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February 21, 2006

The Yankee Internationale
Posted by Teresa at 02:22 PM *

I am informed that The Internationale can be sung to the tune of George M. Cohan’s I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

And now you’re stuck knowing it too.

Comments on The Yankee Internationale:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 02:35 PM:

Yes, Teresa, but have you ever heard it sung to a reggae beat?

#2 ::: Gabe ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 02:47 PM:

I suppose you learn something new every day.

That said I bet you could sing most songs to Yankee Doodle Dandy.

#3 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 02:51 PM:

Or to the tune of 'The Yellow Rose of Texas'.

#4 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 02:54 PM:

It won't stop! Make it stop!

<clutches head>

<explodes>

#5 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 03:31 PM:

Just like "Inna Gadda Da Vida" scans to "Take me out to the ball park"... And "Gilligan's Island" to too many things, like "Amazing Grace."

Fun stuff.

#6 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 03:38 PM:

Thankfully, I don't know the words to the Internationale, so I'm earworm proof on that account. Not surprising, since we don't even celebrate Labor Day on Labor Day. In fact, it's a miracle we haven't swapped it out for Capital Day. Oh, wait, Every day is Capital Day in America.

But, on the Gilligan's Island front, add Stairway to Heaven.

You're welcome.

#7 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 03:59 PM:

I used to have several versions of the Internationale, one of them by Pete Seeger. My favourite hands down was the French one. I never did learn the words though, mostly because the Italian version sucks.

#8 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 04:00 PM:

(blink, blink)
Was the Making Light head always so bright and glowing or is it my migraine?

#9 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 04:00 PM:

And vice versa?

#10 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 04:04 PM:

Of course vice versa!

Funny, I just realized this morning in the shower that you can sing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" to the tune of "Amazing Grace." It takes two verses of the tune for one of the words, and the stresses are all wrong, but you can get through it.

#11 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 04:15 PM:

This is almost as good as remembering that The Star-Spangled Banner is sung to the same melody as an old English drinking song, To Anachreon In Heaven. (When you sing it like a drinking song, the existence of the other three verses starts to make more sense. Nobody ever sings it like a drinking song, though... more's the pity.)

#12 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 04:16 PM:

Anna FDD: the glow came over from Electrolite in the merger, but only appears in browsers that support it (including Safari).

#13 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 04:31 PM:

So. I made the mistake of pointing out to my AP English class the Emily Dickinson/Yellow Rose of Texas connection. The only reason I mentioned it was because I thought everyone already knew it. Apparently not. Henceforth, I was actively shunned for ruining Emily for everyone. (I say, if that ruins Emily for you, you didn't deserve her in the first place.)

Lo, the day of the AP test rolls around, we all crack open our test books to find the piece of literature we're supposed to analyze in the essay portion. And yes, it's an Emily Dickinson poem. When 20 eighteen-year olds are mentally humming the same tune, you can almost hear it out loud.

I nearly injured myself trying to keep from laughing, but if the looks of the rest of the class could kill, I wouldn't be here telling the story today.

#14 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 04:36 PM:

O.K. I've threatened this before, but the entire work is under copyright so I didn't want to get in trouble. I think, however, I can get away with the last verse. Think "Bell-Bottomed Trousers." Got it in your mind? Good.

"Go! Meet the foe undaunted, they're rotten cowards all,
Present to them the bayonet, they totter and they fall,
We know you'll do your duty and come to little harm
And if you meet the Kaiser, cut off his other arm."

This is bad. The middle is worse:

"Just then they raised the little lad and threw him on the fire
And wreathed in smiles they watched him burn until he did expire;"

Yes, under the psuedonym Monica Moyland, Larne, Irelande we have the always tasteful Amanda McKittrick Ros and her lovely poem "A Little Belgian Orphan." You can see why she was one of Twain's favorite bad writers, although I think even he would have choked over this one.

#15 ::: Zach S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 04:39 PM:

You can also sing the Marine Corps Hymn to the tune of Wabash Cannonball. I caught on to this when I noticed the similar "From the... to the..." structure of the lyrics to their respective first verses.

