paradise Road, by JOY.
    “Come with me to paradise days
    It’ll change your life, it’ll sure change your ways
    This you won’t believe.
    Take my hand down paradise lane…”

    Have a great weekend 🙂

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  7. Although you have Dowland you have missed the celebrated and amusing ‘Sir Walter, Enjoying his Damsel’, often attributed to Henry Purcell, although it sounds as if the damsel is enjoying herself too. Sadly too many performances treat this as an academic vocal exercise not as a lot of fun, but this clip is good, as is the album cover.

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  8. England has a much richer tradition of songs with a bawdy and sexual content than appears in the record. Most of the “folk songs” in the canon were collected by nice middle class men and in many cases women, and were bowdlerised by the singers to avoid causing offence. There is a fascinating but sadly unpublished PhD thesis in the UL at Cambridge in which the author records speaking to some of the singers from whom songs had been collected about what they didn’t tell the collectors. It also traces a very high proportion of these “folk songs” back to published black letter ballads.

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  9. I couldn’t resist this although I have to admit that few videos could be further from the joys of orgasm. As Sir Thomas Beecham may have said: “You should everything once, except incest and folk dancing.”

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  10. Neil, good stuff! Reminds me of the Swedish 1977 album Folklår, whose title makes “folklore” into “folk thighs” and which is full of traditional gems such as “No Hair Grows In The Middle Of The Cunt” and “Oh What Joy To Have A Shit”.

    Seth, you’re right, how could I forget that? I’ve been singing that in a meaningful, eyebrow-waggling way for decades.

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  11. I am told the original irish folk songs avoided bowlerisation since the literate classes had started using English. So if you are an Irish speaker you get the original, eh, “stuff”.

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  12. Plus, if I may opine – I know what it’s like to be an immigrant. You don’t understand the language or culture, you’re in someone else’s country, you obviously know that at least some of the locals resent you being there, and you’re very nervous about giving offence to anyone – some fairly big, weird looking guy comes up to you, and you have no idea how he is going to react if you don’t do what he wants. Do you really think you’re going to tell him to fuck off? I don’t think so.

    As opposed to living on your own home turf and being sick to death of opportunistic thugs coming around your neighbourhood trying to get money out of people by intimidation. That doesn’t make you an uncharitable person or lacking in human compassion, it just means you’re sick of the thugs and damned if you’re going to be held to ransom by them.

    I’d like to see that experiment run again, using a frail elderly woman who looks like she’s starving or some other genuine looking charity case, instead of some loony looking guy.

    Unless of course you are in Australia and the guy is Aboriginal, but that’s different rules. That’s not begging, and it’s not charity, it’s just nomadic hunter-gatherer rules. And no, I don’t think that Gypsies count as nomadic hunter-gatherers, [Borderline hate speech deleted. /MR]

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  13. You can get lucky – no doubt there are archaeologists who have been working all their lives who would give anything to make a find like that.

    Kids can surprise you. When my daughter was born, one of the responsibilities I took on was her musical education – basically, just exposing her to stuff she had no way of knowing about because it happened before she was born. I could safely leave it to her to decide what was good, bad or indifferent in her opinion, she was very discriminating very early, with very sensitive hearing and true pitch, very condemnatory of anything obviously ‘commercial’ or just dumb – I just needed to track down and flag up to her things which were, eh, historically significant in modern music so she was aware of them. She would shut them down really fast if they didn’t qualify as anything other than ‘rubbish’.

    I’ve mentioned she’s a harsh critic – most people just got binned as rubbish right off the bat, including most of the most popular ever…She liked a fair number of the 50s and early 60s black American female singers, so much she used to say things like “I wish I could sing like a black woman.” (The irony of them performing to white audiences during the segregation era was not lost on her – she still laughs about the old TV shows with the cool black girls singing and the all-white studio audiences who can’t dance.) But most people got put in the ‘rubbish’ category, including the Beatles (with which I agree, btw, but I’m not going to go to war over it), Michael Jackson and all the other usual biggies. Stevie Wonder – bleh.

    Then one day, I threw caution to the wind and played her this – it took me a while to get around to it, because I never imagined she would like it, but I did eventually get around to it. And she went “…..Wait a minute. That’s not bad. Not bad at all. Who is that?” Really surprised me. Not as much as her liking Boy George’s singing, but it did surprise me.

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  14. But most people got put in the ‘rubbish’ category, including the Beatles (with which I agree, btw, but I’m not going to go to war over it)

    If you are talking about their early stuff (before about 1965), I agree that it’s junk. Their best stuff came later, when they felt they had the freedom to experiment. Not that all of the later stuff is good, either, but I’ll take “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” over “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.

    I find that many other artists have their good stuff and their not-so-good stuff. To take two examples: W. A. Mozart and the Rolling Stones. Many people consider them among the all-time greats, and each wrote some pieces that I like. But most of their catalog just doesn’t do it for me.

