.

Everyone Knows

Fog and smoke!
Such confusion we’re subject to!
So much danger to me and you
From the yahoos without a clue!

Now we’re woke!
It’s high time that we reassess
This society’s thorough mess.
Toward utopia we will press!

.

1.
Our experts tell us, “Build back better”;
We’ll follow them to the letter,
Led by the nose, everyone knows.

We heed society’s far fringes,
Although they are off their hinges,
All crazy crows. Everyone knows.

Opinion is fact today,
And truth’s slack today,
We’re not fools today:
Science rules today.
We’re complex today:
We change our sex today.
All may wear ribbons and bows.

Now womankind are equal players:
Trans athletes, gym teachers, mayors—
Who would oppose? Everyone knows.

.

2.
The vaccine’s safe, and if you die, know
That Covid’s the reason why, so
Peaceful repose! Everyone knows.

We’ll come together as a nation
Though living in isolation:
Compassion grows, everyone knows.

You can’t travel out—No way!
Round about—No way!
On a plane—No way!
Or a train—No way!
On your knees—No way!
Oh, pretty please!—No way,
And—need we say?—not on toes

Our gov’nors fly without a mask: they’re
Away to resorts to bask, their
Sunglasses rose, everyone knows.

.

3.
All hail the rise of cancel culture,
Sure shield ‘gainst the low-life vulture,
So never doze! Everyone knows.

You’ve got the vote: poll laws allow you
To use it. We’ll show you how to—
Just don’t disclose! Everyone knows.

Democracy rules, we learn.
In our schools we learn
Why fair play (we learn)
Is the way—we learn!
We cannot, we learn,
Just be bought—we learn!
Who would try?—of all the lows!

And any dud can take elections
If he has the right connections;
None will expose, everyone knows.

.

.

.

Julian D. Woodruff was a teacher, orchestral musician, and librarian. He served for several years as librarian at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA. He now resides in the area of Rochester, NY, where he writes poetry and fiction, much of it for children. His work has appeared in Frostfire Worlds and on the websites of Carmina, Parody Poetry, and Reedsy. His GPS poem placed tenth in the last riddle contest of The Society of Classical Poets.


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26 Responses

  1. Gail

    Very inspiring, Julian. Of what? I like to sing, and live across the street from a natural amphitheater. Those neighbors can also sing, and would also appreciate the sentiments you express.

    I’ve often wanted to invite myself to their house to sing a Christmas concert with them. We’d be quite cosy; they’ve an outdoor kitchen. If we sat with our backs to the house and sang toward the hillside, it would ‘land’ out in the street, and in my own front yard and those of my immediate neighbors. And!–this is my favorite part–we’d be anonymous; it’d be about the music, not us.

    This would do for a Memorial Day concert, but I’ll never get it together. And they’re are on vacation for the month, exploring America’s history in Jamestown–among other sites. It’s fun to daydream though.

    Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Thank you, Gail. I often think that caroling during Advent & Christmas should be revived, whether anonymously, as you suggest, or in a way that acknowledges intent & responsibility. And caroling (or song of other sorts) throughout the year, to celebrate other holidays or events, is a fine idea. Cultivating practical musical skills and literacy might be a great way out of society’s doldrums.

      Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      For both Gail and Julian, I agree on the local concert idea. While we were forbidden to sing in church, I sometimes had several singers and more listeners for a song in front of outdoor Stations of the Cross. For this piece, if we miss Memorial Day, the Fourth of July is not far away. Julian’s lyrics will still be relevant, and maybe someone can add a stanza for the occasion. Gail, you are lucky to live near a good setting.

      Reply
      • Gail

        Margaret, thank you for the encouragement. We may yet do it; I’ll have to talk to them when they get home.

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        I have no idea what his political sympathies are, but Weird Al is very good at this sort of thing.

  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Julian, what a huge, fun-filled riot of a toe-tapping treat of a poem. I especially love:

    We heed society’s far fringes,
    Although they are off their hinges,
    All crazy crows. Everyone knows.

    A laugh-out-loud triumph. Thank you for cheering my soggy, postdiluvian day. 🙂

    Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Thank you, Susan
      Not being a trained poet, or even especially literate, I find parody a useful & challenging way to inform myself of styles & techniques. “Anything goes” was enticing but proved particularly tough to work out.

      Reply
  3. Jeff Eardley

    Julian, I salute you. This is, what I think you guys refer to as, “A blast.”
    I love musical parodies and this one is just so good it needs wider publication. The scan is perfect and it is a joy to sing.
    Absolutely flipping, toe-tappingly well done.

    Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Jeff,
      Thank you for the very kind comment. As you probably know, there are many very talented lyricists in the world of film and stage musicals (some also composers), stretching back at least as far as W.S. Gilbert. I think of parody as both a means of study and of paying tribute.

