Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I don’t remember who asked the question -- it may have been Ann Powers -- but regardless of who asked it, it’s interesting.

What songs do you know that you have never heard recorded?

I know a few Boy Scout songs that don’t bear remembering. A bunch of songs I’ve written and a bunch by friends. Songs by my son. (“Standing on the Chin” is going to be a HIT, I tell you, a HIT.)

And a few songs that my grandpa taught me.

I’ve mentioned “My Sweet Hortense,” and I recently came across an image of the sheet music. Grandpa didn’t know many of the words, but the ones he knew, he sang with gusto. I’ve still only ever heard a few of the words, and the lyrics aren’t posted.

My favorite that he taught me is “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” a lovely melancholic waltz I used to teach to people back when I wrote music for plays. I would sing it with the cast in rehearsals as a warm-up song.

The lyrics capture the traditional medieval trope of the vanity (and brevity) of human existence with persuasive self-pity.

I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.
They fly so high,
Nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams,
They fade and die.
Fortune's always hiding ;
I've looked everywhere.
I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.

Today I saw a photo of a local political heavyweight from 35 years ago, when he led a takeover of City Hall, bearded, blue-jeaned, and wearing a bandana folded into a headband, looking like a tough hippie. In the photo of the victory celebration, he is standing with one fist raised. On his other raised hand sits a 2- or 3-year-old girl with her fist raised. Presumably she’s in her late 30s now, whoever she is. And the political chief wears suits and meets with governors and mayors and cabinet secretaries.

“It seems like it all happened only yesterday.”

Two Boys blowing Bubbles ("Homo Bulla" [man is a bubble]), about 1670, Caspar Netscher

Homo Bulla (man is a bubble), 2005, Julee Holcombe
I have the lyrics posted... check them out:

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