Saturday, April 02, 2005

Songs From "NewsRadio: The Musical"

As part of my ongoing efforts to use a blog as a dumping-ground for stuff I'm never going to use anywhere else, I thought I'd post a few song lyrics I wrote a couple of years ago as an exercise: to see if I could write songs for an adaptation of a TV series. (There have been very few musicals based on TV shows, which I find surprising when you consider that there have been many musicals based on comic strips, which are at least as hard to adapt and to cast effectively.) So I picked "NewsRadio" and set to work trying to write songs that various characters on the show might plausibly sing in a musical version of the show.

As I said, it was just an exercise, but I kind of liked a few of the lyrics I came up with, and I might as well post them here. Oh, and in case you're wondering, which you aren't, I wasn't in a songwriting workshop or anything; this "exercise" was self-imposed. I have strange hobbies.

One of them I've already posted; it was As Little as Possible, a song that was supposed to be sung by Matthew, the Andy Dick character, as a peppy upbeat celebration of the joys that come to the office worker who never does any work.

The most in-character song I came up with was one for Jimmy James, the billionaire station owner. It was a song about the "wife search" that was a running gag on "NewsRadio" for the first few seasons:


You Gotta Have a Wife

Refrain 1

I’m a guy with tons of the green stuff,
I’m a guy who’s done and seen stuff,
Life has been fun,
But I tell you, son,
When fun is done,
You gotta have a wife.
(Or a real good book.)
Single men can work till their backs break,
But they never get no tax break.
Wanna pay less
To the IRS?
Well, then I guess
You gotta have a wife.
(Or a good Swiss bank.)
When your life is mid,
When you ain’t a kid,
Then you make your bid
For a gal to combine with
And slowly decline with.
‘Cause when your flings are shorter and fewer,
When you’re not the stud that you were,
Time to add some value
To your life.
Let me tell you, pal, you
Gotta have a wife.


From men with power to nuts with knives,
Ev’ryone gets their share of wives.
The lousiest louses, or is it lice,
The mousiest mouses, or is it mice,
All wind up with spouses, or is it spice?
A guy who looks like Quasimodo with hives
Somehow can scare up his share of wives.
I saw a flick where Jim Carrey got one,
That stinky Tarzan found a hot one;
I’ve even heard that the farmer took one,
And Hannibal Lecter had time to cook one;
Aladdin wished for a magic wish-wife,
And Aquaman found himself a fishwife;
Well, I don’t sneer like Hannibal
Or smell like a farmer
Or steal like Aladdin
Or hang around with fish like that weirdo Aquaman,
Though I think that Aquaman was an underrated Superfriend,
And remember Gleek and the Wonder Twins?
Well anyway, the second refrain begins:

Refrain 2

If you think you’d like it a lot to
Find a gal who’s nice and hot to
Help you cross streets,
Give you treats and sweets,
And clean your sheets –
You gotta have a wife.
(She’ll be just like Mom.)
Take the Fonz, he flirted so brashly,
Then he met that nice girl Ashley.
Ashley moved on,
And the show was gone,
Which proves that Fon-
Zie should have had a wife.
(And the scripts were lame.)
When your life’s a dud,
When you feel like crud,
When your name is mud,
Better offer your name up
And divvy the blame up.
Don’t wind up like Mister Miles Standish;
Go and get a sweet but bland dish
Added to the menu
Of your life.
When you’re older, then you
Gotta have a –
When you get that yen, you
Gotta have a –
Now’s the moment when you
Gotta have a wife.
Let me say again, you
Gotta have a wife.

The best song of the bunch, though not all that true to the show, was a duet for Dave, the program director, and ambitious co-worker and girlfriend Lisa. It was written as an exercise in doing a lyric that could make sense in and out of character context, and I actually think it's a pretty good (not great, but pretty good) anti-love-song:

A Little Relationship

Now that our affair’s begun,
It’s time we solemnly swore
This affair will be pure fun,
With no emotional core.
We’ll settle for nothing more.

Refrain 1

We’ll have a little relationship,
No silliness,
No sweat.
We’ll promise to stay
Exactly the way
We were before we met.
A very little relationship,
No damages,
No debt.
We’ll start at the top,
We’ll love till we stop,
And then we’ll just forget.
Affection won’t affect us
If we’re lucid and smart.
I’ll stick to my prospectus
And you’ll follow your chart.
A bright and brittle relationship,
No folderol,
No fuss,
We’ll carefully check
Each minus and plus,
Then say, what the heck,
A little relationship
Is big enough
For us.

Refrain 2

We’ll have a little relationship,
No strings attached,
No sweat.
I’m all for affairs
Where nobody shares
Or swears or gets upset.
I’ll be a little in love with you,
Not Romeo,
Not Rhett.
‘Cause frankly, my dear,
It ought to be clear
I’m more like Boba Fett.
We’ll keep our former habits
And our normal routines;
We’ll mate like bunny rabbits
But we’ll think like machines.
A noncommittal relationship,
No messiness,
No muss,
We’ll neatly divide,
We’ll calmly discuss,
We’ll gladly decide
A little relationship
Is big enough
For us.


And one that was supposed to be an uptempo song for three of the other co-workers, sung to Dave, and providing an excuse for a dance number:

You're Too Uptight

You're too uptight,
And that's a prob,
'Cause all you say
Is "do your job."
You're button-down
And so repressed
In those rejected clo'es
From Father Knows Best.
Don't be a prig,
Don't be a pig,
Why don't you call the attack off,
Learn how to back off,
And if we slack off,
What's the big?
Say, aren't you bored
With always being right?
It's true we screw up,
But, Dave, you're too uptight.

You're too uptight,
You're at my throat,
I call in sick,
You want a note.
You always throw
A fit of pique.
Why should you bust my ass
For just one gas leak?
Don't make a stink,
Go see a shrink,
And if I say that my plan'll
Knock out a panel,
Why should you channel
Colonel Klink?
Now let me add
In plain and painful sight
The chart I drew up
To prove you're too uptight.

You're too uptight,
You've gone too far,
You took away
My Shriner car.
The things I like
You won't allow.
Who else banned squirting ink?
Hm -- let me think -- Mao!

So quit your rants...

And learn to dance...

I've got just three words for you, sir,
Bigshot producer:
Start wearing looser

BETH: That's four words.

Remember when
We had that pillow fight?

Well, then you blew up
And said it's time we grew up,
Why can't you scare a clue up
And learn you're too uptight.


And if you've read this far -- which I sincerely hope, for your sake, you haven't -- now you know why TV shows aren't made into musicals.

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