John C. Bunnell

Lyric Archives

The collection below represents a sampling -- by no means complete -- of the filk lyrics I've written over what is now a longer span of years than perhaps bears thinking about. I'm gradually adding songs to the page, normally at the rate of two per update; at that rate, there's no danger I'll finish anytime soon. 

November 2011: One brand new song, one not too old one.  Slowly, slowly, we progress....

Index of Songs

After Cambreadth My Favorite Thrills
All Smiles Oops: Foraker's Version
April Fool The Other Hotel
The Avenged Playing With Demons
Birds of Prey: Retro Polymath
The Books are Taking Over The Relaxacon Anthem
Borg for Banjo Reassurance
Bus Stop Blues New! Satyr-ical
Con-Geld The Scooby Gang Marching Song
Decisions, Decisions Seanan, Dear
A Donkey that Talks Shopping For Bears
Dumbledore's Army Marching Song Spirit in Stone
The Ellipse A Thousand Days
Fire in the Heavens Time's Design
GQ Fan Club Song A Vampire's Life
Grail Quest Watson at Twilight
Gypsy Filking The Way to Mars
Jackie's Lament The West Virginia Diet
Leslie's Computer New! What I Want, I Get
Lois Lane's Love Life Boogie A Wondrous Madness
A Luthor's Lullaby You Can't Give Up the Sky
   

Songs On Other Sites

Rhyme of the Cynical Optimist Stars In Our Eyes
Song of the Moggy Horde
Obligatory Legal Notice: All posted lyrics on this page are copyright © John C. Bunnell. Permission is granted for individuals to download and/or copy these lyrics for personal use. Redistribution of any posted song is also permitted provided that the text is complete, unaltered, and includes this notice. Non-commercial public performance of any posted song is permitted provided that authorship credit is properly given. No commercial use or audio recording of these lyrics is permitted without the express written permission of the author.

After Cambreadth

words © 1995 John C. Bunnell
music: Heather Alexander ("March of Cambreadth")

The original song to which this one replies is legendary in the filk world for generating energetic sing-alongs and overwhelming recalcitrant hotel management into submission. But at root it's a martial number and a prelude to battle, which prompted me to write the lyric about what happens afterward.

Vultures cry, cloth turns red; voices moan among the dead;
"Medic here!" comes the fevered cry, though no soldier fears to die;
Surgeon's steel, seared white-hot, burns out poison, cuts out rot;
To the gods our oath we give:
How many of them can we make live?

To the bloody tents they come; silent now the horn and drum;
Slashed and maimed in the heat of war, ours the duty to restore;
Wood and leather, flesh and steel -- that which kills may also heal;
Hands and hearts and skills we give:
How many of them can we make live?

Through the evening, through the night, by the moon, by torch's light;
Battle joined on another field, Death itself called on to yield;
Bodies we can make half-whole; someone else must patch each soul;
What we can is what we give:
How many of them can we make live?

Shattered bodies, shattered lives, yet the will to live survives;
Our fight ends, but the world goes on; twilight yields the sky to dawn;
Herb-wife's wares and surgeon's skill, on the wounded work their will;
This is all that we can give:
How many of them can we make live?

back to top


All Smiles

words © 1999 John C. Bunnell
music: Tom Paxton ("The Marvelous Toy")

One of the few Usenet newsgroups I followed was rec.music.filk, wherein (unlike many Usenet newsgroups) moderate effort was devoted to staying somewhere close to the announced topic -- that is, filk music. As a result, one method of getting an otherwise off-topic subject into legitimate discussion is to write it up in lyric form. Some time ago, one desperate gentleman in search of advice on what sort of new digital camera to buy did just this, posting a short verse inquiry.

This was my reply.  The camera in question was a Sony Mavica, and seriously cool at the time (which was, of course, long before the days of SD cards and multi-megapixel image resolution).


My father loves his techie-toys; he buys them by the score,
But I don't think you'll be surprised he loves his grandchild more;
When she was born, he went and bought his keenest gadget yet-
The camera takes her picture and then puts it on diskette.

It goes CLICK when it shoots, and BLINK for the flash, and WHIRR to save the file;
You'll never find a simpler way of capturing a smile.

It doesn't need a cable and it doesn't need a card;
Compared to snapping pictures, two plus two is kind of hard;
The lens will zoom both in and out, and focus far or near,
I'll bet my baby pictures were a lot less sharp and clear.

REFRAIN

I got a note not long ago from Father, in L.A.;
He'd been down taking pictures of my niece that very day;
Into his laptop's floppy drive the camera's disk he slid,
And presto! In my E-mail was the cutest little kid.

REFRAIN

Now in the way of techie-toys, my dad's is obsolete;
The models that come after it are more than twice as neat;
They use the same diskettes, of course, the pix are just as nice;
But now they'll give you video if you'll just pay the price!

They go CLICK when they shoot, and BLINK when they flash, and WHIRR to save the file;
You'll never find a simpler way of capturing a smile!

back to top


April Fool

lyrics: © 2002 John C. Bunnell
music: Tom Lehrer ("Be Prepared")

This one comes with a "do not try this at home" warning -- several of the pranks mentioned in the lyrics are drawn from real-life incidents.

April Fool!
That’s the prankster’s cheerful cry:
April Fool!
That’s the motto of the sly;
It’s the day to hide Limburger in a vent,
And then watch your helpless classmates catch the scent!

April Fool!
Britney Spears to wed Big Bird!
April Fool!
Don’t pretend you haven’t heard;
As you revel in the exercise of diabolic wit
Be sure you know the measure of the mischief you commit
Lest you cross from the creative to the cruel--
April Fool!

April Fool!
Ford to market rocket sled;
April Fool!
Whoopi Goldberg shaves her head;
Michael Jordan runs for mayor of D.C.,
And McDonald’s has just bought your ISP!

April Fool!
Margarine to come in blue;
April Fool!
Are you sure it isn’t true?
If you hear they’ve drained the river on the drive-time radio,
You’d best consult your calendar before you call the show,
For the answer is most likely Occam’s rule--
April Fool!

back to top


The Avenged

lyrics: © 1997 John C. Bunnell
music: traditional/Fred Hellerman ("I Never Will Marry")

I like Heather Alexander's music a great deal -- but somehow, I keep finding myself taking an opposing perspective to the attitudes she's put forth in one song or another.  This was written in relatively oblique response to "Black Jack's Lady", from her Life's Flame album, though I think it stands fairly well on its own.

They say revenge is a tasty dish,
Though it’s best served dry and cold;
Yet now that the one I sought is dead,
What more does my future hold?

My triumph’s accomplished;
Shall I lay down my blade?
I have won what I fought for,
But what price have I paid?

When I rode out with that smiling rogue,
I was young and demure and fair;
But now I am hard as the ground I walk,
And my body’s the worse for wear.

No love there is in a faithless man,
And none in a beer-filled stein;
‘Tis only found in the human heart;
I fear it is gone from mine.

      REFRAIN

I’ve lost the home and the friends I left,
And I see through haunted eyes;
The folk I meet turn away, afraid—
Perhaps they are not unwise.

I bent my will to a single goal,
A long and a lonely quest;
Yet now that the deed is done at last,
I find that I cannot rest.

REFRAIN

I stand on a road I’ve never seen,
At a crossing I do not know;
I know not which is the path I’ll take,
But only that I must go.

I will not shrink from the deeds I’ve done,
Nor the life I have lived till now;
But I fear I shall always ride alone,
Because of my fateful vow.

REFRAIN

back to top


Birds of Prey: Retro

lyrics: © 2003 John C. Bunnell
music: “Maverick” theme (Buttolph & Webster, © 1959)

If you blinked, you probably missed the wildly ill-designed but sometimes very watchable WB television series about Oracle, Huntress, and a teenager who isn't precisely Black Canary, three super-heroines out of the DC Comics pantheon.  (As I type this, a "season finale", actually the last hurrah after the show's cancellation, is due to air in the coming week.)  My theory is that what they needed was a better theme song....

Who was the tall, dark stranger there?
Helena is her name;
Wild as a cat in Batman’s lair,
Crawling up a building,
No one’s pet to tame.

Smooth as a Batarang in flight,
Barbara is her name;
Dances the keyboards ev’ry night;
Justice, her companion;
Mystery is her game.

Clock tower, ring your chime!
Never you mind the time!
Dinah’s arrived to serve as protégé;
Harlequin plots and schemes,
Hatching her evil dreams;
This is the legend of the Birds of Prey.

[repeat chorus]

This is the legend of the Birds of Prey!

back to top


Borg for Banjo

lyrics: © 1991 John C. Bunnell & Ellen B. Edgerton
music: "The Beverly Hillbillies" theme

I'm only responsible for two-thirds of this song.  Ellen Edgerton posted the first two verses to the Star Trek area of GEnie's Science Fiction RoundTable, or SFRT (a pre-Internet online bulletin board community) -- she had gotten that far and stalled.  I took the ball and ran with it, and the result is easily one of the strangest takes you're likely to find on the Star Trek: TNG  episode "The Best of Both Worlds" -- well, except for the one in which nearly every animated cartoon character known to man is recruited to help save the day.  But that's another story....

This is the story of a fearsome race
Who once were harmless wimpoids out in Delta Quadrant space,
Till one day they self-installed some microchips and tubes
And went out to find adventure in their big bad cubes.
          Borg, they were.  Soul-less ones.  Cybernetic psychos.

They had a hootenanny and they raised holy Hell,
And in their wake a hundred thousand civ'lizations fell;
Assimilatin' others soon became monotony
So they set course for the heart of the UFP.
          Earth, that is . . . sector zero-zero-one.  The Big Blue Marble.

They were met by a host of the boldest in the Fleet,
But sheer numbers weren't enough, and the Feds was purely beat;
They left thirty-nine hulls in a lonely star's skies,
And the only hope left was the crew of Enterprise.
          The Big E . . . NCC Seventeen-Oh-One-D.  Starfleet's finest.

