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Song Parodies -> "Victorian Pie (If Don McLean had written G&S)"

Original Song Title:

"American Pie"

Original Performer:

Don McLean

Parody Song Title:

"Victorian Pie (If Don McLean had written G&S)"

Parody Written by:


The Lyrics

This is somewhat of an auspicious parody for me because it's my 50th since I started contributing just under four months ago. What a satisfying creative adventure it's been. Time to say a heartfelt thank-you to all who've consistently encouraged and inspired me so far - I don't think I have to tell you who you are.

I've had some stimulating and warm-hearted exchanges and discussions about the art of parody and the opportunity to be exposed to a great deal of literary talent around the English-speaking world, which is precious to me because I'm not in that world. Such are the wholesome joys of internet sites such as this. There are many fine minds active here and I'm privileged to have been made to feel like a welcome part of this community.

(LL now puts away handkerchief) To mark the occasion. I thought I'd try something as yet unattempted (afiak), difficult and special - a reverse smoosh of American Pie/Gilbert & Sullivan, having completed it the other way a few days ago. It's BY FAR the hardest one I've ever taken on, here or elsewhere, and took several days on-and-off and considerable research, since my knowledge of that dynamic 19th-century duo is limited to three or four dimly-remembered school productions. Hope someone out there thinks it was worth it. And even if you don't, the technical challenge was for me reward in itself.

Finally, I wish all the very best of the festive season to AIRheads around the world and to those dear to you.



A long long time ago
No one can remember now
The music that was tops in style
Light operettas with romance
Pomp and pride, principals' stance
Domain of these two chappies by a mile
Art Sullivan was music giver
William Gilbert words deliver
They produced a huge rep
They couldn't take one false step
D'Oyley Carte so full of pride
Built Savoy Theatre, success ride
But temperaments did slow divide
Until the magic died

So bye bye, Little Buttercup shy
Captain Corcoran and your commander Porter, Lord High
Them good old sailors flags of Pinafore fly
Singing Dick basso-profundo Deadeye
Dick basso-profundo Deadeye

When they wrote this book of love
(Ralph Rickstraw and Cap's daughter of)
More productions start to flow
Like latter kings of rocknroll
Down Mayfair proud do the funky stroll
The first to teach real theatre music-show
And more success came after 'Pin'
Pirates Penzancin' caught folks' whim
Duty or love must choose
Pretty maids and lusty ship crews
It was genius, steam-age song and luck
That separate them from the ruck
Their players packed pose, poise and pluck
That gay belle-époque wide

(They started singing)

Pour, pour - this sea life we adore
Major-general amenable to men of sea-roar
Them cop-per boys are waiting there on the shore
Singing this is not a-lot-happy chore
This is not a-lot-happy chore

In ten years, London was their own
No masque, burlesque - cosy family tone
Not bawdy like shows used to be
Gilb the jester mocked the pomp and preen
Warbling quotes, they borrow from famed scene
Sung in voice that 'comes from you and me!'
For exotic theme, they looked around
Their best of all was not yet down
Far Eastern spoof they churned
Top profits were returned
Mikado spread and made its mark
'Three little maids from school' we hark
'I've got a list': mild satire lark
Their world, their music wide

(The world was singin')

True, true, Yum Yum loves Nanki-Pooh
Flowers bring in the spring, tra-la, we sing loud and true
Those good clear voices, but there's quaint pathos too
Singing tit-willow, the day that he die
Tit-willow the day that he die.

Well turned, melted in the lyric smelter
Gilbert's words: there could be nothing svelter
A-style, wry and sink in fast
Each cultured owl in the gentry class
Could quote verbatim like the foremost cast
From the best of the libretti thus amassed
Art Sull'van's airs made ladies swoon
While rousing were his marching tunes
Performers primp and prance
How they revelled in romance
And the players were the best afield
Every nuance made the meaning yield
On stage, plot twists were joys revealed
The world (their music) wide

(They started singin')

More, more, 'Yeomen' and 'Ruddigore'
'Gondoliers' has no peers, hearty cheers for your lore
That ol' Queen Vic, at Windsor Castle she saw
Singin' 'We are truly duly amused
- Rooly rooly truly amused!'

So there they were in lofty place
High elevation, wide fan base
But new show: time to start again
So come on Will, be nimble! Art, be quick!
Mind flash, hump over candlewick
'Cos fashion is the theater's only friend
But as Gilbert saw a modern stage
His partner looked to a golden age
Libretto work was hell
Forsake grand opera's spell
And as their fame climbed higher, out of sight
Their chemistry was struck by blight
Collaboration no delight
And thus the music dried

(Gilbert singing)

'Why, why, our ideas do not tie?
Playful farces up their arses, Arty, classy and spry
Them good ol' noisy patrons itching to spy
Singing, this'll be a hit, please comply
This'll be a hit, please comply!'