      Reply
  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Wow, what a tour de force! Cole Porter was undoubtedly one of the finest composers and lyricists of the last century, and nobody has ever come near him. Your use of his song as a template for contemporary satire is a brilliant move.

    One question: in the last triplet, you have “And any dud can…” Should this be “And any dude can..”?

    Reply
    • Julian D Woodruff

      What a flattering response, Prof. Salemi! I’m so glad you’re pleased & also that you appreciate Porter the lyricist. I think at his best Porter was unbeatable, but such lines as “The breakfast-eating Brooks Brothers type” (Loesser), “To write I used to think was wasting ink” (L. Hart), and “They took them home, by thunder, to rotundas small but cute ” (Mercer) show there was pretty close competition.
      In answer to your question: we must have inclusive language, mustn’t we? “Dud” it is & remains & may be applied to … oh, I’ll let you choose your favorites.

      Reply
    • Julian D. Woodrruff

      Thank you, Paul, but I think the uniqueness is mainly Porter’s. I mess around this way with many poetic works, playing no favorites: Shakespeare, Shelley, Key, Sandburg, nursery rhymes etc. I think our times almost beg for such irreverence.

      Reply
  5. Dave Whippman

    A clever take on the current madness that seems to be passively accepted by all too many people.

    Reply
  6. Julian D. Woodruff

    Yes, Mr. Whippman, “the world has gone mad today”–even madder than in 1934 when (I think) Anything Goes premiered. And God knows things were mad enough then. Thanks for your comment!

    Reply
  7. Margaret Coats

    Really good job, Julian! It must have been fun. Is the music still running in your head? This was a long song to re-write; I’ve tried some myself, but always with fewer and shorter stanzas. This gave you plenty of scope to pull in all the most important problems. I like the “we learn” sequence in section 3; it really goes with “Everyone knows.”

    Reply
  8. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thank you, Margaret. A problem with length here was keeping the lyric coherent. I found myself discarding sharp, acidic bits because I couldn’t fit them into a satirical stream. (Sometimes when I’m on a project like this I’ll just give up after 1-2 stanzas, but with this one I thought there was plenty of material to cover all Porter’s original verses, and so slogged on. So your suggestion to Gail, above, about additional verses is most appropriate.)

    Reply
  9. BRIAN YAPKO

    Julian, this is very funny. I’m a Cole Porter fan so I appreciate the complexity of the syncopated inner rhymes, etc. Just a thought, but I think this is one piece where an audio recording of you singing your own words would have made it even more fun. And, like Susan, I especially like your “society far fringes”/”off their hinges” lines. Too true. Well done.

    Reply
  10. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thank you, Brian. “We heed society’s far fringes”: the exceptionalism du jour, it seems.

    Reply
  11. Joseph S. Salemi

    Julian, I have a suggestion. Your success with this piece means you have skill in taking songs and revising them for parodic purposes. Why don’t you try your hand at the 1940s song “The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B,” which was made famous by the Andrews sisters? There’s an absolutely wonderful clip of them singing it on YouTube, taken from the Abbot and Costello film “Buck Privates.” The song has an amazing swing rhythm and real verve. Here are some of the lyrics:

    He was a famous trumpet man from out Chicago way;
    He had a boogie style that no one else could play.
    He was the top man at his craft
    But then his number came up, and he was gone in the draft.
    He’s in the army now, a-blowin’ reveille —
    He’s the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B.

    They made him blow a bugle for his Uncle Sam —
    It really brought him down because he couldn’t jam.
    The Captain seemed to understand
    Because the next day the Cap went out and drafted a band.
    And now the company jumps when he plays reveille —
    He’s the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B.

    He puts the boys asleep with boogie every night,
    And wakes ’em up the same way in the early bright.
    They clap their hands and stamp their feet
    Because they know how he plays when someone gives him a beat.
    He really breaks it up when he plays reveille —
    He’s the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B.

    Once you start singing this, you’ll never get the tune out of your head. I’m sure the entire thing (there are more lyrics) could be used for satirical purposes.

    Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      You’re absolutely right, Joe. More than in most cases, here the style of the tune might dictate the style & nature of the lyric parody. BB is one of those “career” lyrics, not really a ballad, that go back at least as far as Gilbert patter. One of my favorites is contemporary with BB–I. Gershwin’s “The saga of Jenny” (music by Weill). Maybe I should get to work on both of these! (Ms. Anna Arredondo also has an interest, & great talent, for this sort of thing, though she may not be of the same political bent: remember her hilarious take on “The Raven”?)

      Reply
  12. David Watt

    Julian, you did a great job of this musical parody. Everyone knows.

    Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Thank you, David. There are plenty of tunes and lyrics ripe for the picking. I’ve lost track of one I did (or only started?) on “On top of old Smoky.” If I find it maybe I’ll send it in.

      Reply

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