Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Detail from Carpal Tunnel Kid poster Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Political Parody of Patter-Trio from "Ruddigore": "It Really Doesn't Matter"

I just wrote this today. I've tried to be even handed here, so this will no doubt offend everyone.

My eyes are fully open to my present situation:
By alarming the electorate I’m leader of this nation;
I informed them gays and terrorists would turn this land to rubble
And that they should just elect me if they don’t want any trouble;
I know God and Fox and Wall Street all smile down upon my ventures–
Reinserting Granny’s feeding tube while prying out her dentures;
And yet somehow you won’t see Bin Laden’s head upon a platter–
‘Cause Osama’s on my payroll and it really doesn’t matter!

So it really doesn’t matter–

So it really doesn’t matter–

So it really doesn’t matter, matter, matter, matter, matter!

If I were not perceived as stiff and generally chilly
Yes, I might have wiped the floor up with that Andover Hillbilly–
That’s assuming I had not ignored the Swift Boat defamation
So that I could go wind-surfing on my well-deserved vacation;
And if I’d dared to daub mud on my fellow Bonesman scholar
We might have some social justice and perhaps a stronger dollar;
Oh, but when that certain substance hits the fan with such a splatter
I’ll be wintering in Gstaad and so avoid the fecal matter!

He’ll avoid the fecal matter–

He’ll avoid the fecal matter–

He’ll avoid the fecal matter, matter, matter, matter, matter!

We get five hundred channels of fine cable television
And it guides us through the quagmire of free will and indecision;
It determines all we do and think–we never have to mull or
Meander through gray areas–it’s all “black and white” in color;
And all contradicting data is thus carefully redacted
We haven’t any clue at all as to just what’s been extracted;
So we have no health insurance and our kids are getting fatter–
We are all well infotained and so it really doesn’t matter!

So it really doesn’t matter–

Bet your ass it doesn’t matter–

So it really doesn’t matter, matter, matter, matter, matter!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

This reminds me of a song. . .Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 19, 2005

At Last! Carpal Tunnel Kid Songs You Can Download!

Stick this in your ipod! Now you can download three of my original songs for FREE--"My Sweetie is Nearly Intact" from NON-PLUGGED, and hitherto unreleased versions of "Don't Pull Out the Plug" and "I'm Picking My Nose in a Bowling Shirt." The two latter numbers I recorded in 1998 with all the studio bells and whistles at Carmen Caramanica's studio in New Hartford, NY. ("Non-plugged" they ain't.) If you want to hear more, there's plenty on NON-PLUGGED.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Additional Carpal Tunnel Kid Parodies

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Herb and Ethel: Detail from Carpal Tunnel Kid poster Posted by Hello

"Road Raisins!"

I love this song even if nobody else does.

Road Raisins--Oh, how I love 'em--
Road Raisins--I gotta have 'em;
I pick 'em up in the road--
I'm not quite sure what they are;
They kinda look like a toad
That's been run over by a car.

Road Raisins--You just can't beat 'em;
Road Raisins--Can't do without 'em;
If I could make 'em from scratch
I sure would make me a batch
That would be more than I'd catch
By far;
I love those Road Raisins--
But I'm not quite sure what they are.

- - -

Road Raisins--make life worth living;
Road Raisins--they make my heart sing;
Each day I pick a big bunch--
I find 'em right near my door;
After I eat 'em for lunch
I go and pick a big bunch more.

Road Raisins--they're extra crispy;
Road Raisins--I guess they're risk free;
If I just knew how to bake
I sure would bake me a cake
With my whole Road Raisin take
To date;
I love those Road Raisins--
Don't know what they are--but they're great!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Past Its Sell-By Date: "Here Comes Marv Albert!"

This is going to seem terribly quaint, but it's a song I composed about the Marv Albert scandal waaaay back in October 1997. I wrote it for the Halloween edition of the radio program I was then occasionally appearing on (without recompense, of course). It was deemed one of my better lyrics--now I consider it a bug in amber:

There's a fiend in our neighborhood;
There's a fiend who is just no good--
And if you meet him tonight
You're in for quite a fright;

Cheap toupee and a pink chemise--
And as wonders will never cease
Up until quite recently he
Called sports for NBC--

Here comes Marv Albert--
Better lock the door;
Here comes Marv Albert--
He's a carnivore;
Won't he delight you
With tickets to the Knicks--
But then he'll bite you
To get his kinky kicks;

You'll bear his toothmarks
Just like Lincoln bore
His John Wilkes Booth marks--
Albert is hard-core;
Same as drugs
You should just say "no" to rugs--
Marv Albert's coming--beware!

