Category Archives: Songs

Song for a Blue Sunset

Header image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M University

Like everyone else, I’ve started my pro/con list for traveling to Mars.

Cons:

  • Forced long term travel.
  • Close quarters with near strangers.
  • No breathable air.
  • Certain death.

Pros:

  • Reduced gravity.
  • No mosquitoes.
  • Blue sunsets.

That last one was verified in striking fashion by the latest photo from Curiosity Rover – an image of a cobalt disc poised over the crisp outline of a mountain range that only happens to be Martian.

It immediately hit me that the first Earthlings to set up camp there would have the opportunity to write a batch of songs about topics that have long been over-explored back home with the distinct advantage of a fresh set of unique experiences.

A blue sunset, for instance.

Then, somewhat less immediately, it hit me that I could only think of three songs that were specifically about a sunset.

  1. Sunrise, Sunset, of course. But it’s a shared billing.
  2. Canadian Sunset is obvious, but it has as many words as Mars has Canadians.
  3. Red Sails in the Sunset comes to mind but it has too much longing for home to be an effective Martian anthem.

Fortunately, the Kinks took care of everything when they did this:

And the beauty part – the song is already about a pronounced distaste for crowds and a fondness for chilly evenings in close company with a special friend – and both are Mars journey prerequisites!

Although the “special friend” is an accessory you  will have to pack or make along the way.

As far as the song is concerned, all you have to do to Martianize it is substitute “What a blue” for “Waterloo”.

Done and done. Going to Mars may not be so difficult after all!

Recall a remarkable sunset.

Tax Day Tripper

Today is tax day, the day when every disc jockey who has control over the playlist is required to spin “Taxman” by the Beatles.

And by “every disc jockey who has control over the playlist” I mean about a half dozen people, worldwide.

“Taxman” is a great song, of course. And it’s the only song about taxes that’s even remotely fun.  Admittedly, the competition is thin in this category because I can’t think of another song on the subject.

Among poets, love is so much more popular, topic-wise!

This is a rage-of-emotion problem.  Taxes and love can both give you the deep blue notes – frustration and longing, blending into misery and finally, despair.  It’s in the realm of exhilarating highs that love really has it all over taxes.

Probably the only thing taxation offers that comes anywhere close to the giddy delight of love is the sudden discovery of a great, rock-solid deduction.

That, and the refund, of course.

Although an accountant might tell you a tax refund is the same thing as forgiveness when it comes to love – a  welcome turn of events but something you would have been better off avoiding in the first place.

Clearly, though, the Beatles could have done more.  The world would have hardly missed it if a few of those love songs had been re-directed into tax deduction ballads.

Perhaps they didn’t look closely enough at the fine print.

Got a deduction. For taking my family out.
Got a deduction. It’s legal, there isn’t a doubt, though.
It was our vacation. I was working too!
That isn’t so wrong! For a scout. A real boy scout!

Business deductions. It’s all about the intent.
Business deductions. Airfare, beach bungalow rent.
It was a big meeting! Talked about the job.
I had to be there! That’s allowed. And I’m so proud!

Of course I claimed it – it’s a Jacuzzi!
Ask my doctor. He made me.
He wrote a prescription – a therapy tub.
An hour of soaking, then I scrub.

That’s what my deductions are.
Not entirely bizarre.
Stretching truth but not too far.
And it helps my asthma.

I’m also claiming an Olympic pool.
Ask my doctor. He’s no fool.
I need the workout. It’s good for my back.
So why don’t you cut me some slack?

That’s what my deductions are.
Not entirely bizarre.
Stretching truth but not too far.
Avoidance miasma!
(Please don’t audit me!)

You can deduct the cost of feeding Sparky.
It is allowed, though most are not aware.

Business.
That’s the pet deduction secret.
He’s an asset, not your pal. Whoa oh, oh

Setters.
Pomeranian or Spitz.
If it’s business then it fits.
That’s what dodgers do.
Ooooh!

Income.
Make sure Sparky has an income.
If he can be taught to sell, whoah oh, that’s

Better.
Put him on the staff today.
On his break time you can play.
Sparky and Old Blue.
Ooooh!

Ask my accountant to confirm it’s true.
His partner is a Shih Tzu!

What makes you sing?

