Where are we going again?
The Handbasket » Posts in 'lyrics' category

The Physician – Cole Porter Click Here To Comment!

Every so often, I’ll get an e-mail that goes something like this:

I have it in my head that Julie Andrews sang a crazy song about a doctor who loved every
obscure part of her body “but he never loved me”. Am I wrong? If not what is the song?

Love j

Oh, the burden of knowing more than I should about Julie Andrews … ok, yes, she sang this Cole Porter song, a very cute one, in the movie Star! This is a bio-pic about a stage diva named Gertrude Lawrence, a friend and cohort of Noel Coward who was insanely popular in throughout the mid-twentieth century. In truth, Gertrude Lawrence paved the way for modern-day Britney Spears and J Lo and others of that ilk. Talented, high-strung, terrible with financial matters, and quite enamoured with her own mythology. The movie was too long and badly timed in the marketplace, released when big budget musicals were no longer popular.

The song lyrics appear below, and here is a YouTube clip of the very scene and Jools herself singing this song.


Once I loved such a shattering physician,
Quite the best-looking doctor in the state.
He looked after my physical condition,
And his bedside manner was great.
When I’d gaze up and see him there above me,
Looking less like a doctor than a Turk,
I was tempted to whisper, “Do you love me,
Or do you merely love your work?”

Refrain 1

He said my bronchial tubes were entrancing,
My epiglottis filled him with glee,
He simply loved my larynx
And went wild about my pharynx,
But he never said he loved me.
He said my epidermis was darling,
And found my blood as blue as could be,
He went through wild ecstatics,
When I showed him my lymphatics,
But he never said he loved me.

And though, no doubt,
It was not very smart of me,
I kept on a-wracking my soul
To figure out
Why he loved ev’ry part of me,
And yet not me as a whole.
With my esophagus he was ravished,
Enthusiastic to a degree,
He said ’twas just enormous,
My appendix vermiformis,
But he never said he loved me.

Refrain 2

He said my cerebellum was brilliant,
And my cerebrum far from N.G.,
I know he thought a lotta
My medulla oblongata,
But he never said he loved me.
He said my maxillaries were marvels,
And found my sternum stunning to see,
He did a double hurdle
When I shook my pelvic girdle,
But he never said he loved me.

He seemed amused
When he first made a test of me
To further his medical art,
Yet he refused
When he’d fix up the rest of me,
To cure that ache in my heart.
I know he thought my pancreas perfect,
And for my spleen was keen as could be,
He said of all his sweeties,
I’d the sweetest diabetes,
But he never said he loved me.

Refrain 3

He said my vertebrae were “sehr schone,”
And called my coccyx “plus que gentil,”
He murmured “molto bella,”
When I sat on his patella,
But he never said he loved me.

He took a fleeting look at my thorax,
And started singing slightly off key,
He cried, “May Heaven strike us,”
When I played my umbilicus,
But he never said he loved me.

As it was dark,
I suggested we walk about
Before he returned to his post.
Once in the park, I induced him to talk about
The thing I wanted the most.
He lingered on with me until morning,
Yet when I tried to pay him his fee,
He said, “Why, don’t be funny, It is I who owe you money,”
But he never said he loved me.

Fixing A Hole 2 comments

One of my favourite Beatle songs is also one of their least known.

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go

I’m filling the cracks that ran through the door
And kept my mind from wandering
Where it will go

And it really doesn’t matter if
I’m wrong I’m right
Where I belong I’m right
Where I belong
See the people standing there
Who disagree and never win
And wonder why they don’t get in my door

I’m painting my room in a colourful way
And when my mind is wandering
There I will go

And it really doesn’t matter if
I’m wrong I’m right
Where I belong I’m right
Where I belong
Silly people run around
They worry me and never ask me
Why they don’t get past my door

I’m taking the time for a number of things
That weren’t important yesterday
And I still go

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
Stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go oh
Where it will go oh

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go (fade out)

Ain’t Life A Brook 1 comment

I was informed a short while ago that I’m soon to be spending some time with the person responsible for the greatest lesbian break-up song of all time.

Snippets of these lyrics go through my head with great regularlity and have since I first heard the songwriter perform them on a Live ’85 – the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival album – back when there was vinyl.  They are firm, direct and heart/gut-wrenching … depending on when you hear them in the cycle of a relationship.

I’m particularly fond of this part:

“… life don’t clickety-clack down a straight line track … it comes together and it comes apart.”

Do have a listen, someday, if you can manage.

