jeudi 8 novembre 2012

On Satyric Songs

This one is for Owen

We were discussing the Song "Father's got the sack from the waterworks", which was cited by one Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Here is Chesterton's rendering, which I sounded with the melody which best seemed me to fit it, but I never actually heard it:

"Father's got the sack from the water-works
For smoking of his old cherry-briar;
Father's got the sack from the water-works
'Cos he might set the water-works on fire."

It is given in the essay or chapter Death of the Household Gods in the collection or monography Eugenics and Other Evils. One of my major decisive steps away from a near Satanic, though I did not think so at the time, sympathy for Nazism, which for the bettter soon passed away. But the men who helped me away from it have both been maligned. Gilbert Keith has been confounded with his cousin A. K. Chesterton who sympathised with Mosley. My school friend was maligned or is even now maligned along with me as having been a Sodomite Friendship, which we were not. Here is the link to that essay:

Gilbert Keith Chesterton » Eugenics and Other Evils » The End of the Household Gods

Now, that is satyre, because it shows the absurdity of certain employers or - in one rendering foremen - with hygienic preoccupations and with thinking themselves superiors to the workers in respects where they are strictly equal just because there is one where they are not, to wit proprietorship and decision making powers about the company. If the municipal or private water tower decides when the father in question comes to work, that is a reasonable kind of superiority, since they work together and take turns about making work what has to work around the clock. The superiority is not so much a natural as a conventional one. The one who decides when people get to work is not better at it than everybody else, but one has to do it, the one, whichever he is, who does it is superior to the chaos of everyone deciding for themselves when to get to the waterwork, as long as they are employed at it. But when it comes to decide on a thing like smoking, the worker and the emloyer (or foreman) are strictly equal fellow men, images of God, sons of Adam, souls for whom God took manhood in Nazareth and died on the Cross of Calvary. The normal thing is that a worker decides if he smokes and an employer if he smokes. The worker cannot tell his employer "I want you to smoke" or "not to smoke" so the employer should not tell his worker whether to smoke or not.

Obvious exceptions to that would be accomodating one worker who has asthma (non-smoking) or working with food (non-smoking) or when patients with asthma are to be met (non-smoking in hospitals), and equally an exception would be where one has to smoke in order to test a pipe or tobacco blend (for smoking). Apart from that, any employer who tells his employees not to smoke is playing God with them. And above song is a very fair satyre about their superfluous worries which they use for excusing that intolerable habit.

Sometimes of course foremen are worse than employers. When googling for the title line, I found this variety:

"Father got the sack from the waterworks
For smoking his little cherry briar
The foreman, Joe
Told him he must go
'Cos he might set the waterworks on fire".

That variety I would sing to a somewhat different melody, because it is a different rhythm. A bit more like some inflections in older US Folk Music (pre-country-western). Getting the complete text seems difficult. There is however some hope of seeing it as a film, if you can get hold of it:

IMDb > Father's Got the Sack from the Waterworks (1916)

For some reason, the Sheetmusic Warehouse where I should have been able to order the music sheets with lyrics, has gotten this song out of stock:

The Sheetmusic Warehouse : Father's Got the Sack From the Water Works by W&M: C.Collins, T.Sullivan Copyright from 1915 (=expired)

Sorry, this item is no longer available, please click here to go back to the home page

That remark, from "UK's leading supplier of out of print sheet music" is in itself material for satyric lyrics. I wonder if there is any page on the internet where one can get all stanzas. If someone thought it too heavily attacking on employers and foremen, and asked The Sheetmusic Warehouse (whose business idea is to keep available what the original supplier does not keep available) no longer to keep it available, that might explain the thing.

Otherwise we might perhaps look for a reprint, since the copyright is expired (it was I who added that remark by the way)?

It reminds me slightly of when Bill Gates, a leading supplier of freedom of speech on the web, in 2009, february, closed down each and every MSN Group which had ever been created as a forum under his auguries, including my two. Antimodernism and TheRoadGoesEverOnAndOn. The smaller one dealt with Tolkien and my pilgrimage to Santiago and I tried to transfer it to the new forums he created: Multiply. However, even a realtively small group (few messages and threads that is) could not transfer all threads and messages correctly to Multiply. What were my hopes for the larger one?

I started copying as much of it as I could onto newmade blogs for that purpose. I saved much, but I think more than half of my work went down the sink, perhaps because Bill Gates does not believe in freedom of communication as much as he pretends to. Also a material for satyric songs, if you like.

