Friday, September 14

Poetry Friday: Fifty-third Calypso - Nice, Nice, Very Nice

Kurt Vonnegut wasn't the first author who dabbled in an invented religion as a way of expounding his character's (and his own) operational beliefs. In Cat's Cradle Vonnegut laid out Bokononism, a mash-up of various Eastern philosophies as expounded by a double-speaking guru encamped in the Caribbean paradise of San Lorenzo whose hymnal was composed of calypsos. The second chapter in the book lays out calypso number fifty-three as follows:
Oh, a sleeping drunkard
Up in Central Park,
And a lion hunter
In the jungle dark,
And a Chinese dentist,
And a British queen --
All fit together
In the same machine.
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, Nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice --
So many different people
In the same device.
The idea behind this has to do with what Bokonon/Vonnegut calls the karass.
"If you find your life tangled up with someone else's life for no very logical reason," writes Bokonon, "that person may be a member of your karass."
Which is as concise a definition as is necessary. So many paths, so many lives we cross, and somewhere along the way we all intersect, intermingle, diverge.
"Man created the checkerboard; God created the karass."
There's more. A decade or so after Vonnegut wrote this calypso a band out of Los Angeles named Ambrosia turned it into a song for their first album. When they started out they were influenced by the harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and the prog rock experimentation of King Crimson. They were "discovered" by conductor Zubin Mehta and played with the LA Philharmonic, and were the back-up band for the first Alan Parson's project album before they were ever able to get a recording contract. Most don't remember their early songs like "Holding On To Yesterday" as much as they do their later soft-rock schlock "You're the Biggest Part of Me," "How Much I Feel," and "You're the Only Woman." So sad.

But when they still had their souls they managed to add a few more verses to round out Vonnegut's and had themselves a little classic FM hit.

Nice, Nice, Very Nice
(Vonnegut Jr. - Puerta - Pack - North - Drummond)

Oh a sleeping drunkard Up in Central Park
Or the lion hunter In the jungle dark

Or the Chinese dentist Or the British Queen
They all fit together In the same machine

Nice, nice, very nice
Nice, nice, very nice
So many people in the same device

Oh a whirling dervish And a dancing bear
Or a Ginger Rogers and a Fred Astaire

Or a teenage rocker Or the girls in France
Yes, we all are partners in this cosmic dance

Nice, nice, very nice
Nice, nice, very nice
So many people in the same device

I wanted all things to make sense
So we'd be happy instead of tense

Oh a sleeping drunkard Up in Central Park
Or the lion hunter In the jungle dark

Or the Chinese dentist Or the British Queen
They all fit together In the same machine

Nice, nice, very nice
Nice, nice, very nice
So many people in the same device
So many people in the same device

If I could make *%#@! Blogger accept my audio plug-in I'd have the song linked here. Instead, you'll have to visit someone else's blog to hear this opus.
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