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Lyr Req: Ballad of J. Edgar Hoover (Holly Tannen)


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Jim Dixon 12 Oct 04 - 10:38 AM
Jim Dixon 11 Oct 04 - 05:25 AM
Joe Offer 08 Oct 04 - 03:55 AM
open mike 07 Oct 04 - 10:54 PM
GUEST,Motogrrl 07 Oct 04 - 10:42 PM
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From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Oct 04 - 10:38 AM

[Here's a parody of T. S. Eliot's poem, THE LOVE SONG OF J. ALFRED PRUFROCK. Copied from It was originally published in The National Lampoon.]

By Sean Kelly, 1972

We'd better go quietly, you and I,
When the evening is smeared against the sky
Like a witness before a House committee.

We'd better tail each other through the streets
The undercover beats
Of stakeout nights in Mafia hotels
And restaurants that front for mob cartels;
Streets that follow like a DA's argument
Establishing intent
To overwhelm you with a leading question....
Oh, let's go and bust a traitor
We'll pick up the warrant later.

The agents call and call again
Talking of Daniel Berrigan.

And indeed they'll all do time,
That yellow mob that riots in the street,
Trashing the banks and breaking windowpanes;
They will do time, they will do time.
The mug shots are prepared, I'll know their faces when we meet;
They will do time for murder, crossing state
Lines with intent, their idle little hands
Will do time punching out my license plate;
Time for throwing and overthrowing,
And time for a hundred conspiracies,
And a hundred tricks and treacheries,
Plenty of time for that where they're going.

The agents call and call again
Talking of Daniel Berrigan.

Yes indeed, they'll all do time,
Those Commie symps who talk behind my back,
For every liberal sneer and dirty crack,
For every smear and bleeding heart attack
(They all say: "Look, his arse is getting fat")
They criticize my shapeless suits and snappy G-man hat,
My collar a size too small, -my simple string cravat
(They all say: "His neck is thick, his head is fat")
Do I dare
Wiretap the universe?
I look forward to a time
Of decisions and convictions the Supreme Court can't reverse.

For I know them all already, I have dossiers on them all:-
Have them cold for tax evasion, graft or rape,
I've spun out my life on little spools of tape;
I have their voices lying, have each spying call,
Have dates, names, places, everything I need.
   Now shall I proceed?

And I have known the spies already, known them all-
They fix the courts, the CIA was formed by
   Commie spies,
It has all been infiltrated, crawling with those reds,
I'll pin the buggers up against the wall.
Me and my trusty Feds
Will stick the butt-ends of our forty-fours between their thighs!
   But how shall I proceed?

And I have known the arms already, known them all
Arms any moron has the right to bear
(But in the lab light, fingerprints are there!)

Thinking of a gun or rifle
Makes me digress a trifle.
Along with dope and marked bills, I'll plant pistols on them all.
   And then should I proceed?
   And when should I begin?

                                  * * *
Shall I say, I have gone disguised through littered streets
And smelled the smoke that rises from the joints
Of long-haired party-members throwing rocks through windows? ...
I should have been a pair of rugged cuffs
Closing upon the wrists of Eldridge C.

                                  * * *
My dreams of glory, my ambition, slipped from my hands
Smothered by long intrigue,
Plots ... subterfuges ... they fatigue
My old brain, codes, command and countermands.
Should I, after Dillinger, in my finest hour,
Have made my move, sought office, taken power?
Though I was supercop, and every reader of the Digest knew it,
Though I have seen my face (ferocious toad) on every cover and front page,
I never took the lead -- remained backstage;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen Life's cameraman focus on me, and snicker.
And in short, I blew it.