I wrote one myself, in French, about quite another matter: the pseudo-responsibility by which abortion and contraceptive practises are often excused or even extolled. Here:

un jacobite : Mon fils encore non conçu

I did not think this was obscure poetry at all. I thought the sarcasm was pretty obvious in lines like:

Mon fils pourra tuer un homme:
Je devrais le guillotiner!
Mon fils pourra violer une femme:
Je devrais le fair' avorter!

I mean, death penalty is in the ordinary course of things applied for things a culprit has already done, not for something he possibly could do in the future. And that links to the absurdity of abortion or contraception "for social responsibility" and in "preventive crime repression". It links to the absurdity of any mother from any class, even those sometimes called "criminal classes", aborting to prevent herself from being the mother of a criminal. Or listening to a doctor who asks her to do that. Especially as it is pretty doubtful whether a rapist should be executed or have more lenient punishment. And especially as drinking too much rhum (my third exemple in following lines) is not a capital offense in any legislation, not even Saudi Arabia (barbarious as are their customs of punishing drunkards or those even tasting alcohol).

As with responsibility for society, avoiding to give birth to criminals or bums, so with responsibility to the unborn. Guillotining someone will of course cure a sore throat, but you just do not do that for purely curative purposes. And the near devout tone in the third stanza about the pretty disgusting methods there are to avoid procreation (everyone who is not satyrising them talks about them anyway), should be pretty obvious as sarcasm. AND, if that were not enough, I make a turnabout in the fourth stanza saying I did not really mean it and stating what I really mean:

Mais si je crois la Providence
Je vais pas le guillotiner!
On doit pas prévenir tout cas en avance:
Je vais pas alors l’avorter!

A little later, some people were looking worried when I talked about my writings on the internet and this song. Maybe the sarcasm was not obvious enough to them. So, I wrote a comment in which I link to it condemning abortion:

En français sur Antimodernism : C KOI, L'IVG?

I also wrote a reply on the sometimes environmental worries that I satyrise in the second stanza as motives for population control.

En français sur Antimodernism : Jamais

Never has one heard of a population that grew until its resources no longer fed it and then it died off from hunger. Never ever. As for resources in certain non-vital resources, like electricity or gazoline, I stated one could live without that before and can live without that again:

En français sur Antimodernism : Après le pétrol et l'uranium - quoi?

En français sur Antimodernism : On peut vivre ...

On peut vivre sans se faire dépendre des grosses companies privées, communales, départementales ou étatiques - à qui de l’empêcher?

Well, it seems the Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Greek Orthodox version, there being a Roman Catholic and an Anglican as well) is seeing the wisdom of this, since the Israeli held waterworks of Jerusalem for very long allowed them to not pay the bills, since they were a Church and now is demanding the accumulated debt for years and years in the past referring to a law forbidding the kind of deal that was made inofficially. You might, if you like write a satyric song about that kind of duplicity.

And yes, I admitted I had a part of personal nostalgia in returning to simpler technologies of heating and illumination of the human home:

En français sur Antimodernism : Pourquoi Antimodernisme - contre l'électricité aussi?

But I have still not gotten any overt guffaws about the satyre in the song "Mon fils encore non conçu". So, I tried to make a comment on September 11th on FB:

HGL's F.B. writings : Mes Trois Derniers Statuts : Le 11 Septembre

I can see about three possible reasons why the French are not laughing their arses off at my satyre on abortion and contraception:

1) They have no sense of satyre. They never buy Le Canard Enchaîné or Fluide Glacial or Charlie Hebdo. They never admire the caricatures of CHARD. The satyric bent of French humour is a myth.
2) Someone knowing the satyric song is by me and having a heavy prejudice against me might think I am uncapable of satyre, of enjoying or of producing it. Even if he has the good taste to laugh at a caricature by CHARD, he does not dare do so with anything ever written by me.
3) They have a sense of satyre. They are not quite uncapable of imagining me as a satyrist. They might even imagine I am satyric where I really am not, or not intentionally. BUT : they are so accustomed to responsibility and population control as ideologies that they cannot imagine anyone satyrising it, and if I appear to do so they think it must be a mistake. Why would anyone as intelligent and friendly as me satyrise something as holy and good as killing babies for their own best interest? Who would not rush to cutting off throats to prevent them gettintg sore in the future once you think of it? If one does not like that perspective, is it not best to avoid mentioning that consequence of modern ideologies?

Now, either of these perspectives is a deterrent for me to write another satyric song, for the moment. But if you feel more cheerful and more optimistic about the intelligence of the audience, go ahead, I have given you a few materials!

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Mouffetard, Paris
St Geoffrey of Amiens

1 commentaire:

  1. If you want to actually hear "Father got the sack from the water works", there is a chance:

    This is a publicity for a CD.