- - -

Here comes Marv Albert
In a frilly dress;
Here comes Marv Albert--
He thinks "no" means "yessss!"
That may be scary,
But then, his phony hair--
That he should bury
Out in a field somewhere;

Albert's maneuver
Is to remind us of
J. Edgar Hoover
And other girls we love;
He's obscene--
He's the Queen of Halloween--
Marv Albert's coming--beware!

The chord changes in "Marv Albert" are redolent of those employed in "Limehouse Blues"--except that it ends in with the relative minor chord. This likeness was entirely accidental, of course.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Parody Time: "Co-Dependent Baby"

All the songs on "Non-Plugged" are original compositions (though some of the chord changes are very familiar; and while "Hundred Dollar Honey" apes the lyrical conceit of "I Found a Million Dollar Baby," the tune is mine). Still, I have written many parodies, including this one of "Melancholy Baby" (which surely must be in the Public Domain by now):

Come, sweetheart mine--
Don't snort that line,
Put away your crack pipe and your airplane glue;
Lay off those pills--
Darling, speed kills;
I kind of wish you'd ease up on the vodka, too.
Though you protest,
I know what's best--
When you're clean and sober you'll be feeling swell;
But when you toke,
Drink, or do coke,
I love you more than ever though it hurts like hell:

Come to me, my co-dependent baby,
Cuddle up and don't despair;
Your substance problems, whatsoever they be,
Are just the sort of thing to make me care;
You know dear that I would never leave you,
And here's a fact that's sad but true--
Though it seems like suicide
I must have you for my bride:
I guess I must be co-dependent, too.

- - -

Dear, when you jones
And take out loans
Just to buy the junk that keeps you acting straight;
I know it's wrong
But go along
Though I know the stuff will kill you soon or late;
I feel a twinge
Each time you binge--
And it's not unpleasant if you get my drift;
Life will be drab
Once you rehab--
For every time you're high it gives my mood a lift:

Come to me, my co-dependent baby,
Cuddle up and shoot some horse;
If you join a twelve-step program, maybe
That will be what leads to our divorce;
For though I vow to care for you in sickness
Once you're healthy, dear, we're through;
But there can be no doubt
Just as long as you're strung out
I'll love you, 'cause I'm co-dependent, too.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Car Song: "A Cinderella Up On Cinder Blocks"

This is not on the disc I have for sale on eBay, but it's one of my alternate favorites. Perhaps I will unearth a version of it in one of my videotaped performances, should the crying need for a "live" album arise.

I know she's been around the block more than a few times--
But say, she'll make that trip a million and two times;
So let me kick her tires and test her shocks--
She's a Cinderella up on cinder blocks.

I know once I've replaced all her fan belts and hoses
That she will come to life smelling not unlike roses;
So give me that spray lube to free her locks--
She's a Cinderella up on cinder blocks.

A few weeks on the lift and a few weeks on my bench'll
Release her hitherto untapped, unrealized potential;
And once I've got her on the road , you can bet that wench'll
Roar through every thoroughfare (except for residential).

So, though she don't seem much, I can tell she's a mean car--
I guess my job right now is to make her a clean car;
When I'm done she'll look fresh out of the box--
She's a Cinderella up on cinder blocks.

- - -

I'll polish up her chrome and I'll make her shine purer--
But I wonder how the heck I'll ever insure her;
I guess I'll have to burglarize Fort Knox--
She's a Cinderella up on cinder blocks.

She goes so fast I know that I'll soon get a ticket--
I'm bound to tell that town cop just where he can stick it;
I'll get a healthy workout breaking rocks--
She's a Cinderella up on cinder blocks.

A few weeks in the can and a few weeks on probation
Provides a mandatory pause, a county-paid vacation
During which I'll plan and scheme a better carburetion;
I'll be spending lots of time down at the police station.

I know these wheels are something I'm going to be hell on--
I'll burn up so much rubber they'll judge me a felon;
I think I'll choose a box more orthodox--
Keep your Cinderella up on cinder blocks.

Ah the dreams of spring! Too bad gas is two bucks a gallon and my own "Cinderella" is a Ford Festiva. Still, that snow can't melt fast enough--and she does get 40 mpg. Vrooooom!

