Disco dancer, I love the way you move
Disco dancer, I love the way you groove
Disco dancer, I love your bouncy boobs

--Ralph Lowe, “Disco Dancer, You're The Answer”

ARE YOUR SONGS WORTH MONEY?

Yes – but not to you. Only to the song-poem producers, AKA the song sharks. You’ve seen the ads in the backs of magazines. You wanna be a star, so you send in your lyrics and a few hundred dollars (to cover the production costs), and they return your words set to music. And they promise to share your future hit with major record labels. --Anyway, you get some CDs (or cassettes or records, I guess). Is it a scam? Yes, in that the company most assuredly has no dealings with major labels– you silly naïf! But it’s also legit, in that you do get recordings of your words put to music, performed by actual musicians, for just a few hundred bucks.

Along by our knowledge of the well-kept adage by the more of all helpin' with the all of coulds.
--Thomas J. Guygax, Sr., “At the Time”

Song-poems have been around for decades, so of course they are an absolute treasure of good old American weirdness, sincerity, wanna-be superstardom, painful narcissism – truly the stuff of wrist-to-forehead “Oh, the humanity!” (And also, in the case of Guygax, case studies of interest to Oliver Sacks.) They have been well-documented: in the film Off the Charts, in the American Song-Poem Music Archives, and on many compilations, notably Don Bolles I’m Just the Other Woman.

I got high last night on LSD
My mind was beautiful, and I was free
Warts loved my nipples because they are pink
Vomit on me, baby
Yeah Yeah Yeah.

--John Trubee, “Blind Man’s Penis”

In 1976, a teenaged John Trubee saw the prank potential in the song-poem biz and soon thereafter became the proud creator of cult classic “Blind Man’s Penis” (originally “Stevie Wonder’s Penis”), which surely you’ve heard of, if not heard. He documented his song-poem saga in Spin in September 1985: “I thought to myself: wouldn't it be fun to send these people the most ridiculous, stupid, vile, obscene, retarded lyrics to see their response?” Yes. Yes it would. The response: “We have just received your lyrics and think they are very worthy of being recorded with the full Nashville Sound Production... Please sign and return along with $79.95…” The song got airplay on KROQ and was eventually released by Enigma Records. Yes, it could happen to you!

Song-poems really must be heard to be enjoyed, so why don’t you go listen to some now? I leave you with this tender love song:

You’re so exciting like a cooked meat on a plate
You’re so much better than all the vitamins in one egg
You’re my favorite chicken leg
--Michael Fraulino, “Chicken Leg


Sources:
http://www.songpoemmusic.com/
http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/offthecharts/film.html

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