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March 07, 2006

The Road to Mandalay

Rudyard Kipling as an interesting poet to study these days. His notions of the White Man's Burden seem so outdated, yet his experiences in Colonial India have echoes in the actions of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I had some music snippets and thought it would be a good exercise to fill them out using an existing poem as the basis for rhythm and structure.

I chose Kipling's "Mandalay" because it had a structure that would work with what I already had melodically, and the verses are very visual.

The Road to Mandalay (mp3 2.32MB) is the simple demo.

It could use a bridge; it only has an A and B part now which gets repetitive after a few verses.

I heard a Sinatra version of a song also based on this poem, and I definitely think mine is better.

The lyrics I originally wrote are in this song Dr K. which I kind of like, but Kipling's are good too.

a    F  a     d  a  A d  a

a7 C G D C E E G
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' eastward to the sea, There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say: "Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"

a G F a a E F a
Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay: Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin'-fishes play, An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

a7 C G D C E E G
'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green, An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat -- jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot, An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:

a G F a a E F a
Bloomin' idol made o'mud -- Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd -- Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!

a7 C G D C E E G
When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow, She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "~Kulla-lo-lo!~"
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin' my cheek We USEter watch the steamers an' the ~hathis~ pilin' teak.

a G F a a E F a
Elephints a-pilin' teak In the sludgy, squdgy creek, Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!

a7 C G D C E E G
But that's all shove be'ind me -- long ago an' fur away, An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells: "If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."

a G F a a E F a
No! you won't 'eed nothin' else But them spicy garlic smells, An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;

a7 C G D C E E G
I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones, An' the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand, An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?

a G F a a E F a
Beefy face an' grubby 'and -- Law! wot do they understand? I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!

a7 C G D C E E G
Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst, Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be -- By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;

a G F a a E F a
On the road to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay, With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin'-fishes play, An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

Posted by mslaybau at March 7, 2006 05:19 PM

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