Songs in Gravity's Rainbow
Pynchon loves to embed song lyrics into the text of his stories. For him the writing process does not involve only the traditional dialogue and description, but song lyrics to flavor the story too. Though present in nearly all of Pynchon's novels, more attention has been paid to the songs in Gravity's Rainbow over any other (probably as a mere consequence of the book's overwhelming clout). On this topic reference must be made to the collaborative band, The Thomas Pynchon Fake Book, who have composed and performed music to many of the songs written for GR.
Below are listed the songs that Pynchon writes for GR, organized by the order in which they appear.
Part 1 Beyond the Zero
Time to gather your arse up off the floor, (have a bana-na) Brush your teeth and go toddling off to war, Wave your hand to sleepy land, Kiss those dreams away, Tell Miss Grable you're not able, Not till V-E Day, oh, Ev'rything'll be grand in Civvie Street (have a ban-ana) Bubbly wine and girls wiv lips so sweet-- But there's still the German or two to fight, So show us a smile that's shiny bright, And then, as we may have suggested once before-- Gather yer blooming arse up off the floor!
It's... Colder than the nipple on a with's tit! Colder than a bucket of penguin shit! Colder than the hairs of a polar bear's ass! Colder than the frost on a champagne glass!
Yes--I'm--the-- Fellow that's having other peop-le's fantasies, Suffering what they ought to be themselves-- No matter if Girly's on my knee-- If Kruppingham-Jones is late to tea, I don't even get to ask for whom the bell's... It never does seem to matter if there's daaaanger, For Danger's a roof I fell from long ago-- I'll be out-one-day and never come back, Forget the bitter you owe me, Jack, Just piss on m' grave and car-ry on the show!
Nobody knows-where, it is-on-the-map, Who'd ever think-it, could start-such-a-flap? Each Montenegran, and Serbian too, Waitin' for some-thing, right outa the blue--oh honey Pack up my Glad-stone, 'n' brush off my suit, And then light me up my big fat, cigar-- If ya want my address, it's That O-ri-ent Express, To the san-jak of No-vi Pa-zar!
Got a hardon in my fist, Don't be pissed, Re-enlist-- Snap--to, Slothrop!
Jackson, I don't give a fuck, Just give me my "ruptured duck!" Snap--to, Slothrop!
No one here can love or comprehend me, They just look for someplace else to send...me...
Tap my head and mike my brain, Stick that needle in my vein, Slothrop, snap to!
Rhy-thm's got me, Oh baby dat swing, swing, swing! Yeah de rhythm got me Just a-thinkin' that whole-wide-world-can-sing, Well I never ever heard-it, sound-so-sweet, Even down around the corner-on, Ba-sin Street, As now dat de rhythm's got me, chillun let's Swing, swing, swing, Come on...chillun, let's...swing!
RED RIVER VALLEY Down this toilet they say you are flushin'-- Won'tchew light up and set fer a spell? Cause the toilet it ain't going nowhar, And the shit hereabouts shore is swell.
One little hustler in San Berdoo, One little chink run away from the railroad With his ass just as yellow as Fu Manchu! One with the clap and one with a goiter, One with the terminal lepro-see, Cripple on the right foot, cripple on the left foot, Crippled up both feet 'n' that makes three! Well one little fairy, even one bull dyke, One little nigger, one little kike, One Red Indian with one buffalo, And a buffalo hunter from New Mexico...
ic heb u liever dan ên everswîn, al waert van finen goude ghewracht,
In dulci jubilo Nun singet und seid froh! Unsers Herzens Wonne Leit in praesipio, Leuchtet vor die Sonne Matris in gremio. Alpha es et O.
Knallt ab den Juden Rathenau, Die gottverdammte Judensau...
