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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Love’s Kind Of Crazy With A Spooky Little Boy/Girl Like You

The lyrics to Dusty Springfield’s 1970 song ”Spooky” are slightly odd. They have a woman describing her relationship with a fickle, unreliable, flirtatious man. ”Love’s kind of crazy with a spooky little boy like you”. She constantly finds him winking with his “little eye” at other women. “I get confused and I don’t know where I stand / But then you smile and hold my hand.” On the other hand, she won’t give him a straight answer when he tries to ask her out. For the time definitely, and largely to a 2014 audience as well I believe, the gender roles in the lyrics are confusing. This is because what Dusty recorded was a gender-flipped version of the original lyrics.

The tune to “Spooky” was written by Mike Sharpe and Harry Middlebrooks Jr. and released as an instrumental in 1967. Later that year it received lyrics by James Cobb and Buddy Buie and was put out by the Floridian rock quartet the Classics IV. In January 1968 Dusty Springfield recorded her version. The original lyrics are about a spooky little girl behaving exactly like she might be expected to in mid-60s pop lyrics. Also they have a verse that was omitted from Dusty’s version, clearly because it couldn’t be gender-flipped convincingly at the time:

Just like a ghost, you’ve been a-hauntin’ my dreams
So I’ll propose… on Halloween

There’s one final wrinkle to this story that makes it even better. Dusty Springfield, being gay, would probably have preferred to record the original lyrics. Love, after all, is kind of crazy with a spooky little girl like you.

Depeche Mode Meets Tom Lehrer

In your room
Where time stands still
Or moves at your will
Will you let the morning come soon
As we dance to the Masochism Tango

I ache for the touch of your lips, dear
But much more for the touch of your whips, dear
There’ll be times
When my crimes
Will seem almost unforgivable
I give in to sin
Because you have to make this life livable
As we dance to the Masochism Tango

You caught my nose
In your left castanet, love
I can feel the pain yet, love
Every time I hear drums
And I envy the rose
That you held in your teeth, love
Strangelove

Will you take the pain
I will give to you
Again and again
And will you return it
As we dance to the Masochism Tango

Your eyes cast a spell that bewitches
The last time I needed twenty stitches
To sew up the gash
That you made with your lash
Dangerous
When I am in your arms
Dangerous
Know I will come to harm
As we dance to the Masochism Tango

There’s a new game
We like to play you see
A game with added reality
You treat me like a dog
Get me down on my knees
Which is why I perspire
When we tango

For some background, see my blog entry La Vice Anglais.

Inexplicable Millas Mirakel Lyrics

I’m bothered by odd redundancy in an 80s song lyric. Millas mirakel advises us that “It is better to light the fire of life than to never be allowed to be yourself”. Yes, and? That turn of phrase should compare two undesirable things, like “It is better to lose one toe than to lose both eyes.” Here Milla, who I might add is overall a strangely schoolmasterly and archaic pop lyricist, is basically saying “It is better to win the lottery than to lose both eyes.”

This is why we shouldn’t have freedom of speech.

Psychedelic Spam

Now this is how you sell pens!

The squaw had disappeared into the thick under growth, leaving a track Queen Elizabeth I 2010 Mont Blanc Limited Edition White Rollerball like a hippo in the snow. Bud could have overtaken her, of course, and he could have made her take the baby back again. But he could not face the thought of it. He made no move at all toward pursuit, but instead he turned his face toward mont blanc boheme bleu Alpine, with some vague intention of turning the baby over to the hotel woman montblanc hemingway there and getting the authorities to hunt up its parents. It was plain enough that Meisterstuck Classique Red Fountain Pen the squaw Boheme Paso Boble Dark Red Rollerball had no right to it, else she would not have run off like that.

Self-Referential Ethan Miller

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I’ve been following Californian rock singer and guitarist Ethan Miller off and on since Comets on Fire‘s 2002 album Field Recordings from the Sun. I love his singing and psychedelic song writing. And so recently the song “Nomads” from the 2008 album Magnificent Fiend (with Miller’s current band Howlin’ Rain) has been playing in my head. I couldn’t quite make sense of the lyrics, so I checked on-line, and found them (perhaps predictably) to be stonerishly meandering. But also bluntly self-referential in a way that is either really stupid or neatly self-ironic. You be the judge, Dear Reader.

Cold and gray clouds staining the sounds
Straining the weight of a sorrowful sky
Wool on the trees, dust on the eves
The bark on the pines is worse than its bite

All of the lines have been lies this far
There is a feeling I must keep from you

These lines are crawling snakes up your open legs
You wear them pale and fine
This is the line I’ll give you true as the dawn
While the furious eye on the sun is upon us

The way your breasts dance while we’re making love
Now that is a line penned by a divinely guided hand

Was the line “Now that is a line penned by a divinely guided hand” penned by a divinely guided hand?

Sanity Claws

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I seem to be on a poetry roll here, kids.

