Digital Tradition Mirror

Clementine (2)

Clementine (2)
(Tom Lehrer)

(spoken) If you'd like to consider the folksong and expound
briefly on a theory I have held for some time to the effect that
the reason most folksongs are so atrocious, is that they were
written by the people. If professional songwriters had written
them instead, things might have turned out considerably
differently. For example consider the old favourite to which, I'm
sure, you are all familiar, Clementine

     In a cavern, in a canyon excavating for a mine
     Dwelled a miner, 49er,and his daughter, Clementine.
     Light she was and like a fairy, and her shoes were number nine,
     Herring boxes without topses, sandals were for Clementine.
     Drove she ducklings to the water ev'ry morning just at 9,
     Struck her foot against a splinter, fell into the foaming brine.,

(spoken) you know it - In a cavern, in a canyon, that lalalalalala
--- a song with no recognizable merit whatsoever ---
and imagine what might have happened, if for example,
Cole Porter had tried writing this song.
The first verse might have come out like this:

     In a cavern, in a canyon, excavating for a mine,
     Far away from the boom-boom-boom of the city
     She was so pretty --- what a pity, Clementine.
     Oh Clementine, can't you tell from the howls of me
     This love of mine calls to you from the bowels of me.
     Are you discerning the returning of this churning burning --
     Yearning for you...

(spoken) well, supposing at this point that Mozart or one of that
crowd had tried writing a verse the next one might have come out
as a baritone aria from an Italian opera somewhat along these

     Era legera e come un fairy e suo shoes numero nine,
     Herring bo-ho-ho-hoxes senza to-ho-ho-hopses,
     Sandalae per Clementina si, per Clementina si,
     Per Clementina sandalae, per Clementina sandalae, per Clementina.
     Clementina, Clementina, Clementina\dots
     Herring boxes senza topses sandalae per Clementina,
     Herring boxes senza topses sandalae per Clementina,
     [ ?? ] Clementina, [ ?? ] Clementina, [ ? ] Clementina, [ ? ]

(spoken) Supposing at this rather dramatic juncture in the
narrative one of our modern cool-school of composers had tried
might have come out like this:

     A one, a two, a three...drove those ducklings to the water...
     Ev'ry morning like 9am... got hung upon a splinter,
     Got hung upon a splinter... fell into the foamy brine,
     Dig that crazy Clementine.

(spoken) To end on a happy note one can always count on Gilbert
and Sullivan for a rousing finale full of words and music and
signifying -- nothing.

     That I missed her depressed her young sister named Esther,
     This mister to pester she tried.
     Now a pestering sister's a festering blister,
     You're best to resist her, say I.
     The mister resist her the sister persisted,
     I kissed her all loyalty slipped.
     When she said I could have her,
     Her sister's cadaver must surely have turned in its crypt.

     Yes, yes, yes, yes, but I love she and she loves me.
     Enraptured are the both of we,
     Yes I love she and she loves I and will through all eternity
     --- see what I mean?

Copyright Tom Lehrer

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