A spokesman they selected from this ship they'd met before,
And told his second that they'd all but won the war.
But the Enterprise crew wouldn't yield up the fight,
And they snatched back Locutus and his laser-eye light.
          Punted, they did . . . improvised.  Scrapped their Picard maneuvers.

Still the Borg couldn't see any danger in their path,
And prepared to unleash their assimilatin' wrath,
Till a little voice told them in the bottom of their cube,
To shut themselves down for a forty-parsec lube.
          Sleep, that is . . . Hibernate.  Stop shootin' off ray-guns.

Well, ev'rybody knows they went into overload,
And it only took a minute for that cube to go explode,
Leavin' folks down on Earth just a-sighin' in relief
That the big bad Borg wouldn't give 'em any grief.
          Gone, they thought . . . E-liminated.  Forgot about sequels, though.

back to top


Bus Stop Blues

lyrics: © 1999 John C. Bunnell
music: "The Biplane Evermore"

I've mentioned elsewhere in this Webspace that I don't drive; as a result, I get around almost entirely via Portland's regional bus system, TriMet.  Which works pretty well, for the most part -- but I live in Inner Suburbia, and in the 1990s I spent a lot of time commuting to offices located way out on the fringes of Outer Suburbia.  And after one too many missed connections, this song percolated out of my back-brain.

March 2006: Back when I first wrote this song, TriMet had just barely implemented GPS technology.  The current system is much more sophisticated, and I've had to update the third verse accordingly....

Each morning, the dispatcher sends orders to his fleet,
And buses rumble forth and back along my busy street;
They mostly run on schedule, but somehow, sure as fate,
The day that one comes early is the day I’m running late.

Standing, waiting, driver I’m berating,
Do you think the next one will show up on time?

To get to work, I transfer down by the shopping mall;
Each bus runs twice an hour, which you’d think not bad at all,
Except that when, at 8:03, the first pulls in just right,
The 8:02 I want to catch is speeding out of sight.

REFRAIN

The buses now have GPS, so that, by satellite,
The dispatch desk can track each one, by day or dark of night,
And out here at the bus stop, my phone can track them too,
Except when their computer's down, and no one has a clue.

REFRAIN

I’m standing at the bus stop; my shoes are getting wet;
I wonder when my bus will come – there’s no sight of it yet;
Perhaps to Reno hijacked or beamed up by UFO,
Or eaten by a dinosaur – I guess I’ll never know.

[To be fair, I suppose having one’s bus eaten by a dinosaur wouldn’t be the driver’s fault.]

REFRAIN

‘Tis said that we who stand and wait still have our part to serve,
And patience is a virtue – hey!  What’s coming round the curve?
I’ve things to do, and spots to go, and folks that I should see,
And if the bus will get me there, it’s good enough for me.

            Standing, waiting, self-congratulating;
            I was right; the next one did show up on time.

back to top


The Books are Taking Over

lyrics: © 1991 John C. Bunnell
music: © Leslie Fish ("The Cats are Taking Over")

This one needs no explanation whatsoever.... 

The cover grabs your eye from where it sits upon the rack;
You glance into your checkbook, and surprise -- you're in the black;
You take the book from off the shelf and add it to your stack;
I believe the books are taking over.

          I believe, I believe, I believe the books are taking over.

Up and down the aisles you go, scanning spines for fun,
Noting "New Arrival" tags and skimming Chapters One;
But books are like potato chips -- you cannot have just one;
I believe the books are taking over.

          CHORUS

Browsing, browsing through the store, so the evening goes;
Suddenly, a clerk appears and says "It's time to close,
Or at least, I'm sure it will be when I'm finished ringing those,"
I believe the books are taking over.

          CHORUS

Then you take them home, of course, and pile them by the bed,
On top of all the other books just waiting to be read;
The stack is eight feet tall by now -- you'll never get ahead;
I believe the books are taking over.

          CHORUS

I think there's a conspiracy, by whom I couldn't say,
To keep us reading SF books from now till Judgment Day;
So won't you take a trilogy?  I'm giving them away;
I believe the books are taking over.

          CHORUS

back to top


Con-Geld (a teaching song)

lyrics: © 2002 John C. Bunnell
music: © Leslie Fish ("Dane-Geld")

OryCon has for years been a popular convention for filkers -- to the extent that finding space of the right size and shape to hold the filk circle (or circles) is an ongoing challenge, sometimes subject to creative on-the-spot solutions.  This song was inspired by one such effort, which didn't work quite as its executors hoped (although the wall did not, in fact, fall down). 

It is always a temptation for an eager congregation
Of filkers seeking space to hold them all
To arrange their chairs at random, whether singly or in tandem,
Till the circle’s borders press against the wall.

And that is called “building the circle”,
And although it makes hash of their charts,
The hotel will not mind if you do it,
For the chairs do not have moving parts.

          [Also, they can charge the concom for putting the chairs
            back in rows the next morning.
]

It is likewise a temptation for that selfsame congregation
Of filkers seeking more and larger space
To fold back the wall that hides it, that bisects it and divides it,
Of two rooms making one united space.

But that is called “risking the con-geld”,
And the hotel and concom will frown,
For a wall that unfolds is expensive,
Most of all should it choose to fall down.

          [Rule of thumb: hotels are like Windows-based computers;
           things can crash at any time for no apparent reason --
          and they will always assert that it’s the user’s fault.
]

So lest lawsuit or accounting of a molehill make a mountain,
Though such may be at odds with common sense,
If a folding wall should tempt you, let the hotel staff pre-empt you;
You will save the concom trouble and expense.

And that is called “hoarding the con-geld”,
And it’s always the safe course to take;
For the name of the game is avoiding the blame
Just in case something happens to break, break, break--
Let it be someone else’s mistake!

back to top


Decisions, Decisions

lyrics: © 1991 John C. Bunnell
music: © Diana Gallagher ("Monsters in the Night")

You can tell this is an older song by the mention of tapes in the chorus. I suppose I ought to revise the line for the digital age -- but the underlying problem remains as prevalent as ever.

When I go to a con and I try to plan my night,
A hundred zillion fans will try to capture me on sight;
Psychologists will tell you it's a bonding kind of thing,
But what do they know, they're Ph.Ds, and they're not here to sing--

(There are) writers in the con suite and some gamers down the hall,
Masqueraders strangely garbed preparing for the ball,
Trekkie-types carousing, and some filkers making tapes--
A hundred diff'rent parties and a choice I can't escape.

My room is in the party wing and on each nearby door
A flyer proudly advertises beverages and more,
But half are just promoting cons too far away to see
And half the rest like TV shows that didn't work for me.  (There are)

          CHORUS

Costumers will kill me if I miss the masquerade,
But I'd be late for filking and miss half of what they played,
And all the games have started, and besides, I have no dice,
And ev'ryone I talk to gives me opposite advice.  (Like the)

          CHORUS

Now most of the time, I would use this final verse
To give a pat solution for this entertaining curse,
But though I'm at the filksing on this one specific night,
I have a funny feeling that no single answer's right

(For the) writers in the con suite and the gamers down the hall,
The masqueraders who are almost finished with their ball,
Trekkie-types carousing, and the filkers' lively sound--
They'll all be at diff'rent parties when tomorrow night comes 'round!

 

back to top


A Donkey that Talks

lyrics: © 2001 John C. Bunnell
music: © 1996 Catherine Faber ("Flatten the Grass")

SPOILER WARNING: If you haven't seen Shrek, be advised that this song incorporates a reasonable approximation of the plot, though it dances around the film's major twist. It's a wickedly funny film, and you should indeed see it if you haven't already. (Unfortunately -- to my mind, anyhow -- the sequel didn't take the plot in the direction contemplated in the final verse....) 

Look at the riffraff invading my swamp--
Voices that warble and hooves that go CLOMP;
Dwarves with their pickaxes bang on my door
(Don’t they know coffins belong on the floor?)
Pipers with flutes that incessantly play,
One-legged cookie that can’t run away,
Seems there’s a duke that I have to go see--
Why does that donkey keep following me?

Donkey that talks, donkey that talks,
What can you do with a donkey that talks?
Donkey that talks, donkey that talks,
What can you do with a donkey that talks?

If for the duke I can answer a need,
Then to the swamp he will give me a deed:
Find him a princess, secure him a throne,
All to win back what I already own!
Somehow the logic just doesn’t seem right
(Ogres, I guess, aren’t especially bright);
Still, it’s an offer I’d better take up,
Donkey in tow like a Pekingese pup.

REFRAIN

Half-ruined castle brings half-fulfilled hope;
Donkey is scared but he’ll just have to cope;
Treasure enough for a hundred to share --
Must be a dragon around here somewhere!
High in the uppermost tower I’ll look
(That’s where the princesses are in the book);
Dragon’s awake, so let’s all get away;
I’d rather not become hero flambé!

REFRAIN

Maybe the princess is more than she seems --
Could it be she is the girl of my dreams?
Charming and dainty, the duke she’s to wed;
She’d never opt for an ogre instead!
Donkey, I very much fear, is the key;
She tells him secrets she’d never tell me;
Am I in trouble?  Oh, don’t let me start --
Here I am trusting an ass with my heart.

REFRAIN

Exit the duke with a dragonish CHOMP;
Time to go back with my bride to the swamp;
Jubilant fairy-folk party and jam --
Donkey, of course, is the ultimate ham!
Chatterbox, maybe, but also a friend,
Still, I’m not certain that this is the end;
If dragon and donkey share love’s magic bliss,
I wonder who’ll turn into what when they kiss!

REFRAIN

back to top


Dumbledore's Army Marching Song

lyrics: © 2007 John C. Bunnell
music: © 2004 Heather Alexander ("Uffington Horse")

Inspired, obviously, by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- although for a wonder, there are no significant plot spoilers in this song (beyond, perhaps, a curious omission in the refrain).

