Friday, July 16, 2010

The Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic

It might seem a bit strange for us to post a folk album here at The Evil Eye, but this one is a special case. Celebrate diversity, right? Most people who keep up with this blog probably couldn’t care less about folk music at all, so most of this album is dispensable. However, there is one song on Remember the Wind and the Rain that is well worth your time.

Years ago, my dad and I were working on a mix tape that has since been lost to the sands of time. “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” kicked off the b-side, complete with all of the pops and skips that you’d expect from a record that was more than twenty years old. Due to the song’s length, we weren’t sure of what else to put on the tape to fill the remaining space left on the tape. Most people probably would have redone the tape to have shorter songs take place first, before including the Iron Butterfly classic. But this is my dad we’re talking about here. Leave it to him to have a few tricks up his sleeve.

Asking me if I’d ever heard of a guy named Jaime Brockett (of course not), he broke out a tape and dubbed me a song called “Legend of the USS Titanic” that was just long enough to round out our latest mix tape endeavor. And what a song it was!

“Legend of the USS Titanic” is a talking folk song in the same vein as Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” but a million times funnier. Boxer Jack Johnson is supposed to sail on Titanic to England for a lucrative fight, but his ticket is denied. This ship don’t haul no coal, you see. Johnson’s skin happens to be as black as said coal, so he doesn’t get to party with the Italian senators and wife-swapping Jews from Miami en route to his next knockout. Jack is understandably upset over this turn of events. However, karma is on his side due to the antics of the ship’s first mate.

This guy is a bit kooky for 1912. Before he was the first mate on Titanic, this unnamed fellow was working in a rope factory down in Mexico. When the factory catches fire one day, the guy discovers that there’s more than one purpose for the material used to make the rope. He makes off with some—nearly five hundred feet worth—and brings it to his next job. Can you see where this is going yet?

All is well aboard Titanic. The unsinkable ship is floating in and out between the icebergs. The rich Jews are partying and trading their wives, Cadillacs, and diamonds. The crew is hard at work. The first mate is having a smoke and checking out the icebergs. Meanwhile, the captain (presumably Captain Edward J. Smith) decides that he’s going to go outside to test the wind and happens upon the first mate in mid-puff. Not believing that it’s a mere cigarette, he takes a puff. Nothing happens, so he goes off and does all sorts of captain things. After his third trip around the wheelhouse, the first mate asks him if he’d like another drag off of this innocent lil’ cigarette he’s been smoking. But this time, he’s going to tell Captain Smith a little bit about how to smoke this properly.

The first mate informs Smith that he is supposed to hold the smoke in his tummy for as long as he can, and it’ll make him feel good inside. You might guess that the captain does exactly that, taking three big drags and commences holding it in. Smith then proceeds to take another stroll around the wheelhouse, lays down, gets back up, sends a radiogram, takes a shower, shaves, lays down, gets up again, turns on the television (what?), turns off the radio, plays cribbage, reads a Masked Marvel comic book, makes a cup of tea, makes a cup of coffee, sits down, eats a piece of pie, goes upstairs, plays another game of cribbage, reads another Masked Marvel comic, lays down, and has the TV, radio, egg beater, and the air conditioner all going on at once. Then Captain Smith walks back up on deck. It’s been fifty-two minutes and he’s STILL holding in all that smoke! Holy moly, this cat was BORN to get high. The first mate sees him all puff up like a balloon and tells him he’s gotta let out all that smoke. So he does…and passes out on the wheelhouse floor.

When Smith wakes up, he stands right up and grabs a hold of the wheel. Obviously high as a kite, he decides to steer the unsinkable Titanic right into an iceberg. Of course, the ship sinks to the bottom of the sea, taking with her all the Italian senators, the Jewish people, the first mates, the captain, the landlubbers, the Masked Marvel comics, and 497 and a half feet of rope. True story, folks.

Meanwhile, a dejected Jack Johnson is fishing off the pier and gets a little tug on his line. Pulling it up, he discovers some lining reading “USS Titanic” in gold letters, with a wet roach stuck to it. Happy as a clam, ol’ Jack starts dancing the Eagle Rock up and down the pier with the knowledge that proper justice had been served. That’s what they get for not letting him on board so he could sail to England to make money knocking fools out.

As far as we at The Evil Eye are concerned, there is no reason why you wouldn’t get a kick out of this song. That is, unless you’re a humorless racist asshole who thought Titanic was a good movie…in which case, you probably stopped reading this post a long time ago. Everyone else can get nearer your god to thee here.

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