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Song Parodies -> "Baby James Suite"

Original Song Title:

"Sweet Baby James"

Original Performer:

James Taylor

Parody Song Title:

"Baby James Suite"

Parody Written by:

Giorgio Coniglio

The Lyrics

A young lonely ranch-hand takes shape in James’ mind
As he slows behind snow-ploughs, quick-naps at a Day’s Inn;
Then he steered through clear traffic, babe-nephew to christen,
And blew past green road-signs to North Carolin’.

While musing o’er hues in his faux-cowboy’s scarf
Far-off plays this tune which we all know as fine,
A choir, disembodied, seems mainly to laugh,
And he ponders, horse-powering across the state line
As the moon starts her upward incline.

Slow-down for road construction,
Day-dreaming beer and old flames.
Surgical blues aren’t the colors to choose -
We’re glad he must have stopped for caffeine:
His fans adore Sweet Baby James.

Now the Great Lakes on Monday were dreary with snow,
And so per my e-mails were D.C. and Boston;
Lord, their Dad’s prone to SAD by account of our offspring,
Most worklife behind me, a few winter months to go.

There’s an earworm that plays when I’m stuck in the sigh-way
A sad song contrived on a drive by “JT”;
A song we’ll escape where old fogeys retire,
Unsaddle that song and its two puzzling themes
When we take to our place near the sea.

So Ciao, frozen char from the Arctic
Hello, fresh flounder and grits;
The earworm is shared by a work-friend named Shaun
Who helps shake me out of my sad fits:
We’re both great fans of Sweet Baby James.

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Original Song: 
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Voting Results

Pacing: 3.0
How Funny: 3.0
Overall Rating: 3.0

Total Votes: 2

Voting Breakdown

The following represent how many people voted for each category.

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

User Comments

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Al Silver - September 30, 2013 - Report this comment
I didn't know the original, and therefore had to read your parody several times to get its meaning. I finally interpreted it as the power of song in one's mind (earworm) to abet reverie and dreams, and bring comfort to the sad (the last being a dubious proposition, to my mind). But that didn't satisfy me, so I listened to JT sing it on YouTube. The mystery of meaning still eluded me, so I then went to a forum in which the song was analyzed by the usual amateurs. It was then that I was informed that it was composed on a car trip to a christening. There were various takeaways from the discussion, a major one being JT's experience with hard drugs.

Everyone was baffled by the reference to the colors blue and green, and everyone loved the song. What you seem to have done is to duplicate the mood of the song, but intensifying the depression and adding a layer to describe the original's etiology and to mention its "two puzzling themes," a self-reference which is akin to breaking the fourth wall in theater.

I commend you for the elegance of the parody but, damn it, I want a parody that is not parroty, but that punctures with humor excessive solemnity and opacity, perhaps by rewriting the song with ludicrous lyrics in the same ponderous style of the original. That is my understanding of parody. Sing no sad parodies to me! I recommend as an example Woody Allen's "If the Impressionist Painters Had Been Dentists," in which Van Gogh's maudlin letters to brother Theo are lampooned in the rewriting.

I wouldn't attempt to grade your hard work, as much as I disagree with its central emotion. I leave that to Osie, a far better critic than I.
Giorgio Coniglio - October 01, 2013 - Report this comment
I appreciate your extensive effort at understanding this offering. It obviously has some very personal elements, but I'm not sure I understand it either! The mysterious OS induces sadness every time I encounter it. My attempts were to honor this achievement of Taylor's, rather than "parrotry", likely heavily influenced by recent reading of O.Sacks' "Hallucinations". My mention of blue and green was a playful explanation for those who know the lyrics by heart. I must disagree with your op re mandatory humorous gestalt; isn't there a place for reflective "poetry-parody"?
Al Silver - October 01, 2013 - Report this comment
I hate to be didactic about this, but No, there is no place for " reflective 'poetry-parody,'" or for that matter, so-called info-parody. A parody is a humorous or mocking imitation of something, using the same form as the original. For example, to parody a song lyric, you have to write another song lyric. The contributors here rarely achieve more than the second requisite.