The Ministry of Magic said the time for fear was past,
The Dark Lord was destroyed, the walls of Azkaban held fast;
Yet came a whisper on the wind, a riddle in the glen
That he whose name we do not speak was calling up his men....

From Gryffindor, from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw,
United now are we;
We rise as one, for justice and for Dumbledore
To set all wizards free.  (To set all wizards free.)

A lad arrived at Hogwarts with a scar upon his brow,
His parents slain by evil hand; he’d lived, but none knew how;
He had no lust for fortune, hoped that fame would pass him by,
And yet was drawn by destiny as flame attracts a fly....

          CHORUS

The Dark Lord nursed his power while the student learned his art,
And neither from the other could for long be kept apart;
For seven years they battled; now the climax must arrive,
And Death will come for both of them, though one may yet survive....

          CHORUS

There’s no more stealth or secrets now, the time has come to fight;
We’re not sure when it started, but the war will end tonight;
So let the army we’ve become arise and take the field,
And Voldemort had best beware, for never shall we yield....

CHORUS

FINAL CHORUS:
From Gryffindor, from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw,
United now are we;
We rise as one, for Harry and for Dumbledore
To set all wizards free.  (To set all wizards free.)

back to top


The Ellipse

lyrics: © 2008 John C. Bunnell
music: © Flanders & Swann ("The Gnu")

Another in the growing number of songs born on Seanan McGuire's LiveJournal. This one popped up during a discussion of (surprise!) grammar, though it didn't turn out to be a teaching song as such....

A week ago last Friday I was surfing on the Net,
Browsing Craigslist, RSS, and sundry blogs,
When a journal crossed my radar filled with writings rather odd
Praising zombies, selkies, plagues, and mutant frogs.
Now it happened on that morning grammar was the thing discussed;
In specific, punctuation was the theme.
There was talk of semicolons and of commas brought to life,
And I read, and had a most peculiar dream:

I'm an ellipse, I'm an ellipse; I elide and I emote with silent lips;
I'm an ellipse; I work for tips; watch me subtly and slowly sway my hips;
I'm an ellipse; that's three small pips
          (or sometimes four when someone's running out of quips);
I'm that soft and pregnant pause betwixt the yawning and the jaws . . .
I'm enormous, I'm eternal, I'm an ellipse!

Rather later, I had thought I'd quite recovered from the shock
That I'd had when that ellipse burst into song,
So I called up someone's manuscript to read and then critique
For the literary group where I belong.
I was halfway through the chapter, marking busily away,
Making comments, striking commas, and the like,
When my eyes began to water, and the screen began to blur,
And a voice inside my head took up the mike . . .

I'm an ellipse, another ellipse, and I'm not easy to evict or to eclipse;
I'm an ellipse, and nothing slips between a breath and its release like . . . an ellipse;
I'm an ellipse, just three small pips, and I'm entrenched in movie quotes and comic strips;
For I have style and panache, And far more uses than the dash . . .
I am evocative, essential, I'm an ellipse!
I am evocative, essential, I'm an ellipse!
I am evocative, essential, I'm an ellipse!

back to top


Fire in the Heavens

lyrics: © 2003 John C. Bunnell
music: "Slane" (Irish traditional; cf. "Be Thou My Vision")

This is not precisely a memorial song for the space shuttle Columbia, but it came about in the wake of that tragedy.

Fire in the heavens, each morning does rise,
From dawn until twilight traversing the skies;
He who approaches too closely may learn
That wings made of waxwork are likely to burn.

Fire in the heavens, observed in the night,
A portent of chaos or mere streak of light?
Stroke of a paintbrush, a sky-spanning line
Invites us to seek for a larger design.

Fire in the heavens, a rocket’s red glare
Lets earthbound folk scatter bright sparks in the air;
Arrows aimed upward, they mark out a way
For humans to follow as soon as we may.

Fire in the heavens, a cool silver sphere
Where flagpole and footprints will ne’er disappear;
One tiny footstep and one giant leap;
More stepping-stones beckon, in starlight’s great deep.

Fire in the heavens, where no fire should be,
A shortcut unplanned into eternity;
Still somewhere burning, beyond mortal sight,
The souls of the dreamers are cloaked now in light.

Fire in the heavens, afire in the heart;
Where two flames commingle, set neither apart;
Though they may guide us on paths yet unknown,
Outward and onward, we’ll not be alone.

back to top


GQ Fan Club Song

lyrics: © 2000 John C. Bunnell
music: "The Mickey Mouse Club"

If you haven't seen the film Galaxy Quest, I highly recommend it -- it's one of the few Hollywood productions that portrays SF fans in a positive light -- a little weird, maybe, but generally harmless and well-meaning. The fact that it skewers the professional side of Hollywood just as accurately (and only a little less gently) is a bonus, and the fact that the performances (yes, there's acting in here, boys and girls!) are surprisingly nuanced is a positive delight. Then again, with the likes of Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman involved, this ought not to have been a surprise.

We didn't see any filking at the conventions in the movie. But if we had, the fans might have sung something like this....

What's the show whose episodes we'll watch eternally?

G-A-L, A-X-Y, Q-U-E-S-T!

Do you like our costumes? They're the ones from Season Three!

G-A-L, A-X-Y, Q-U-E-S-T!

Never give up! (Never give up!)
Don't give in! (Don't give in!)
We'd sing "surrender", but it doesn't scan! (Scan! Scan! Scan!)
Captain Taggart and his crew have earned our loyalty;
G-A-L, A-X-Y, Q-U-E-S-T!

Never give up! (Never give up!)
Don't give in! (Don't give in!)
We'd sing "surrender", but it doesn't scan! (Scan! Scan! Scan!)
Pedal to the metal, it's the stars we're off to see;
G-A-L, A-X-Y, Q-U-E-S-T!

Now it's late . . . . they never showed . . . . where can our heroes be?

G-A-L . . . .

Wait? What's that? It's - gonna come right through the window!

A-X-Y . . . .

Wow - cool special effects. That guy looked almost like a real alien!

Q-U-E-S-T!

back to top


Grail Quest

words: © 1993 John C. Bunnell
music: © Cecilia Eng ("Absent Hosts")

This is a personal favorite of mine.  The lyrics have nothing at all to do with those Cecilia wrote; I simply thought her tune was a good fit for the image.

Cup of silver, feast of friends;
Thirteen drink, but one pretends;
Omens speak as evening ends --
More than wine has called them.

Two men act a dark charade,
One betraying, one betrayed;
This is how the game is played;
This the price of drinking.

Cup of silver, sky of black;
Blood pours out as heavens crack;
Three will die and one come back --
More than blood will call him.

Sacred oath and sacred trust
Yet survive when bones are dust;
Bonds of honor do not rust,
Though a cup may tarnish.

Cup of silver, vows of steel;
Some shall die and others heal;
Purest of the pure shall kneel --
More than duty calls him.

Fisher King and Templar knight,
Hidden from mere mortal sight;
Ritual and ancient rite
Guard their holy secret.

Cup of silver, books of lore
Gather what has gone before;
Bards and scholars search for more --
More than knowledge calls them.

All that was and e'er will be,
Cloaked in light, too bright to see;
Essence of infinity
In a silver goblet.

Cup of silver, scrap of rhyme,
Symbol of the most sublime;
Through the catacombs of time,
More than legend calls us.

back to top


Gypsy Filking

'Twas Norwescon at the Sheraton in gray Tacoma town,
And the filkers and the singers had just barely settled down,
When there came a fateful warning from our friendly hotel cop
That the neighbors were revolting, and would we politely stop.

So we begged the crazy god of cons and the mystic filkers' muse
For a better place for singing (and new soles for our shoes),
But the gods of cons and filking must have been asleep that night
For the filkers at Norwescon were engaged in constant flight.

The hotel approached the neighbors with a different room in mind,
But the neighbors held their ground, and I'm informed that they declined;
Yet the wheels of diplomacy must still have won the day,
For next evening all the filkers reassembled for to play.

CHORUS

We had just begun in earnest, built a mood and felt it grow,
When sirens through the windows blared and stole the bloody show;
"It's just a false alarm," we said, "and we won't take the bait,"
But Security said, "Wrong again!  Let's all evacuate."

CHORUS

So we followed their instructions and walked down a dozen floors,
And across a rainy courtyard through two sets of clear glass doors,
Then we found ourselves a corner and prepared to calm the crowd,
But the children beat us to it, and they thought we'd sing too loud.

CHORUS

Though we found another corner, the acoustics weren't the best,
And the elevator traffic simply wouldn't let us rest;
We thought we'd found a home at last, but no such luck -- just then
We got the word that all was clear; our room was ours again.

CHORUS

Now by this time it was midnight, and while filkers never drop,
To some it seemed too late to start, to some too soon to stop,
And so one lonely lyricist strode off into the night
With a story not quite over, but still long enough to write.

CHORUS

Well, I hope the ending's happy as we sing in retrospect,
And as this final verse concludes, I think we should reflect
That although we've been maligned enough to cry through several beers --
All the funny songs and stories ought to last us twenty years.

CHORUS

back to top


Jackie's Lament

words © 2002 John C. Bunnell
music: Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman ("Chim Chim Cheree",
Mary Poppins

A lot of today's animated television consists of shows created in and imported from Japan, -- but amusingly, one of the best recent series is a US-produced original drawing on Chinese and Japanese folklore. Jackie Chan Adventures is also written with crossover audiences in mind: much of the wit draws on jokes that eight-year-olds will miss entirely.  Here's a musical summary of the first two seasons....

Chop-sockety, chop-sockety, chop-socky hai;
The Dark Hand is after me; wish I knew why!
Chop-sockety, chop-sockety, chop-socky hey;
I wonder what this old inscription might say.
Uncle can tell me – if I live through the day!

