Friday, July 29, 2005

The Hallmark of a Great Lyricist

Harry Warren: I'd forgotten how much I liked him. So this evening, I printed out the lyrics to Lulu's Back in Town (don't forget Mr. Jenkins's monumental web site) and toddled 'round to my local pseudo-English pub, "Pounds and Pence," to see what I could make out of it.

Three Camparis and soda later, I was chagrined to find that a Hallmark card was what I could make out of it. File this one under "G" for "gooey," folks. I've written a wry love song or two in the past few years, but never a sentimental bit of gush like this. Still, the thing simply flowed out of me, with hardly a burp:

Let's suppose that Daughter wants to play:
We begin to argue—yea or nay.
You can bet that Daughter gets her way—
Papa's backin' down.

Walkin' through the mall, she sees a dress.
I may tell her "no," but she says "yes."
So the end result—well, can't you guess?
Papa's backin' down.

When an old geezer meets
With the Sweetest of Sweets,
Mr. Otis retreats,
And Sweetie goes to town.

What's the use of taking any stand?
Daughter always gets the upper hand.
When the system works the way it's planned,
Papa's backin' down.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

My parodies seldom seem to have anything to do with the original lyric, and yet I do intend my lyrics to criticize (whether to pan or to express admiration for) the original lyric. In this case, the criticism is negative: I've never liked the way Dubin's You can tell all my pets fits Warren's tune. The relative unimportance of tell, and its short e, and the high, sustained note on which it falls simply don't go together. Dubin and Warren nodded, to my mind. My old, I suggest, is an improvement.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Ultra Linking