#16 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 04:40 PM:

I always liked this little story, about Warren Beatty, and Stephen Sondheim, and Reds. I just happen to have [clipped] Stephen Sondheim['s words] right here, to tell it to you:

This is a long story, but I'll cut it short. Warren Beatty wanted a romantic theme, and he also wanted the 'Internationale' because he likes it a lot, the communist march, which is a tune I don't particularly like. So I kept writing what I thought was moody, romantic music. He was being nice about it, but I could see I wasn't really pleasing him. I could see that what he really wanted was A Tune. So I wrote this tune, and asked him not to play it to anybody, recorded it on a cheap little tape recorder, the kind you throw away. It was orchestrated in many ways, for piano and orchestra, for wind section, for strings. And Warren kept rejecting all these orchestrations, saying "It just doesn't have the feeling of what Steve did..." I said, "It never will, Warren, just hear it fresh." I had been angry at him for playing that little tape for people because it was midnight when I recorded it, I was very tired, and my fingers hit the cracks. Anyway, the end of the story is, I go to the first screening of the movie, the theme comes on, and what has he done? He has used my tape! If you listen carefully to the first entry of the theme, you will hear that. And then, there's a line where the hero says to the heroine, "I'll be back for Christmas." There's a famous song of Frank Loesser's called 'I'll be home for Christmas' and it starts out in exactly the same way. Someone in Warren's cutting-room pointed this out to him, and he came to my house, looking ashen, and told me about this. It was a song I'd never heard, but I said, "Listen carefully to what I've written". And what I'd done was to take the tune of the 'Internationale', reharmonised it and made it into a romantic theme. That's what that theme is, it's the 'Internationale'.
#17 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 05:11 PM:

Kip: I don't know the tune for "Internationale" (maybe I'd recognize it if I heard it), but since "I'll be home for Christmas" also works, the earworm has mutated so that it can infect me. Thanks?

Singing "I'll be home for Christmas" to the tune of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is a lot like that link a few months back to those recast movie previews, where "The Shining" became a romantic comedy etc. It's horrible and compelling, unfortunately more of the latter.

#18 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 05:27 PM:

You can sing the Marine Corps Hymn to Clementine, Mack the Knife, and Ode to Joy. And you can vice those versas every which way.

#19 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 05:34 PM:

I knew that, because someone named David Greenbaum mentioned this right here, a couple of years ago.

And you're right: it's one of those things that, once learned, cannot be unlearned.

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 06:04 PM:

For those who want the music click on that link.

For mp3s of the Internationale, and more songs of labour than you can shake a stick at go here.

#21 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 07:06 PM:

Oh good.

I was looking for an adequate excuse to infect my fellow human beings with "Takin' Care Of Business (and Workin' Overtime)" sung to the tune of "Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat."

You're welcome.

(No, I don't know what caused me to discover this either. I think I had two freak ear-worms at once. Possibly something to do with an upcoming Amtrak journey, I dunno.)

#22 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 07:21 PM:

Xopher has already hit on the Ode to Joy-Clementine connection. Robert Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" goes to "Hernando's Hideaway". "A Visit from St. Nicholas" can be sung to "On Top of Old Smokey".

And all filkers know you can sing anything you want to "Alice's Restaurant".

#23 ::: John Peacock ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 07:22 PM:

Clementine's also been done to the melody for Ode to Joy by countless choirs (who were supposed to be singing the latter straight), apparently sometimes as an encore and sometimes just to mess with the conductor...

John

#24 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 08:12 PM:

And Seantaclaus just mentioned that the main theme for Blazing Saddles, the tune IS "Yes, Jesus Loves Me." Yikes.

#25 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 08:31 PM:

Carrie V., I too have been in a roomful of teenagers mentally humming a tune--in my case, the Schoolhouse Rock version of the Preamble to the Constitution.

Earworm (obscure): I may have mentioned before that Katisha's solo in The Mikado ("The hour of gladness is dead and gone...") goes beautifully to "The Phantom of the Opera". We made the mistake of pointing that out to our Katisha, and she promptly went onstage and forgot the real tune. Luckily she made a rapid recovery.

