Surrealist Epic Post-Thanksgiving Poem, 2022 Edition

As I first noted here, the following epic poem is technically Dadaist, not Surrealist.

For the history of my multi-hour solo post-Thanksgiving-meal cleanup, please see here. As with 2021, despite there being only only five of us (my wife Nell and I, our two daughters and the cousin, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, who officiated at our wedding), there was still a substantial amount of cleaning. Oh, “The Admiral” returned, clad this time in a blue-and-green plaid scarf and white dinner napkin. When I tried to feed him, someone pointed out he was not real. “I know that,” I responded, “but he doesn’t!”

Unlike last year, I had already prepared the mix – 50 tracks totaling just over 3½ hours (up sharply from 37 and < 2½ hours in 2021) – the night before. My eclectic taste in music is well-established, and this mix is no different. The tracks range from Dinah Shore’s iconic 1942 recording of “Blues in the Night” to two early 1980s Def Leppard tracks, from Bernard Herrmann’s pulse-pounding opening theme to the 1951 film noir On Dangerous Ground to the melancholic ache of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone,” which anchors the end of the mellow-cholic Dazed and Confused. The most recent track is Sleater-Kinney’s bittersweet “A Quarter to Three,” from 1999’s The Hot Rock. This mix leans a bit older, with a median release year of 1981.5. While just over half (54%) of the tracks were released in the 1980s, 14 (28%) were released in the 1970s and six (12%) released in the 1990s. The third pre-1970s track is “Pushin’ Too Hard,” releases by The Seeds in 1966.

In a change from the 2019 and 2021 mixes, the 2022 mix has fewer tracks with generic classifications New Wave, Post-Punk and SynthPop (11, down from 14 in 2021), though adding two Folk Punk tracks from the Violent Femmes makes it closer; these 13 tracks were released between 1979 and 1984. No generic classification tops seven tracks (three variations of Alternative Rock), though adding Indie Rock makes nine (all released between 1984 and 1999). Other forms of “rock” tend to dominate: Progressive Rock (4), Rock (3), Hard and Pop Rock (2 each), and Country Rock, Folk Rock, Garage Rock, Glam Metal, Heavy Metal, Rock and Roll, Southern Rock (1 each); these 18 tracks were released between 1966 and 1988. The remaining 10 tracks are a motley collection of Pop (3), Disco (2), Blues, Contemporary Folk, Freestyle, Soul Disco and Soundtrack (1 each).

Unlike 2021, meanwhile, when only one track repeated from 2019, there are eight repeat tracks from 2022: “Sweet Emotion” (Aerosmith), “Debonair” and “Gentlemen” (Afghan Wigs), “Belly of the Whale” (Burning Sensations), “It’s a Miracle” and “Miss Me Blind” (Culture Club), “Shadowplay” (Joy Division) and “Cruisin’” (Michael Nesmith); “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey returns from 2019. These repeat selections, as always, are unintentional; I simply wanted to hear what I wanted to hear while cavorting about the kitchen and dining room, working my cleaning magic, Casper the Friendly Golden (aka The Butterscotch Bandit) watching my every move. That said, while there were eight Culture Club tracks in 2021, no artist topped two appearances (n=7) this year. Finally, for the second year in a row, the Part 2 Overture is from Mitchell Froom’s synth-cool soundtrack for the adult film Café Flesh.

And with that – the epic journey begins.

**********

Part 1

Overture: Prelude to On Dangerous Ground by Bernard Herrmann, performed by The City of Prague Orchestra

What is it in the nature of man

That makes us hate and cheat

And steal and kill?

Why do people get off on bigotry

Intolerance and racial intolerance?

There’s something wrong with human nature

I say you’ll miss me

And you always do

I say you’ll miss me

Now would I lie to you

Only love can be to blame

If we lose our love, it’s a (shame)

Ooh, I wouldn’t want to live with the pain

Gonna stay forever

The mountain is high, the valley is low

And you’re confused ’bout which to go

So I flew in to give you a hand

And lead you into the promised land

Come on and take a free ride

And my tires were slashed and I almost crashed,

But the Lord had mercy

And my machine, she’s a dud, out stuck in the mud

Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey

Well, hold on tight, stay up all night, ’cause Rosie, I’m comin’ on strong

By the time we meet the morning light, I will hold you in my arms

It’s taken miles and lines

To learn the right from the wrong

I’ll keep you hanging on

So, don’t tell me you love me

Don’t tell me you love me

Don’t tell me I don’t want to know

Between the bottles in a mirror

I’m smiling at myself

Look in my eyes and start to count

The bottles on the shelf

Mm-hm, mm-hm

Bottles on the shelf

Back on the train, I ask why did I come again?

Can I confess, I’ve been hanging round your old address?

And the years have proved

To offer, nothing since you’ve moved

You’re long gone, but I can’t move on

And I miss you (like the deserts miss the rain)

You can see it in my eyes

I can feel it in your touch

You don’t have to say a thing

Just let me show how much

I love you, need you, oh babe

Will you tell them about that far off and mythical land

About their leader with the famous face?

