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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

One last trivial matter...

In a matter of nine or ten hours, this won't matter, as we'll be in the middle of something less than trivial. It probably doesn't matter now. However, in an effort to bring full disclosure to an industry in which I have no stake, I feel like we need to get on the record with this.

You've probably heard the poem "Nobody Knows It But Me." James Garner reads it in the new Chevy Tahoe commercial. It's nice. Garner reads it very well. Posts on e-message baords on the internet have been raving about how wonderful the poem is. By all accounts, including the poet's, the words come from the pen of Patrick O'Leary, a lesser known science fiction writer who also does some copy work for the ad agency Campbell-Ewald.

O'Leary--on his web site--notes how familiar the poem must sound to people. He writes: "No, you didn't hear it when you were a child. Your Grandmother didn't read it to you. Or your Grandpa or your Dad. But I know what you mean: it was written to capture that childlike carefree sense of wonder and adventure."

Now, to call this plagarism would be incorrect. However, let's be serious. "Nobody Knows It But Me?" Of course it sounds familiar. It is the title and hook line to one of the greatest break-up songs of all time. First recorded by the Tony Rich Project and later covered by...um...Babyface, "Nobody Knows It But Me" has been around for quite some time. In fact a quick search by my country music researcher, Uncle Ted, reminded me that bald country crooner Kevin Sharp recorded the song as well. That's not to mention the old Johnny Cash song "Long Black Veil" that contains the line "Nobody Knows But Me."

And then there is this line... "And wherever you are going , That's wherever you are." I've searched and searched, but can't find the original source for it. But it goes without saying that this phrase or a version of it shows up way too often in graduation speeches and yearbook signings.

So, Mr. O'Leary has done a nice job of taking a few well-known lines penned by others and fusing them with a few lines of his own. Bravo.

I once had an English teacher who said there only about 20 stories and its a writers job to find interesting ways to re-tell them. I guess the same thing is true of poetry.

Remind me to work Felcher and Sons into my next verse.


Blogger Invinoveritas said...

Bravo, Otis. Here's ,y take on it, from my blog:

Ok, I've had it. I think I'm going to throw up.

What's on my mind is that insipid Chevy Tahoe commercial featuring that sneering little poem written by some ad agency idler with no life, who's probably allergic to bee pollen, thinks he's Robert Frost, and hasn't got a real clue.

I'm going to read you the poem. I will give credit where it's due -- the visuals are beautiful -- landscapes, wildflowers and waterfalls, probably computer-generated. But the rest is stunningly barf-worthy, and apparently, everyone in the world thinks it's "twuly wonderful."

Everyone except me.

Set this in your imagination to some new age music. Ready? Here we go. in my best James Garner voice:

There's a place that I travel
When I want to roam
And nobody knows it but me.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, stop your traveling right there buddy boy. You travel a road, you travel a route, you travel an astral plane, but you don't "travel a place." You can only travel to or from a place. That's not poetic license, it's poetic crap. Scratch the poetic.

Here's some more:

The roads don’t go there
And the signs stay home
And nobody knows it but me.

Uh...excuse me? Did he just say "The signs stay home?" The signs stay home? He really said that. It's like...Oh, I get it! Personification! That is so deep, man. Wow. Robert Fricking Frost.

It’s far far away
And way way afar

Cool, man. Twisty, turny twavels, twisty, turney phwases. What a way with words, dude. I wuv it. It doesn't have to make sense...it's so pwetty!

It’s over the moon and the sea

Really? But how can this be? The places I saw in the commercial were right here on earth, or so they looked to be. Maybe you meant over the moon and across the sea? But shit, then you lose rhythm. Forget it, can't sacrifice rhythm for meaning and merit, can we?

Anyway, I have a hunch you might have plagiarized this part from the Kama Sutra. Tell the truth -- "Over the moon and the sea" is a sexual position, isn't it? Hey, next time, do "Around the world."

And where ever you’re going
That’s where ever you are

Whoa, whoa, man. Damn that's profound! Now I finally understand. I've found my inner self in a Chevy commercial. My inner child, my feminine side...I'm a little girl! The tears are streaming down my face. "Where ever you're going, that's wherever you are." Why did I never realize that before? It was all so simple, so fundamentally TRUE!. Now I'm going to Burger King, and when I get there, I will know in my heart, "Here I are." And then afterwards, "There I were!"

And nobody knows it but me.

That's because you're there. I bet you carried your little leather writer's notebook around in the pastures for a month while you stumbled over the cowpies to write this sensitive, steaming piece of brownrice pablum, didn't you?

OK, I'm done. But somebody had to speak up. I'd rather puke in a Ford than listen to this goo from Chevy on my TV.

Thanks for listening.



3:59 AM  

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