Friday, April 14, 2006

It Never Seems to Get Any Easier

About ten days ago, I received a generalized expression of interest in my stuff from, of all places, Phoenix, Arizona, burg o' my youth. Just a bit of back-and-forth between us got the juices flowing, and a deceptively appealing idea for a Phoenician song occurred to me, to the tune of Sherman Brothers' Hushabye Mountain, from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. That, if you've forgotten, is the lullaby that the inscrutably cast Dick Van Dyke, playing the inexplicably widowed Caractacus Potts, sings to his two bairns near the outset of the flick.

I say "deceptively appealing," because no idea ever cost me so much mental energy in the actual writing. Words--that is, words that actually fit the frickin' tune, f'cripes sake--simply wouldn't come. In the end, I found myself patching one spot with a bit of Damon Runyon, of all things. Part of the problem was the lack of pick-up notes on the even-numbered lines. Another was the odd rhythm of the thing, with its pairs of dotted and eighth notes, which called for lots of long vowels (I didn't manage to put a long vowel on every one, but neither did the Shermans).

You may not be up to speed with the concerns of denizens of the Valley of the Sun--concerns that go back forty years, if a day. Well, the most prominent landmark in Phoenix is Camelback Mountain, actually a hill with three peaks, which, from certain angles, resembles a dromedary couchant. Adding to its charm is an excrescence on the "nose" of the camel that (again, from a certain angle) resembles a praying monk. The Vulgar Rich have a penchant for grabbing lots on or near Camelback Mountain and building ostentatious ranch houses on them, thereby spoiling the view for those of us with good taste.

And now--

Pristine and pure was Camelback Mountain,
Years ago, when Phoenix was young;
The nouveau riche began building houses.
Now the poor girl is covered with dung.

The Monk who kneels on Camelback Mountain
Prayed for years as hard as he could;
His mute appeals and silent hosannas
Haven’t achieved a smidgen of good.

Some say, "So sick is Camelback Mountain,
Eight to five, she'll never get well";
But I've a cure for Camelback Mountain:
One well-placed shell
Will blow them to hell.

Lyric © 2006 by Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

I've sent this off to the inquiring Phoenician, who's in the business of producing cabarets and what-not, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for a favorable response. It seemed a shame not to show it to someone, after that ghastly sweat.


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