Will you tell them that the reason nothing ever grows

In the garden anymore

Because he wanted to win the craziest race

That’s this world over

Well I heard a rumour of a golden age

Somewhere back along the line

Maybe I dreamed it in a whisper or

Heard it in a spell

It was something to do with the sign of the times

And the only thing that I remember

Is a summer like a pretty girl

Who shimmers and shines

Moving in time

Shaking to the beat of the heart of the world…party

From an uptown apartment

To a knife on the A train

It’s not that far

From the sharks in the penthouse

To the rats in the basement

It’s not that far

To the bag lady frozen asleep in the park

Oh no, it’s not that far

But it gets me nowhere to tell you, “No”

And it gets me nowhere to make you go

Will a little more love make you stop depending?

Will a little more love bring a happy ending?

Will a little more love make it right?

Will a little more love make it right?

In I come and out you go, you get

Here we are again now, place your bets

Is this the time

The time to win or lose

Is this the time

The time to choose

All this machinery making modern music

Can still be open-hearted

Not so coldly charted, it’s really just a question

Of your honesty, yeah, your honesty

One likes to believe in the freedom of music

But glittering prizes and endless compromises

Shatter the illusion of integrity, yeah

Go now, you’ve been set free

Another month or so you’ll be poisoning me

With your lovely smile

I see you slither away with your skin and your tail

Your flickering tongue and your rattling scales

Like a real reptile

You hear laughter

Cracking through the walls

It sends you spinning

You have no choice

Following the footsteps

Of a rag doll dance

We are entranced

Well all I want is to just be free

Live my life the way I wanna be

All I want is to just have fun

Live my life like it’s just begun

But you’re pushin’ too hard

Pushin’ too hard on me (too hard)

I need someone, a person to talk to,

Someone who’d care to love — could it be you? Could it be you?

The situation gets rough, and I start to panic;

It’s not enough, it’s just a habit and, kid, you’re sick…

Well, darling, this is it…

There may be some explanation

Why you feel the way you do

The world makes its rotations

But I just want to turn to you

[Turn to you]

Come on let me turn to you

Today I found a message floating

In the sea from you to me

You wrote that when you could see it

You cried with fear, the point was near

Was it you that said

How long, how long, how long to the point of no return?

Only you can make me feel this way

I give you all

Come on

Let’s get away

This love I feel

Will never, ever fade

I give you more and more

So…to hold on to the dream

(Let me be the one)

You can trust me at any time

You’re such a secret, misty-eyed and shady

Lady how you hold the key

Oh, you’re like a candle, your flame is slowly fadin’

Burnin’ out and burnin’ me

Can’t you see?

Just try and say to you

You’re bringin’ on the heartache

Got to find the brightness in the soul.

Not look outside to find out where we are.

Oh, you won’t be satisfied.

‘Til you make possessions of the stars.

She’s making it all come true … this time.

Part 2

Overture: Thrill Factor from Café Flesh, by Mitchell Froom

When I get to be in your arms

When we’re all, all alone

When you whisper sweet in my ear

When you turn, turn me on

That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh

I like it, uh huh, uh huh

And once again

The monster speaks

Reveals his face and searches for relief

A little boy is tied to you

Attracted only ’til it comes unglued

I pulled into town in a police car

Your daddy said I took it just a little too far

You’re telling her things but your girlfriend lied

You can’t catch me ’cause the rabbit done died

Yes it did

Baby, it’s no good

We’re just asking for trouble

I can touch you

But I don’t know how to love you

It ain’t no use

We’re headed for disaster

Our minds said no

But our hearts were talking faster

Leah

Dance with the counterfeit

The plastic smiles and micro heat

I’ll meet you there, I’ll meet you there

Run to the edge of town

Where Hollywood lay its footprints down

Monroe was there but do you really care

The stars that shine

And the stars that shrink

In the face of stagnation the water runs

Before your eyes

Dazzle it’s a glittering prize

Dazzle it’s a glittering prize

Before your eyes

It’s a glittering prize

My mama done told me

When I was in pig tails

My mama done told me, Hon

A man’s gonna sweet talk

And give you the big eye

But when the sweet talkin’s done

A man is a two face, a worrisome thing

Who’ll leave you singin’

The blues in the night

My heart is on fire

My soul’s like a wheel that’s turnin’

My love is alive

My love is alive

Yeah, yeah, yeah

The three of them were standing, staring at each other

When the light behind their eyes blew each other’s cover

The ancient code was branded

And each of them was handed

A ticket to their kingdom

‘Cause they saw their brother Sunset Sam

And he, he must have been a genius

He told me so himself

Every morning at the breakfast table

Doing crosswords in his sleep

Every evening in the dark

Making love with open eyes

The train roll on

A many miles from my home,

See I’m, I’m riding my blues away, yeah

Well Tuesday, you see

Oh, she had to be free, Lord

But somehow I got to carry on, Lordy

A nice breeze blows in

Whenever the big fella cracks a grin

And when the time and the place is right

We sit down, sip some bouillabaisse

Going down the kitchen at the top of the stairs

Can I mix in with your affairs?