#26 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 08:35 PM:

Paula said: Just like "Inna Gadda Da Vida" scans to "Take me out to the ball park"

I'm officially being stalked by this song. I happened across it while browsing Wikipedia for something completely different earlier today. Then, about an hour ago, someone informed me that one of the bands I listen to had a cover of that song on their new single, and I thought, hmm, neat coincidence. And now this!

I'm gonna get a restraining order against that song.

#27 ::: dca ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 08:55 PM:

"O little town of Bethlehem" / "House of the rising sun"

#28 ::: melannen ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 09:00 PM:

Every time I try to sing the Internationale - regardless of *what* tune I attempt to sing it to - it turns into 'Mighty Toaster Wings'.

This is probably a sign that I shouldn't try to sing at all.

#29 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 09:00 PM:

Okay, the nice fellow didn't believe it, and for me the two tunes are similar enough that, once having the suggestion implanted I could no longer sing either of them right: so I had him sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" while I attempted to sing "The Internationale" along with him, and it's true, though the person who sings it has to be less easily combustulated than me (I did just get home from dental work).

I'm trying to find the Soul Flower version of "The Internationale" their site, but I can no longer find it there, but you can still hear it here. This is the best version ever, and expresses exactly the political spirit in which I was raised.

(notice the repetitions of "whee!" and "whoop!")

#30 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 09:26 PM:

A Japanese Klezmer version of the Internationale? Life is complete.


The Wikipedia article on The Internationale explains that the words were originally meant to be sung to the tune of La Marseillaise which explains why whenever I try singing one of those songs I end up singing the other, but not the mixing in bits of old high school French dialogues.


Marchons, marchons!
Ma tante Marie
Will unite the human race!

#31 ::: The New York City Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2006, 11:26 PM:

Theresa, I pointed that out almost three years ago, here, on Patrick's weblog.

#32 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 12:37 AM:

Speaking of mismatching tunes and lyrics, there was a Seattle group called the Squirrels who did an entire album of Christmas lyrics set to famous "classic rock" tunes; if I remember right, it was called Don't Fear the Snowman. I saw them live once, and they opened the show with their version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to the tune of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon". I've never heard either song quite the same way in the 10 years since.

#33 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 01:19 AM:

I never liked "The Internationale" that much, but I have a soft spot for "The Workers' Flag." Besides, it's set to the same tune as "O Tannenbaum", which is a corker.

I learned those two songs, plus a really scurrilous parody of "Onward Christian Soldiers", from my great-uncle's IWW Songbook, a cherished family heirloom.

I'd like to go to a ball game and hear "The Star Spangled Banner" sung at a normal speed, not slowed down to an impossible drone, preferably sung by one or more good clear voices -- a barbershop quartet, maybe.

I also know the words for "To Anachreon in Heaven". Pretty obscure if you don't know your classics, but funny if you do.

One of these days, this country will be invaded for real, like by an army, and then we'll all be singing the often-suppressed third verse ("No refuge could save / the hireling and slave / from the terror of flight / and the chill of the grave!"

As for "Ode to Joy" (actually, I prefer the earlier title "Ode to Freedom"), Tennyson's poem "Locksley Hall" sounds very nice sung to it: "'Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer / And the battle-flags were furled / In the Parliament of Man / The Federation of the World".

#34 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 01:41 AM:

John, don't forget "their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution" (a nod to La Marseillaise?).

Oliver Wendell Holmes also wrote an additional verse, but it's pretty bad.

#35 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 01:47 AM:

Here's the Esperanto version of the Internationale.

#36 ::: John From Uconn ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 01:51 AM:

I treated to a rousing version of "The Marine Corps Hymn" sung to the tune of "ghost rider in the sky", as sung by Jim Macdonald. It really made my literature class.

#37 ::: Victor Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 02:44 AM:

A friend of mine and I made independent but related discoveries: I, that "Murder by Numbers" can be sung to the tune of "These Boots Are Made For Walking;" and she, that "These Boots Are Made For Walking" can be sung to the tune of "Murder by Numbers." Now Sting won't stop telling her to be strong and independent, and Nancy Sinatra won't stop telling me to kill.