When I was 14, Citadel Miniatures put out a small run of a novelty pewter miniature named Sanity Claws: a tentacled menacing monstrosity for the festive season. And now Norm Sherman of the Drabblecast, whom I do not hesitate to call a genius and an Elder God, has written a Lovecraftian poem on the same theme (in all likelihood quite independently of that 1986 pewter giggle-shudder item). Hear Norm perform the poem on the Drabblecast’s Christmas Special!

‘Twas the Night

By Norm Sherman

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the edifice
Not a creature was stirring, neither mouse nor St. Nicolas
The stockings were hung by the aperture gaping
Where smoke, in its wisdom, had ere been escaping

Downstairs my uncle was strapped down in bed
While visions of ichor danced round in his head
His nightmares of late had been growing much stronger
And sense dared not trespass his mind any longer

Once a learned professor at Brown University
My great-uncle had often, in secret, conversed with me
In his study at night, over manuscripts moldering
With a pipe at his lips, always lambent and smoldering

All that research of his, into cults esoteric
Strange symbols and glyphs and arcane numerics
Of that Dutch survey crew and their frenzied report
Of a vast arctic city filled with sunken-faced dwarves

And that journal recovered from one ‘Ensign Lamar’
Which references “He that rides beasts through the stars”
Gloaming and heaving with corpulent dread
Bloated, batrachian and covered in red

And there’s the relic in my uncle’s display
A four-sided top carved of wood, or some clay
With symbols engraved into each of its sides
That surely must tell of coming end time

I was pondering this manifold doom that would smite us
When out from my window shone a miasmal brightness
How the pale gibbous moon shone down on his back
Which bulged with the throngs of some hideous sack

With some alien ululations in a primordial tongue
He froze me in place, and unable to run
I was forced to be witness to things vile and foul
So unspeakably horrid I can scarce speak them now

He summoned his steeds by their blasphemous names
And with his gangrenous grasp he pulled down on their reins
Then suddenly upwards that noxious horde flew
That red-bellied nightmare rising up from my view

Cacodemoniacal laughter I heard from my roof
And the lumbering clomps of thick octopoid hooves
Then repugnant and hoary, his stench filled the air
While he writhed down my chimney as I watched from the stairs

He spoke not a sound as then off from his back
He heaved up that thick throbbing cyst of a sack
And from it a stench came so charnel and dense
That I nearly passed out when he drew from it thence:

An Amazon Kindle, and a few pairs of nice socks
A sweater, a tie, and Call of Duty: Black Ops
Law and Order Season V on Blueray DVD
And an espresso machine (hope he kept that receipt)

Then all at once swung round this tenebrous being
And with dark ancient eyes of unfathomable seeing
Their biliferous blackness spanning eons extinct
Revealing my own maddening fate, with a wink

Then into that monolith of chimney he lurched
With the gelatinous frenzy of invertebrate birth
Ripping free to the roof he launched into the night
With a vow to return when the stars are just right

Miniature by Bob Naismith, painted and photographed by Steve of the Bleaseworld gaming blog.

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Hesse’s Immortals

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One of the songs my old band played was a tune that Anders had written to a poem by Hermann Hesse. It’s in his 1927 novel Steppenwolf and treats one of the central themes of the book, the idea that immortal genius (such as that of Mozart or Goethe, Hesse felt) might exist on a plane immeasurably far above everyday human life. Writing the book, Hesse was close to suicide from trying to live alone on this rarefied plane. The novel describes his alter ego’s return to the simple mortal pleasures of earthbound humanity.

Anders used the 1932 Swedish translation by Sven Stolpe (or was the poetry in that edition translated by the poet Anders Österling, who wrote the introductory essay?). Here’s Basil Creighton’s 1929 English translation.

The Immortals
By Hermann Hesse

Ever reeking from the vales of earth
Ascends to us life’s fevered surge,
Wealth’s excess, the rage of dearth,
Smoke of death-meals on the gallow’s verge;
Greed without end, spasmodic lust;
Murderers’ hands, usurers’ hands, hands of prayer;
Exhales in fœtid breath the human swarm
Whipped on by fear and lust, blood raw, blood warm,
Breathing blessedness and savage heats,
Eating itself and spewing what it eats,
Hatching war and lovely art,
Decking out with idiot craze
Bawdy houses while they blaze,
Through the childish fair-time mart
Weltering to its own decay
In the glare of pleasure’s way,
Rising for each newborn and then
Sinking for each to dust again.

But we above you evermore residing
In the ether’s star-translumined ice
Know not day nor night nor time’s dividing,
Wear nor age nor sex for our device.
All your sins and anguish self-affrighting,
Your murders and lascivious delighting
Are to us but as a show
Like the suns that circling go,
Changing not our day for night;
On your frenzied life we spy,
And refresh ourselves thereafter
With the stars in order fleeing;
Our breath is winter; in our sight
Fawns the dragon of the sky;
Cool and unchanging is our eternal being,
Cool and star-bright is our eternal laughter.

For those who read German, here’s Hesse’s original. And here’s a prose translation of mine to give a better idea of what Hesse actually says.