Jockeying for Position

Today’s post comes from Minnesota’s 9th District Congressman, Rep. Loomis Beechly, representing all the water surface area in the state.

Greetings, Constituents!

Usually I am obsessed with currying your favor, but please do me this one thing for me.

Stop asking if I support Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency.

It’s too early to commit to any candidate. The reason for this is simple – as your Congressman my job is to find the one person who will be the best president for the 9th District, and then suck up to them without reservation.

But until candidates start to outline their positions on all the lake-related issues that face us, like algae, Asian carp, weedy buffers, jet skis mufflers, dock set-up rules, and a comprehensive global bait policy, there’s just no way for me to judge them.

Republicans have it easy. Partisanship makes some responses automatic, and they already know where they stand on the Ready-for-Hillary question.

For everyone else it’s still just a game at this point, with fun pastimes like trying to guess what slogan Clinton will use (“Nicer Than She Seems”, “Why Not This Time?”, “Probably The Last Chance To Do This”, etc.), and what strategies could possibly work as a way to build enthusiasm among those who are not already on board.

I do have a campaign song nomination, although I realize it will never fly because the payoff line is not only a negative proposition, it takes too long to unfold and it doesn’t have enough energy to accompany the obligatory pre-rally fireworks.

But it is clever, undeniably true, and it speaks to one key point that robs Hillary Clinton of political momentum.

Oh, well. Campaign songs usually aren’t good, or true. But at least we can hope.

I once suggested to my staff that we use Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as a campaign theme song because it is universally accepted as great music, but skeptics on my staff pointed out it would not only drain the rally support budget, it would make my remarks following the 2-hour performance seem unimportant and unnecessary.

Which would be an accurate assessment! But not very productive, campaign-wise.

Honestly,
Your Congressman,
Loomis Beechly

If you ran for office, what would you choose as your campaign song?

Death to the Lawn!

Header image: by Anton Croos via Wikimedia Commons

In response to a years-long drought and a diminished snow pack in the Sierra Nevada, California’s governor has put water restrictions in place that most likely mean death to the lawn in affluent communities.

This is necessary and overdue, and I say that with all the smugness that comes from living in a water-rich state and a suburb that is lousy with the type of lawn California must now ruthlessly murder, en masse.

Of course some homeowners will resist, because yard pride is unquenchable and some people are incapable of saying goodbye to the green lushness of a grassy expanse, even though they live in a desert. But even if they succeed in circumventing the new rules, their crimes will quickly become obvious by the strange emerald glow around their property.

Resentful neighbors will tattle, and social media will shame, which means a new class of western outlaw is about to emerge – lawn criminals.

A homeowner named Billy Joe felt partial to his yard.
A dry spell meant maintaining would soon become too hard.
He got his hoses from the shed and took his nozzles down.
His mother cried as he walked out …
Just let the lawn go brown, son
Leave the water off Bill
Just let the lawn go brown.
He laughed and kissed his mom with lips as dry as desert sand.
Our yard is parched. I am aware that watering is banned.
But I dearly love the sight of grass that’s green and lush and grown.
But she cried again as he walked away…
Just let the lawn go brown, son.
Leave the water off, Bill.
Please let the lawn go brown.
He hummed a tune as he hooked up the sprinkler to the hose.
He set the distance and the spray. Judiciously he chose.
A neighbor peered across the fence in that dry western town.
And his mother’s words echoed again…
Just let the lawn go brown, son
Leave the water off, Bill
Just let the lawn go brown.
He cranked the spigot to the max and watched his grasses soak.
The dusty neighbor quietly observed before he spoke.
“This ain’t your day to water, son”. He said this with a frown.
Bill heard again his mothers words…
Just let the lawn go brown, son.
Leave the water off, Bill.
And let the lawn go brown.
Both men reached for a smartphone each had holstered, like a gun.
Though Billy Joe was quick his neighbor was the faster one.
He tweeted photos of the crime – the shame came rolling down.
Soon Billy’s Twitter profile said…
I’ve let the lawn go brown, folks.
Turn the the water off, friends.
Just let the lawn go brown.

 

When have you flaunted the regulations?

Moon Makers

We’re back in space today, now that I’ve discovered NASA’s audacious plan to give the moon a moon,, which is actually a clever way to practice doing things that will be necessary for the later, longer, much-promised trip to Mars.

