Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands Are Blue

by Papa Crow

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about

I became fascinated with the “nonsense” poetry of English writer Edward Lear (1812-1888) awhile back and quickly wrote music to five of his famous poems. You may know Mr. Lear from his most famous work, “The Owl and The Pussycat”, which has been read to children for generations.

When I set to write music for the poems, I decided to sing them exactly as they appear on the page. I also decided to record them live in my home studio; that means no overdubs. This album is just my 1947 Gibson LG-3 and my voice, with a microphone on each. Included here are two shorter pieces, “Calico Pie” and “The Owl and The Pussycat”, as well as three longer ones: “The Jumblies” (my favorite, and the EP title is from the chorus), “The Pelican Chorus” and “The Courtship of the Yonghy Bonghy Bo”. It was a challenge to record them all live to get the right feel, especially on the longer ones (especially the Yonghy Bonghy Bo song, which has 110 lines–it took 54 tries to get that one!).

These playful, imaginative poems still bring delight to all ages, and I’m happy to bring them to your ears!

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released March 21, 2015

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about

Papa Crow Marquette, Michigan

Papa Crow crafts homemade songs that appeal to youngsters as well as their grown-ups. His 2011 debut "Things That Roar" was cited as one of the best children's albums of the year. 2012 brought the funny EP "What Was That Sound?" and his second full-length family album "Full Moon, Full Moon" was released in 2014. ... more

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Track Name: The Jumblies
I.

They went to sea in a sieve, they did;
In a sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,
In a sieve they went to sea.
And when the sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, "You'll all be drowned!"
They called aloud, "Our sieve ain't big;
But we don't care a button, we don't care a fig:
In a sieve we'll go to sea!"
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.

II.

They sailed away in a sieve, they did,
In a sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a ribbon, by way of a sail,
To a small tobacco-pipe mast.
And every one said who saw them go,
"Oh! won't they be soon upset, you know?
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long;
And, happen what may, it's extremely wrong
In a sieve to sail so fast."
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue;
And they went to sea in a sieve.
III.

The water it soon came in, it did;
The water it soon came in:
So, to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat;
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar;
And each of them said, "How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our sieve we spin."
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue;
And they went to sea in a sieve.

IV.

And all night long they sailed away;
And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains brown.
"O Timballoo! How happy we are
When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar!
And all night long, in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail
In the shade of the mountains brown."
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue;
And they went to sea in a sieve.
V.

They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,—
To a land all covered with trees:
And they bought an owl, and a useful cart,
And a pound of rice, and a cranberry-tart,
And a hive of silvery bees;
And they bought a pig, and some green jackdaws,
And a lovely monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of ring-bo-ree,
And no end of Stilton cheese.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue;
And they went to sea in a sieve.

VI.

And in twenty years they all came back,—
In twenty years or more;
And every one said, "How tall they've grown!
For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
And the hills of the Chankly Bore."
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, "If we only live,
We, too, will go to sea in a sieve,
To the hills of the Chankly Bore."
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue;
And they went to sea in a sieve.
Track Name: The Owl and The Pussycat
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat:
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Track Name: The Pelican Chorus
King and Queen of the Pelicans we;
No other Birds so grand we see!
None but we have feet like fins!
With lovely leathery throats and chins!
Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no Birds so happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican Jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still
We live on the Nile. The Nile we love.
By night we sleep on the cliffs above;
By day we fish, and at eve we stand
On long bare islands of yellow sand.
And when the sun sinks slowly down,
And the great rock walls grow dark and brown,
Where the purple river rolls fast and dim
And the Ivory Ibis starlike skim,
Wing to wing we dance around,
Stamping our feet with a flumpy sound,
Opening our mouths as Pelicans ought;
And this is the song we nightly snort,—
Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no Birds so happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still!
Last year came out our Daughter Dell,
And all the Birds received her well.
To do her honor a feast we made
For every bird that can swim or wade,—
Herons and Gulls, and Cormorants black,
Cranes, and Flamingoes with scarlet back,
Plovers and Storks, and Geese in clouds,
Swans and Dilberry Ducks in crowds:
Thousands of Birds in wondrous flight!
They ate and drank and danced all night,
And echoing back from the rocks you heard
Multitude-echoes from Bird and Bird,—
Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no Birds so happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still!
Yes, they came; and among the rest
The King of the Cranes all grandly dressed.
Such a lovely tail! Its feathers float
Between the ends of his blue dress-coat;
With pea-green trowsers all so neat,
And a delicate frill to hide his feet
(For though no one speaks of it, every one knows
He has got no webs between his toes).
As soon as he saw our Daughter Dell,
In violent love that Crane King fell,—
On seeing her waddling form so fair,
With a wreath of shrimps in her short white hair.
And before the end of the next long day
Our Dell had given her heart away;
For the King of the Cranes had won that heart
With a Crocodile's egg and a large fish-tart.
She vowed to marry the King of the Cranes,
Leaving the Nile for stranger plains;
And away they flew in a gathering crowd
Of endless birds in a lengthening cloud.
Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no Birds so happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still!
And far away in the twilight sky
We heard them singing a lessening cry,—
Farther and farther, till out of sight,
And we stood alone in the silent night!
Often since, in the nights of June,
We sit on the sand and watch the moon,—
She has gone to the great Gromboolian Plain,
And we probably never shall meet again!
Oft, in the long still nights of June,
We sit on the rocks and watch the moon,—
She dwells by the streams of the Chankly Bore.
And we probably never shall see her more.
Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no Birds so happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still!
Track Name: Calico Pie
I.

