Saturday, February 16, 2013

Satyrday: The Pipes of Pan

The Pipes of Pan
(From the film Merry Andrew; Lyrics by Johnny Mercer, Music by Saul Chaplin.)

No, no, no, no no!

I mean the astral alien,
The creature bacchanalian
No good Episcopalian
believes in.
It's Pan!
(It's who?)
Why, Pan!
(Oh, Pan!)
He was half a quadruped and half a man.
He was mischievous and naughty
And your troubles all began
When you first heard the Pipes of Pan!

Not Zeus
Nor Thor,
Though they made the lightning flash and thunder roar!
If you journeyed all the way
From Madagascar to Japan,
You would not find the likes of Pan!

The goddess Aphrodite,
She seldom wore a nightie:
One may be high and mighty
But that simply isn't done!
What made Medusa horrid?
(The snakes upon her forehead!)
Right! Her countenance grew florid
When they wriggled in the sun!
But Pan
(Ah, Pan!)
He was sort of like a bad Samari-tan!
With his cloven hooves and pointed ears,
He simply had no time for tears,
He had to lead his gypsy caravan!
(What a man!)
Half a man,
Was Pan!

Please, sir, what other gods were there?
Let me see...
Achilles, and Adonis, and Apollo, and Aurora
Are among the ones I might possibly bring to your attention.
Calypso, and Cassandra, and Pygmalion, and Pandora.
Now just for amusement's sake
Let's see how many others we can mention...

(Echo.) Right. (Ceres! Vulcan!)
And his mighty forge.
(Galatea!) So there was. (Calliope!)
By George!
(Jupiter! His name was Zeus.)
Minerva was his daughter.
(And Gemini! And Pluto!)
He was famous for his water!
(And Neptune! And Ulysses!)
And the Titans and the rest,
I know,
But who possessed the magic pipes that no one else possessed?
(His name...)
Yes, yes?
(...was Pan!)
Good guess!
He could neigh and he could whinny when he ran!
And he played a sort of cross
Between a schottische and pavane
When he played on the Pipes of Pan.

Fair Echo was the maiden,
Whose charms were heavy laden,
He loved to serenade in
Hopes that someday they would wed.
(But she preferred Narcissus
And longed to be his missus.)
Till his analysises
Found he loved himself instead!
(Oh, his analysises found he loved himself instead!)
Dear Pan!
(Dear Pan!)
Sweet Pan!
(Sweet Pan!)
So we leave him in the fields Olympi-an!
(Good-Bye, Pan!)
And some April when he passes
We will see the waving grasses
And a set of cloven hoofprints where he ran,
(Where we walk!)
And we'll hear,
Loud and clear,
The Pipes...of...Pan!

I saw the first half of the film "Merry Andrew" before I had to go to work the other week, and saw Danny Kaye (as a British schoolmaster) sing this song with his class. It stuck in my head, until at last I had to buy it, and then transcribe it, and now finally post it. It's a bouncy, almost-patter song on a mythological theme, so it had immediate appeal for me. My nit-picking side notes they snuck a Norse god into the list, as well as several figures who are technically not gods (but heroes, demi-gods, nymphs, etc.). Danny Kaye's part is in regular type, and the students' parts are in italics.

1 comment:

Babel said...

I've never heard of that movie before. What a fun song! I'll have to look into that!