Dear WordPress

Completely agree with this!

This, That, and The Other

I just sent this screed below to the “too bad, so sad” response I got from the Happiness Engineers at WordPress. I know it won’t do any good, and that I’m shouting into deaf ears, but I had to get it off my chest. If you’re a fan of the block editor, if you don’t use or don’t care about the hassle that the block editor is causing for those of us who blog using our smartphones, or if you are just sick and tired of  bloggers like me whining about being forced to use it, feel free to skip this post. I won’t be offended.

Dear WordPress,

I’m having trouble wrapping my head around WordPress’ strategy. You say that the classic editor available on the plugin in the Business Plan is the same one that is available at the wp-admin site. And you say that it was “built with…

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Song Lyric Sunday — Aurelio Voltaire

Well, kids, Jim Adams has given us a doozy of a prompt for Song Lyric Sunday this week: Cruel / Evil / Horrible / Monster / Wicked. You’d think he’d save these for Halloween! And he has also announced that he’s writing about two different songs, by two different artists, in two different posts. With that info, you’ll not be surprised to hear I have no compunction about choosing two different songs, particularly since both are by the same artist and both will be in this very post. (Full disclosure: I surprised myself.)

I was going about my usual #SLS research, when Google spit out an intriguing video, “Voltaire — When You’re Evil.” I figured it must be classical music, maybe from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide”, one of several musical works based on the writing of the 18th century French writer and philosopher. I had seen a performance of “Candide” years ago but remembered nothing of the music, except that it was classic Bernstein.

That was my first surprise. This particular Voltaire is a 20th century Cuban-American singer/songwriter named Aurelio Voltaire Hernandez, who performs under his middle name, with or without his first name. He is actually a modern renaissance man. In addition to his music, he is a successful animator and comic artist, as well as a professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

The first half of my second surprise was his music. “When You’re Evil” starts with a slow Hungarian-style violin, morphing into a more sprightly European march when the lyrics kick in. The second half of this surprise was his lyrics, which are delightfully, weirdly, witty, in a macabre sort of way. (I really should have expected that when I saw the song is from his first album, “The Devil’s Bris.”)

After listening to more of his work, I think his website sums up his style quite well.

“As a musician, he is a songwriter whose music can best be described as a collection of murder ballads, tongue-in-cheek exercises in the macabre, with just enough bawdy songs about Star Trek and Star Wars to keep a convention audience rolling in the aisles. Many know him for his songs ‘Brains!’ and ‘Land of the Dead’ from the Cartoon Network show ‘The Grim Adventures of Billy And Mandy’.”

In addition to “When You’re Evil,” I’m giving you “Death Death (Devil, Devil, Evil, Evil Song)” from his album “To The Bottom of the Sea,” the sixth of his 13 albums. Lyrics for “When You’re Evil” are in the video; for “Death Death,” scroll down to You Tube’s description section. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Song Lyric Sunday — “The Mermaid”

This is one of those Song Lyric Sunday weeks where, as soon as I saw the prompt (above / below / between), I started singing. “…and the landlubbers lie down below, below, below, and the landlubbers lie down below.” If you were a Girl Scout in the mid-1960s, as I was, (or Boy Scout), you probably learned “The Mermaid” at summer camp.

A traditional sea shanty, “The Mermaid” is sometimes called a Child Ballad because of its inclusion as #289 in an 1860 anthology of 305 English and Scottish ballads edited by Francis James Child. It has also been called Waves on the Sea, The Stormy Winds, and The Wrecked Ship, perhaps because, like many traditional songs, the lyrics have varied throughout the years. The Library of Congress has a long, interesting article tracing the song’s evolution in the U.S. You can listen to some of the old recordings here

The version I learned in Girl Scout camp was popularized by The Clancy Brothers. Irish immigrants to the U.S. after World War II, they may or may not have brought the song with them. A similar version had been recorded by North Carolina lawyer and Appalachian folk music performer Bascom Lamar Lunsford in 1949 for the Library of Congress’s American Folk Archives, but, since Lunsford’s version was not released until 1996, it is not likely to have influenced the Clancy’s. Could Lunsford have influenced American folksinger Paul Clayton?

Clayton grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a traditional New England seaport. He and his mother lived with her parents, both of whom were musical. His grandfather sang songs he learned from sailors; his grandmother, songs learned growing up on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, a mecca for immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, and England. In 1950, Clayton became interested in Appalachian dulcimers, and traveled to various states, including North Carolina, to learn more. Could he have met Bascom Lamar Lunsford and learned “The Mermaid” on that trip? Within six years, Clayton recorded a similar version in New York on Tradition Records.

Coincidentally, the founder and president of Tradition Records was none other than Patrick “Paddy” Clancy. Before founding Tradition, Paddy and his brother, Tom, had formed a production company, raising money by singing old Irish songs in NY’s Greenwich Village folk scene. In 1956, younger brother Liam Clancy and, separately, Tommy Makem immigrated to New York. Liam joined forces with Paddy to found Tradition; Tommy Makem came aboard when he was injured while working a printing press. The three Clancys and Makem recorded their first album for Tradition in 1956, the same time as Clayton’s recording of “The Mermaid.” Could Clayton have passed along “The Mermaid” to the Clancys?

In any event, the The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem released “The Mermaid” in 1964 on their “The First Hurrah” album, their fifth for Columbia Records. They had also recorded three albums for Tradition before signing with Columbia. “The Mermaid” had not been included on any of the earlier albums. Nevertheless, their version was remarkably similar to Clayton’s and stayed in their repertoire for more than 40 years.