Ain’t Life A Brook

I watch you reading a book
I get to thinking our love’s a polished stone
You give me a long drawn look
I know pretty soon you’re going to leave our home
And of course I mind,
especially when I’m thinking from my heart
But life don’t clickety clack down a straight line track
It comes together and it comes apart.
You say you hope I’m not the kind
To make you feel obliged
To go ticking through your time
With a pained look in your eyes
You give me the furniture, we’ll divide the photographs
Go out to dinner one more time
Have ourselves a bottle of wine
And a couple of laughs
And when first you left
I stayed so sad I wouldn’t sleep
I know that love’s a gift, I thought yours was mine
And something that I could keep
Now I realize that time is not the only compromise
But a bird in the hand could be an all night stand
Between a blazing fire and a pocket of skies
So I hope I’m not the kind
To make you feel obliged
To go ticking through your time
With a pained look in your eyes
I covered the furniture, I framed the photographs
Went out to dinner one more time
Had myself a bottle of wine and a couple of laughs
And just the other day
I got your letter in the mail
I’m happy for you, its been so long
You’ve been wanting a cabin and a backwoods trail
And I think that’s great…me…
I seem to find myself in school
It’s all Ok, I just want to say
I’m so relieved we didn’t do it cruel
But ain’t life a brook
Just when I get to feeling like a polished stone
I give me along drawn look
It’s kind of a drag to find yourself alone
And sometimes I mind
Especially when I’m waiting on your heart
But life don’t clickety clack down a straight line track
It comes together and it comes apart.
Cause I know you’re not the kind
To make me feel obliged
To go ticking through my time with a pained look
In my eyes
I sold the furniture, I put away the photographs
Went out to dinner one more time
Skipped the bottle of wine
Had a couple of laughs
And wasn’t it fine….

2008 – Viva La Vida Click Here To Comment!

“Live the Life”, is the translation of the title of the Frida Kahlo painting “Viva La Vida”.  This is also the title of Coldplay’s big hit this year.  Here is a link to a YouTube version of the song with decent audio quality. And nice pictures.

“Viva La Vida” (Live the Life) seems to have been my theme song this year and, for some time now, I’ve been pondering why that is, planning to take a shot at discussing it here. I’m at that place where I’ve almost over-thought this … but I’m going to give it a go anyway.

I need to back up to mid-2007. Changes needed to be made. Primarily, major re-construction needed to happen from within. I was stuck on so many levels. Some might say burnt out. However, for changes to occur internally, things need to happen externally. I needed to shake things up on a grand scale – job, personal habits, relationship(s). For a time there, I contemplated new living space but, thankfully, I pulled my horns in from that decision.

Change, meaningful internal change, doesn’t happen overnight. Old habits don’t break and new ones form in their place in the blink of an eye. Change happens, as I’ve come to believe, with steady, small, incremental adjustments. It takes time. I needed the latter part of 2007 to get some momentum going. This was achieved by creating the environments for change and then monitoring and tweaking my responses. A job change. A romantic relationship ended. A commitment to new diet and, eventually, new exercise habits.

2008 has been a year of ups and downs, primarily ups, some dramatic downs and I have learned so much from all of it. Here is the primary learning for me:

I’m not in control of anything more than my responses to my external world. Even at that, I can choose only my behavioural response. I’m not even in control of my emotional response. Emotions just *are*. It is what I choose to do with them that constitutes active decision-making on my part. The harder I try to “control” the world around me, the more the world around me will resist.

This is a hard pill to swallow for someone who is not only a natural planner but a trained planner. An attempt to overly-manage one’s life is, really, an attempt to control the uncontrollable.

Here are some things I believe do fall within my locus of control:

  • how I spend my time
  • who I spend my time with
  • how I spend my money
  • where I focus my energy
  • what I ingest

If I spend my time well, with the right people, if I focus my energies on making good things happen – for me and for others – if I spend my money with wisdom and judiciousness, and if I eat properly consistently … on balance, this will keep me on track for an interesting and healthy life.

If I spend my time around people who are judgmental and cruel, if I waste time and energy working on projects that do not make good things happen, if I waste my money on frivolous things, if I eat badly consistently, I simply won’t feel well, I won’t think well of myself, and I will have failed to provide myself with the internal and external supports I need to feel whole and healthy.

In MBA-speak, this would be called “positioning”. Making the consistent day-to-day choices will, on balance, position me well – with the right people, the right personal and professional projects, the right sustenance.

Another way to think of this is that the right choices, the small consistent ones, create in me enough strength to tackle whatever “big stuff” the external world has to offer me, be it a tough emotional situation to resolve, or a fabulous new project to take on. Both will take time, energy and thought as investment. I need to be well-positioned and well-supported to “live the life” that is presented me.

Here is what I cannot control:

  • how others behave
  • how others feel
  • how others feel about or perceive me
  • how others make their decisions

How much time, measured likely in years, have I wasted worrying about what other people think, and then basing my own behaviours on my assumptions in this regard? Not having the opportunity to be present inside the unique psyches each individual possesses, I can’t possibly anticipate how another person will respond to me or my words.

The only “stuff” I can control is my own.

Which brings me back this fabulous song, Viva La Vida. The lyrics, almost Shakespearean in nature, just knock me over.

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
“Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

This first set of stanzas creates a picture, for me, of a person who created a life based on an illusion of control and, upon his/her illusions being challenged, found that his/her life was build on “pillars of salt and pillars of sand”. The thing is, you can get away with this for a while – you can imagine that you control enough of your world, and understand enough about the people around you, to manipulate yourself into a pretty solid looking castle. Until the walls close in, that is …

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

This part of the chorus is repeated intact several times and, to me, speaks of the level of ego required to imagine that one’s control is absolute … it is a form of megalomania.