But Sullivan, he had the blues
For he'd denied his serious muse
Not reconciled, just turned away
Savoy House, the sacred store:
Doyley-Carte gazed at the floor
The band there said new music: none to play
Accounts irregular, it seemed
Sullivan cried and Gilbert screamed
Many cross words were spoken
The partnership was broken
And the three men that had toiled the most
- Vexed Gilbert, Sull, and the D'Oyley host
Sued performing rights to boast
And so the magic died

(We were singing)

Bye, bye, you Victorian guys
Left your legacy of mega-stages begging for eyes
Them good ol' fans are still in need of reprise
Singing, willow tit-willow will not die
Willow tit-willow will not die

High, high, high-school musical, hi!
You young actors learn the facts of drama praxis by try
Learn, girls and boys, whence modern musical, why!
Singing willow, tit-willow will not die
Willow tit-willow, G/S no goodbye

Original recording on YouYube.

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Original Song: 
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Voting Results

Pacing: 4.7
How Funny: 4.8
Overall Rating: 4.8

Total Votes: 13

Voting Breakdown

The following represent how many people voted for each category.

    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
 1   0
 2   1
 3   0
 4   1
 5   11

User Comments

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Dave W. - December 21, 2012 - Report this comment
50 thumbs up salute ! (that's if I had 50 thumbs)
Timmy - December 21, 2012 - Report this comment
Outstanding subs, rhymes and story. I really liked the Pirates penzancing and nice to see Nanki-Poo in there.
John Barry - December 21, 2012 - Report this comment
Wonderful! My wife recently played in a "Mikado" orchestra. I gotta send this to her.
Patrick - December 21, 2012 - Report this comment
A history of musical theatre in a few minutes. This is a carefully crafted masterpiece. Best song of the day. Congratulations on the big 50.
Old Man Ribber - December 22, 2012 - Report this comment
A true masterwork, but what do I know? At least "The Artistry" didn't one bomb you...this time. ;D
glen s - December 22, 2012 - Report this comment
Excellent work ll. Some great wordplay and congrats both on reaching 50 and on conquering this mountain. The 2nd stanza and the refrain after it were inspired. Hurray for those pirates penzancin
Lifeliver - December 23, 2012 - Report this comment
Thanks so much for your interest and kind words to Dave W, Timmy, JB, Patrick, Old Man Ribber, Glen S - and a Merry Christmas to you..
Max Power - January 16, 2013 - Report this comment
That's quite en effort and wonderfully written as well. Very fitting.
Lifeliver - January 17, 2013 - Report this comment
Thanks Max: As I said, the biggest challenge I've faced here. I'll try to be kinder to your work in the future (even if I have to be cruel to be kind sometimes, lol) because it's clear you're serious about setting your sights higher too..
Blaydeman - January 19, 2013 - Report this comment
(SOTM) It's quite an undertaking to do a parody of this song, so I commend you on that. This is a solid parody. Nice work.
Matthias - January 26, 2013 - Report this comment
Pretty decent work. Reminds me a lot of Spaff's classic Shakespearean Pie but it's pretty good. I like the mocking of High School Musical but don't follow Victorian style theater enough to fully enjoy this.
bobpiecheese - January 26, 2013 - Report this comment
(SOTM) While I don't that much of the history of G&S, I truly understand how much of a hard slog this song is to parody, so kudos there. Your pacing seemed to stumble in places, though that may just be me not having the song in ages. Also some of your grammer was suspect, but your masterful use of internal rhyming in the choruses more than made up for it. In short: absolutely fantastic parody, it's minor flaws easily forgiven, 555!
Peter Andersson - January 27, 2013 - Report this comment
I've done some very long parodies myself so I know well how much work you'll have to put into them, this one is obviously well crafted and researched etc, not a big fan of name dropping where I can't follow the in-jokes (guessing "Will, be nimble! Art, be quick!" is one) though so I'm gonna have to place it middle of the road in SOTM.
Lifeliver - January 27, 2013 - Report this comment
Thanks for comments, SOTM people. I'm not big on G & S either - their style is much too dated and formal for modern tastes (and even my not-so-modern), but their inspiration and influence on the 20th century stage musical is undeniable. The great mid-century lyricists, e.g. Allan Jay Lerner, Oscar Hammerstein II, Lorenz Hart, also Noel Coward and Ivor Novello, could recite most of their repertoire by heart. I learned a lot about all of them by doing this and it was a significant technical 'Big Seven' achievement for me.

@ Blaydeman: thanks for acknowledging the work that went into it
@ Matthias: I wasn't mocking 'High School Musical' (never seen it). I was referring to high school musicals in general. G & S productions are still often chosen because they're historic, technically challenging for budding singers and musicians, and conservative by today's standards, therefore 'safe' (I guess).
@ bobpiecheese: thanks for appreciative comment. The 'suspect' grammar was simply 'grammatical licence', to which we have to resort sometimes.
@ Peter A: Thanks. Can't follow the 'in-joke'? Umm, Will = William Gilbert; Art = Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert calls him 'Arty' in the next verse. I have no idea what they actually called each other.

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