Time and again the urges of life steam up to us from Earth’s valleys: wild distress, drunken exuberance, gory smoke from a thousand last meals, spasms of pleasure, desire without end, the hands of murderers, of usurers, of people praying.

Swarming humanity, lashed by fear and desire, reeks sultry and foul, raw and warm; breathes bliss and unfettered rutting, eats itself and spits itself out again, breeds wars and high art, decorates the scalding brothel with delusions, swallows and gnaws and prostitutes itself among the garish fairground attractions of its childish world, rises anew out of the waves for everyone, just as it eventually falls to pieces for everyone.

We, on the other hand, find ourselves in the ether’s star-translumined ice. We know neither days nor hours, are neither men nor women, neither young nor old. Your sins and fears, your murders and lascivious pleasures are stage entertainments to us, just like the orbiting suns. Every day is to us the longest one. Silently nodding to your spasmodic life, silently gazing upon the spinning stars, we breathe the winter of outer space and are friends of the celestial dragon. Our eternal existence is cold and unchanging. Our eternal laughter is cold and lit by stars.

And the Earl of Dalkeith’s Wreath Was Very Pretty Too

When I turned 25 my friend Sanna gave me a little poetry anthology that I have since treasured. Kathryn & Ross Petras’s Very Bad Poetry (1997) is a lovely read. One of the versifiers most voluminously represented there is W.T. McGonagall (1830-1902). After quoting his words, “The most startling incident in my life was the time I discovered myself to be a poet”, the Petrases comment, “Many people in his native Dundee, Scotland, apparently disagreed with his discovery.”

Here is McGonagall’s “The Death of Lord and Lady Dalhousie“.

Alas! Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead, and buried at last,
Which causes many people to feel a little downcast;
And both lie side by side in one grave,
But I hope God in His goodness their souls will save.

[I omit eight stanzas that cover Lord Dalhousie’s CV.]

‘Twas in the year of 1887, and on Thursday the 1st of December,
Which his relatives and friends will long remember
That were present at the funeral in Cockpen churchyard,
Because they had for the noble Lord a great regard.

About eleven o’clock the remains reached Dalhousie,
And were met by a body of the tenantry.
They conveyed them inside the building all seemingly woebegone
And among those that sent wreaths was Lord Claude Hamilton.

Those that sent wreaths were but very few,
But one in particular was the Duke of Buccleuch;
Besides Dr. Herbert Spencer, and Countess Rosebery, and Lady Bennett,
Which no doubt were sent by them with heartfelt regret.

Besides those that sent wreaths in addition were the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen,
Especially the Prince of Wales’ was most lovely to be seen,
And the Earl of Dalkeith’s wreath was very pretty too,
With a mixture of green and white flowers, beautiful to view.

Amongst those present at the interment were Mr Marjoribanks, M.P.,
Also ex-Provost Ballingall from Bonnie Dundee;
Besides the Honourable W. G. Colville, representing the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh,
While in every one’s face standing at the grave was depicted sorrow.

The funeral service was conducted in the Church of Cockpen
By the Rev. J. Crabb, of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, town of Brechin;
And as the two coffins were lowered into their last resting place,
Then the people retired with sad hearts at a quick pace.

Update 18 January: Dear Reader John Tierney has posted this blog’s first audio comment, where he mentions that he actually excavated at Cockpen churchyard 20 years ago, using “a long-handled Irish spade”. Here’s the site report.

Amnesia Was Her Name

Junior, who is a digital native and knows way more about current net fads than I do, turned me on to the multi-talented Neil Cicierega and his band Lemon Demon. Excellent synth pop that should hit the sweet spot of any Apples in Stereo fan. I know it hit mine!

Here are the beautifully clever and happy-sad lyrics to the Lemon Demon tune “Amnesia Was Her Name” that has been playing in my head lately. It’s from the 2008 album View Monster.

Amnesia was her name

By Neil Cicierega

Amnesia was her name, she had beautiful eyes
And every word she said, it was a little surprise

Can’t remember when I realized I was in love
La-la-love
Can’t remember who it was I was thinking of
Oh my god
Oh my god

The doctor said that I had tomato loss (all right)
Dr. Amnesia was her name, she had beautiful eyes
We had spaghetti with long term memory sauce (all right)
And every word she said, it was a little surprise

Can’t remember how she smiled when she said my name
What’s my name?
Can’t remember ’cause my heart jumped and hit my brain
C’est l’amour, et blessures

I guess she didn’t know how treat me right
Because I can’t recall where I slept that night
I can’t recall that special way
She told me, each and every day, her name
I can’t recall the fact that I always said I loved her back
The same way, every time the same

The doctor said that I had beautiful eyes (all right)
Amnesia was her name, she had memory loss (no, wait…)
And every word I said, it was a little surprising (all right)
And every word she said didn’t make it across

Can’t remember when we walked past the O.R. Sign
Surgery
Can’t remember passing out with her hand in mine
My-my-mind
I remember waking up with my mind repaired
A-okay
I remember when I realized she wasn’t there