Each art is a particular discipline with prescribed boundaries. A symphony is not a painting; a novel is not a poem. This is not to say that a new form cannot be invented: Truman Capote and Norman Mailer gave us the journalistic novel. But this is a parody web site, and the discipline I described ought to be respected. I do not consider all the political word subbing submitted here to be parodies. A parody is something specifically more sublime. This is an argument I have made before, to no avail. Why to no avail? A parody is very, very hard to write, and is highly dependent on something else that's mysterious: talent.

By the way, I knew James Taylor and Carly Simon as fellow parents in our children's school. The art of song was, unfortunately, not on our conversational agenda.

I surmise that your Seasonally Affective Disorder, from which I, too, suffer, affected your mood as much as did the OS.
Giorgio Coniglio - October 01, 2013 - Report this comment
Al; I must defer to expert opinion, even if seasoned by the shorter days of October. But doesn't subbing "Ciao, frozen char from the Arctic" into a JT song elevate the work above the level of info-parody? GioLio.
Al Silver - October 01, 2013 - Report this comment
Giorgio, you are an artist whose work is heavens above the failed strivings of self-defined info-parodists. But why "ciao"? It seems like an egregious bow to your Italophilia. "Ciao" is like "shalom," meaning goodbye or hello. Why not just say a definitive "Bye," considering that the next line begins with "Hello"? And are the char really frozen? If so, they'd be dead little trout wannabes. Perhaps "frigid."

I've never been an expert on anything but areas of electronic warfare. But you have enchanted with the story of the funicular.
Patrick - October 01, 2013 - Report this comment
Are the commentators here saying that a parody must be humorous? I can see them being pensive and melancholy if they achieve that effect artfully. This appears to be a tribute to a popular artist, based on one of his songs. James Taylor has never struck me as particularly funny. I'm sure mocking or hilarious lyrics could be, and maybe have been set to his melodies, but that is not required. And would not be appropriate for this particular effort.
Al Silver - October 01, 2013 - Report this comment
Patrick: Although my research is by no means exhaustive, I have consulted many dictionaries, how-to's, explanations, etc., regarding "parody." With one exception, they cite humor, wittiness, funny, etc., as the hallmark of parody. I can paraphrase the exception as follows: If the subject matter is heavy, the parody need not be funny but it must be ironic.

Whether Sweet Baby James is appropriate for humor or irony is not to be answered dogmatically. It seems impossible to rewrite this OS for wicked wit and create a true parody, but I have no doubt that somewhere there's a quirky genius who can do it.

Parody or not, Giorgio has contributed a beautiful variation of a well-loved song.
Agrimorfee - October 02, 2013 - Report this comment
As a long time veteran submitter, Al's point about the exact definition of "parody" gave me pause. I have seen many examples of "tribute parodies" that aren't funny but rather sentimental and evocative. No less artistic, but still not funny. In addition, I have always considered two of the great songs of American patriotism "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" parodies (of English songs "Anacreon In Heaven" and "God Bless The Queen"). What do we call these "parodies", anyway?
Al Silver - October 02, 2013 - Report this comment
Agrimorfee: As with the two patriotic songs you mentioned, many high schools' official songs substitute new words to Cornell's "High Above Cayuga's Waters." My high school did that and came up with "Our Strong Band Can Ne'er Be Broken." I never thought that it was a parody but a ripoff, just as our National Anthem is a ripoff of an olde English drinking song.
Have you noticed that "God Bless America" has become an anthem of sorts? I'm sure that this is because of the deficiencies and datedness of "O, Can You See... " Even Irving Berlin, who disliked his own song, might have felt discomfort with its new status and its formal presentation during the seventh-inning stretch.
Practically speaking, this site strongly implies that parodies are to be funny. Why else would the category How Funny be part of the voting grid? Contributors who submit word subs which are political opinions or "info-parodies" admit that their submissions are not funny. Yet, they consider themselves "bombed" if they don't get straight fives for an otherwise artistic product.

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