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Pinnacle of 20th Century Music: "Banjoreno"

Is this the best piece of music ever recorded? Just as a drop of water encapsulates the basic stuff of galaxies, so I think "Banjoreno" by the Dixieland Jug Blowers captures the essence of the human condition. With its raw animal vitality and deep joy, and with its contradictory feeling of anxiety (perhaps even impending doom) it says more to me than Beethoven's Ninth. In it you can hear both World Wars and all the humping that ensued when the men came home. I played it as the Odometer of the Millennium turned; I could listen to it for hours. If nothing remains of our civilization but "Banjoreno," those who happen upon it will know exactly who we were.

"You Can't Legally Sing this Song"

Perhaps the most lasting legacy of the late Mister One Chord himself, Sonny Bono, was the somewhat odious Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Don't get me wrong--as a writer/musician I appreciate having my material protected at least as long as I or my wife can enjoy the proceeds. But I don't think copyrights should last until the sun is depleted of its fuel and the earth freezes solid as the last lawyer prepares to deliver the last Cease-and-Desist order. Seriously, I think anything recorded before 1935 should be in the Public Domain, since nearly all of the writers and performers from that era are gone. But I wouldn't be surprised if these greedheads tried to bring Beethoven back under copyright, so that every kid playing "Fur Elise" on the piano had to pay a royalty. Cheez whiz!

There was a time
When melody was free
And could be employed by unauthorized persons
Like you and me;
But now each tune has a price tag--
A "costs so much it's no dice" tag--
So if you lift your voice
Be careful my friend;
The ASCAP Police will descend. 'Cause,

You can't legally sing this song
Unless you send a check along
To pay off the composer
His heirs and his assigns;
If payment you forego, sir,
You face pretty hefty fines.

You can't legally sing this tune;
In your shower you aren't immune--
Though you belt it out with feeling
That's my freaking song you're stealing;
I've got six lawyers to say you're wrong:
You can't legally sing this song.

- - -

You can't legally sing this song
At a campfire or sing-along;
You could croon Schubert lieder
When the weenie roast's begun;
If you're no great sight reader
Dead composers aren't much fun.

You can't legally hum this strain
'Til you pay for each sweet refrain;
If you dare lift my creation
Without proper compensation
You'll rot in prison where you belong:
You can't legally sing this song.

The last line of each chorus is set to a few memorable bars of Schubert's Serenade--safely in the Public Domain (for now).

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Patter Song from "Pirates of Men's Pants": "To But Mention Edward Hanna is in Questionable Taste"

In 2000, Utica NY mayor Edward A. Hanna resigned after being sued for sexual harrassment by four male city employees. This, after he commissioned the world's largest watering can (now rusting away at our impoverished zoo). Ed Hanna had to be one of the weirdest people ever to hold public office in These United States. Here is my 2000 song about him, in the Gilbert and Sullivan mode:

The scandalous occurrences within my bailiwick
Are fair game for my mockery however crude or sick;
I view each lapse as fodder for the pasquinades I write--
The raunchier the better (though I try to keep it light);
Yet lately there has happened something I am loath to mock:
For frankly I must tell you friends that I am still in shock;
Though I am well cognizant that the scandal must be faced,
To but mention Edward Hanna is in questionable taste.

CHORUS: His morals are debased--
The city he's disgraced;
To but mention Edward Hanna is in questionable taste.

Of Clinton and his bimbos I could sing on all day long
Provided I kept finding unexpected rhymes for "thong";
I'd mention all particulars unearthed by Kenneth Starr
And detail Bill's unsanitary use of a cigar;
Though I would cite these matters because I am not a prude
(As anyone will tell you who has heard me being lewd)
Why paint a mental picture that we'd pay to have erased?
To but mention Edward Hanna is in questionable taste.

CHORUS: His actions were unchaste--
He needed to be maced;
To but mention Edward Hanna is in questionable taste.

I'll prattle on of politics--a major source of fun
Especially that now the campaign season has begun;
I'll talk of Bush not knowing what a dictionary's for;
Pinocchio's a real boy now--he calls himself "Al Gore";
I'll satirize most anything--in fact, I'll make it plain:
Since I hold nothing sacred I feel nothing is profane;
But there's one subject I'll admit about which I'm straight-laced:
To but mention Edward Hanna is in questionable taste.

CHORUS: He was a total waste--
Our trust in him misplaced;
To but mention Edward Hanna is in questionable taste.

I sing of lovely lepers and inflatable girlfriends
And psychopaths and necrophiles and doom that soon impends
And Maytags and Kevorkians that lead to lasting bliss
And pigs that may or may not fly from some small orifice;
I celebrate in music all these vagaries and worse
But there's one topic that I vow I'll never frame in verse;
I'll focus on the greenhorn with whom he has been replaced--
To but mention Edward Hanna is in questionable taste.