And after all, would it have been worthwhile,
Behind the pictures, underneath the rugs,
In every nook and cranny to have placed my little bugs,
To have them all, the victims and assailants,
In me they trust, one nation under surveillance;
To have squeezed the universe into a file
To open at my whim and/or discretion,
To say: "I am Jehovah, strict but fair,
My eye is on the sparrow, and on you!" --
If one, sticking a finger in the air,
   Should say back to the microphone: "Fuck you!"
   Should say: "Fuck you." And smile.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the shootouts and the setups and the incriminating leaks,
After the columns, after the speeches, after the trials
   that dragged on for years --
The TV show on which the Chief appears? --
It's just impossible to say how mean I am!
But if I had the nerve to let them screen the truth about this sham:
Would you have been worthwhile
If all my agents, breaking cover, dropping their disguise,
Should suddenly surround me, and say to my surprise:
"There is a plot. What's more, we're, all
   In on the plot, investigate us all!"

                                  * * *
   No! I am, not Efrem Zimbalist, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant pig behind the arras,
Stupid, and so not easy to embarrass,
Useful for busting dealers at the borders,
Reading St. Paul to white congregations,
Arranging suitable defenestrations,
And casting demons out from demonstrations;
Sometimes I interrupt assassinations
Sometimes I give the orders.

I grow old ... I grow old ...
Some whom I sent up for life have been paroled.
Are my agents wearing sideburns? Who dared to say impeach?
I shall give communion breakfast my Commie-menace speech.
I have heard canaries singing, each to each.

I don't think any more will sing for me.

I have seen them burning draft cards in the park
Burning the files of bureaus and committees,
The wind is black with burning flags and cities.

We have, played with fire, bringing down the heat
To smother reds and blacks in screens of smoke
Till human torches touch us, and we croak.

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Subject: Lyr Add: BALLAD OF J. EDGAR HOOVER (Holly Tannen)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Oct 04 - 05:25 AM

Looks like Motogrrl found the lyrics and posted them on her own blog but didn't post them here.

Lyrics and disclaimer copied from

Words: Holly Tannen, copyright 1990.
Tune: "Joe Hill" by Earl Robinson copyright 1938.

I dreamed I saw J. Edgar Hoover
'Live as you or me
"But J.," I said, "You're ten years dead."
"I never died," said he.
"I never died," said he.

"For forty years, by fear and greed
You ruled the FBI
But now we've taken back our rights!"
Says he, "I did not die."
Says he, "I did not die."

Where phones are tapped and lists are kept
And documents are shred
Where statesmen and reporters lie
It's there you'll find J. Ed.
It's there you'll find J. Ed.

Where poor folks fear to speak their minds
And live apart in dread
Where crimes are blamed on innocents
It's there you'll find J. Ed.
It's there you'll find J. Ed.

And standing there as fat as life
With beady little eyes
"So if you think I'm dead," he says
"Just try to organize
Just try to organize."

I dreamed I saw J. Edgar Hoover
'Live as you or me
"But J.," I said, "You're ten years dead."
"I never died," said he.
"I never died," said he.

(While Holly has copyrighted the words to insure that no one else claims authorship of them, anybody wishing to sing it or print it has her permission to do so, as long as she is credited. For more information, one may contact her at Box 1136, Mendocino, CA 95460.)

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Holly Tannen's 'J Edgar Hoover' song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Oct 04 - 03:55 AM

I think she has only two CD's out, and I can't see it on either of them. Could be it's a parody she sent to Faith Petric's column in Sing Out! - I think she's sent a good number to Faith over the years. I don't know of an index to those parodies, and didn't find any trace of it in a Google search.
Open Mike is right - best thing to do is contact Holly through her Website, Holly is very gracious. I'm sure she'll try to help you.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Holly Tannen's 'J Edgar Hoover' song
From: open mike
Date: 07 Oct 04 - 10:54 PM

i guess you could ask her:
here is her web site

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Subject: Lyr Req: Holly Tannen's 'J Edgar Hoover' song
From: GUEST,Motogrrl
Date: 07 Oct 04 - 10:42 PM

To save my life, I can neither remember, nor find online, the lyrics to a great song I heard Holly Tannen sing, to the tune of "Joe Hill", that begins, "I dreamed I saw J Edgar Hoover, alive as you and me..."

Anybody got 'em?

    - Motogrrl

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