But we must always be mindful of the tendency of our great plans to create unintended consequences. My concern with any moon-related adventure is the potential negative effect it could have on an important global resource – our canon of Tin Pan Alley moon songs.

Really, these things are not to be messed with.

Fly me past the moon
So I can fetch the moon a moon
Picked up from an asteroid
as if in a cartoon.

We’ll call it the “Moon of Moon”.
I love to say “moon moon moon moon”.

Any rock will do,
we’re only practicing for Mars.
Rehearsing like teenagers,
who dream of driving cars.

It’s time to be on our way
I want to be plucking boulders

What a gift to give –
a friend to orbit, evermore.
So our moon won’t have to be
as moonless as before.

Let’s make this moon dream come true.
I want to say I’ve mooned you!

When has it been a big production to give a small gift?

We Are Stardust

The latest news from deep space is that scientists believe the explosion of a supernova at the center of our galaxy generated enough cosmic dust to make everything on Earth 7,000 times over, including us.

But then that should come as no surprise, since the noted scientific researcher Joni Mitchell, along with her lab assistants Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young detailed our connection to stardust back in 1970.

Long before that (but after that supernova explosion), Hoagy Carmichael was using chords to depict stardust, and Mitchell Parish provided some elegantly twisty lyrics to turn the focus of the song outward and back on itself at the same time.

Strangely, because it is a work of art and doesn’t have any particular physical qualities outside of the paper its notes and words are written on, the Carmichael/Parish song Stardust is actually one feature of our cultural landscape that’s NOT made of stardust. But that couldn’t protect the song from some savage treatment – me trying to wrangle it into something that reflects this latest bit of astronomical information:

Sometimes I wonder how the stuff
that makes us up, came to be around.
Floating free, scientists agree,
some dust congealed to me and you.

When we were brand new,
drifting in a constellation!
Ah, but that was long ago,
and our coagulation means that to stardust we belong.

Exploding ancient stars
gave off some light, and a lot of stuff.
The stuff survived. Later we arrived.
I can’t explain it, nor can you.

I believe they know
So let’s all just say it’s so.
We’re stardust, you and me,
Debris from chaos, long ago.

What are you made of?

Space Shanties

Today’s post comes from Captain Billy, skipper of the pirate ship Muskellunge.

Ahoy!

Me an’ me boys is crazy-excited t’ hear that NASA has discovered a underground ocean on th’ largest moon of Jupiter!

Not that we’s lookin’ fer other seas t’ sail, on account of this one here is fine, an’ plenty large enough. Plus, a Jovian Lunar ocean with a roof over it made of 95 miles of ice raises serious questions about navigation an’ winds an’ how tall can yer mast be t’ keep from scrapin’ th’ underside.

There’s no disagreement among me boys on this point – a ocean up in the stars don’t have th’ same allure as th’ one under the stars that we all enjoys so much.

But th’ possibilities is what has us thrilled.

If there’s oceans out there orbitin’ that vast gas giant, then what’s there t’ prevent there from bein’ Jupiter pirates? An’ if there’s Jupiter pirates, don’t it follow that there’d be Jupiter grog an’ Jupiter booty?

All of it incredibly massive, of course!

So naturally our imaginations ran away wit’ us, an we began t’ wonder what sort of sea shanty we might sing up there if we went, even though there’s no way we’d go (so don’t ask)!

Th’ song we made up is t’ th’ tune of one of our home world favorites – Stormalong.

O we’re sailin’ under an icy dome.
Way,hay, Ganymede.
We’re a long long way from our Earthly home.
Aye aye we’re on Ganymede.

An’ there ain’t no wind for to fill our sails
Way, hay, Ganymede.
It ain’t clear what sailin’ here entails.
Aye aye we’re on Ganymede.

But the ocean’s salty an’ dark and deep.
Way, hay, Ganymede.
If there’s monsters in it, let them sleep!
Aye aye we’re on Ganymede.

If there’s fishes swimmin’ beneath our feet
Way, hay, Ganymede
Please be slow an’ fat an’ O.K. to eat.
Aye Aye we’re on Ganymede.

Though it’s scary here an’ th’ water’s cold,
Way, hay, Ganymede
May the seas be calm an’ the booty gold!
Aye Aye we’re on Ganymede.

When you’re far away, what song reminds you of home?