Twelve long-lost talismans, dragon-lord’s throne;
The demon that seeks them is sealed into stone;
The Dark Hand obeys him; there’s gold in their eyes,
But if they should free him, they’ll learn ‘twas unwise.
Not keep his promise? What a surprise!

Chop-sockety, chop-sockety, chop-socky ohh;
My niece seems to follow wherever I go!
Chop-sockety, chop-sockety, chop-socky yee;
Who knows how she does it; she must have good chi.
Mostly she’s useful – Uncle wants tea!

The talismans gathered, we thought we had won,
But somehow our work never seems to be done;
With seven more demon-lords now on the scene,
I’ll never be finished with Section Thirteen.
Rhyming gnome one week – the next, ninja queen!

Chop-sockety, chop-sockety, chop-socky ooh;
With Captain Black, Uncle, and Jade and Tohru,
The crooks and the demons may well never stop,
So I’ll have to keep going chop-socky chop!
Chop-sockety-chop-chop, chop chop-socky chop!

back to top


Leslie's Computer

words © 2001 John C. Bunnell
music: © Tom Paxton ("Someone's Computer")

Leslie Fish defies easy explanation.  She has been a part of the filk community for as long as most of us can remember, and is a legend among neo-pagans, anarchists, and others as well.  She came late to cyberspace, however, and then after a few months of lively posts to the rec.music.filk newsgroup all postings suddenly ceased.  Thus this song.... (and yes, she has subsequently reappeared).

We knew not what happened -- she suddenly dropped off of Usenet;
No word to the newsgroup to tell us just what had gone wrong;
It might have been sunspots, or hackers, or bills,
Or FBI agents out looking for thrills --
But it seems it was only some troubles with Leslie's computer.

Now Leslie and techno-toys don't always work well together;
She says on the Infobahn, she's not much more than a tot;
Her printer, she told us, would not always go,
The monitor sometimes seemed likely to blow,
But she'd not give in -- she was smarter than any computer.

She's not alone -- there are thousands of users just like her,
Common-sense types who've been wading through Help screens for weeks;
Somewhere, you'd think, in the cube farms of Silicon Valley,
Someone can build a PC that's not programmed for geeks?

But no, the computers we have are all creatures of chaos;
They won't crash the same way three times in a row when you try;
It happens in Windows, on Macs, OS/2,
And even on Unix and yes, Linux too;
So no one is sure just what happened on Leslie's computer.

Was there a fix for it?  Sure, but we'd have to have been there,
Watching the screen at the moment the system went "Zot!"
All we could do way out here on the far side of Usenet
Was run through the nine million things that the problem was not....

Now Leslie is back on the 'Net, and we're hoping she stays here,
And someday, we're sure, she'll be surfing the Web like a pro;
'Til then, all you techno-geeks loyal and true,
Take heed of the Leslies who live near to you
And help them to master the ways of their cranky computers (puters, puters, puters)

Yes, help them to master the ways of their cranky computers.

back to top


Lois Lane's Love Life Boogie

words © 2000 John C. Bunnell
music: © 1986 Tom Smith ("Superman Sex Life Boogie")

Tom Smith is one of the filk community's best-loved and most diabolical wits, and one of his most legendary songs is the Superman Sex Life Boogie, in which the world's favorite superhero laments the romantic problems associated with maintaining a dual identity. (The song is a riff on the equally legendary Larry Niven work, "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex").

To my mind -- which has a dangerous tendency to play devil's advocate at the drop of a guitar pick -- Lois Lane deserves equal time. Hence the following riposte:


Oh, I'm a star reporter with a great career (and a Pulitzer Prize by this time next year);
I've got a high IQ, which I won't reveal, 'cause it drops eighty points around the Man of Steel;
Yeah, when I see those pecs and that manly mouth, my brain hops a Learjet bound for the south,
But his X-ray eyes must be damn near blind if he can't see he's driving me out of my mind!

I can write folks out of office, or make the whole city cry,
But none of the stories mean as much as the chance to let my own heart fly;
I'm smarter than the network anchors, Jerry Falwell couldn't match my zeal,
But I'd trade an exclusive with the Lord himself for an evening with the Man of Steel.

Now, I don't know anyone who's called me shy, and I got As in science back in junior high,
Since he comes from Krypton and I'm not a prude, I know that it's safer to stay un-screwed,
He thinks that's all I want, though, he's flat insane -- sure, the bod is superduper, but my God, that brain!
We could remake the world in a night of talk, if he'd only consent to a moonlight walk!

He thinks he's got a secret, and he's keeping me in the dark,
But he's the one who's in big trouble if he doesn't know I know he's Clark!
I'm smarter than the network anchors, Jerry Falwell couldn't match my zeal,
But I'd trade an exclusive with the Lord himself for an evening with the Man of Steel.

I admit that when I see him there's a hormone rush, but this isn't an obsession or a fan-girl crush;
I'll grant you my judgment can disappear when I'm out on an assignment and I know he's near,
There's no super-villain who can keep me down just as long as Kal-El's flying over the town,
But given all the times the guy has saved my life, you'd think he'd figure out I'd like to be his wife!

I'm not gonna wait forever - time's running out on my clock;
Maybe he's just watching way too much Star Trek; he's got himself confused with Spock!
I'm smarter than the network anchors, and I thought I had some sex appeal
But I think I'll need a ring made out of Kryptonite if I want to wed the Man of Steel!

back to top


A Luthor's Lullaby

lyrics: © 2004 John C. Bunnell
music: "Ally Ally Oxen Free",
Kingston Trio

This was inspired by the strikingly nuanced performances of Michael Rosenbaum and John Glover as Lex and Lionel Luthor on the WB series Smallville, chronicling one view of the evolving relationship between teen-aged Clark "Superman" Kent and his most enduring nemesis.

I had every plaything riches might command,
All of them delivered by a servant’s hand;
If you’ve ever wondered why a child cries,
It’s because he’s never seen his father’s eyes.

Wealth and fame and power – all of these were mine,
Treasures to be savored, like the rarest wine;
Yet there is no fortune equal to the prize
Of affection, shining in a father’s eyes.

Love was all I wanted; any would suffice;
Disappointment’s shadow shrouds me instead with ice;
Is it any wonder that compassion dies
When it’s never glimpsed within a father’s eyes?

Not one glance
Not one chance
No mere circumstance . . . .

I’ve put pain behind me; now I’m on my own;
Fiercely independent, standing all alone;
Though I’ve never seen them, picture my surprise­—
People tell me that I have my father’s eyes.

People tell me that I have my father’s eyes.

back to top


My Favorite Thrills

lyrics: © 2001 John C. Bunnell
music: Oscar Hammerstein ("My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music)

Novelist Brenda Clough had been discussing ways to make her hero's life difficult in her SFF Net newsgroup, and someone commented that it was too bad one couldn't keep a list of that sort in nice, easily remembered verse form.  At which point, of course, the challenge was irresistible....

Cyanide snowcones and nitro-chip cookies;
Vacuum-locked car trunks and fast-pitching rookies;
Darts with curare in movie-seat springs--
These are a few of my deadliest things....

Time-delay bombs in the soles of his Reeboks;
Ninjas disguised as cheer-leaders in knee socks;
Razor blades painted like playing-card kings--
These are a few of my deadliest things....

Hot-wired hairnet or milk gone too sour;
Quick-drying concrete sprayed on in the shower
Poison-dust brushed onto wedding-day rings--
These are a few of my deadliest things....

When the plot stalls
When the Muse stills
When reviews have mocked
I simply remember my deadliest things
And that's how I get
Un-blocked!

back to top


Oops: Foraker's Version

lyrics: © 2001 John C. Bunnell
music: © 1996 Catherine Faber ( "Oops")

Fans of David Weber's "Honor Harrington" novels should recognize the character immortalized in this song -- Weber himself, in a postscript to one of the books, acknowledges "Oops!" as tac officer Shannon Foraker's most memorable line.  Given that line, the choice of tune for a song about the character was irresistible.  

Through all of the Navy, she’s known as a witch;
She sits there at tactical, calm as you please,
And though it might seem she’s asleep at the switch,
The Devil himself couldn’t match what she sees
In moments of crisis – her senses extend
On mystical bandwidths no mortal can tap,
Whenever disaster’s about to impend,
It just accidentally blows off the map!

“Oops, oops!  Now how could that happen--
The key I was tapping doesn’t do that, you know;
Ah, well, the board looks just fine now,
All systems on line now, so steady we go!”

Far out past the star-lanes well traveled and wide,
Our government sent us to harry the foe,
As pirate and outlaw and raider beside,
And yet there were lengths beyond which we’d not go;
We couldn’t just watch when a merchanter frail
Encountered some villains more vicious than we,
But once we had saved that poor merchant-ship’s tail,
It turned out we’d rescued our sworn enemy!

REFRAIN

The prisoners we’d captured were ordered to Hell,
Though StateSec will tell you there is no such place,
And then we were told we should go there as well,
Though surely we couldn’t have been in disgrace,
For StateSec’s own flagship had matters in hand,
And such elite forces would never just goof;
We had to assume it was something they’d planned
When, all of a sudden, the flagship went “Poof!”

REFRAIN

Our Navy’s chief admirals turn over their seat
Just slightly less often than leaves in a book;
You’ll understand if we’re light on our feet
And over our shoulders we often must look;
When after one foray, our squadron was met
By StateSec, with twelve mighty ships of its own,
We shuddered and worried and started to sweat,
Till Shannon said “Oops!” – and we flew on alone!

