Reprinted from Pied Type, August 22, 2011
Funny how the mind works. When it works. If it works.
I was in the kitchen fixing lunch and out of the blue I recalled a line from an old song where a voice interrupts and concludes the verse with, “… and I don’t like anybody very much!” I heard that line as clearly as if I’d been listening to the radio. True, I thought. Sad, but true. I really don’t like anybody very much….
But as clearly as I heard the line, I couldn’t remember the title or artist(s). I could remember some of the lyrics and all of the melody, but not the title. It was folk music from around 1960. No doubt about that. A group I’d listened to for hours on end.
I started searching through Limeliters songs. Man, did they do some great stuff. But apparently not this particular song. Next most obvious group, the Kingston Trio. Bingo! I still don’t recognize or remember the title, “The Merry Minuet,” but bits and pieces of the lyrics are as fresh as if they’d been written and sung yesterday.
“The Merry Minuet” was released in 1958 by the original Kingston Trio, Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds.
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick:
They’re rioting in Africa. They’re starving in Spain.
There’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch.
And I don’t like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud,
for man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day,
someone will set the spark off…
and we will all be blown away.
They’re rioting in Africa. There’s strife in Iran.
What nature doesn’t do to us… will be done by our fellow man.
You youngsters must remember — we sang about and made fun of these things because … well … because the alternative was to huddle in our bomb shelters and cry a lot.
I miss folk music.