Sunday, August 16, 2009

"I'm tired of all them rocks in the sea"

This one is different than the other lyrics I have whittled out of James Joyce's Ulysses. So far, I have only presented verbatim excerps, without any changes other than breaking up the lines to suggest how the words might be sung as rock lyrics.

The following bits, on the other hand, are excerpted from a stretch of six pages of the narrative, when Murphy the drunken red-hedded sailor regales Bloom and Stephen with tales of his travels inside the cabman's shelter on the verge of Nighttown.

As with all sailor yarns, Murphy is not entirely to be trusted. But if you pluck out some of his more flavorful claims, you have the making of a good fragmented raconteur story song, a form perfected, most recently, by Tom Waits.

"I'm tired of all them rocks in the sea"

I seen a crocodile bite the fluke off an anchor
same as I chew that quid.
And I seen maneaters in Peru
that eats corpses and the livers of horses.

Look here.
Here they are.
A friend of mine sent me.

Know how to keep them off?
Glass. That boggles 'em. Glass.

I seen a Chinese one time
that had little pills like putty
and he put them in the water
and they opened, and
every pill was something different.

One was a ship,
another was a house,
another was a flower.

Cooks rats in your soup,
the Chinese does.

And I seen a man killed in Trieste
by an Italian chap.
Knife in his back.
Knife like that.
It went into his back
up to the butt.

I'm tired
of all them rocks in the sea,
and boats and ships.
Salt junk all the time.

There was a fellow
sailed with me in the Rover.
Went ashore and took up a soft job
as gentleman's valet at six quid a month.
Them are his trousers I've on me and
he gave me an oilskin and that jackknife.

I'm game for that job,
shaving and brushup.
I hate roaming about.

Tattoo by by James Jacobs (Bushido Tattoo; Calgary, Alberta) from the Flickr of William Schaff, based on a drawing by Schaff.


More in this series

"Pretty pretty petticoats"
"Music without Words, pray for us" (instrumental, or not)
"SIGNOR MAFFEI: (With a sinister smile)"
"Sad music" (instrumental)
"Monkey puzzle" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"What kind of a present to give"
"Fires in the houses of poor people" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"Christfox in leather trews" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"All future plunges to the past" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"She was humming" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"Silly billies:" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"Happy Happy" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"A sugarsticky girl" (Joyce, King, A Better Guitar Player Than Me)
"Everybody eating everyone else" (Joyce, King, You)
"Blood not mine" (Joyce, King, Your Name Here)
"Sell your soul for that" (Joyce, King, Your Name Here)
"Over the motley slush" (Joyce, King, Whoever Helps Me)
"My childhood bends" (Joyce, King)"
"Don't you play the giddy ox with me!" (Joyce, King)

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