REFRAIN

back to top


The Other Hotel

words © 1995 John C. Bunnell
music: The Kingston Trio ("The MTA")

If you were on hand for the Portland Westercon in July of 1995, you already know this story -- we put on the convention in two adjacent hotels separated by roughly four city-block lengths of parking lot, the middle two of which were directly underneath an interstate-freeway bridge. Other people wore buttons and T-shirts reading "It's In The Other Hotel" -- I wrote this song. (I was only off by one year, incidentally -- Westercon returned to Portland in 2001, in the same two hotels, and promoted itself using the catch-phrase "It's in the Other Millennium".)

Now when Portland won the bid for to put on a Westercon
We didn’t know just what to do;
Since we knew that one Red Lion wasn’t big enough to do it,
We decided that we had to have two.  (We got)

….the other hotel, yes, the other hotel,
It’s a refrain we’ve learned too well (more’s the pity);
‘Cause no matter what it is that you’re trying to get to,
You will find it in the other hotel.

Now the first thing you do is to look for Registration
‘Cause you have to have a membership;
But since this is a Westercon, it’s way across the parking lot
You’re off upon an endless trip.  (It’s in)

REFRAIN        (M.C. Escher)

Now you’ve got your badge, and you want to catch a panel
Starring Guest of Honor Vernor V.
But “Technospeak” is in the Columbia River
And you’re stranded in the Jantzen B.  (It’s in)

          REFRAIN        (Say it backwards)

Now the panel is over, and you’re ready to go shopping
For a color print of Tasha Yar;
First you make another crossing, then you have to find the stairway
That will take you where the dealers are.  (It’s in)

          REFRAIN        (He went that way!)

Well, the dealers’ room just didn’t have the picture you were after
So you thought you’d check the artists’ show;
And of course by now you are picking up a pattern
And you know just where you have to go.  (Back to)

          REFRAIN        (No, don’t tell me!)

Now it’s been eight hours and you’re starting to get hungry,
But your wallet’s looking way too thin;
Hospitality is where you can snag yourself some munchies—
Can you tell me which hotel it’s in?  (That’s right)

          REFRAIN        (But it’s exercise!)

You’ve had beer and carrots and you’re ready for some filking;
To the circle it is time to come;
So it’s back under the freeway and upstairs to join us—
Out of breath yet?  Not a problem, just hum.  (It’s in)

          REFRAIN        (One more verse….)

I could keep on going for another dozen verses,
But I think I’ve made my point, don’t you?
So let’s take up a collection for some moving sidewalks
When we’re back here in 2002!  (We’ll use)

          REFRAIN        (Thank you, thank you!)

back to top


Playing With Demons

words © 2003 John C. Bunnell
music: Burton Lane, © 1947 ("Look to the Rainbow", from Finian's Rainbow)

Since we already know that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a sharp-witted musical comedy (per the sixth-season episode "Once More With Feeling", brilliantly written by Joss Whedon), it seems only appropriate to lift a tune from another sharp-witted musical comedy to sum up the series following its final episode.

On the day I was called, said my Watcher to me,
"I've a dangerous legacy waiting for thee;
'Tis a sword you may swing, and a stake you can thrust,
Until all the world's vampires crumble to dust."

"You, you, you are the Slayer,
Born to a destiny strange and unique,
You, you, you are the Slayer,
Playing with demons at hide-and-go-seek."

Well, I answered his call, and signed on for his war;
Now I don't have a regular life any more;
I'm out late ev'ry night, 'til the dark of the moon,
And my friends think they're characters from a cartoon.

I, I, I am the Slayer,
Chosen to battle alone in the dark;
I, I, I am the Slayer,
Playing with demons at let's-jump-the-shark.

I've survived seven years, while the monsters got worse,
Though there wasn't a one of them worth its own verse;
'Til at last came the chance, and I made up my mind
To rewrite all the rules by which I'd been defined.

We, we all can be Slayers,
Ev'ry girl now gets a chance at her share;
We, we all can be Slayers,
Playing with demons at truth-and/or-dare.

Playing with demons,
Playing with demons,
Playing with demons at truth-and/or-dare.

back to top


Polymath

words © 1996 John C. Bunnell
music: © 1987 Jane Robinson ("A Look At Things That Don't Exist")

This was written for a competition calling for songs about Ben Franklin and time travel, but something went wrong and the entry got lost in the mail.  Which may have been appropriate irony, considering Franklin's role in the founding of the Postal Service....

I am a scientist, probing reality,
Seeking for knowledge by day and by night;
Elsewhere and elsewhen are my partiality,
Ever since first I hung keys from my kite.

Time, space, ever in motion;
Worlds and centuries yet to be seen;
So much to learn and so far to uncover it;
How shall I get there?  I’ll build a machine.

I’m an inventor with passions mechanical;
I can make anything with the right parts;
Though you might think such a craft puritanical,
I’m just as clever with most ladies’ hearts.

Time, space, ever in motion;
So many women, so varied their charms;
Helen of Troy, Joan of Arc, Mistress Hillary;
I want to gather them all in my arms.

I’m a historian; my observational
Interest is watching while governments change;
Some led by tyrants, some representational;
Some run by bureaucrats—most merely strange.

Time, space, ever in motion;
Better a traveler, I, than a king;
Since I would someday enjoy going home again,
Though I am tempted, best not change a thing.

I am a victim of bibliomania;
Show me a book and there’s naught I won’t dare;
My hoard was largest in all Pennsylvania,
Yet there is this—I am willing to share.

Time, space, ever in motion;
Always a patron of libraries, I;
Memory Alpha or old Alexandria,
Truth that is kept and preserved cannot die.

I am a writer both sober and comical;
Humor and politics flow from my pen,
Signed by “Poor Richard” in strokes economical;
Never will mankind see my like again.

Time, space, ever in motion;
All through the cosmos are stories to tell;
Some are fantastic and some science-fictional;
I hope that this one has gone over well.

Time, space, ever in motion;
Now comes the time when I’d best say adieu;
Though I shall never win prizes for modesty,
You’ve my assurance that all this was true.

back to top


Reassurance

words © 1987 John C. Bunnell
music: Bob Dylan ("Blowin' in the Wind")

The recent upsurge of interest in SETI reminded me of this one.  It's all very well for us to go hunting for radio signals from out there -- but what do you suppose the aliens have been thinking about our TV and radio broadcasts, particularly the SF shows?

"U.F.O. LANDS, KIDNAPS BASKETBALL STAR",
The tabloids are screaming today;
An E.T. just knocked on a twelve-year-old's door
To ask if he'd come out and play;
Far away, in the Arctic, a creature awakes;
It's hungry for human paté....

The alien threat is only in our minds -- we hope it is only in our minds.

We've all heard the jokes about little green men,
And probably told one or two;
Yes, and once we believed in invaders from Mars,
A fiction that sounded too true;
And we've sent all these soundtracks and scenes to the stars--
My God, what a paranoid view....

The alien threat is only in our minds -- we hope it is only in our minds.

We've pointed a satellite dish into space,
And listened for years to the drone
Of the static emissions from millions of suns
For word that we are not alone,
But if you were out there, how would you react
To all of the insults we've thrown?

The alien threat is only in our minds -- we hope it is only in our minds.

back to top


The Relaxacon Anthem

words © 1988 John C. Bunnell
music: traditional ("Fiddler's Green")

As with most of my convention-inspired songs, this is a true story.  I should note that  "freaking the mundanes" -- which is to say, trying to look and act as bizarre as possible in the presence of non-fans -- has pretty much fallen out of fashion in today's science fiction community.

The hotel it is small, but then so is the con,
So it should be a cinch to plan out and put on,
But the rooms are not clean yet, and 'til they're prepared,
Neither munchies nor videos yet may be shared--

I've seen mundanes abroad in the hallways,
And there's scarcely a costume in view;
The few friends worth claiming are all off in Gaming--
Until filking starts there is nothing to do.

Now this con is designed for relaxing, they said,
But if I were much more laid-back, I'd be dead;
I'd start conversations, but each time I look,
The fan I've picked out is immersed in a book....

          CHORUS

There is no masquerade and no art show, you'll find,
So security left, but no one seems to mind;
And the dealers' room's tiny, but that's just as well;
I have more books at home than they brought here to sell....

          CHORUS

I can tell things are slow--there's a sure-fire test:
Out of all the programming, the panels are best,
And when things should start popping, on Saturday night,
We have time for a leisurely dinner off-site....

          CHORUS

Now you may think I'm saying this con is a flop,
But if so, you'd be wrong, and I'll ask you to stop;
It's a joy to be walking, and not have to run;
You see, most cons exhaust me, but this one is fun!

We can freak the mundanes in the hallways,
Though our costumes at home all can stay;
We'll sing them this chorus, and if they ignore us,
Our friends off in Gaming will scare them away.

back to top


Satyr-ical

words © 2008 John C. Bunnell
music:
© 2008 Michelle Dockrey & Tony Fabris (“Siren Song”)

"Siren Song" is one of my favorite Vixy & Tony numbers (and if you aren't familiar with Vixy & Tony, go over and check them out; I'll wait). It occurred to me, though, that that sort of problem was equally likely to arise among the male half of the mythological community.  Hence this song.

Oh, I’m in event planning and party design;
I decorate, schedule, and cater,
But I get no respect from the social elect--
I suspect it’s because I’m a satyr.

Now it’s true you can call me successful,
And my bank account’s doing quite well
Off those wild college frats and the Shriners with hats,
But they’re not my preferred clientele;
I want five-star museum receptions,
Royal dinners and elegant balls,
But my family’s lust sparks old money’s distrust
And the Queen’s not returning my calls.

Yes, my brothers and cousins love sex, wine and song,
And they want some right now, and some later;
But I swear on my soul that I’ve learned self-control;
It’s a difficult role for a satyr.

I’m on intimate terms with the classics;
I know Roman and Latin and Greek
Architecture, I mean, and of course the cuisine--
Subtle flavors divine and oblique;
So I hope you’ll believe when I tell you
Aphrodisiac foods don’t exist;
They’re a myth my ancestors made up to explain
Why they so like to kiss and be kissed!