#38 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 03:12 AM:

I have a weakness for William Ernest Henley's Invictus being sung to anything, but most strongly for Amazing Grace. It's a beautiful thing.

#39 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 04:31 AM:

Do people here listen to I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue on BBC7? I know that when someone says "Oh, you'll like this" it usually turns out to be terrible, but honestly, you'll like this. One of the games they do is 'One Song To The Tune Of Another'. I think the best one they've ever done was 'Teenage Kicks' to the tune of 'Jerusalem'.

Coincidentally, I dreamed I was listening to the show the other night and they were doing 'Eyesight To The Blind' (from Tommy) to the tune of 'The British Grenadiers'. That one works pretty well.

#40 ::: hk-reader ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 04:35 AM:

I tried it and it worked brilliantly until line 8, it got kind of clumsy and didn't scan so well.

Same w/ Mack the Knife...

Singing it to Amazing Grace works a bit better.

And to the tune of Old 100th! Fits like a glove.

Thanks!

#41 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 04:46 AM:

With a bit of stretching, the rather splendid Soviet National Anthem, now the Russian ditto, can be sung with the words from "Stand By Me". ("when the NI-ight is COME and the LA-and is DARK /And the MOON is the ON-ly LIGHT we-e SEE..." etc)

I have a soft spot for these songs, since the only reason I passed my biochemistry and molecular biology papers was the Biochemist's Songbook - seventeen common metabolic pathways set to music.

#42 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 05:53 AM:

The New York City Math Teacher: Theresa, I pointed that out almost three years ago...

Would you take it personally if I told you to get the "h" out of here?

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 06:37 AM:

John Burt: The Red Flag was originally sung to the tune of The White Cockade. It can be heard here. (You have to scroll down till you come to the White Cockade version.)

#44 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 07:10 AM:

Adding a science-fictional touch, Ode to Joy is the usual choice of tune for Gordon R. Dickson's Battle Hymn of the Friendlies. This (as pointed out by Jo Walton long ago on rasfw) means that it too can be sung to the tune of Clementine.

"Soldier ask not, now or ever
Where to waaaaaaaaar your banners go"

#45 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 07:21 AM:

Get a friend (sucker) to help you, and you can sing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and the theme from Winnie the Pooh (silly little bear all stuffed with fluff) simultaneously.

I'm not sure if it works all the way through to the end. We usually crack up halfway through.

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 07:34 AM:

A tad off topic, but still related to music... When I go to work, I drive by a billboard from Presbyterian, my HMO, which says someone thinks of you when they hear that song. Get better.

Good thing I haven't been hearing The Ride of the Valkyries, what with my yearly review about to happen.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 07:46 AM:

Ma tante Marie, Rich? No auntie Marie in my family, but I do have a Rita. And a Marguerite.

#48 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 07:49 AM:

Further to Eve's mention of "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" they are also responsible for "Come on Baby Light my Fire" being sung to the tune of "The Red Flag".

#49 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 07:56 AM:

My wife noticed that the theme music for the first season of numb3rs had a pattern very similar to that famous song by the Talking Heads.

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

But she remains unconvinced by my suggestion that the song was inspired by the Twilight Zone's episode "The Parallel". That's the one where astronaut Steve Forrest goes up in a rocket and comes down. But he comes to realize that this is a different reality, a conclusion that his 'wife' also reaches when they kiss. When he makes it back, he goes home and says something about how she is his beautiful wife.

#50 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 07:58 AM:

I once knew an Anglican priest (sadly deceased) who told us that the guaranteed way to get rid of an earworm was to sing two verses of "The Church's One Foundation".

*Do not try this at home*. When we asked what to if we got stuck with that instead, he said, "Well, then you'd have to kill yourself, so at least it would only happen once."

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 08:14 AM:

Do you remember the year that UPN was born? Besides Star Trek - Voyager, they had Nowhere Man, with a theme music by Mark Snow. One day, they ran an ad for Voyager that was a montage of clips from various episodes, but with Nowhere Man's theme playing in the background. That made the Voyager's adventures sound much more interesting than they actually were.