CHORUS: That man I'll not lambaste--
I'll veer from him posthaste;
To but mention Edward Hanna is in questionable taste.

It made a refreshing change from 32-bar pop styles, but that was one damn mouthful of lyrics to spit out at high speed. No wonder my amplifier burned out.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Journey Begins: "The Scumbag Rag"

As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by old music. I can't say just why I never really enjoyed the rock or pop music contemporary to my childhood or adolescence--it just never really appealed to me in any way. I can almost pinpoint the occasion of my divergence from the norm--I had to have been about four or five years old. I had a Disney LP on which (as I remember) Cliff Edwards sang the Charleston. That, along with a compilation of songs from Gilbert and Sullivan, was my favorite thing to listen to. And, of course, I loved comedy.

When I discovered actual old 78s it was like stumbling on King Solomon's mines. Why had these treasures been withheld from me? Why had this music disappeared from public consciousness? It was great. The first actual piece of 1920s music I can recall was an old batwing Victor of "Dreaming of a Castle in the Air" played on an old Victrola at a relative's camp. I couldn't have been much older than six. By the time I was ten, I was piling up stacks of 78s which, for some reason, nobody else wanted. (The old people preferred Mitch Miller, Lawrence Welk, and other such ersatz drivel.)

The Gilbert and Sullivan hadn't left me untouched, either. The intricacy and cleverness of W.S. Gilbert's lyrics were thus practically hardwired into my brain. I would make up rhymes extemporaneously, and tunes as well. By the time I was fourteen (while struggling to teach myself guitar), I had written my first presentable song, which was firmly in the novelty category. I sang "I Thought that it was Love but it was Only Indigestion" both as part of a class presentation and later in the school "Gong Show"--and it went over surprisingly well. It was terribly long and intricate, and I had trouble memorizing all the words.

The first song that I wrote that my friends still mention I composed in 1979 at the age of 17. It was my answer to Punk Rock--I began the Punk Ragtime movement with "The Scumbag Rag." I wrote the whole thing in about two days (adding a verse somewhat later). I'm still proud of it. Musically it was sort of cross between "Darktown Strutters' Ball" and "I Got Rhythm"--but lyrically it was unprecendented, to my knowledge:

There's gonna be a Scumbag celebration--
Every Scumbag will be there;
The total Scumbag population
Will be at the Scumbag Fair;

Why is there this fascination?
Is this just a Scumbag gag?
No, it's the hotshot syncopation
Of the Scumbag Rag.

All the Scumbags jump and shout--
They know what it's all about;
This ragtime tune is so designed
To captivate the Scumbag mind;

So if a Scumbag tribulation
Makes your disposition lag
You'll find joy and inspiration
In the Scumbag Rag.

There's more, of course--but this will do for a sample. The die, as they say, was cast.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Sleeper Wakens

I can hardly believe that it's been over four years since I've performed my songs in public. I was hired to play at the very end of the season for our municipal outdoor music festival "Utica Monday Night." The evening came to an anti-climactic close when my amplifier stopped working in the middle of a number, and I was forced to carry on unplugged. Fortunately, there were so few people in attendance that all could hear me perfectly well. I had already sold my electric piano by then, and played the whole show with my guitar.

Since then, aside from dusting off my songs to play for the occasional curious visitor, I haven't much thought about music. I spent two years writing and trying to find an agent for my satirical novel, and two more years getting deeply involved in politics--with futility being the result in both cases. The book sits in the proverbial drawer, and the American people have rubber-stamped our Crusade to jump-start the Apocalypse. So here I sit, broken-hearted, with a Wellbutrin in one hand and a beer in the other. What's a body to do?

Well, I still had my songs, after all my other projects hit their respective fans--and while everybody within a 25-mile radius who wanted to hear them had already heard them and then turned back toward their televisions, there was the rest of the country to consider. People in Upstate New York (Central Region) are notable in that their sense of humor tends to be of the derisive, "get a horse" ilk--and in that they consider any local talent, by definition, "lousy." But, my wife assured me, the songs were good. And millions of people (purportedly able to appreciate fanciful humor) had not heard them.

Not having a contract with some major label or distributor, I decided to put the latest definitive recording I made up on eBay. This was a tape that I made for my own reference (and to present to a friend who was going overseas) on November 9, 1996. Having transcribed the master to a CD-R several years ago, it was an easy matter to load the thing into my computer. Now I could produce good copies and sell them directly without having to arm-wrestle the Man for royalties.

Thus I resume the quixotic musical odyssey I began over twenty-five years ago--about which more later.