Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Sound Of Muzak

Late one night, after an evening on the town, Richard Rodgers calls at the house of Oscar Hammerstein II with a suggestion for their latest musical…

RODGERS: Hey Oscar

HAMMERS: Hey Rich – it’s a bit late isn’t it?

RODGERS: Yeah but listen, I’ve got this idea for the musical we were working on the other day

HAMMERS: Which one?

RODGERS: Musical Sounds – The Story Of The Vonn Trapp Family

HAMMERS: Oh yeah. D’you know I’m still not happy with that title, but the studio aren’t buying The Singing Nun either

RODGERS: Well, we’ll work on it. Listen: you know that scene where Maria is teaching the kids to sing? Well it’s not really working with all the stuff about brieves and semi-brieves and all that Every Good Boy Deserves Fun nonsense – It’s dragging and I think it needs a song to liven things up

HAMMERS: I’m not sure – I mean the bloody thing is nearly 4hrs long as it is! Will people actually sit all the way through it?

RODGERS: Oh, we’ll just throw in a few more dancing Nazis and the time will just fly by.

HAMMERS: O-kay, and I’m guessing you have an idea for a song about learning to sing?

RODGERS: Yeah, it goes:
“Here’s a song, a song I sing:
A song that tells me how to sing.
Here’s some notes I have to sing,
Sing them all the live-long day”

HAMMERS: (LONG PAUSE) Hmmmmm – well I like the tune, but I think we’ll have to change a few of the words

RODGERS: Really? Which ones?

HAMMERS: Well: all of them.

RODGERS: Well, what do you suggest then?

HAMMERS: (EXASPERATED PAUSE) Oh, I don’t know. Something about musical notes

RODGERS: Such as?

HAMMERS: Y’know – Do, Ray, Me and all that – put it into simple terms

RODGERS: Yeah, that could work – we could have a cute bit at the end where, having learned the notes, the kids sing them out of sequence to demonstrate it

HAMMERS: We don’t want to be too sickly sweet. Remember what happened last time? Don’t forget, we’ve already got this woman making clothes out of curtains and singing about brown paper packages – we don’t want people thinking she’s nuts.

RODGERS: True. (PAUSE) Maybe we need to put it into some kind of context?

HAMMERS: Like what?

RODGERS: Y’know – give a visual image for each note, like (LONG PAUSE), er… (EVEN LONGER PAUSE) – I know:
“Do, a deer, a female deer”

HAMMERS: I think that’s spelt D-O-E. It’s a different thing to the musical note

RODGERS: Well, we’ll stick it in there for the moment – you can always change it later if you get a better idea.

HAMMERS: (UNSURE) Well…O-kay, but what about Ray?

RODGERS: That’s easy –
“Doe, a deer, a female deer,
Ray, a bloke who lives next door”

HAMMERS: (PAUSE) I think we may need some kinda image that’s a bit more generic – not everyone out there watching is gonna have someone living next door called Ray. Maybe we should think about something like a ray of sunshine?

RODGERS: (UNCERTAINLY) Well, I still think “Ray, a bloke who lives next door” could work, but if you’re really that unhappy…

HAMMERS: (PLACATINGLY) We’ll put it on the “maybe” pile for the moment. What about “Me”?

“Doe, a deer, a female deer:
Ray, a bloke who lives next door,
Me – that’s me, right over there,
Far – a thousand miles away”

HAMMERS: Well I like the principal idea of “Far”, but I think the “Me” needs a bit of work. What about “So”?

RODGERS: Hmm (PAUSE) I know! What about “a needle pulling thread”??

HAMMERS: Again, I think you’ll find that’s spelt S-E-W, but I guess if they’ll accept the thing with the deer we can probably get away with it. What about “La”?

RODGERS: (PAUSE) Er… (LONGER PAUSE) Umm… (EVEN LONGER PAUSE) Gee – that’s a tough one. Not a lot we can really say about “La” is there?

HAMMERS: Not really – but I’m sure we’ll think of something – maybe we can get away with just saying it’s a note that follows “So”? It’s a bit weak, sure, but that just leaves us with “Ti”

RODGERS: What about “Ti – a nice refreshing drink”?

HAMMERS: I think we need to be careful how far we push this misspelling thing – we don’t want to be promoting childhood illiteracy now, do we? (PAUSE)

RODGERS: Thinking about it now: did they have Tea in Nazi-occupied Austria? Wasn’t there rationing or something?

HAMMERS: I don’t know (PAUSE) Still: I guess the audience won’t know either, so we can put it in for the moment and work on it. (PAUSE) So what does that give us so far?

Doe, a deer, a female deer
Ray, a bloke who lives next door
Me, that’s me, right over there
Far, a thousand miles away
Sew, a needle pulling thread
La, we haven’t got that bit
Tea, a nice refreshing drink
And then something, a-bout Do, do-di-do-do-do-do

HAMMERS: Well…it’s a start at any rate.


English Rider said...

The Hills are Alive with Pixie thoughts set to musak. Well done. A very entertaining post. I am qualified to comment by having seen/listened to Maria doing her thing no fewer than 8 times. Every word to every song is ingrained forever.

Friko said...

so why couldn't R & H think of that for themselves? Tcha, you have to do everything yourself!

thanks for joining the band.

Argent said...

Hehe, I always wondered how those songs got written. A process, I note, not dissimilar to the one I use myself - especially the "this'll do for now, I'll change it later when something better comes along" but. Highly entertaining.

Michael said...

I have to listen to that song again. It doesn't sound quite right.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

English - i think it's genetically impossible to not like Sound Of Music - but although i'm pretty sure i've seen the whole thing i've never done so in one sitting. Too late I thought about them discussing "Tee - a lovely game of golf" and postulating as to whether nun's played golf...

Friko - i'm sure they sorted it all out in the end!

Argent - thanks. I've been wondering about the "Ray" thing for a while and then suddenly the rest of the idea came along

Michael - i think it went through a few more drafts before they were finished!

the watercats said...

ahhh.. it's good to have actual pain from laughing on a sunday morning :-D
*tries to breath...

the watercats said...

can't find where to comment on your poetry bus entry, so shall leave it here and say;... feckin well marvellousness! love the song and the lyrics make the whole thing.. so when's you off to the next open mic?.. busking?... well?