#52 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 08:32 AM:

*points people in the direction of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue broadcast by the BBC*. About one week in three, they have a One Song To The Tune of Another round.

#53 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 10:03 AM:

Re: Little Town of Bethlehem/House of Rising Sun

Try either of those to "Alice's Restaurant.."

and/or "Greensleeves."

#54 ::: JoXn S Costello ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 10:10 AM:

You can sing La Marseillaise to the tune of I've been working on the railroad, at least up until the chorus.

#55 ::: JoXn S Costello ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 10:23 AM:

My favorite version of The International (there's an MP3 available with appropriate googling) is on Hannes Wader singt Arbeiterlieder (which is all around a marvelous CD). I appreciate big showy arrangements of tunes like La Marsellaise, but I think that workers' songs are best sung by a lusty, tipsy group with a vigorous guitar accompaniment. And that's what Wader gives you.

#56 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 10:38 AM:

When somebody mentioned mnemonics upthread, it reminded me of the way I learned to remember the categories for living things, for a loooong-ago science class: "Kingdom phylum class order faa-mily/Genus and species too/Just call on me and I'll send them along/With love from me to you." I think they've dropped one of those now (order?), but that's still the way it works for me!

#57 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 11:16 AM:

Incidentally, the Cohan song is called "The Yankee Doodle Boy."

#58 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 01:54 PM:

Larry Brennan wrote:
But, on the Gilligan's Island front, add Stairway to Heaven.

Wasn't looking for it,
but a little while after I read that post,
I found this link:

http://libraryofvinyl.blogspot.com/2005/11/mashistory-vol-1-stairway-to-gilligan.html

There's a link to an .mp3 on the page;
they cheat the lyrics a bit to make it work,
but there it is...

#59 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 02:28 PM:

The tune has alrerady been mentioned.

We are Fred Karno's army, we are the ragtime infantry.
We cannot fight, we cannot shoot, what bleeding use are we?
And when we get to Berlin we'll hear the Kaiser say,
'Hoch, hoch! Mein Gott, what a bloody rotten lot, are the ragtime infantry'


Quoted from here.

#60 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 02:47 PM:

While it also (perhaps with some stretching) fits most of the tunes and lyric-sets mentioned here, it has been scientifically proven by the cooks at Pinewoods Dance Camp that the tune "Lilliburlero" will happily drive out any godforsaken earworm you wish to let go of, and -AND! will then politely leave.

Of course, this was at a *dance* camp, mind you, with workshops over here and dancers over there and musicians costantly wandering about, so whether that's true for quieter or other-kinds-of-sounds-in-the-background places, I cannot tell.


From the cupboard of anecdotes that should please never die:
A dancing friend now in her 70s tells of how as a teenager she'd slouch to the kitchen for breakfast to her wobbly father's much too cheerful rendition of "Arise ye pris'ners of star-vaaaaaa-tion!"

#61 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 05:21 PM:

RuTemple: Is that 'wobbly father' or 'Wobbly father'?

I Wobble Wobble.

#62 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 06:39 PM:

For a truly disturbing experience, my husband discovered you can sing "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to the Gilligan's Island theme...

#63 ::: The New York City Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 06:39 PM:

Michael, I can take spelling corrections. I did not correct the spelling of Teresa's name. I should have checked that last night.

And I have a rich sense of humor, appreciating subtle wit and brash, laugh-out-loud boldness. Yes I do indeedy.


But, am I unwelcome on Making Light now?

#64 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 07:01 PM:

But, am I unwelcome on Making Light now?

Seems unlikely to me. I don't have anything to do with decisions like that, if such decisions are ever made, which I doubt. But in any case, I don't work here. I just crack jokes.

#65 ::: Ellen Fremedon ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2006, 11:01 PM:

I've never seen an Old English poem that didn't scan to "My Favorite Things" or to Tori Amos's "Me And A Gun."

