Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Getting Better, Pogo Style

I finally felt a little better yesterday, after having been sick for 10/11 days. I decided the exertion of physical energy was potentially doable. So I cleaned the house. I did not clean all of it, mind you; nor did I clean it well. But at least it is a little more livable now.

To keep my spirits up and my energy moving, I switched from the Gregorian chant CD that I was playing (love those chants) to an old favorite: "Songs Of Pogo." This CD comes from an album I received in 1964, at my three-year-old birthday party. Apparently the parent of the friend that gave it to me thought it was a kid's album. Hey, there was a cute possum on the cover of it, with a little birdie on top of his head. Who could imagine it actually came from a political cartoon? Walt Kelly, and the Okeefenokee Swamp? Who knew?

I fell in love with this album. I still know almost all the words to all the songs. This is an accomplishment, since the words are often put together in unexpected order. Like the beginning lyrics of the "Parsnoops" song: "Oh... the parsnips are snipping their snappers, while the parsley is parsing the peas..... or parsing a sentence from handle to hand was the hornet who hummed with the bees!" (the turnips were passing the time of the day on the night of the moon on the porch.... and so on.)

So I just went and proofread what I wrote. Very close, eh? This is how much I loved this album growing up. And how much I played it. And still love it. My nieces and nephews, when they were young, allowed me to sing these wonderful songs to them. The older they got, the more they - ah - encouraged me not to burst into lyrics at any given moment. Fair enough. Luckily I have a brand-new nephew who doesn't know any better - yet - than to love the rhythm of the music. I'll give him another five years or so before he says, Aunt Beth, stop singing those songs!

BTW: Pogo (the possum) is the one who said a line that you may have heard before: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

During yesterday's cleaning, I sang along with the CD like always. There are haunting songs, like "A Time Not For Now":

A time not for now
you need not put stay
a tune for the was can be sung for today
a note for the does-not will sound as the does
today you can sing for the will-be that was.

And all of the nonsensical stuff - well, it makes sense. Like in the birthday song: "but 'fore one can be three, be two.... before be five be four." That makes perfect sense. But out loud? It sounds a little funny. In "Don't Sugar Me," one of my favorite lines is: "See the teapot pout 'cause the kettle's blue...." Funny, right? Because the teapot wants to call the kettle black. But if it's blue, well, you can't do it. So, if you were the teapot, wouldn't you pout about that? Life's so unfair! Funny. Or one of the half-lines in the song "Tomorrow": "or durin' the night, when we're shinin' the moon..." Shining the moon. Get it? You know. Moonshine. Illegal alcohol back during the days of prohibition. All wrapped up in a song that is talking about daytime and nighttime, and is whimsy and in the midst of "watching the tom tit warble hello..." It's a sweet nature song that hides within it a reference to alchohol. Fascinating. Not a typical children's album. I mean - it's not the Wiggles, is it.

My favorite song on the album (other than "A Time Not For Now," above) always has been "Go Go Pogo." It's the first song on the album. It goes from everywhere to nowhere, up one coast and down the other. It was Walt Kelly's "This Land Is Your Land." And - I think it's about election time!

As Maine goes oh so Pogo go Key La- a- ra- go
Otsego to Frisco go to Fa-a-argo
Okeefenokeee playing - possum on a pogo
Stick around and see the show... go over

and so on. Oh. And then there's the part: "Wheeling, West Virginia - with everything that's in ya - down the line you'll see the shine from Oregon to Caroline...." (oh eenie meenie minie Kokomo go pogo... tishimingo sing those lingo whistlin' go....) Once when driving across country, from west to east, I insisted on taking a somewhat circuitous route so I could drive through Wheeling, West Virginia. Just because of this song. I had to see that town.

I'll end with the lyrics of "Slopposition" - a song that never gets old - not as long as we have politicans:

Oh, once the opposition was completely opposed
to all the supposition that was generally supposed
but now the superstitutions that were thought to be imposed
are seen by composition to be slightly decomposed.

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