Sunday, September 24, 2006

Back to the Drawing Board

So it turns out that S.O.P. and I.R.S. in my last effort don't scan. Following my own S.O.P., I consulted the sheet music after writing the consarned lyric, and find that the melody has a dotted rhythm at that point, so something like point d'appui (only not point d'appui, of course) would be a better fit. As Lorenz Hart might have said, buggering hell.

I'm taking my mind off the whole thing by watching Kenny Baker put the moves on Cyd Charisse in The Harvey Girls, and trying to imagine exactly what Johnny Mercer and Judy Garland did in bed; an imagination-beggaring exercise if ever there was one. As for Cyd, she looks as if she was suffering from the effects of opium withdrawal. It's a wonder she's reached the ripe old age of 85.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Something, At Long Last

Last night, I stopped by Danny's to deliver a copy of the CD to the indefatigable Jerry Scott, who accepted it with a good grace, and on the way home the word bastardy popped into my head, to the tune of Lennon and McCartney's Yesterday.

At first, I thought it was to be a song about the social phenomenon formerly so termed, which forces itself upon my attention wherever I turn; the condition (now all but irrelevant, legally speaking) of those whom New York now coyly calls non-marital children. By the time I got home, the word had become metaphorical, and the song began to look like a commentary on free-market morality, instead.

Today, the subject shifted ever so slightly to the Law Biz, and here's a first draft:

For a barrister, it's S.O.P.
When you see a groin, apply the knee,
And tell yourself, It's him or me.

As an agent of the I.R.S.—
Slap the widow with a dispossess,
And win your way to sweet success.

For a start,
It doesn't pay.

"Turn the cheek,"
But the meek
Are so passé.

Love's the bottom line in Galilee.
You'll excuse me if I disagree;
The Golden Rule is—bastardy.
Mm, mm, mm, mm—that's the key.

Lyric © Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

I'm of two minds about passé. Not quite le mot juste, on the one hand; on the other, the sound is echoed in Possibly. On balance, I suppose it must serve. And barrister is used in America only facetiously, but it shares letters with bastardy, which pleases the eye. Neither the amphibrachic attorney nor the trochaic lawyer would do: it's would become it is, which simply isn't colloquial. So I suppose I'm stuck with barrister, too. (I ask you, what's weightier than the concerns of a lyricist?)

What's needed is a reprise, as in the original recording, but with additional lyrics. Perhaps the following could be worked in somewhere:

What the devil are you waiting for?
When you're lawyering, it's total war.
You're either prey—or predator.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

News on Several Fronts

The musical toast to Jerry Scott got a remarkably warm reception last Friday, which goes to show that giving the audience what it wants always pays--Jerry Scott being nothing short of beloved, and justly so. Now, if I only had a notion of what an audience might want at other times, I'd be in like Flynn.

The CD I've been working on with Ron, my DAMP (director-arranger-manager-producer), was mastered a couple of weeks ago. We'd planned to order a kilo of copies with jewel-case inserts, lead sheets and all the rest of it, but Ron was scheduled to go to England for two weeks (where he is now), and he wanted copies to take with him, so we did a quickie run of 100 copies with a simple label on the CD itself--logo courtesy of Miss Sallie Parker, to whom many thanks. Ron kept sixty, and I've kept the other forty, of which I've handed out precisely one; to Rick Bogart, a jazz clarinetist currently knockin' 'em dead at a place called Seppi's on West 56th Street. I suppose I'll take a few with me tonight to Danny's.

Meanwhile, I seem to have temporarily misplaced my mojo in the lyric-writing department. Several half-hearted ideas, and nowhere to go with them. I thought of a hymn to smoking, set to Harry Warren's I'm Young and Healthy:

I like tobacco;
I go for weed.
Disapprove it, if you must;
Cigarettes are just
My speed.

But then what?

And yesterday, a blog I frequent posted Barbara Feldon's old Revlon ad, which so profoundly disturbed my budding libido back in 1964, when Barry Goldwater was aiming for the White House and one actually felt, in one's innocence, that America had a future. It prompted an off-the-cuff take on Stephen Foster's Old Black Joe:

Gone are the days
Of the 60-second spot;
Gone are the ads
That could get me downright hot.
Gone are my dreams
Of seducing 99;
I'm fast approaching something known as
Life's Decline.

I'm ancient, archaic,
For I'm past the big 5-0;
But I'm convinced that Barb'ra Feldon
Beats J-Lo.

Lyrics © 2006 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Friday, September 08, 2006


It turns out that Jerry Scott's seventh anniversary do is on September 8, not September 9, so I've been frantically rewriting and then rehearsing to try to replace the old lines with the new in my Campari-soaked noggin. It looks as if this will be the final version of his musical toast:

It's been seven—
Seven awesome and extraordinary years
With a pianist who hasn't any peers.
Lift your glasses and convert your "Cheers!" to cheers!

Lucky seven—
Seven seasons filled with gaiety and tears,
Which we fondly keep among our souvenirs.
Lift your glasses and distil your "Cheers!" to cheers!

Let the riffraff sit through Phantom
And be hit by chandeliers;
As for us, we'll keep "Perfesser" Scott
Another seven years.

Some are satisfied with K-Fed—
Even worse, with Britney Spears;
But for us, we'll take "Perfesser" Scott
Another seven years.

—Scott, m'boy!
You play one hell of a song!
—The spell of a song
That swept us along

(Count 'em, seven)—
Seven cycles of the Music of the Spheres.
Thank the Lord, he chose the best of all careers!
Lift your glasses and transmute your "Cheers!" to cheers!

Lyric © 2006 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Once again, you can have no idea how many times certain lines were changed, only to end up as they began. Moving Seven seasons filled with gaiety and tears from the final section to the second section certainly changes the whole tone of the thing. To me, at least.

And, since it appears The Sunday Times has no virtual space for fripperies, even high-brow ones, here's the ditty I sent to 'em, to the tune of Stephen Foster's Camptown Races:

"A.N. Wilson is a sh*t"
(Doodoo! Doodoo!).
Betjeman took an awful hit;
Sing: "Oodoo-day!"

Swine to Wilson's right;
Swine to Wilson's left:
I'll bet a nickel it's a Hillier hoax;
Nobody's quite so deft.

Lyric © 2006 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

In reporting the Wilson-Hillier flap, The Sunday Times did not scruple to print the four-letter word au naturel. I suppose I shouldn't have been so coy.

What I find mildly gratifying in this hurried effort are the number of unintended felicities: the (gratuitous) echoes of Sumer is icumen in and The Charge of the Light Brigade; I'll bet a nickel and Nobody's, where Foster wrote I bet my money and Somebody; the public schoolboy Swine in place of Gwine; and the use of Pig Latin to comment on a literary feud. None of which alters the fact that the thing's another cheap throwaway, instead of Something for the Ages, like Hello, Muddah, Hello, Faddah. Ah, me.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Yesterday, I noticed that The Nyok Times was reporting an hilarious literary feud in England between A.N. Wilson and Bevis Hillier, both biographers of John Betjeman. In two ticks, a throwaway parody popped into my head, and I shot it off to the editor of London's Sunday Times, whence the story originated. We'll see if they print it, virtually or otherwise. Meanwhile, posting it here would probably scuttle any chance it has of being published, so I won't.

Mind you, the parody's nothing much. Silly, even puerile. It was all of five minutes' thought, or, at least, ganglial activity. But this blog is supposed to be the paper of record for my stuff, so I'll bung it down as soon as I get the brusheroo from the Rupert Murdoch.
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