Monday, May 29, 2006

Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh: "Corduroy Road"

Some more lyrics by one of my top three favourite lyricists, Carolyn Leigh. This song, "Corduroy Road," is from the musical Wildcat, where it was sung by a group of people working on an oil rig. It has all the stuff I love about Leigh -- lots of rhymes combined with language that is both colloquial and full of unique phrases ("the shriekin' of the spider"; "all the angels lettin' go"). And notice how, like most good lyricists, Leigh doesn't settle for generic or vague images; she deals in concrete images of things associated with the oil rig -- specific objects (winches, piping), sounds ("bangin' and clankin'), all leading up to the climactic image of what they're working up to ("the earth will explode").

Take up them hammers and lay down that plankin'
If you've a derrick you wanna get growed.
Here come the greaseballs a-bangin' and clankin',
Here come your cousins of Corduroy Road.

Tattoo and Sandy and Corky and Oney,
Cisco and me and the tools to unload.
Half of us stinkin' and all of us stoney,
Here come your cousins of Corduroy Road.

I wanna hear the moanin' and the windin' of the winches,
I wanna hear the grindin' of the gears.
The shriekin' of the spider on the pipin' where it pinches,
Buddy, that is music to my ears.
Talk about your Christmas and your choir singin' carols,
Talk of all the angels lettin' go,
Let me hear the rumble of a half a million barrels,
That's the only song I wanna know.
Corduroy Road, the highway to hell,
The wages are rotten, and so is the smell,
The whiskey runs low and the temperature high,
You can't see the sun for the mud in your eye,
Then all of a sudden the earth will explode,
And halfway to heaven is Corduroy Road.
Then all of a sudden the earth will explode,
And you're halfway up to heaven on the Corduroy Road.

Crude oil or sweet oil or oil to your order,
Oil for to light up your lady's abode.
If you've a well and you ain't yet explored 'er,
Count on your cousins from Corduroy Road,
Count on your wildcat cousins from Corduroy Road!

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