Oh, don't let it get you, It will if they let you, but there's Something I'll bet you can't see-- It's big and it's nasty and it's right over there, It's waiting to get its sticky claws in your hair! Oh, the greengrocer's wishing on a rainbow today, And the dustman is tying his tie... And it all goes along to the same jolly song, With a peppermint face in the sky!
With a peppermint face in the sky-y, And a withered old dream in your heart, You'll get hit with a piece of the pie-ie, With the pantomime ready to start! Oh, the Tommy is sleeping in a snowbank tonight, And the Jerries are learning to fly-- We can fly to the moon, we'll be higher than noon, In our polythene home in the sky...
Pretty polythene home in the sky, Pretty platinum pins in your hand-- Oh your mother's a big fat machine gun, And your father's a dreary young man.... (Whispered and staccato): Oh, the, man-a-ger's suck-ing on a corn-cob, pipe, And the bankers are, eat-ing their, wives, All the world's in a daze, while the orchestra plays, So turn your pockets and get your surprise--
Turn your pockets and get-your surpri-ise, There was nobody there after all! And the lamps up the stairway are dying, It's the season just after the ball... Oh the palm-trees whisper on the beach somewhere, And the lifesaver's heaving a sigh, And those voices you hear, Boy and Girl of the Year, Are of children who are learning to die...
Hark, the herald angels sing: Mrs. Simpson's pinched our King...
Part 2 Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering
THE ENGLISHMAN'S VERY SHY (Fox-trot) (Bloat): The Englishman's very shy, He's none of your Ca-sa-no-va, At bowling the ladies o-ver, A-mericans lead the pack--
(Tantivy): --You see, your Englishman tends to lack That recklessness transatlantic, That women find so romantic Though frankly I can't see why...
(Bloat): The polygamous Yank with his girls galore Give your Brit-ish rake or carouser fits,
(Tantivy): Though he's secretly held in re-ve-rent awe As a sort of e-rot-ic Clausewitz....
(Together): If only one could al-ly A-merican bedroom know-how With British good looks, then oh how Those lovelies would swoon and sigh, THough you and I know the Englishman's very shy.
THE BALLAD OF TANTIVY MUCKER-MAFFICK Oh Italian gin is a mother's curse, And the beer of France is septic, Drinking Bourbon in Spain is the lonely domain Of the saint and the epileptic. White lightning has fueled up many a hearse In the mountains where ridge-runners dwell-- It's a brew begot in a poison pot, And mulled with the hammers of Hell!
(Refrain): Oh--Tantivy's been drunk in many a place, From here to the Uttermost Isle, And if he should refuse any chance at the booze, May I die with an hoary-eyed smile!
He's been ossified in oceans of grog, In the haunts of the wobbly whale-- He's been half-seas over from Durban to Dover, Wiv four shaky sheets to the gale. For in London fog or Sahara's sun, Or the icebound steeps of Zermatt, Loaded up for a lark to 'is Plimsoll mark He's been game to go off on a bat!
Yes, Tantivy's been drunk in many a place...&c.
TOO SOON TO KNOW (Fox-trot) It's still too soon, It's not as if we'd kissed and kindled, Or chased the moon Through midnight's hush, as dancing dwindled Into quiet dawns, Over secret lawns..
Too soon to know If all that breathless conversation A sigh ago Was more than casual flirtation Doomed to drift away Into misty gray...
How can we tell, What can we see? Love works its spells in hiding, Quite past our own deciding...
So who's to say If joyful love is just beginning, Or if its day Just turned to night, as Earth went spinning? Darling, maybe so-- It's TOO SOON TO KNOW.
Oh, THE WORLD OVER THERE, it's So hard to explain! Just-like, a dream's-got, lost in yer brain! Dancin' like a fool through that Forbid-den Wing, Waitin' fer th' light to start shiver-ing--well, Who ev-ver said ya couldn't move that way, Who ev-ver said ya couldn't try? If-ya find-there's-a-lit-tle-pain, Ya can al-ways-go-back-a-gain, cause Ya don't-ev-er-real-ly-say, good-by!
