Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Starbucks, Take Two

I've spent a couple of days working on my Hymn of Hate to Starbucks, fixing a couple of rhythmic errors and tightening the vulgar abuse, so that it's more focused, although still vulgar. In doing so, I find that I've built into it a sort of meta-joke: after complaining that Starbucks coffee is lousy, the song complains, like the little old ladies in the joke, "And the portions are so small, too!"

One difficulty in parodying the song is the closing lines. As with so many rock songs, the original lyric doesn't fit the music particularly well. All the delinquencies of popular lyric-writing in the 1890's, and more, have returned to haunt us. Here's the closing gibberish:

SING, sing, song, si-
ING, sing, sing, sing

Now, what in the name of Stephen Collins Foster is "si-ING"? "Hey-ell! That thar's sink-o-PAY-shun!!" Right. But how does the syncopation add drama, or character? How does it capture the vital rhythms of spoken American English? Contrast one of my favorite examples from ragtime, the lyrics to the verse of May Irwin's If You Don't Have Any Money, as edited by Max Morath:

SAT down
My gal [BEAT]
A note—
SEV-en on the DOT.

Now, that's American English. And on top of that, it conveys intensity of feeling. To answer, "Well, the singer of Starshine is stoned out of her gourd," may be true, but it's a cop-out, as they used to say 'way back when.

Anyway—here's a revised lyric:

Good goin’, Starbucks—
But have you no shame?
No coffee to speak of,
Except in your name.

Good golly, Starbucks!
I need my caffeine.
Your coffee's got everything—
Except the freakin' coffee bean.

Jelly bean java,
Praline cappuccino,
With caramel swirl;
Gingerbread jamocha,
Jujube Jamaican,
Fit for a girl;
Macaroon espresso—
Screwin' up a cup o' joe.

Good gravy, Starbucks!
You call that a cup?
Someday you’ll surprise me
By filling one up.

Good riddance, Starbucks!
You’re out of my life.
I wouldn’t buy what you sling
To please a dying trophy wife.

"Tiny tot" grande,
Teeny-weeny venti,
With plenty of foam;
Lilliputian leche,
Miniature dolce
(Top up the foam!);
Microscopic mocha,
Meager macchiato—
Screwin' up a cup o' joe.

Coughin’ up jack,
Collarin’ joe
Just to pour down the john;
Coughin’ up jack,
Collarin’ joe
To pour down the john;
Cough up ja-ack,
Collar jo-oe—
Somethin' in this pic-
Ture’s just plain wrong.
Somethin' in this pic-
Ture’s just plain wrong.

Lyric © 2006 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov


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