Friday, November 23, 2007

A Season of Lyricals

As a young and ardent reader of Mad Magazine, I learned all about Broadway musicals -- by reading and singing their outrageously funny parodies. I remember some of them to this day, and for many years, I didn't even know the words to the real songs.

I found myself in bored moments in high school, college and one of my first jobs composing song parodies about current events, and I became -- if I may so -- an expert. It is one of the few talents I have that I can actually talk about publicly!

So, every year when the Washington Post's
"Style Invitational" humor contest (in which readers supply the newspaper and its Web site with free content) runs a parody competition, I enter and usually come away with at least an honorable mention. This week, I have one actually printed in the dead-tree edition, and another in the online version.

The contest asked readers -- and this is a worldwide competition -- to come up with songs commemorating special events or holidays that are not Christmas or Hannukah. Naturally, all of the ones I submitted were better than those actually printed -- but as President Bush says to every two-bit party hack, you be the judge.


(“Get Me to The Church On Time”)*

I’m getting holy in the morning
Ding dong, again it’s Easter time
My faith is merely
Something that’s yearly
So, get me to the church one time.

If I forget when, tell me to kneel
If I look lost, help me keep it real
For, I’m getting holy in the morning
Ding dong the bells are gonna chime
My faith is len’ient,
When it’s conven’ient
So, get me to the church one time.

*honorable mention in online version


(“Simple Gifts”)

'Tis the gift that’s expected, 'tis the gift based on guilt,
'Tis the gift on which public radio is built.
But when they beg, interrupting all the news
It is hard to remain a listener like youse.*

Pub-lic radio is littered
With ads in lieu of All Things Considered
Turn, turn, to XM instead, birds,
Where you can listen still to Bob Edwards.

*honorable mention but with the last line made less funny by the contest editor


(“Both Sides Now”)

She’s looked at crowds from both sides now
From right and left, and still somehow
Its her illusions I can’t see
I really don’t know Hillary.

Licenses and immigrants
The Iraq war, it makes you wince
She always plays at innocence
She’s looked at crowds that way.

Medicare and burning flags
Once she zigs and then she zags
Impressing pundits and the wags
She gives herself away.


(“Unchained Melody”)

Oh, my clocks!
My watches!
I don’t know what they say.

I hate changing time

And time goes by, confusing!
I don’t know when to lunch.
Or drink my wine.

I need to know
I need to know
God,tell me, “What’s the time?”


(“Aura Lee”)*

On this day when lovers meet, if illicitly,
To avoid a pregnancy, do it orally
Orally, Orally, that’s what kids do swear
Makes a coupling safe, you see, and swallow don’t they dare.

*Instantly dismissed as tasteless, as it were, by the editor.


("Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp Bah Bomp Bah Bomp?”)

Who put the bomb
In the bomb Iran debate?
Who put the ram
In the Ramadan-a-ding-dongs?

Who put the mood
In Mahmoud Ahmadeinejad
Who put the dic in the dic dic tatorship?

Who was imam
Who eats oil of the palm
And called a month of
Fasting Ramadan?


(“Monday, Monday”)

Maundy, Maundy, no one can say
Why Maundy, Maundy, is really on a Thursday
Oh, Maundy Thursday, Maundy Thursday can’t ever be missed
‘Cause Maundy Thursday introduced the Eucharist.



Esther’s Day, celebrates a minor holiday
It’s called Purim, when she saved the day
For Jews Xerxes the First would slay .

Suddenly, he knew that he could never kill her
Which is why we make a big megillah
And we believe in Esther’s Day


(“76 Trombones”)

76 more homes were foreclosed today
The 110th Congress on behinds.
They were followed by lists and lists of the finest lobbyists
That the mortgage industry could find.

There were bottom-dwelling mortgagers and rich tycoons,
Plundering, plundering, not at all sublime.
Double-chinned executives and fat poltroons
Each buffoon, exemplified sub-prime.

There were 50 in the Cannon Building hearing room
Lobbying, lobbying -- no one for the poor.
Congressmen of every size and barristers they’d immunized --
The homeless slept upon the floor.


(“Strangers in the Night” or “Doobie-Doobie-Do”)

Tu B’, Tu B’ Shvat, few people know it.
Means an awful lot, and you must grow it.
In Leviticus,
It’s Arbor Day for Jews.

Celebrating trees stops global warming
Albert Gore is pleased it’s habit forming
Giving people shade
May stop cancer, too!


(“Four Strong Winds”)

Four strong weeks are upcoming
Seven days/Twenty-four --
All the dollars and change for the stores.

The corporations say spend,
Buying merchandise no end
Starting at the dawn after Thanksgiving Day.

Guess I’ll go out to a Nordstrom’s
To Old Navy or The Gap,
Get some stuff in the mail from L.L. Bean

Still I wish they’d delay ads
‘Cause it makes me really mad
That they start commercials before Halloween.


(“You’ve Gotta Have Heart”)

You've gotta pitch “heart”
Raising money is an art.
“Diabetes,” “stroke,” and “cancer” will scare
Folks -- and their funds will part!

Here’s what it’s about: Your diseases must reach out.
Nuthin's what you get if you miss the bunch
Of disease of the months, like gout.

When your lobby’s battin' zero,
Get your earmark in the bill.
Chairman, you can be a hero.
You can tap the U.S. till.
There’s nothin’ sacred but to take it.


(“Be Kind To Your Web-Footed Friends”)               
Be kind to Jim Webb and his friends
For they took up arms in the ‘Nam war.
Beware of earmarks in the swamp
Fund the vets and don’t drill in the ANWR
You may think that it’s for the oil
But it’s snot.
We must hurry home from work and be on our way
To be ready to light candles for each holiday.
Sundown is when it begins:
Shabbas, Pesach or to atone for our sins.
(“Ghost Riders in the Sky”) 
Ten old wordsmiths worked in their masks one January day.
They took a break and rested from writing each cliché.
When all at once a mighty roar of pundits they did hear,
In their heads, applauding the president, so clear.
Yuppies they were, yuppies they be
Ghostwriters in disguise.

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