Lost In Music#1: Elton vs A Low-Flying Duck

LOST IN MUSIC

Random Thoughts And Musings On Sonic Matters

with

THE SHINY BEAST

Elton Versus A Low-Flying Duck

It was on a dank South Moravian morning that Elton John came to me. Not physically of course. Not in a form where I could enquire as to the joys of marriage and how it feels to have been taken to a nation’s heart, debauched past forgotten because he was friends with Princess Diana and sang a song for her – okay, he wrote it for a buxom platinum blonde called Norma Jean back when he’d probably applied more Columbian talc to his nose than had been soothingly spread on the future royal behind, but he sang it for her – Lady Di, whose death had a country’s media, if not the majority of the population of that land, hysterical with despair. Forget those drug binges and unfeasibly high-heeled shoes, all is forgiven – Elton’s slate is wiped clean. Give that man a knighthood for services to – uh, bugger it – just give him a knighthood!

I digress. Point is, Elton John didn’t appear brolly in hand to brighten my Brno day, it was one of his songs which came to me. Actually, not the song, just the tune, with words uttered by a tomboyish

Aussie girl one evening in Marmaris, Turkey back when the U.S was bombing Tripoli – news delivered by a local in the worryingly cryptic form of ‘Reagan – Gaddafi pow-pow!’

Her remark, delivered while striding along by the harbour, is indelibly etched on my memory, but still surprised when applied to Elton’s popular tune –

I’m so hungry

I could eat the crotch

Off a low-flying duck

(Off a low-flying duck)

A superman-sized leap from the original text, as well as the first time airborne fowl have cropped up in a song since John Ellis penned his ‘Flying Duck Theory’ for The Vibrators underrated second album V2.

From replacement lyrics, thoughts turned to misheard ones. Sometimes sharing a language with a singer doesn’t guarantee total comprehension of the words muttered, shouted, spewed or crooned. One Christmas I was given a K-Tel compilation album, the sort that was cheap and, for a young kid, a good stocking-filler. This one contained a surprisingly good selection of songs, including the T. Rex classic ‘Get It On’ and Sly And The Family Stone’s ‘Runnin’ Away’.

It also contained, track 1 on side 2 if I recall correctly, a ditty called ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ by Dr Hook And The Medicine Show, a song detailing the singer’s inability to get past the mother of his beloved Sylvia and talk to the girl in question. This contained a line which referred to some character called the All-Parader. Just who was he? And why did he say ‘forty cents more for the next three minutes’? My ten-year old mind envisioned some Buffalo Bill type character parading in an immaculate Stetson hat, but what the hell was he doing on the phone, interrupting the singer’s conversation with his sweetheart’s Ma to ask for money?! It was a mystery which taxed my brain for a long time.

While Dennis Locorriere and his gang were going on to plumb new depths (‘If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me?) No, but if I said that’s a cheesy song-title, I could be accused of bathing in understatement) the legend of the All-Parader lived on in my head. It was only years later, by which time Sylvia had probably gone through a couple of divorces, starting with the ‘fella down Galveston way’, several attempts to quit the evil weed, and a few half-assed diets, that I pulled out my old album again and decided to give it a spin. That’s when that man of mystery, the All-Parader, was reduced to the much more mundane status of an operator. A damn telephone operator! And the song was similarly reduced. To the dreariness of a rainy morning in Brno, where I’m (still) so hungry. Yeah,yeah, yeah.

The Shiny Beast

This article appeared in Czech in FULL  MOON#18, October 2011.

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~ by theshinybeast on November 27, 2011.

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