Calico pie,
The little birds fly
Down to the calico-tree:
Their wings were blue,
And they sang "Tilly-loo!"
Till away they flew;
And they never came back to me!
They never came back,
They never came back,
They never came back to me!

II.

Calico jam,
The little Fish swam
Over the Syllabub Sea.
He took off his hat
To the Sole and the Sprat,
And the Willeby-wat:
But he never came back to me;
He never came back,
He never came back,
He never came back to me.

III.

Calico ban,
The little Mice ran
To be ready in time for tea;
Flippity flup,
They drank it all up,
And danced in the cup:
But they never came back to me;
They never came back,
They never came back,
They never came back to me

IV.

Calico drum,
The Grasshoppers come,
The Butterfly, Beetle, and Bee,
Over the ground,
Around and round,
With a hop and a bound;
But they never came back,
They never came back,
They never came back.
They never came back to me.
Track Name: The Courtship of The Yonghy Bonghy Bo
On the Coast of Coromandel
Where the early pumpkins blow,
In the middle of the woods
Lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Two old chairs, and half a candle,
One old jug without a handle--
These were all his worldly goods,
In the middle of the woods,
These were all his worldly goods,
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy Bo.

Once, among the Bong-trees walking
Where the early pumpkins blow,
To a little heap of stones
Came the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
There he heard a Lady talking,
To some milk-white Hens of Dorking--
"‘Tis the Lady Jingly Jones!
On that little heap of stones
Sits the Lady Jingly Jones!”
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

“Lady Jingly! Lady Jingly!
Sitting where the pumpkins blow,
Will you come and be my wife?”
Said the Yongby-Bonghy-Bo.
“I am tired of living singly--
On this coast so wild and shingly--
I’m a-weary of my life;
If you’ll come and be my wife,
Quite serene would be my life!”
Said the Yonghy-Bongby-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

“On this Coast of Coromandel
Shrimps and watercresses grow,
Prawns are plentiful and cheap,"
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
“You shall have my chairs and candle,
And my jug without a handle!
Gaze upon the rolling deep
(Fish is plentiful and cheap);
As the sea, my love is deep!”
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

Lady Jingly answered sadly,
And her tears began to flow--
“Your proposal comes too late,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
I would be your wife most gladly!”
(Here she twirled her fingers madly)
“But in England I’ve a mate!
Yes! you’ve asked me far too late,
For in England I’ve a mate,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yongby-Bonghy-Bo!

“Mr. Jones (his name is Handel--
Handel Jones, Esquire, & Co.)
Dorking fowls delights to send
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Keep, oh, keep your chairs and candle,
And your jug without a handle--
I can merely be your friend!
Should my Jones more Dorkings send,
I will give you three, my friend!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!

“Though you’ve such a tiny body,
And your head so large doth grow--
Though your hat may blow away
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Though you’re such a Hoddy Doddy,
Yet I wish that I could modi-
fy the words I needs must say!
will you please to go away
That is all I have to say,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!”

Down the slippery slopes of Myrtle,
Where the early pumpkins blow,
To the calm and silent sea
Fled the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
There, beyond the Bay of Gurtle,
Lay a large and lively Turtle.
“You’re the Cove," he said, “for me;
On your back beyond the sea,
Turtle, you shall carry me!”
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

Through the silent-roaring ocean
Did the Turtle swiftly go;
Holding fast upon his shell
Rode the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
With a sad primeval motion
Towards the sunset isles of Boshen
Still the Turtle bore him well.
Holding fast upon his shell,
“Lady Jingly Jones, farewell!”
Sang the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Sang the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

From the Coast of Coromandel
Did that Lady never go;
On that heap of stones she mourns
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
On that Coast of Coromandel,
In his jug without a handle
Still she weeps, and daily moans;
On that little heap of stones
To her Dorking Hens she moans,
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.