Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Song Selection – Monty Python: All Things Dull and Ugly

Let us Pray
Dear Lord, our Heavenly Father, once there was a reverent, respectful, sacred hymn singing thy praises and bestowing deferential and dutiful thanks to thee for those creations and gifts thine has most gracefully bestowed upon us, thy lowly, undeserving, sinful, grateful and fawning children. Then, the British gentlemen of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, for whom this simple blog is christened and forever dedicated, determined the lyrics required some seismic, satirical reshaping and thus, like a faded pop star seeking renewed attention, a disgraced politician clinging to office, or a deviant Tele-evangelist preserving his flock, finances and following, a hymn was reborn and an underappreciated comedy classic created.

Lord, we beseech thee, creator of Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and yes, even Gummo, forgive thy humble satirical servants for their comical trespasses and transgressions, for laughter and parody are surely amongst thy most blessed conceptions. 
In the name of all thine mirth-makers called Allen – Steve, Gracie, Fred, Dayton, Woody, Marty, Dave, Bernie, Dennis, Byron and Tim, and also that of Lenny Bruce, who died for our sins – Amen.

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” is an Anglican hymn, popular with all Christian denominations, first published in 1848 in “Mrs. Cecil Alexander’s Hymns for Little Children.” “All Things Dull and Ugly” is an English ditty, popular with all Python devotees, first released in 1980 on “Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album.” Appreciate the former, but upon hearing the latter be warned it may prove decidedly difficult thereafter to warble the original, titters contained and grin not set goofily.

Warning: This Bit Takes a Rather Nasty Detour Toward Self-Importance Near the End -
PBS – October 1974 (You Have Been Warned)
A kid too obsessed with television, destined to work in the industry, whose Bible was much more the TV Guide than the Judeo/Christian one, stumbled upon, in those holy broadcast listings, a very unusually titled program, "Monty Python’s Flying Circus." Clueless, but curious to what such a moniker might promise, with some assumptions that the Big Top must have been an element, I tuned in. And, at risk of assault with a cliché, it was unlike anything any American had ever seen before, an entire reinvention of the sketch comedy form – satiric, sophomoric, sophisticated, surreal, utterly unique, with a perfected blending of silliness and articulate and educated intelligence, as would befit this crew of Oxford and Cambridge alum -  Proust meets pratfall. Love at first sight. Beginning that evening, I had to write and I haven’t stopped since – a career motivated by a fish slapping dance, a penguin on a television, and a stunned parrot.

There Was a Boy. A Very Strange Not Particularly Enchanted Boy.
I have traversed vast bodies of water, not once but twice, to witness the wittiness of this exceedingly English quintet with the Yankee ex-patriot member. First, as a sallow youth in that magical bicentennial year of 1976 onboard the mighty fleet of the Staten Island Ferry sailing that famed expanse of Neptune’s realm, New York Harbor, to get from the bucolic forgotten borough to Manhattan and its City Center Theater.  And, again, after a mere 38 years, decades of aging with apparently very little maturing, across the mighty Atlantic in a journey of 3465.05 miles,  5576.46 kilometers and thousands of dollars from New York to London to attend and experience the reunion and farewell show, “Monty Python Live (Mostly),” (seen in the pictures shared.) Circle complete – hakuna matata. A lifetime of gratitude goes to the irreplaceable, indomitable, invaluable, intrepid (think of the "Maude" theme), rarely incomprehensible and frequently alluded to nycitywoman, the best traveling companion since Dramamine, rolling luggage and the "Official Amsterdam Guide to Cannabis Buying and Smoking Tips," for embracing the spirit of such a needless, extravagant and expensive pilgrimage.

The lyrics to both “All Things Dull and Ugly” and “All Things Bright and Beautiful” are immediately below, followed by a video of the Python parody.

All Things Dull and Ugly
All things dull and ugly
All creatures short and squat
All things rude and nasty
The Lord God made the lot

Each little snake that poisons
Each little wasp that stings
He made their brutish venom
He made their horrid wings

All things sick and cancerous
All evil great and small
All things foul and dangerous
The Lord God made them all

Each nasty little hornet
Each beastly little squid
Who made the spiky urchin?
Who made the sharks? He did

All things scabbed and ulcerous
All pox both great and small
Putrid, foul and gangrenous
The Lord God made them all, Amen

All Things Bright and Beautiful
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful:
the Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
God made their glowing colors,
And made their tiny wings.

The purple-headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden:
God made them every one.

God gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

Carol Cleveland (the 7th Python) is descending the stairs

From Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “All Things Dull and Ugly.”

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions? Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.

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