And you can sing all of Homer (or, really, anything in dactylic hexameter) to "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

#66 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 02:10 AM:

Slightly tangentially to the mismatched words & music idea: The Australian ABC TV station has a weekly fun 'n' games Musical Quiz Show where one of the regular segments is for a member of each team to be handed a book and a list of three songs. They try to sing three random passages from the book to the three tunes. The teams have to work out what the songs are. It's often quite tricky to pick them, and, since they don't know what the songs or the book will be ahead of time, a challenge for the singers too.

The organizers try to pick abstruse or somewhat inappropriate titles, such as Tropical-style Interior Decorating, Pride and Prejudice, Cement Construction for the Home Handyman, Treasure Island, the Family Doctor, Statistical Analysis for Lower High School, A Home Brewer's Guide & so forth.

#67 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 03:48 AM:

Soul Flower Mononoke Summit are my heroes now.

If Seattle's Japantown is anywhere near the Potlatch hotel, I think a trip's in order. Some little store over there will have the album it's from.

On Teenage Kicks, the Cole Porters do a sweet version of it to the tune of Old Joe Clark.

#68 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 03:50 AM:

Oops... that last one was a straight up cover of Teenage Kicks. The one I'm thinking of is off of How Dark this Earth Will Shine.

#69 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 03:57 AM:

you can sing all of Homer to "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
"Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, polytropon hos mala polla plangchthe..."
Yup, you're right -- it works.

Someone mentioned that Dickson's "Soldier, ask not, now or ever..." works to "Clementine". I think it goes better to "La Cucaracha".

#70 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 10:37 AM:

I want a copy of "Don't Fear the Snowman!" Waah! Apparently it was released only as a tape, so heavens knows how I'll ever track one down.

#71 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 10:46 AM:

Pete Seeger used to do a routine showing how, with transpositions and grace notes and stuff, all songs worldwide were changes rung on five tunes (three?). "Old Joe Clark" and "Twinkle Twinkle" were involved . . . I think they're the same tune. Googling does me no good. But I saw him do it, more than once.

I did find a page of banjo player jokes, a livejournal which talks about a lot of the things I care about, and a page for Pete Seeger's songs that leads to download pages, but I used to depend on my father to manage that stuff for me, and now I guess I'll have to get my son to set me up to be independent in this. No, I don't want to do it by myself, though I know I could.

#72 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 11:18 AM:

Don't know about "Old Joe Clark," but "Twinkle Twinkle," "Baa baa black sheep" and the common American alphabet song are all the same melody.

[Wikipedia says the melody comes from the 1761 French tune "Ah! Vous dirais-je, Maman" and has other derivatives]

Learn something new every day...

#73 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 11:43 AM:

Poe's "The Raven" goes nicely to "Deck the Halls."

Once upon a midnight dreary
Fa la la la la, la la la la
While I pondered weak and weary
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

In similar vein, does anyone remember all those wonderful mnemonic lyrics for classical music?

"This is the symphony
That Schubert wrote and never finished"

"Ludwig Beethoven wrote this awful piece.
It wasn't me. That is for sure.
The money, all in cash, came from Elise.
So it was she he wrote it fur."

"Overtaken by a whim,
Not unusual for him,
Hadyn wrote a piece that's sym-
Phonically surprising."

"Morning is dawning
and Peer Gynt is yawning
And Grieg fell out of his bed."

"Iiiiif you would like to know the easiest way
To drive someone really craaaazy
All you have to do is play
Ravel's Bolero twenty times a day."


And, just fyi, that 100 latest pics on livejournal link contained, when I clicked it, some pics that are *very* inappropriate for the workplace. I should have figured it would, but I'm uncaffeinated right now.

(My bosses don't care if I read blogs at work that discuss dinosaur sodomy, but they do worry if it appears that I'm trying to find pictures of it.)

#74 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 12:07 PM:

But, am I unwelcome on Making Light now?

"Get the h out of here" was a punny reference to the h in 'Theresa', which didn't belong there, not a serious directive to make yourself scarce.