Because I learned the Clancy’s version, I’m using lyrics that are most similar to their “Mermaid.” Clayton’s and Lunsford’s recordings follow after. Enjoy!

The Mermaid
It was Friday morn when we set sail and we were not far from the land
When our captain he spied a mermaid so fair, with a comb and a glass in her hand

And the ocean waves do roll, and the stormy winds do blow
And we poor sailors are skipping at the top
While the landlubbers lie down below, below, below
While the landlubbers lie down below

Then up spoke the captain of our gallant ship, and a fine old man was he
“This fishy mermaid has warned me of our doom, we shall sink to the bottom of the sea”

And the ocean waves do roll, and the stormy winds do blow
And we poor sailors are skipping at the top
While the landlubbers lie down below, below, below
While the landlubbers lie down below

Then up spoke the mate of our gallant ship, and a fine spoken man was he
Sayin’, “I have a wife in Brooklyn by the sea, and tonight a widow she will be”

And the ocean waves do roll, and the stormy winds do blow
And we poor sailors are skipping at the top
While the landlubbers lie down below, below, below
While the landlubbers lie down below

Then up spoke the cabin-boy of our gallant ship, and a brave young lad was he
“Oh, I have a sweetheart in Salem by the sea, and tonight she’ll be weeping over me”

And the ocean waves do roll, and the stormy winds do blow
And we poor sailors are skipping at the top
While the landlubbers lie down below, below, below
While the landlubbers lie down below

Then up spoke the cook of our gallant ship, and a crazy old butcher was he
“I care much more for my pots and pans than I do for the bottom of the sea”

And the ocean waves do roll, and the stormy winds do blow
And we poor sailors are skipping at the top
While the landlubbers lie down below, below, below
While the landlubbers lie down below

Then three times ’round spun our gallant ship, and three times ’round spun she
Three times ’round spun our gallant ship and she sank to the bottom of the sea

And the ocean waves do roll, and the stormy winds do blow
And we poor sailors are skipping at the top
While the landlubbers lie down below, below, below
While the landlubbers lie down below

 

 

Song Lyric Sunday — The Shame “Don’t Go ‘Way Little Girl” and Janis Ian “(Too Old To) Go ‘Way Little Girl”

Song Lyric Sunday is upon us, and the prompts this week are clear/dark/light, courtesy of Jim Adams. Now, some weeks I start my research looking for song titles or lyrics that fit the prompt. More often than not, I decide I want to write about (and listen to) a particular artist and look for the prompt words among that artist’s songs.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer lately, so I focused my search this week on their bassist/vocalist, Greg Lake. You may know that, before he became the “L” in ELP, he was a founding member of the seminal prog rock band King Crimson in 1969. Before those successes, he honed his craft in a few bands you’ve never heard of.

Lake was the lead singer in a little-known U.K. band, The Shame, when they recorded a cover of Janis Ian‘s “(Too Old To) Go ‘Way Little Girl,” originally released in January 1967 on her eponymous debut album. The Shame’s version, released as a single in the U.K. later the same year, is entitled “Don’t Go ‘Way Little Girl.” (Note, however, that Lake’s website pictures the single released in the U.S. on the Poppy label with Ian’s title.) While The Shame made a few minor changes in the lyrics, one really stands out.

Where Ian’s lyric is “Now, there is no escaping, and you’d enjoy a raping just to find out the facts of life,” Lake sings “Now, there’s no denyin’ you’re gonna end up cryin’ to find out the facts of life.” I haven’t been able to find any information to explain the reason for the radically different lyric.

Interestingly, neither Ian nor Lake sings the written lyric “Your mother’s stares, and the Enquirer’s tales”. Lake sounds like he sings “Your mother’s wails and the daily news tales”.  Ian sings it differently every time it occurs. The first time it’s “Your mother’s aware of the Enquirer’s tales;” the second, it’s the “Daily News tales”. The final occurrence it’s “When your mother’s gone you continue to run”.

In any case, the changes must have been acceptable to Ian; after Lake’s death she posted on Facebook that they had “intended to do a bunch of writing together.”

Here are videos (audio only) of both The Shame’s and Ian’s versions. Enjoy!

 

 

(Too Old To) Go ‘Way Little Girl

Janis Ian

Don’t go out in the street, little girl
and don’t go out into town
You don’t know who you’ll meet, little girl
There are bad men around
Your mother, she’s in love with you
She tells you, you shouldn’t go with guys
So go to bed at ten, let your mama tuck you in
and turn on your Mickey Mouse night-light
Then you make it with your mind

Don’t go out into town, little girl
Stay safe in the house, little girl
Your mother’s stares, and the Enquirer’s tales
keep you hiding, denying

Don’t go into the park, little girl
You know those men are all the same
Stay inside alone after dark, little girl
Boys want just one thing
Don’t talk about sex, you might get hexed
God’ll punish you for your dirty mind
Now, there is no escaping, and you’d enjoy a raping
just to find out the facts of life
Mama says – Maintain your pride

Don’t go out into town, little girl
Stay safe in the house, little girl
Your mother’s stares, and the Enquirer’s tales
keep you hiding, denying

Don’t go into your mind, little girl
The windows, they’re only made of glass
Don’t let me catch you trying to pry, little girl
Mirrors of illusion tumble fast
You’re too far gone for anyone
I’d like to help, but I can only sigh
You’d best maintain your mama’s pride
’cause you lost yours the time
you obeyed when she said “Don’t fraternize”
No place to hide

Don’t go out into town, little girl
Stay safe in the house, little girl
Your mother’s stares, and the Enquirer’s tales
keep you hiding, denying

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