I had lunch the other day with a classical composer I know. He told me, perfectly seriously, “I just had the worst nightmare–I dreamed I was trapped inside an E minor chord.”
He also told me about attending a drunken dinner party of fellow composers, who clustered around the piano after dessert to sing funny songs. Did you know that every poem Emily Dickinson ever wrote can be sung to the tune of the Gilligan’s Island theme? “Beeeeee-cause I could not stop for death/He kind-ly stop-ped for me….” Or that all limericks can be sung to the tune of “It Ain’t Necessarily So”?
Think about this the next time you see a composer take a bow at a new-music concert. Don’t let appearances fool you–these people are kinky.
P.S. A reader writes:
I’ve only very recently overcome the unfortunate habit of singing Emily Dickinson’s poems. “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” “The Marine Corps Hymn,” and, perhaps worst of all, “Deep in the Heart of Texas” also work. But I warn you: That way madness lies.