    It’s also been documented that people tend to like music they encounter at a certain age (mid teens to early 20s) more than music of similar quality that they encounter at other times in life. IINM, John, you are about the same age as I–we grew up with Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, so we are more likely to be fond of their music than your daughter is. For similar reasons, classic rock stations in the US feature more mediocre music from the 1960s and early 1970s, rather than good stuff from the 1950s or 1980s (well, I may not be the best judge of the latter). Most of their audience was born in the 1940s and 1950s.

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  15. Betty Everett goes close to being her favourite early 60s singer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88nvqbrraqk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L7WTpxcPfQ

    The Beatles felt freedom to experiment after they got pumped full of grugs, had a meeting with Bob Dylan and were shocked when he said “You have nothing so say.” So they started churning out drug inspired nonsense with no intellectual content at all. But I never liked anything they did ever. Too much is just meaningless, drug inspired drek. Probably the best album they ever produced was Revolver, or Rubber Soul. After that, it all went to drug-stupified shit.

    I like my musicians to write about intelligent subjects, not drug inspired meaningless giberish

    I liked the very early Stones and saw them live when I was 16, but they lost their way and have been patchy since then.

    I always detested Michail Jackson.

    I like a few things Stevie Wonder has done in among a load of drek. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv_wZQJYlo0

    AC/DC have sold more albums than the Rolling Stones. I don’t like either one.

    Not true – I am not stuck with 50s and 60s music and look for good new stuff all the time. The difference is the 50s and 60s produced some great, badly underrated stuff.

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  16. Too many strange looking mushrooms.

    My favourite Beatles song of all time (there aren’t many) was the *dark* version of Magical Mystery Tour. I found it by accident once, and was really taken by it. I can’t find it any more, so if anyone knows a link to it (not the regular version from the album, this was a weird dark version which goes all wonky in the middle – no idea where it came from, bootleg, or some studio joke recording that leaked out or something) I’d appreciate it.

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  17. If you’re fond of madness, Martin, you might like the dreaded SPEK-TORRR!!! One my daughter introduced me to.

    OK, she’s not actually clinically insane, but you’d have to put her down as definitely eccentric:

    Her Chinese backing cello player drowned in a lake – decided to go swimming and drowned. Well of course, what else?

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  18. Yeah, I heard Regina Spektor live in Stockholm last year. She was pretty good. But she certainly didn’t seem very eccentric compared to Diamanda Galas who performed on the same stage later that afternoon.

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  19. I like my musicians to write about intelligent subjects, not drug inspired meaningless giberish

    I listen to a fair amount of classical music, much of which has either no lyrics at all, or lyrics in one or more languages in which I am not fully fluent. So I can’t always be sure the lyrics are intelligent. I also have some folk music in languages other than English. Same thing there. I don’t particularly care what is inspiring the composers of music I listen to, but I do want to feel as though something is inspiring them. If it feels too formulaic to me, I probably won’t like it. (That explains my dislike of both twelve-bar blues and twelve-tone classical pieces, both of which adhere to formulas that can be stated in a few sentences.)

    I may have to check out Regina Spektor. My only exposure so far to her music is the song Peter Gabriel covered on “Scratch My Back”.

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  20. Erik:

    A couple of recommendations get started on Regina Spektor;

    She’s prolific though – getting through everything will take a while.

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  21. This is the outdoor concert I got dragged to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soJtF3F5t2k

    My appointed job was bodyguard, to keep the aggressive lesbians off her. I needn’t have bothered – a gigantic Indian security guy stationed himself behind her all night and kept an eye on her as she bopped right in front of the stage, while I sat back far enough not to loose part of my hearing. As we we’re leaving, the guard smiled at her and said “You enjoyed that, didn’t you?” Franky, so did I.

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  22. Re. “Simpson/Samson” and “the Bible did not mention us”
    It is by now my understanding that pretty much all the OT is “fanfic” written by groups of authors -the E, J and P sources respectiively, plus the ones who wrote Deuteronomy. So the protagonist of the song could have inserted a few extra lines in the Old Testament and argued the practice is traditional.
    — — —
    I have tried to find FGTH’s “Wel*come* To the Pleasuredome” on UTube but all I find are lenghtened versions, useful for discos but a pain in the ass otherwise.
    I suppose I could add a link to the original video of FGTH’s “Relax”, but it is pretty explicit.
    — — —
    Richard Kiel, I will miss you (sob).

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  23. Tomorrow Sunday is the date for the swedish election that will probably lead to a new government led by the Social democrats. For the first time in 55 years they will need a coalition partner -creating a non-trivial negotiation problem.
    I find the Scottish referendum on Sunday to be more interesting.

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  24. Nah, the commies supported the Social Democrats after the 1960s parliamentary reform that gave representation in exact relation to the votes -which gave the Social Democrats less than 50% of the seats. But VPK did not get any place in the government in return.

    The last coalition the S joined was with the Bondeförbundet (currently Centerpartiet) from 1945 to the mid-fifties. I know because my grandpa was a member of parliament back then.
    The current allies of S are less subservient than VPK and are likely to demand a place in the government in return for their support. Get your popcorn and wait for some lively negotiations.

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