So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is the title of the fourth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. Its title is the message left by the dolphins when the entire species evacuated Planet Earth just before it’s scheduled demolition to make way for a “hyperspace bypass”.
A song with the same name was created for the 2005 film. Right at the beginning of the movie we hear the vocal choir version of the song as performed by Hilary Summers, Kemi Ominiyi, & RSVP Voices.
But did you know that on the Soundtrack CD there is a second version of the song? That’s right and it’s done in the style of lounge singer Richard Cheese but it’s actually Neil Hannon.
The 2005 movie was good but this author highly recommends the six-part miniseries from the BBC. It’s streaming on Hulu right now in the USA. If you want to take a really deep dive, check out the BBC Radio-Dramas based on the books. They are far-out indeed.
Imagine that it’s the 90s and you’ve just arrived home. The first thing you do is press PLAY on your answering machine. Then you find out that your son is currently in jail. Not only that but he’s gone nuts. He claims to love it there.
Was (Not Was) wrote a song about it. The track features a mix of acoustic and electronic instruments. I would classify it as experimental jazz. It’s weird as hell and certainly not a traditional pop song. “Dad, I’m in Jail” was the final track on their 1988 album What Up, Dog?.
I got my first CD player in 1989 or 1990. I quickly joined both Columbia House and BMG music services. I got What Up, Dog? on CD from one of those two. I checked to see if I still have it in my collection and sadly I do not.
The video here is not the official video for the song. The band itself never made one. This is actually an animation piece made for MTV’s Liquid Television. It first aired on October 1, 1992, part of season two.
At the time animation was not as ubiquitous as it is today. The technology to create animation was nothing like what we have now. Liquid Television was one of the only places that a casual viewer could see animated works of art. It also is where future popular shows like Beavis and Butthead were first tested out on an audience.
This upload looks like a VHS recording from live TV. As a result it is in mono and does not sound very good, so for your reference, I found a better sounding recording of the track here.
PURE PROFANITY. This song probably breaks the record for the most swear words ever to be intentionally included in the lyrics. It’s so bad that I can not play it on the live radio stream. It’s impossible to bleep this track.
A listener suggested that we add the original version by The Mermaid Sisters. I was rather shocked when I first heard it. Today I discovered this cover version by Sho Hikino that includes the lyrics. His singing style vaguely reminds me of this band from the 70s/80s called Manhattan Transfer. Great Job!
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) was a German artist, graphic designer, typographer, set designer and poet. From 1923-1932 he published an arts and poetry magazine called “Merz”. What this blog is concerned about are his works of Sound Poetry.
In 1926, after a trip to Prague, he was inspired to work on his epic sound-poem called Sonate in Urlauten which he performed throughout Europe for years afterward. The sound poem depicts phonemic and syllabic expressions according to the German language. These were not words. They were sound elements from the language. The performer was expected to read every sound off the paper but improvise and interpret things like pitch and tempo.
This is an example of what the sound poem looks like and paper. Keep it mind that the letters represent German sounds not English.
Here are two short samples, as voiced by the man himself.
People can do a lot with their mouths. Here is a famous example of The “Human Beat Box” style of rhythmic mouth sounds once used widely in hip-hop. It’s currently a global phenomena and does not show signs of abating. Here is a collection of mostly young people demonstrating their skills on TikTok
Take yet another turn, and here is an example of sampling mouth sounds and then triggering them with a computer or keyboard. Kraftwerk’s “Music Non Stop”.
For good measure, here is a more modern recording of Kurt Schwitter’s work.
What do you think about all of this? Leave you thoughts in the comment section below!