Share a smoke, make a joke, grasp and reach for a leg of hope

Words to memorize, words hypnotize, words make my mouth exercise.

Words all failed the magic prize; nothing I can say when I’m in your thighs

Dreh’ dich nicht um, schau, schau,

Der Kommissar geht um!

Er wird dich anschau’n

Und du weißt warum.

Die Lebenslust bringt dich um.

Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

There’s no time to waste let’s get the show on the road

Listen to the music and let your body flow

The sooner we begin the longer we got to groove

Listen to the music and let your body move

Caravan

Moving through the night, sleeping in the light of day

Caravan

Spinning through the void, on our way to anywhere

Caravan

Time is just a joke change is all we understand

Caravan

Life is a mirage, only a mirage

Dancing on the desert sand

Your attention, please

Now turn off the light

Your infection, please

I haven’t got all night

Understand, do you understand?

Understand, I’m a gentleman

I’m a gentleman

This town is our town

(This town)

It is so glamorous

Bet you’d live here if you could

And be one of us

It’s gotta be a strange twist of fate

Telling me that heaven can wait

Telling me to get it right this time

Life doesn’t mean a thing without the love you bring

Love is what we’ve found the second time around

You got some kinda hold on me

You’re all wrapped up in mystery

So wild and free, so far from me

You’re all I want, my fantasy

Oh, look what you’ve done to this rock n’ roll clown

Oh-oh, look what you’ve done

I gotta have you

Photograph

I realize the best part of love is the thinnest slice

And it don’t count for much

But I’m not letting go

I believe there’s still much to believe in

So lift your eyes if you feel you can

Reach for a star and I’ll show you a plan

I figured it out

What I needed was someone to show me

I did everything, everything I wanted to

I let them use you for their own ends

To the center of the city in the night, waiting for you

To the center of the city in the night, waiting for you

And do you feel scared?

I do

But I won’t stop and falter

And if we throw it all away

Things can only get better

Nothing bad, nothing free

There’s nothing left

For me to feel

It’s like goin’ to bed at a quarter to three

Finally tired, finally empty

The conclusion of the 2019 essay still rings true:

Perhaps, just as Jews on Passover spread the reading of the Haggadah across multiple family members and guests, you could use these stanzas to defuse your next fractious gathering. Simply have each person present read a stanza, cycling through everyone until the final one. I expect the utter nonsense of the successive passages will serve as a much- needed distraction.

And, of course, here is the actual playlist:

Prelude from On Dangerous GroundThe City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra1951
Human NatureClail, Gary/ On-U Sound System1991
Miss Me BlindCulture Club1983
ShameEvelyn “Champagne” King1977
Free RideThe Edgar Winter Group1972
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)Bruce Springsteen1973
Don’t Tell Me You Love MeNight Ranger1982
The Evening’s YoungYello1981
MissingEverything But the Girl1994
Kiss You All OverExile1978
This World OverXTC1984
World PartyThe Waterboys1988
Walking Down MadisonKirsty MacColl1991
A Little More LoveOlivia Newton-John1978
WireU21984
The Spirit of RadioRush1980
ReptileThe Church1988
SpellboundSiouxsie & The Banshees1981
Pushin’ Too HardThe Seeds1966
Kiss OffViolent Femmes1983
Turn to YouThe Go-Go’s1984
Point of Know ReturnKansas1977
Let Me Be The OneExpose1987
Bringin’ On The HeartbreakDef Leppard1981
All Come TrueWorld Party & Steve Wickham1987
Thrill Factor (Cafe Flesh Opening Theme)Mitchell Froom1984
That’s The Way (I Like It)K.C. & The Sunshine Band1975
DebonairAfghan Wigs1993
Sweet EmotionAerosmith1975
Ah! Leah!Donnie Iris1980
It’s a MiracleCulture Club1983
DazzleSiouxsie & The Banshees1984
Blues in the NightDinah Shore1942
Love Is AliveGary Wright1975
Cruisin’Michael Nesmith1979
He Must Have Been a GeniusUncle Bonsai1984
Tuesday’s GoneLynyrd Skynyrd1973
Belly of the WhaleBurning Sensations1982
Add It UpViolent Femmes1983
Der KommissarFalco1981
Boogie Oogie OogieA Taste of Honey1978
CaravanUtopia1979
GentlemenAfghan Wigs1993
This TownThe Go-Go’s1981
Twist of FateOlivia Newton-John1983
PhotographDef Leppard1983
Lost In LoveAir Supply1980
ShadowplayJoy Division1979
Things Can Only Get BetterHoward Jones1985
A Quarter to ThreeSleater-Kinney1999

You are welcome.

Until next time…please wear a mask as necessary to protect yourself and others – and if you have not already done so, get vaccinated against COVID-19! And if you like what you read on this website, please consider making a donation. Thank you.

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