Topic-icon Lyrics modification

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5 months 4 days ago #4279 by kevinmcsherry

Hi all,
Have any of you Thackronauts ever modified the lyrics of any of his songs? For example, in the last verse of The Bull, where Jake sings, "Those well known men, so over-glorified, there's one of 'em here, his name's on the poster outside", I sing as, "...and it's the singers that I really can't abide". It's not as clever or good but I'm not Jake and to refer to a poster would fall flat: It's unlikely that any venue would have me, so at least I can make a similar point by referring to the singer. Otherwise, it's down to the cellar to get the jar of aspic. :)

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
Best wishes,
Kevin, a poor sinner.


Ortega 'Private Room' Acacia hybrid acoustic/classical guitar.

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5 months 1 day ago - 5 months 1 day ago #4280 by Malcy

Lordy !

Bless me, Father, for I too have sinned and it has been 34 years since my last confession. I will have to put some thought into cataloguing my own transgressions in this area and they are legion, as regular Jakefest-goers will testify.

In the meantime, I, too, have also changed this "there's one of them here, his name's on the poster outside" line for the infinitely much more frequent occasions that there is no poster of me outside : I often do
"...we all go to see them, with names on the posters outside..."
followed by
"...they are all up here like this, and you are all down there..."
Earlier in the same song, and if anyone in the audience knows me well enough, I occasionally slip in some of my own hobbies in the second verse :
"...when I'm eating or juggling or reading or thinking or when
I'm running a Marathon
she will never stop talking..."
I also try and sneak in the day of the week the folk club/gig is on -
"...She talks to me when I go for a shave or a sleep or a beer,
she talks to me on a Thursday when I come singing here,
and drinking heavily..."

That last one's a good trick to do in Castleford Ladies too, tweaking the name of the town and day to match the venue :
"The Stourbridge Ladies' magical circle meets tonight..." etc
and
"...be careful where you go on a Thursday night..."

And I haven't even got to the modern euphemisms for tupping that occasionally litter my versions of Bantam Cock yet, which quite rightly offend all right-minded Jake purists... Mea culpa, mea culpa...


Eranu !
Last Edit: 5 months 1 day ago by Malcy.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Dave Knibb

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5 months 1 day ago #4281 by kevinmcsherry

Thanks Fr. Malcy, That sounds like absolution to me...

"...we all go to see them, with names on the posters outside..."
followed by
"...they are all up here like this, and you are all down there..."

That's better than my solution!

In fact, the job is to offend women, Catholics and Jake purists.

Uvavu!

Kevin


Ortega 'Private Room' Acacia hybrid acoustic/classical guitar.

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5 months 3 hours ago - 5 months 3 hours ago #4282 by Malcy

Hiya, Kevin, and all.

First, a caveat : I'm in no way qualified to grant absolution for any of your lyrical or musical transgressions, sir - I'm barely grown-up enough to police my own :o) Any inferred absolution you get from me is not worth the pixels that it's typed on, the value of shares may go down as well as up, the judges' opinions are final and may contain nuts...

Right - I've been through the 58 Jake songs I do and have surprised myself to find that I only tweak the lyrics to 8 of them, including "On Again" and "Castleford Ladies" as confessed above. Generally, as a card-carrying Thackorak, I do try to get the words completely correct, with (admittedly) varying levels of success ; and certainly busking improvised tweaks while trying to get the rest of the real words correct too is fraught with danger ! However, mea culpa, I do change the odd lyric, mostly for either modernisation, clarity, or the inserting of in-jokes with familiar members of the audience, in a vain attempt to personalise their experience a bit. On the last reason, Jake did this himself - he would change the name of the burglar who has disguised himself as the hairy and deep-voiced Sister Josephine to the name of any friend he'd know was in the audience, and there are recorded versions of him singing "Big Bad Bernard", "Big Bad Norman" or (the one I originally learned and stick to) "Big Bad Desmond".

The biggie for most people is whether you sing "raped" (Family Tree) and "rapists" (Bantam Cock). Rape was hardly a humorous crime in the 70s and is no more or less heinous now, and for effect, Jake was debatably veering between brazen, brave and unwise, to pen the original words at all. Family Tree isn't that frequently performed, so Uncle Sebastian's proclivities don't usually tax a performer : but Bantam Cock is a popular and famous Jake song, and most Jake players have got past the venal list of the Cock's farmyard activities only to be confronted with the personal choice to sing, or not to sing, "the way that rapists do" at the end. I am not at all a revisionist or retconner by nature, and find the whitewashing of history and culture offensive, from glossing over the Holocaust, airbrushing out cigarettes from the cover of Abbey Road, to the use of today's political correctness as a method of brushing disabilities under the carpet ; so I have no problem with singing "raped" or "rapist" in either song, and have done in the past and will do so in the future. Other Jake performers I've seen have variously sung "once had a duchess", "once bonked a duchess", "the way that demons do", "the way that perverts do" etc, and I have no problem with all of those either, as personal freedoms to do such things are also important to me. I'm not necessarily the bravest, though, and sometimes, in front of a comparatively larger audience of strangers, my use of these unsettling words gets subsumed by caution despite my noble intentions, and I bottle out. I have, however, recently taken to singing "the way that Radio 1 DJs do" and rather like the effect...