#75 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 03:30 PM:

In a discussion of earworms at Elizabeth Bear's Literary Beer at Boskone, "Mahna Mahna" was mentioned. Naturally, I had to let people hear Piero Umiliani's original version, written and recorded for the soundtrack of a sexploitation flick....

#76 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 03:49 PM:

The reason The Star Spangled Banner scans to the tune of To Anacreon in Heaven is because Americans started singing Francis Scott Key's poem to a popular English drinking song of the 1760s (see wikipedia), To Anacreon in Heaven!

#77 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2006, 04:06 PM:

"Mozart's in the closet,
Let him out, let him out, let him out"

#78 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2006, 07:18 AM:

My secondary school music teacher had written a complete set of mnemonic lyrics to the Haydn piece. Unfortunately, I recall little of it, apart from the closing couplet:

"Let this be a-warnin' ye:
Don't sleep in a Haydn symphony!"

#79 ::: Leslie M. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2006, 09:32 AM:

After reading a couple of Pratchett books containing Nanny Ogg and her Hedgehog Song, it occurred to me that it could be sung to the tune of "Mockingbird Hill".
An acquaintance of mine likes to distress people by singing "America the Beautiful" with a syllable missing in the first line, so it finishes one syllable early.
I think we also came up with a hybrid of "Alouette" and "Yellow Submarine" that seems to have slipped my mind, perhaps mercifully.

#80 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2006, 11:41 PM:

John Burt, I now have to share the anecdote of my grandmother, a good old English Socialist. At a Christmas fete, in her latter years, she was present when the vicar plumped himself down at the church piano and began to play O Tannenbaum.
"Here," she said. "That's The People's Flag!"

My mum noticed that The House of the Rising Sun and Amazing Grace are singable to each other, so now I am unable to distinguish them.
The Agincourt Carol to The Banana Boat Song (De-o, De-e-o, De-o gratias ANG-li-a)
Gilligan's Island to Greensleeves I think has already been mentioned?
It's possible to do a medieval dance to the Mr. Ed theme song, which I was told was called The Horse Bransle. I have not put this to the test.
And all ballads can be sung to Barbara Allen, I think.
-Barbara

#81 ::: afigbee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2006, 01:26 AM:

The Raven works great with the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic.


And the music for Gilligan's Island absolutely saves the Ballad of Lucy Jordan.

#82 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2006, 07:42 PM:

John M. Burt says:
I also know the words for "To Anachreon in Heaven". Pretty obscure if you don't know your classics, but funny if you do.

Indeed, my RevWar musicians' group was fond of calling it the 18th-century predecessor to Jimmy Buffet's "Why Don't We Get Drunk (And Screw)."

Really, what else would you call the encouragment to "entwine/The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' vine?"

#83 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2006, 07:49 PM:

"Overtaken by a whim,
Not unusual for him,
Hadyn wrote a piece that's sym-
Phonically surprising."

Sarah S., I learned that as:

Papa Haydn's dead and gone
But his memory lingers on
When in moods of joy or bliss
He wrote merry tunes like this.

#84 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2006, 02:49 PM:

I have just remembered an even better one of these from ISIHAC:

There Was An Old Man Called Michael Finnegan to the tune of House Of The Rising Sun.

It's so beautiful.

#85 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 08:54 PM:

Revisiting this thread late, and gratitude obliges me to add:


"Ludwig Beethoven wrote this awful piece.
It wasn't me. That is for sure.
The money, all in cash, came from Elise.
So it was she he wrote it fur."

Sarah S, thank you. This ditty here might just be the key to excising that awful, awful late '80s McDonald's commercial from my head.

(You know the one. With the little girl, and the piano recital, and her antipathy towards sharing her french fries with her brother. Its lyrics have jumped into my head every time since then that I hear or think of "Fur Elise." Whoever inflicted that ditty on my generation needs to be spoken to quite sternly and shaken by the shoulders until s/he's had enough, and then have tomato juice dumped on his head. Whilest wearing white.)

#86 ::: Afroblanco ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2006, 01:34 AM:

"Gilligan the Killer" = Gilligan's Island theme sung to the tune of Neil Young's Cortez the Killer.

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