You’ve seen them on YouTube and Facebook by the hundreds. Average people, people like you and me, confined with their partners or all alone in houses and apartments across the country, diving deep into their inner souls and belting out tunes. Show tunes, pop songs, operas, inspiring gospel, and, parody songs that bring some lightness into our current grayness.
Wait–parody songs? I can write those. I’ve written lots of parody songs. Homebuilding, politics, Tony Awards…I’ve written parody songs about them and included them in my blogs since the very beginning back in 2015. That is to say, I have included my lyrics in my blogs. Never have I tried to actually perform and record one of those ditties. I wanted to spare my readers from that.
But times are different now, free time is abundant, and after watching a couple sing their homage to Simon and Garfunkle’s “Homeward Bound” I decided to cross the Rubicon, to take the plunge, to say WTF. I was going to write a parody, coerce Barb into performing it with me and post it on-line. (Those of you who witnessed our parody of “I Got You, Babe” before a live audience last year are already quivering, though I can’t tell if it is with anticipation or terror.) To my utter amazement, I was able to convince Barb to give it a try.
First to pick a song to parody. My (unintentional) target demographic is boomers, so I looked for a tune that would immediately resonate with our “2nd Greatest Generation” in our most trying time. A tune that could be performed by a couple in our earlyish AARP years, and which could call for some simple piano. It didn’t take me long to choose. Barb and I would become Archie and Edith Bunker, belting out a rousing rendition of “Those Were the Days,” Coronavirus edition.
I composed my lyrics in half-an-hour, then downloaded the sheet music and replaced the printed libretto with my own. Barb sat at our piano — a more upscale model than the Bunkers’s had in their Queen’s apartment, but that was part of the fun. She worked hard, very hard, at nailing the music. We fine-tuned the lyrics to match the melody and meter. We discussed where to get props: a frilly apron for Barb, a cigar for me. I learned how to work the remote control on my AppleWatch to turn on the iPhone video camera. We rehearsed, rehearsed, rehearsed.
After half a day of preparation, we were ready to go. I scouted out camera locations, finally deciding on fastening the phone to the strut of the piano lid. Oodles of blue tape went into holding the phone in place at just the right height and at just the right angle.
Lights, camera, action!
We tried. Oh Lord, we tried. On some takes, I hit the photo button instead of the video button. On some takes, the camera angle was wrong. On some takes, the grandfather clocked chimed. And above all, every take had one thing in common. We stunk! We were flat, we were pitchy, we blew the lyrics. I came in a beat too early, Barb a beat too late. And as for harmony — man, you have got to be kidding!
I sadly announce: we gave up. All videos were sent to the trash, not to YouTube. We will never be social media stars. But for any of you who have the itch, my lyrics to “Pre-Covid Days” follow. Feel free to upload your version. Just give us credit for the lyrics, Charles Strouse credit for the music, and send us a link!
Last year things were going fine
We were living on cloud nine
Eating steak and drinking wine
Went to movies on date night
Great restaurants to grab a bite
Planes were packed for every flight
We could walk along the shore
We could open every door
Now we’re staying home
Can’t go to Neiman-Marcus no more
The world is gonna whip this bug
But now’s a time to just unplug
Give your kids a virtual hug
It’s Covid days
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