For some reason I can’t explain
Once you’d gone there was never
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

This part of the chorus alters slightly when it is repeated. Here, the “controller” is abandoned either by his/her loved one, or by his/her sense of conscience and ethics, as symbolized by a persona. Without this element, either figuratively or symbolically, the “controller” has no reason to behave ethically, or to trust that what he/she is hearing represents truth, having surrounded him/herself with courtiers (one presumes).

It was a wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn’t believe what I’d become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

It was a sudden and dramatic event that led to the “controller’s” downfall. Damage and mayhem everywhere and astonishment at the “controller’s” egocentric belief that he/she can, actually, control their world. Harsh judgment and loneliness follows, along with the ultimate question, “who would ever want to be this kind of person?”


I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can’t explain
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

Again with the judgment … as Saint Peter isn’t going to call his/her name.

But, for me, the song, or the story, ends at the beginning. “… sweep the streets I used to own”. The person survives the experience of a perceptual downfall, from “king” of their world to street-sweeper. And, yet, the song is upbeat, musically, and the title, Viva La Vida, is almost joyful. Has this person not been liberated from the shackles of control, micro-management, empire-building and decision-making?

Musically, the song begins with an almost militaristic, insistent, march-like beat. The beat itself, like a heart-beat, doesn’t disappear but it does get adorned, in layers, as the song progresses. The bridge between the first chorus and second verse is the first significant shift in the musical structure. The “heart-beat” sustains, but a new guitar motif starts sparkling along, almost asking the drums/violins if they should really be taking themselves so damn seriously. After the second verse/second chorus, there is another bridge in which the heart-beat stops, momentarily, and the violins themselves seem to question the wisdom of carrying on in the same manner, as if deciding which path to follow. Then, the heart-beat plunges back in, but is layered with the haunting vocal wailing of the lead singer, Chris Martin.  There is lots more going on at the end, as the chorus returns over the wailing. Then, suddenly, the song tapers off on “… never an honest word, that was when I ruled the world.”

To me, the ending is the kicker, suggesting that less is more. That you really only rule your world when you stop trying so damn hard.

What I want to say about this song, as it pertains to me, is this: the more I set my heart on specific external “needs” and expectations, the more I try to “control” things to make those outcomes occur. And the less happy I am, and the less happiness I bring to others in my world. When I set my sights on my own internal health and well-being, and sit back a bit to see what comes my way, the happier I am, and the more prepared I am to respond authentically to the people and events around me.

Living more “re-actively” than “pro-actively” goes well against my nature, as some kind readers may know. 🙂 It’s ok … I’m learning. 🙂 I’m a Libra, so maybe I’ll find some happy balance somewhere.

Here are some kids having fun with this song … this is by far my favourite rendition.

I spoke with my sister on the phone on Boxing Day and it was lovely to re-connect. It was so interesting to hear how she has, in her own way, come to this same place, at almost the same moment in time.  She too is a planner, list-maker, organizer, “controller”. She told me vignette after vignette, with each little story ending with her finally shrugging, smiling, and saying, “… and then I realized, it is what it is.”

It is what it is.

Live the Life.

Viva La Vida.

Big Butch Woman Click Here To Comment!

Back in the day, I sang in a choir that sang this song. It was SUCH good fun … and resulted in me re-claiming my beloved flannel shirt wearing self. For ages, I’ve wanted a copy of the lyrics and props/kudos to G for forwarding them – thanks! Sadly, I don’t have the lyricist/composer information handy but if it does become available, I’ll update this post.

Big Butch Woman

It used to be in the good ol’ days, you could tell a butch from a femme (butch from a femme)

When you checked out a woman, you knew right away “was she one of us? or was she one of them?” (one of us? one of them?)

You’d see the butch at the bar with her hair slicked back and then her pretty wife in heels by her side. (good wifey, oohhh)

But now those days are gone.  You can’t tell us apart.  It makes me just wanna lay down and cry.

I want a Big Butch Woman in a flannel shirt, who drives a pickup truck and who smells like dirt.

I want a big strong mama who will cooch and coo, someone who’ll roll in the hay ‘til my face turns blue.

Don’t want no pretty girl with her hair so nice, who puts her makeup on and wears her jeans too tight.

Give me a Big Butch Woman in a flannel shirt to keep me warm through those cold winter nights.

So many women.  So little time.  You can’t afford to make a mistake. (can’t make a mistake)

You gotta go for those women you know for sure you ain’t wastin’ time on someone who’s straight. (run away if she ain’t)

A little pinky ring, shirts and pants from the Gap, or take a look at her comf’table shoes. (Doc Martins oohhh)

It’s just those girls at the bar, who drive those cute little cars, leaves me nothing but feeling confused.


We know we’re stuck on a stereotype, but those cute little femmes just ain’t worth all the hype!
What do we want?

Baby! Keep me warm through those cold winter nights
Big mama! Keep me warm through those cold winter nights.

Top of page / Subscribe to new Entries (RSS)