VULGAR SONG Last night I poked the Queen of Transylvan-ia, Tonight I'll poke the Queen of Burgundee-- I'm bordering on the State of Schizophren-ia, But Queenie is so very nice to me.... It's pink champagne and caviar for break-fast, A spot of Chateaubriand wiv me tea-- Ten-shilling panatelas now are all that I can smoke, I laugh so much you'd think the world was just a silly joke, So call me what you will, m' lads, but make way for the bloke That's poked the love-ly little Queen of Transyl-vaayn-yaa!
THE PENIS HE THOUGHT WAS HIS OWN (lead tenor): 'Twas the penis, he thought-was, his own-- Just a big playful boy of a bone... With a stout purple head, Sticking up from the bed, Where the girlies all played Telephone-- (bass): Te-le-phone....
(inner voices): But They came through the hole in the night, (bass): And They sweet-talked it clear out of sight-- (inner voices): Out of sight... (tenor): Now he sighs all alone, With a heartbroken moan, For the pe-nis, he thought-was, his, owwwwn! (inner voices): Was, his, own!
PAVLOVIA (Beguine) It was spring in Pavlovia-a-a, I was lost, in a maze... Lysol breezes perfumed the air, I'd been searching for days. I found you, in a cul-de-sac, As bewildered as I-- We touched noses, and suddenly My heart learned how to fly!
So, together, we found our way, Shared a pellet, or two... Like an evening in some café, Wanting nothing, but you...
Autumn's come, to Pavlovia-a-a, Once again, I'm alone-- Finding sorrow by millivolts, Back to neurons and bone. And I think of our moments then, Never knowing your name-- Nothing's left in Pavlovia, But the maze, and the game....
Wash me in the water That you wash your dirty daughter, And I shall be whiter than the whitewash on the wall....
O, O, O, To-tus flore-o! Iam amore virginali Totus ardeo...
With my face shined up-like a microphone And uh Sta-Comb on my hair, I'm just as suave-as, an ice-cream cone, say, I'm Mis-ter Debo-nair....
JULIA (Fox-trot) Ju-lia, Would you think me pe-cul-iar, If I should fool ya, In-to givin' me--just-a-little-kiss?
Jool-yaaahh, No one else could love you tru-lier, How I'd worship and bejewel ya, If you'd on-ly give-me just-a-little-kiss!
Ahh Jool-yaaahhhh-- My poor heart grows un-ru-lier, No one oozier or droller, Could I be longing for-- What's more--
Ju-lia, I would shout hallelujah, To have my Jool-yaaahh, In-my-arms forevermore.
LOONIES ON LEAVE! Here we come foax--ready or not! Put your mask on, and plot your plot, We're just laughing' and droolin', all-over the sleigh, Like a bunch happy midgets on a holiday!
Oh we're the LOONIES ON LEAVE, and We haven't a care-- Our brains at the cleaners, our souls at the Fair, Just freaks on a fur-lough, away from the blues, As daffy and sharp as--the taps on our shoes! Hey, we're passin' the hat for--your frowns and your tears, And the fears you thought'd never go 'way-- Oh take it from a loony, life's so dear and swoon, So just hug it and kiss it to-day! La-da-da, ya-ta ya-ta ta-ta &c...
Part 3 In the Zone
If you see a train this evening, Far away against the sky, Lie down in your wooden blanket, Sleep, and let the train go by.
Trains have called us, every midnight, From a thousand miles away, Trains that pass through empty cities, Trains that have no place to stay.
No one drives the locomotive, No one tends the staring light, Trains have never needed riders, Trains belong to bitter night.
Railway stations stand deserted, Rights-of-way lie clear and cold: What we left them, trains inherit, Trains go on, and we grow old.
Let them cry like cheated lovers, Let their cries find only wind. Trains are meant for night and ruin. We are meant for song, and sin.