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Rhythm and Rhyme and Parody Time

I have something of a trick memory for lyrics. As long as they rhyme, I’ll remember them for years. If it’s then set to a tune, I might remember it forever. There was a song I learned in elementary school called “Fifty Nifty United States.” In the middle of it we sang the US states in alphabetical order, to a simple bridge melody. I can still recite that list. All I have to do is keep the melody in my head.

I can do almost the entire score from “Camelot” and “My Fair Lady.” I can recite the Declaration of Independence, because it was put to music in the 70’s and performed by The Fifth Dimension.” Once, when I was performing, someone asked Ernie if I ever worried about forgetting lyrics. He replied, “It would never occur to her.”

I have written over 20 parody songs and performed several of them. I pick a well-known song that seems to fit what I want to parody and then write new lyrics. It’s one of my favorite musical things to do.

Lately, though, the well has been running dry. I wrote and even performed (virtually) a few of them during chemotherapy until I got so sick I couldn’t do much. Those were about the only times I wore that darn wig I spent so much money for! I was thinking of snatching it off at the end of the one I sung about shaving off my hair. Just like Julie Andrews in Victor Victoria! But I didn’t have quite enough courage. I hated the way I looked bald.

I was in the midst of composing a longer one called “Blame IT On The Chemo” (to the tune of “Blame it on the Bossa Nova) when everything just stopped being funny and I abandoned it mid-lyric.

I have performed live since 2019. Not sure if I’ll go back to it. Open mics are back again now, and as a member of Chicago Cabaret Professionals, I have good friends and contacts in the local cabaret community. I recently attempted to form a small group of parody writers, and although I was unable to work around everyone’s busy performance and teaching schedules, I made some good contacts.

I even have some new ideas for “Blame it on the Chemo.” After all, it’s been over two years since I completed cancer treatment. I’ve thought it might be fun to turn some of the lyrics around and make the song about all the things cancer “survivors” like to blame chemo for. I will be happy to share this when it’s ready!

As I always say, “Laugh or Die.” Musical parody, for me, is the best way to do that.


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