Monday, August 8, 2016

Elder hostile: A G&S-inspired patter song, recommended for private performance, which attempts to come to terms with aging



Patter master W.S. Gilbert
Surrounding the Brexit vote in June, I proved to be no master of the patter song in blog-posted parody videos setting the fast main sections of two Elgar "Pomp and Circumstance"  marches to satirical texts of my own devising. Gilbert & Sullivan's seminal examples, along with derivative pieces requiring similarly confident blitheness and a nimble tongue,  require a technique I cannot hope to master at 70. 

Speaking of which, I have decided to post only the text of my recent tribute to both advanced age and G&S. I recommend closet performance, if any, of this piece for those of my generation with similar lack of experience as uptempo vocalists. 

Apart from the section marked "slower" (which corresponds to a change of pace in the original song from "The Pirates of Penzance"), this ditty should be performed presto possibile ("as fast as possible"), with the final verse and chorus even faster (to echo Robert Schumann's direction "noch schneller" a few measures after he recommends "so schnell wie möglich").

The very model of a modern major general


The Modern Aging Gentleman

I am the very model of a modern aging gentleman,
It’s true I’ve been here somewhat longer than my lifetime dental span:
My mem’ries, when I conjure them, include black heavy telephones
And music on the radio that cultivated mellow tones,
And riding in hot bulky cars, without seat belts, on two-lane roads
With Dad so anxious to get past much slower trucks with heavy loads.
At home we played in streets and yards, without a structure to our day
And settled matters by ourselves, with fists or words or going away.

[Chorus]
And settled matters by themselves, with fists or words or going away
And settled matters by themselves, with fist or words or going away
And settled matters by themselves, with fists or words or going away-away!

When trying to retrieve a fact that I don’t have a purchase on
I never waste more than a minute till a Google search is on.
In short, by every measure of debility and sentiment,
I am the very model of a modern aging gentleman!

[Chorus]
In short, by every measure of debility and sentiment,
He is the very model of a modern aging gentleman.

I stride with purpose to a room, and then forget why I have come;
I make haphazard guesses, feeling rather sad, a little dumb:
Oh well, I soon decide it wasn’t that important anyway,
Tomorrow it may come to me, it’s not required for today.
Remembering a list of things, my mind’s become no better, a
Good way I have to fill the gaps is muttering “et cetera” —
A habit picked up from the cinematic King of old Siam
And practiced as I drive in town, since I’m not certain where I am.

[Chorus]
And practiced as he drives in town, since he’s not certain where he is
And practiced as he drives in town, since he’s not certain where he is
And practiced as he drives in town, since he’s not certain where he is, he is.


When I rise from recumbency, my joints will crack like castanets;
Though I love life, I do resent how dangerously fast it gets;
In short, by every measure of debility and sentiment,
I am the very model of a modern aging gentleman.

[Chorus]
In short, by every measure of debility and sentiment,
He is the very model of a modern aging gentleman.

[Slower]
When meeting people I’m reflective, as I wonder what’s his name:
He looks familiar, but what comes to mind is likely not the same
As how he’s known to friends and fam’ly and Internal Revenue:
I hope to hell that I’m not wrong – I’d better hope to heaven too.
I hold opinions firmly and from them I won’t relent or budge,
Plus useless facts contaminated by a ton of mental sludge:
I know which part of Germany encompasses old Swabia
And also D.H. Lawrence wasn’t Lawrence of Arabia.

]Chorus]
And also D.H. Lawrence wasn’t Lawrence of Arabia
And also D.H. Lawrence wasn’t Lawrence of Arabia
And also D.H. Lawrence wasn’t Lawrence of Arabi-ay-bi-a


In this dire path I vow persistence to the final edge of doom;
When all else fails, I hope to trust dementia’s fog to banish gloom:
In short, by every measure of debility and sentiment
I am the very model of a modern aging gentleman!

[Chorus]
In short, by every measure of debility and sentiment,
He is the very model of a modern aging gentleman!