Sunday, September 03, 2006

It's Erect Because He's Blind

Ever heard of song poems and the song "Blind Man's Penis"?

For most of the 20th century, American newspapers ran ads soliciting song poems. The advertisers were recording studios ostensibly looking for good lyrics. If you sent them your work, and if it was good enough, the studio might have it set to music and recorded, and you would get a cut of the proceeds if your song became a hit.

This was really just a scam. Everybody who sent lyrics got the reply that theirs had been approved -- and were asked to send a sizeable sum of money. If you paid, then the lyrics were indeed set to music and recorded in a single take by bored session musicians fallen on hard times. And then you received a record by mail. No such "collaboration" ever sold any records, as the products weren't actually marketed. The song poem studios made their money off of hopeful lyricists. The reason that they used the awkward term "song poems" was that they judged that the intended blue-collar clientel wouldn't be comfortable with the word lyrics.

In 1976, teenager John Trubee (who would later become a highly original recording artist), decided to test the limits of the song poem business. He sent a poem to a studio in Nashville, received the automatic reply, and paid the asked-for sum. Trubee's poem was titled "Peace and Love" and its refrain was "Stevie Wonder's penis is erect because he's blind".

After a few weeks, and to his surprise, Trubee received an acetate record by mail. He had hoped for, at best, an entertaining angry letter denouncing his sick poetry. Instead, here was a song, composed and recorded by middle-aged musicians on the sad and threadbare side of country music. They had exchanged Stevie Wonder for an anonymous blind man, but apart from that the lyrics were just as Trubee had written them.
Blind Man’s Penis (Peace & Love)
By John Trubee

I got high last night on LSD
My mind was beautiful, and I was free
Warts loved my nipples because they are pink
Vomit on me, baby
Yeah Yeah Yeah.

A blind man's penis is erect because he's blind
It's erect because he's blind
A blind man's penis is erect because he's blind
It's erect because he is blind

Let's make love under the stars
And watch for UFOs
And if little baby Martians
Come out of the UFOs
You can fuck them
Yeah Yeah Yeah.

The zebra spilled its plastinia on bemis
And the gelatin fingers oozed electric marbles
Ramona's titties died in hell
And the Nazis want to kill
To kill everyone.

A blind man's penis is erect because he's blind
This song, among many others of similar sublimeness, can be heard on the amazing 2003 collection American Song-Poem Anthology. Unlike "Blind Man's Penis", most of this work is in the unintentionally hilarious category.

But what about the musicians? I think their decision to go through with the deal and record Trubee's prank lyrics straightfacedly earns them huge respect. It appears that the music was written and the Elvisy vocals provided by Ramsey Kearney. And would you believe it -- Kearney, born in 1933, still provides song poem services through his web site! "Let's Make Music Together"! No doubt about it. The man's a hero.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the same concept applied to literature, see Atlanta Nights:


04 September, 2006 02:20  
Blogger Karen said...

Where do you find this stuff???? Hilarious...

04 September, 2006 17:04  
Blogger Martin said...

Akkie: wow, that's a good one!

Karen: there was a Boingboing entry, and I read about the CD in the morning paper.

As entertainment at one of our parties, I gave a little talk on the song (that has now become a blog entry), distributed lyrics sheets, and then we had a good singalong session. (-;

04 September, 2006 20:00  
Blogger Karen said...

I like the sound of your parties!

05 September, 2006 17:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my favorite song too. Listening to it now.

30 December, 2007 16:02  

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