Sometimes I change a Jake phrase because I don't think people will get it any more, especially if I play in front of a younger audience., I'm not saying that many people nowadays will get On Again's "e posteriori" either but the
"e posteriori / also, I like..."
and
"a posterior / I also, I like..."
joke is so central and apposite to the song that it would spoil the song not to sing the line. However, in my humble opinion, something like Isobel's "surds were little flowers with square roots" only vaguely means anything sensible even to me, a professional IT guy with a bent for maths and a grammar school education, and it seems to me that it could be replaced by something more current and just as witty without changing the ethos of the song at all. I started singing Isobel in the 80s and was even into computers then, so I used to geekily sing "and Apricots and Apples were just fruit" instead, but Apricots are even more historically obscure than surds now, so that's put the mockers on that one...

Similarly, sometimes I don't even get it myself. In the same song, Jake rhymes admiring "musicians, maestros, virtuosos" with "the only tune that I know well is Ring-a-Rosoes" which I find rather sloppy and shoe-horned, meself, almost as if he'd have written "the only tune that I know well is Ring-a-Ranties" if he'd had to rhyme it with "dillettantes". So I try and stick a current but over-hyped or despised song title in there if I can think of one - Jedward songs, James Blunt songs and One Direction songs have all guested and there is a fall-back of "the only tune that I know well is Pretty Vacant" if I can't think of one. I have certainly never sung "Ring-a-Rosoes" and never intend to.

Sometimes it's a tweak to make the song slightly less focussed around Jake as the singer, by which I mean not singing "his name's on the poster outside" when it's not me on the poster. On the rare occasions I sing Family Tree I go for "it's up with the Jeffreys" but it wouldn't work for a singer called Smith, even if you consider it works for me singing it. ;o) I do Freda quite a lot and always change "I sang to her on my guitar" to "I played her Jake on my guitar".

The last reason I'd change things is to add a local reference to the song in a "Hello Cleveland !!!" / "Scream for me, Long Beach !!" vain attempt to personalise a performance slightly for the hapless audience I'm inflicting myself on. I've already mentioned "be careful where you go on a Monday night" / "because the Leicester ladies' magical circle meets tonight", but one simple, geeky one is getting a bus route right for where you're playing in The Hole, rather than the original "opposite the bus stop of the no. 74". I don't drive myself so will often arrive at a gig by bus, and if it's got a 4 on the end of the route then in it goes : 294 for the Norton circular in my home town of Stourbridge, 154 if I'm playing in a folk club in Wolverhampton that I occasionally spot in, and there was once a Jakefest in The Wirral where the 124 went past the community centre we were playing in. It doesn't always fit, and I dare say no-one ever notices either, but it's a little geeky game I play with myself.
One brilliant, brilliant thing that some of the other Jake players on this forum do, is to arrive at a town we're playing, and as part of their pre-gig research, they hunt out the local cenotaph and write down 20 of the names on it. That night, they'll play The Cenotaph, and to balance the opening "Eileen Barrowclough, Betty Nelson, Susan Haverley" litany of wives' names, and to add local poignancy to an already poignant song, they'll finish off reading the list of local war dead they've compiled that afternoon to the rhythm of the song, as a coda. One player told me that there may be people in that audience whose relatives are on that list, and another told me that if possible he will collect three people's names who share the same surname : all to underline the point that war affects us all, locally, nationally and globally, and both individually and as families. In the same way that someone, somewhere, will put a pound in a tin for (say) breast cancer and it will be the pound that pays for the breakthrough that leads to the cure, is it too much to hope for that singing a tweaked Cenotaph to the right audience may not bring about a tip in some balance which leads to unilateral disarmament or a change in foreign policy ? Stranger things have happened...

Malcy
x


Eranu !
Last Edit: 5 months 3 hours ago by Malcy.

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4 months 4 weeks ago #4286 by Dave Knibb

I regularly sing The Warrington Ladies Magical Circle - I'm sure Jake would have approved.


Dave Knibb
The following user(s) said Thank You: kevinmcsherry

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4 months 4 weeks ago #4287 by kevinmcsherry

Thanks Malcy, researching the family names from the local Cenotaph is certainly a great idea.
I only know about four or five JT songs confidently at this stage; having taken up the guitar late. I inflict them incessantly on my poor family - and On Again, On Again isn't even one of them (yet).

Best wishes to you all,
Kevin


Ortega 'Private Room' Acacia hybrid acoustic/classical guitar.

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