Oh, a well-schooled tongue is a treasure, it’s true,
And I’ll happily tutor you later;
Yes, your senses will reel once I’ve cooked you a meal--
It’s an innocent deal from a satyr.

It’s been years since I’ve been to an orgy,
And my Dad is more shocked than he’ll say;
But at least I can claim that I know someone’s name
When I wake in their bed the next day;
Besides, all that group sex is expensive--
Tablecloths are a bother to clean;
Beer and wine are a bear to get out of your hair,
And the cost of the chairs is obscene!

Still, don’t measure a party’s success by the cost
Of the menu, the band, or the waiters;
If the guests are sublime, you can have a great time
Without spending a dime, says the satyr.

Martha Stewart may never endorse me,
And I doubt the Smithsonian will call;
And it’s not like I had much in common with Dad,
‘Cause I don’t really miss him at all;
Sure, life ought to be more than indulgence
In young women, men, music and wine,
But until something more finds its way to my door,
Then the chore to give pleasure is mine.

So I’ll keep taking calls from Pi Mu Beta Chi
And the Elks, Masons, Moose, and al-Kader;
I’ll have barmaids in togas give full tantric yoga,
Serve drinks made with mangoes during limbos and tangos;
Party starts in September and runs through December
To be sure you remember the satyr!

back to top


The Scooby Gang Marching Song

words © 1999 John C. Bunnell
music: Henry Clay Work ("Grandfather's Clock")

I'm a latecomer to the horde of fans who revere Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it didn't take me long to become an addict once I was finally able to watch. Note that for continuity purposes, the song dates to about the third season of the show, as our heroes are still in high school.

Buffy:
I'm an ev'ryday girl, and my cares are mundane-
Or they were, 'til I landed this job.
Now I'm hunted by killers; it's hard to explain,
'Cause they're weirder by far than the Mob.
Quite a few are undead; one or two bite off your head;
There are demons and zombies and ghosts;
And I know I'll never have any peace
'Til they all are toast.

Ev'ry night they come chasing me [pad pad pad POOF!];
All bent on erasing me [pad pad pad POOF!];
I know I'll never have any peace
'Til they all are toast!

Cordelia:
Oh, the weather is fine, and the shopping is grand,
So you'd think that my life would be swell.
Only now I find out that this whole town was planned
And put up on a gateway to Hell.
Though I don't really see a responsibility
To keep Earth safe for oddballs and geeks,
Still, I must keep the monsters from laying waste
To our fine boutiques!

Yes, I know that you're snickering [$ching!$ ha ha $ching!$];
The gang's always bickering [$ching!$ ha ha $ching!$];
I must keep the monsters from laying waste
To our fine boutiques!

Xander:
I will gladly admit I'm a coward at heart-
At the first sign of danger, I run;
I'm inept with a stake or a sword or a dart,
But I'm quick with a joke or a pun.
I don't know why I'm here, but I'll try to persevere,
Though I'm sure we'll all meet messy ends;
But I just can't, no matter how hard I try,
Run out on my friends.

Are those teeth I hear chattering [click click click click]?
Undead sneakers pattering [pad pad pad pad]?
I just can't, no matter how hard I try,
Run out on my friends.

Giles:
Back at Oxford, I studied the darkest of lore;
I am expert on secrets profound.
So this high school library job is a bore,
But it's not really why I'm around.
You need not ask me twice for my excellent advice,
But does anyone listen to me?
[Everyone Else (spoken): Of course we do! You're a valued member of the team!]
[Buffy (spoken): Except when you say something really stupid.]
Very well, then, assuming we all survive,
Would you like some tea?

There's a method for binding it [hm hm flip flip];
I won't be long finding it [hm hm flip flip];
Ah, well, then, assuming we all survive,
Would you like some tea?

Willow:
You'd not think that computers and magic would mix,
But I've learned, to my cost, that they can.
Now whenever we have a disaster to fix,
Everyone looks to me for a plan.
Now I don't like to bitch, but I'm really not a witch,
Just a nice Jewish girl with a brain;
But unless things get totally out of hand,
I will not complain.

Time to log on the Internet [click beep click beep];
I don't have the data yet [click beep click beep];
Unless things get totally out of hand,
I will not complain.

All:
You may think what we do is exciting and grand,
Like adventures you'd watch on TV,
But the truth is we wish that our lives were as bland
As some show on the WB.
As we break every curse, things can't possibly get worse
(So we think, but they do, without fail);
And we know we're stuck with this lousy job,
But we will prevail.

Every night things come chasing us [pad pad pad pad];
All bent on erasing us [pad pad pad pad];
We know we're stuck with this lousy job,
But we will prevail.

back to top


Seanan Dear

words © 2008 John C. Bunnell
music: © 2006 Seanan McGuire ("Oh, Michelle")

Oddly enough, this is not a part of the extended parody-war cycle that developed in the wake of the Seanan McGuire lyric from which I appropriated the tune.  Rather, I was attempting to cheer up a temporarily ill Seanan when someone remarked that of course, since the name "Seanan" didn't scan the same way as the name "Michelle", one couldn't really do a direct parody.

I always did like a challenge....

Seanan dear, let’s be clear, when you speak of plagues and zombies
We’ve been taking it as given that you’d be immune!
Seanan dear, listen here, “living dead” is not an option;
We insist that you get better really soon!

Understand, we don’t object at all to having you infect
The whole rest of the convention with an apocalyptic strain
That you’ve devised for turning random non-adherents to your fandom
Into rabid Seanan-groupies, all else emptied from their brains.

But we were sure you’d take more care when spreading germs into the air
To overwhelm the standard pathogens like mono, staph, and strep;
We took for granted you’d refine a plague of elegant design
And that “inject oneself with antidote” would be your starting step.

Seanan, dear, let’s be clear....

We approve of your ambition, in true mad-scientist tradition,
And we’ll support your every scheme to unleash creepy-crawly dread,
But world conquest’s only cool if you are still around to rule--
You can’t command your zombie legions if you’ve turned yourself undead.

And though you’re well supplied with courage, we feel we really must discourage
The very thought, howe’er alluring, of testing serums on yourself;
We know you dream of purple speckles, but think of Narbon, Phibes, and Jekyll--
This is why Honeydew has Beaker; you simply need a guinea elf!

Seanan, dear, let’s be clear....

But enough of remonstration; let us show our dedication,
For we hate to see you suffer (even when it makes us laugh);
So just point us at the source of your malaise, and with remorse-
Less glee we’ll beat it down until it’s merely subatomic chaff.

In the meantime, at this juncture, chicken soup or acupuncture,
Or biotics pro- and anti-, merely ask and we’ll arrange,
We consider it essential that you’re back at full potential,
‘Cause without you life is normal, and we much prefer the strange!

Seanan, dear, let’s be clear.... (x2)

back to top


Shopping for Bears

words © 2002 John C. Bunnell
music: © 1986 Dale Marsen / © 1967 Dr. Seuss & Eugene Pockham
               ("Waltzing With Bears")

I first encountered Esther Friesner through the pages of her many excellent novels and short stories -- and had the great pleasure of conducting her Guest of Honor Interview some years back at OryCon.  But she is also renowned among SF writers and fans as advice maven Auntie Esther, the Queen of Hamsters, inventor of Cheeblemancy, Mome of the High Church of Chocolate -- and, most relevant to the present lyric, as a world champion combat shopper with a particular fondness for -- you guessed it -- bears.

What had completely slipped my mind, however, until after I'd written this lyric, is that Esther's wise and infinitely patient husband is -- like the character in the original lyric -- named Walter.


We’ll look in the kitchen, we’ll look in the den,
We’ll look in her newsgroup, not find her, and then
We’ll wave at the train pulling out on Track Ten,
’Cause our Auntie Esther’s gone shopping again!  (She goes)

Sho-sho-sho-shopping, shopping for bears;
Jewel bears, crewel bears, newel bears too;
Oh, there’s nothing on Earth Auntie Esther won’t do,
Just so she can go shopping, sho-sho-sho-shopping, sho-sho-sho-shopping,
Go shopping for bears!

They know her on sight in the shops of New York,
At Bloomie’s and Macy’s and F.A.O. Schwartz;
If shopping were one of the O-lympic sports,
Aunt Esther’s gold medals would fill tennis courts!  (She goes)

          REFRAIN

At SF conventions she’s much in demand;
The concoms will rearrange what they had planned;
The dealers will hire a small marching band,
When she buys all the bears they’ve been keeping on hand!
          [And the anime, and the singing hamsters, and the Desert Peach comics – but mostly....]

          REFRAIN (She goes)

We thought if she went to the desert Southwest,
Where bears large and furry are not at their best,
This bearish obsession just might be suppressed....
....She came back with bears on her ears and her breast!  (She went)

          REFRAIN

Now in this last verse, we should ask her to stop;
She’s bought enough bears to start up her own shop;
And yet it’s a question we simply can’t pop;
Though she cheebles with hamsters, and we don’t understand her,
If she’ll just take us shopping, we’ll let it all drop!  (And go)

          REFRAIN (x2)

back to top


Spirit in Stone

words © 1995 John C. Bunnell
music: © Cecilia A. Eng ("Woodlock: Soul Search")

Back in the 1990s, it looked for awhile as if the entire world of animated television had de-evolved into a wave of terminal cuteness, cuddliness, and general spun-sugar goo aimed squarely at the four-year-old market.  Then out of nowhere came -- from the Disney studios, of all places -- Gargoyles, and everything was different.  Gargoyles was intelligent, multi-layered, brilliantly written, and featured a truly spectacular voice cast (liberally peppered with Star Trek alumni).  One of the most intriguing characters in the show was Demona, voiced by Marina Sirtis, whose role defies easy labeling -- neither villainess nor anti-hero, Demona was a law unto herself.

Humankind will never understand;
Power comes so easy to my hand--
Sweep of wing and strength of stone,
Gifts bestowed on us alone;
Humans were not meant to rule this land.

Flash of spell,
Cold steel's rattle;
Endless life and endless battle;
I - - - will survive.

Do not call me "Angel of the Night";
I am no insipid slave of light;
Never servant, never pawn
Shall I be twixt dusk and dawn;
I alone decide for whom I fight.

REFRAIN

I have studied all the arts arcane:
Spells to master passion, death, and pain;
Talisman or book or charm
Summons aid or deals out harm;
Extends my reach beyond this earthly plane.

REFRAIN

I have seen four thousand seasons turn;
Nations rise and fall, and cities burn;
This the grim reward for trust;
Love is ashes, hope is dust;
Humankind, it seems, will never learn.

REFRAIN

Once the Scottish highlands held my clan
Till we were betrayed by mortal man;
Now, by witches' threefold guile
Come we to Manhattan isle;
Perhaps at last we'll end what they began.

REFRAIN

I - - - will survive.

back to top


A Thousand Days

words © 1993 John C. Bunnell
music: traditional ("Star of the County Down")

These lyrics speak well enough for themselves....

The other day, on a morning gray
I passed by the city square;
Such a goings-on as I glanced thereon;
’Twas a crowd of a thousand there.
They were chanting chants, they were ranting rants,
They were waving a thousand signs;
Calling loud and clear, to my passing ear,
With injustice on their minds.

Oh, their hearts were pure and their motives sure
As they massed in the (morning’s) haze;
But “Alas,” I thought – what they might have wrought
With the work of a thousand days!

As I went my way, later on that day,
Through a park I walked alone;
There were cans and glass scattered through the grass,
Left behind by folk unknown.
From a school nearby came a weary sigh;
Through the classroom’s pane I glanced,
Where a teacher strained with her voice half-drained
To hold thirty youths entranced.

          REFRAIN (noontime)

On the well-worn street did I set my feet
And continued on with care,
Dodging traffic, spry, as the cars went by
For there was no sidewalk there.
Past a seniors’ home did my footsteps roam,
And I marked its open gate;
But the patients slept; to their rooms they kept --
’Twas a sad and lonely fate.

          REFRAIN (midday)

It was later still, as the dusk grew chill
And I’d done what I’d gone to do;
Then I turned once more toward my own front door
And I passed the square anew.
That crowd I saw, with their voices raw
And their thousand signs held high;
But I onward sped and I shook my head,
And I frowned as I passed them by.

          REFRAIN (evening’s)

back to top


Time's Design

words © 1993 John C. Bunnell
music: Melissa Williamson ("Song of the Bear")

As you might expect from a community with roots in both science-fiction fandom and folk music (particularly the protest music of the 1950s and '60s), the filk group-mind is liberally peppered with environmentally conscious individuals. Now I am as much a believer in responsible use of natural resources as the next person, but I'm afraid that I am not a back-to-Nature type. This was written after I'd heard one too many save-the-trees protest songs....

Turn back time to the day of the dinosaur;
See how the giants ruled the Earth.
Masters of all, and yet victims of circumstance,
Lost to the world ere mankind's birth.

For life is a dance of ends and beginnings;
That which refuses to change must die.
None but a god may elude Time's arrow;
None but a fool would dare to try.

Watch as the clouds grow dark and malevolent;
Flee from the firestorm lightning sends.
Wonder anew as the flames follow after you:
What do we know about Nature's ends?

REFRAIN

See how the waters rise past the riverbanks,
Taking back land that the bold had claimed.
We who believed we were Nature's superiors
Now see the truth -- She cannot be tamed.

REFRAIN

Feel the very earth tremble under you;
Quake while the bridges and freeways fall.
Build as you like, but beware the awakening
Nature who rises to smash us all.

REFRAIN

One man's trees build another man's dwelling;
One man's grapes make another man's wine.
Who can be sure that one is a traitor,
The other, an agent of Time's design?

For life is a dance of ends and beginnings;
That which is able to change survives.
Early or late, we shall feel Time's arrow;
Let not the fear of it rule our lives.

back to top


A Vampire's Life

words © 1994 John C. Bunnell
music: Alan Menken ("Arabian Nights", from Disney's
Aladdin © 1998)

Yet another Buffy the Vampire Slayer lyric, this one written from the viewpoint of Spike, Buffy's vampire nemesis and eventual paramour (specifically, this dates to the sixth or seventh season, character-wise).

It begins with a bite in the dark of the night,
And a Hell of a lot of blood;
Then you sleep for a bit, though you care not a whit,
Underneath sev’ral feet of mud;
When you wake in the dirt, your incisors may hurt,
For they’re sharp as a butcher’s knife;
But there’s never a doubt as you claw your way out
That you’re starting a vampire’s life!

Oh, a vampire’s life
Is all danger and sex;
Each girl you seduce is bound to produce
A stake-wielding ex!

No, a vampire’s life
Isn’t like in the books;
I’ll tell you the truth, this eternal youth
Ain’t as keen as it looks!

See, it stops being new after years all too few
And mere carnage becomes a bore;
There’s no longer a thrill – there’s so few ways to kill,
And you’ve practiced them all before!
In the hour before dawn, when the passion is gone
And the sense of ennui is rife--
The temptation is high just to let yourself fry
And give up on the vampire’s life!

Being nosferatu, we are good at kung-fu;
We’re inhumanly fast and strong;
Any mortal we meet, we can quickly defeat,
And their screams never last for long;
Save one pain in the ass – she’s an obstinate lass,
And between us, we’ve naught but strife;
It’s the Slayer, that’s who, and she’s nothing to do
But to ruin a vampire’s life!

Now for vampires, trust me, it’s all about lust;
We just don’t have the heart for love;
Or at least so I thought, till I got myself caught
By the charms of this one young dove;
She’s a Slayer, I know, and my natural foe,
But she’d make such a gorgeous wife!

[I did NOT say that. You did NOT hear me say that.]

We’re conflicted, you bet, but I won’t give up yet,
It’s a Hell of a vampire’s life!

back to top


Watson at Twilight

words © 1994 John C. Bunnell
music: Leslie Fish ("The Chambermaid's Dowry", Songsmith)

I've been a devotée of Sherlock Holmes since I was not much taller than his magnifying glass, and I enjoy many of the "newly discovered" adventures of the Great Detective published since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's passing. (Laurie R. King's and Larry Millett's novels are among those I find most skillfully done.) But a surprising number of the pastiches get Holmes's and Watson's voices and characters just slightly "wrong" -- and so, too, I thought, did the first filk song I heard about Holmes. This prompted me to try my own hand at a lyric.


'Tis been many years since Victoria reigned
And gaslight burned bright in the dark;
Since street urchins wandered with scarcely a care
Through alley and market and park.
Yet those are the times that come back to me now;
I recall them with honor and pride,
When I lived in Baker Street, wrote for the Strand,
And stood at a brilliant man's side.

I still hear his voice,
And smell his vile shag,
And his is the London I see,
Where hansom cabs clattered o'er cobblestone streets,
And Holmes lived at 221B.

I never have known what he saw that first day,
When we met in the halls of St. Bart's;
There must have been more than he chose to relate
Laid bare to his deductive arts.
Whatever it was, though, I cannot express
The size of the debt that I owe
For purpose put back in a lonely man's life;
I think even he does not know.

REFRAIN

In many ways, Holmes was a difficult man,
His habits, a trial and a curse;
He dabbled in chemistry, shot up the walls,
He entertained beggars, and worse.
I never knew who might turn up in our rooms,
Then prove to be Holmes in disguise;
And yet, through it all, something always outweighed
The mischief he loved to devise.

REFRAIN

At no time was Holmes truly happy, of course,
Save when in the midst of a case;
The darker the web, the more twisted the skein,
The better he relished the chase.
A foe who could match him in genius was rare
(Moriarty was one -- and Irene);
And when the full truth might serve only to harm,
He'd not speak of all he had seen.

        REFRAIN

But those days are gone and a new order reigns,
Where the cabbies drive horses of steel;
Old London is not what it was, nor am I,
As the years bring my body to heel.
Some say this new age has outgrown Sherlock Holmes,
That he's long out of pace with the times;
If so, 'tis a world I'll not sorrow to leave,
One where honor and friendship are crimes.

I still hear his voice,
And smell his vile shag,
And his is the London I see--
Where hansom cabs clatter o'er cobblestone streets,
And Holmes lives at 221B.

back to top


The Way to Mars

words © 1999 John C. Bunnell
music: John H. Hopkins ("Grand Isle", for "I Sing A Song of the Saints of God", by  Lesbia Scott)

In 1999, the Mars Society announced that it was sponsoring a competition to create an anthem for Mars. I couldn't resist writing these lyrics to the tune of a favorite Episcopal hymn, but hadn't initially planned to enter the contest -- they wanted a tape along with the words, and while I'm happy to sing in filk circles at cons, I have no illusions about my limits as a performer. Then the extremely talented Cat Faber of Echo's Children heard the song, offered to sing it on the submission tape, and I no longer had an excuse not to enter. As it turned out, the song was one of the five finalists, though it did not ultimately win.


I love to look at the sky at night, where the stars and the planets glow;
The small bright dots in my telescope mark a map whose shape I know-

For the road is wide, and the way is clear,
Out beyond the moon, to the high frontier;
It's a long, long trip, but it starts right here,
It's pointing the way to Mars.

Now Mars is barren and dry and chill, far colder than Earth-born snow;
From home and hearth that are warm and safe, you may ask why we should go-

Yet we'll watch a film that we know will scare,
Play at childhood games of 'Truth or Dare',
And we'll climb a mountain because it's there-
So we'll find a way to Mars.

We've much to do and as much to learn ere a voyage to Mars departs;
We'll need the skills of our sharpest minds, and the blessings of hopeful hearts;

We've a ship to build, and research to do,
We must buy supplies and select a crew;
We'll need lots of help - can we count on you
As we make our way to Mars?

The proverb says that a single step is the way a walk begins,
And only someone who plays a game can emerge the one who wins;

You must plant a seed for the crop to thrive,
And you have to leave, or you won't arrive;
We'll take back the moon, and stake out L-5
While we're on our way to Mars.

Now when you look at the sky at night, 'midst the stars' and the planets' glow,
Take note of the map in your telescope, and start making plans to go-

For the road is wide, and the way is clear
Out beyond the moon, to the high frontier;
It's a long, long trip, but it starts right here,
It's pointing the way to Mars.

back to top


The West Virginia Diet

words © 1998 John C. Bunnell
music: Michael Martin Brown ("Lizzie Borden" from The Fall River Hoedown)

Early in 1998, news reports out of West Virginia announced a new official policy regarding the disposition of deer and other animals found dead on state highways: it was now permissible for motorists to dispose of such discoveries as they saw fit.  This is what I suspect probably happened next....

Lee Gold, who's probably the closest thing the filk community has to an official archivist, wrote to correct my original attribution of the music. I first encountered it attached to a famous Michael Longcor filk song ("Pennsic War IV"), then ran across the Chad Mitchell Trio's performance of "Lizzie Borden" and assumed they'd written it. But it turns out that the Trio's version is half of a song from a stage play called New Faces of '52, which became the comedy film New Faces two years later.

Whatever the tune's history, I seem to have been channeling Michael Longcor when I wrote the lyrics; if you run into him at a convention, ask about the "deer story".

Oh, the folk of West Virginia are a good old-fashioned bunch;
They like eatin’ meat for dinner (and for breakfast, and for lunch);
But be careful if you ask one what that is upon his plate,
Because like as not, he found it lyin’ on the Interstate.

‘Cause you can eat the roadkill back in West Virginia,
(It’s a conservation measure, so they say);
Yes, you can eat the roadkill back in West Virginia,
Though you shouldn’t tell the ASPCA.

Seems those West Virginia lawmen thought the cost was just obscene
For to haul away the corpses and to keep the highways clean,
So they passed a regulation, purely legal-like and neat:
"We don’t care what you run over, if you’ll take it home to eat!

So you can eat the roadkill here in West Virginia;
It’ll even save our State Police some cash;
Yes, you can eat the roadkill here in West Virginia--
And we hope you like the taste of ‘possum hash."

Now the boys of West Virginia, they are hunters one and all,
And they love to roam the woodlands ev’ry spring and ev’ry fall,
Only now that roadkill’s legal, they are droppin’ major bucks
Puttin’ lots of reinforcement on the bumpers of their trucks.

‘Cause you can eat the roadkill back in West Virginia,
‘Twould be shameful lettin’ meat just go to waste;
Yes, you can eat the roadkill back in West Virginia,
And the chrome an’ rubber scarcely hurt the taste.

Oh, you may think West Virginians are a trifle odd or queer
‘Cause they like to eat their roadkill, be it cow or sheep or deer;
But they’re really not that crazy…. Well, a few of ‘em are bats:
They’re the ones who roam the suburbs scarfin’ roadkill dogs an’ cats!

‘Cause you can eat the roadkill back in West Virginia,
Though we’re not quite sure how many really do,
Yes, you can eat the roadkill back in West Virginia
And I wouldn’t say so if it wasn’t true.

Yes, you can eat the roadkill back in West Virginia….

[Raccoon ragout, venison a la Goodyear—what will they think of next?]

Yes, you can eat the roadkill back in West Virginia….

[Gives a whole new meaning to the words "tailgate party", doesn’t it?]

Yes, you can eat the roadkill back in West Virginia….

[This just in: Martha Stewart’s Cooking With Roadkill a bestseller in Wheeling!]

And I wouldn’t say so if it wasn’t true!

back to top


What I Want, I Get

lyrics © 2011 John C. Bunnell
music: "Jack of All Trades" (TV theme song)

One of my all-time favorite novels is a ghost story (and oblique romance) written nominally for young readers by Elizabeth Marie Pope, entitled The Sherwood Ring. This song is about the book's signature character, one Peaceable Drummond Sherwood, whose family crest bears the motto "quod desidero obtineo".

You know of Paul Revere,
Who warned the rebels far and near,
But of another you should hear,
A man who saw his duty clear
To serve his King and country, as surely as he might,
He’d fight those self-same rebels and he’d put their hopes to flight!

Now they say his name was Sherwood, and he formed a band of men;
Like Robin Hood of yore they held the greenwood and the glen;
A bold and merry trickster, he, the like you’ve never met,
With a motto plain and simple: “What I want, I get!”

He proved a worthy foe;
The rebels quickly came to know
Wherever he might come or go
They couldn’t seem to lay him low,
Until he met a lady, as wise and quick as he,
And both learned what could happen when you love an enemy!

Once he stole the lady’s manor, but the lady won it back;
He might have captured Washington ‘til she warned of his attack;
Instead, the rebels caught him, though he soon escaped their net,
With a promise for the lady: “What I want, I get!”

Captain Sherwood left a token ere he passed beyond her ken;
‘Twas the end of the Revolution when the two did meet again;
The treaty’s ink was barely dry when wedding bells were set,
For as he himself would tell you: “What I want, I get!”

back to top


A Wondrous Madness

lyrics © 1992 John C. Bunnell
music: Percy French ("Bridget Flynn")

Even if you've never cracked a comic book, you've probably seen one or another of the modern live-action Batman movies (starring a succession of Batmen beginning with Michael Keaton) or caught the Adam West TV series from the 1960s. But if you weren't paying attention, you might have missed the truly inspired animated series of Bat-adventures spawned in the wake of the Keaton film's success. At once true to the comic books and yet remarkably accessible, that show is easily the definitive translation of the Bat-legend to dramatic form, and regularly showcased some of the best scriptwriting ever done for animated television. (A sequel series, Batman Beyond, followed, and yet another Bat-incarnation has since been added to the WB Saturday morning lineup.)

It also didn't hurt that the producers recruited top-flight voice talent. The late Roddy McDowall, for instance, took on the role of the Mad Hatter, and made one of the weirder and more improbable Bat-villains into an eerily tragic figure:

I adore odd hats, done in ev'ry shape and size,
And my assistant Alice is a joy;
But no one cares for the wonders I devise,
And Alice loves an ordinary boy.

Never mind
How unkind
The hand that fickle Fate has dealt to me.
For I'll show them all,
Their minds I will enthrall,
And Alice shall be very first to see.

Now in formal garb, out of Wonderland I come,
And doubtless there are those who think me mad.
But Alice smiles with a gaze I cannot plumb,
And never have I felt so very glad.

Can it be?
Does she see
How very much I want her to be mine?
No, alas, alack,
Her young man's won her back,
And all that's left to me is sour wine.

Very well, I say, if I cannot have my way,
Mad Hatter I'll become in more than look.
And as for those who would keep me from my play,
They'll stand aside while I rewrite the book.

What is that?
Like a bat,
It strikes at me; unwillingly, I fall.
Now I've lost my chance
But there'll be another dance;
Beware the day the Hatter comes to call.

back to top


You Can't Give Up the Sky

lyrics © 2001 John C. Bunnell
music © 1972 Steven Schwartz ("No Time At All" from
Pippin)

After the events of 9/11, I thought briefly about writing a song in response to the event and then pretty much abandoned the idea on the theory that the ground was already being very well covered -- but then two things happened.  Gary McGath announced plans for a benefit songbook collecting 9/11 lyrics, and I thought of something that I hadn't heard in the musical groundswell.  Gary took this for the songbook -- which is, I believe, still available.

A tragedy can be hard to bear, with its cold and unwelcome chill,
Bringing pain and death and the deep despair that can drain away your will;
You may stagger and struggle and stumble for the space of a week or two,
Yet although your spirits tumble, you know what you must do . . . .

That basket of hankies that used to be white
Is full and it ought to be laundered;
There are bills you should pay and some letters to write
That stacked ceiling-high while you maundered;
Don’t dare to get drunk; break out of your funk --
Start packing a trunk for vacation;
’Cause it’s time that you got back your spunk,
Come on, no hesitation . . . .

Oh, it’s time to start flying,
Get on with your business and leave off with the crying,
Spread out your wings and set your targets high --
You can’t give up the sky.

I can’t deny that there’s work to be done,
We do have to clean up the mess;
But don’t you forget to take time for some fun,
Or you’ll go insane from the stress;
Do something you like, a balance to strike --
Get back on your bike and go riding;
’Cause the one time gloom will take a hike
Is when joy comes out of hiding . . . .

          REFRAIN

I know, of course, you won’t forget
All the people we lost that day,
But if they could speak up, I’ll bet
I know just what they’d say:
”Build us a tower to rival the old,
Sturdy and stalwart and steady;
Show them the city refuses to fold,
And if they come back, you’ll be ready!
We know it’s a stretch, but don’t you kvetch,
There’s no better time to begin it;
Just start making a list, what you’ll need to fetch,
Do it right this New York minute!”

          REFRAIN

Now some may quip that I’m too flip,
And shouldn’t be making you chuckle,
But the fact that you are able to laugh and skip
Is really proof that you won’t buckle!
Let me just tell you a little-known rule;
Listen and see if I’m right:
Folk who are gloomy are easy to fool,
Cheery ones don’t often bite!
Don’t fall for the scam, close up like a clam,
Be served up like a lamb on a platter;
For a smile is the surest way
To prove you know what matters . . . .

Oh, it’s time to start flying,
Time to show the world we’ll never stop trying,
Spread out our wings, and set our targets high;
Happiness has to keep on spreading;
That’s where the future’s heading;
We won’t give up the sky!