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  • That Was Genius Team

Episode 24 - Kiss Me Tenderly Where The Sun Doesn't Shine (Music Week)

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

Sam's Episode Notes: Filthy music through time.

Well, I made a promise last week that I would go back to classical times. But unfortunately, then we decided to do music. And unfortunately, we don't know what Roman music sounded like. We do know what ancient Greek music sounded like, and that's why I'm not talking about it. Because it's frankly boring. I had to study it at university and let's just say that whilst the Greeks were very good at many things, their ancient music isn't exactly mass appeal.

But I have gone old. Today, Tom, I thought I'd take you on a whistlestop tour of early popular music from the middle ages up to the end of the early modern period. Because it's really interesting to see tat whilst music has changed, the topics people like to sing about – particularly it must be said men, haven't really evolved all that much over the years.

So. Early European music was all about the church – and we're going right back to the fifth century here and the fall of the Roman empire, going through for the next thousand years or so. The church controlled pretty much all culture and censored heavily with promises of hell and damnation, so pretty much all music existed solely to glorify God. And God liked order, Tom. The church based its music off Greek musical theory, which was quite mathematics and all about clean progressions and single voices. There wasn't much in the way of harmony and there certainly weren't any blistering lute solos. Now, I'm not going to go into musical theory because I'll get it wrong, but western music is kind of messy. There's places where the maths of music doesn't quite work out and you sort of have to skip things because they just don't sound right. And since the church didn't like mess because God liked order, like anything, they sought to crack down on certain bits of music that didn't sound all that nice. In fact, there was a chord that was banned. It's called the tritone or augmented fourth (or flattened fifth), and it was known as the Devil's interval. People could be censured by the early church for using it unnecessarily, and it's one of the most common notes used in blues and metal today, so nothing changes. It's still Satan's own note.

Anyway, enough of that. I want to get on to some pop music. And our first stop is in a very popular play from the 1470s called Mankind. It's a morality play, and it's not known who wrote it, though the transcription is by a monk called Hyngham.

And it's a play all about glorifying God and living for his glory. Yawn. Fortunately, there are three demons in the play called New Guise, basically fashion, Nowadays, or living for today, partying too hard, and Nought – not worrying or not thinking about the bigger picture.

And ooh these naughty demons Tom, they're tricksters they are. Trying to lead the main character, who is confusingly called mankind, down all kinds of satanic rabbit holes. And at one point in the play, they sing a very lovely song, Tom. They sing it to Mankind whilst he's working hard in the fields to cheer him up. It's not named in the play, but it's one of the first known Christmas songs. And it's known to academics as, I kid you not, the shitty breeches song.

Now, there is a line in this song which will require a little translation, and that's the word Holyke, which is middle English for holy. And in modern English sounds like hole lick. Audiences at the time would have understood both meanings.

And I'm going to sing you a few lines from it now:

Now I pray all the yeomanry that is here

To sing with us with a merry cheer:

NOUGHT He that shitteth with his hole,

he that shitteth with his hole,

He that shitteth with his hole,

he that shitteth with his hole,

But* he wipe his arse clean,

but he wipe his arse clean,

And But he wipe his arse clean,

but he wipe his arse clean,

On his breech* it shall be seen,

on his breech it shall be seen,

And On his breech it shall be seen,

on his breech it shall be seen,

Holyke Holyke Holyke! Holyke Holyke Holyke!

Ey, Mankind, God speed you with your spade!

I shall tell you of a marriage:

I would your mouth and his arse that this made

Were married junctly together.

So there we go, Tom. A charming ditty from the end of the middle ages which shows that boys will be boys will be, frankly, twats. But as Christmas songs go, it's still better than anything Cliff Richard's done.

And now I'm going to fast forward us 150 years Tom, to Elizabethan England. It was a time of spiritual and national turmoil – the Catholic church had been overthrown in England and there was something of a backlash against traditional spiritualism. Education was also becoming more widespread and less dominated by the Church, and so more relevant themes emerge in popular music and culture. As a result, music became somewhat more democratised and wasn't dominated by church-led spiritualism any more, and you started to get the versions of folk music we have today coming through as basically bawdy drinking songs.

And guess what, Tom? Quite a lot of them were about shagging. And there's one in particular I'd like to mention on our whistlestop tour of pop music called Watkins Ale.

Now the tune is really rather beautiful. Sort of a cross between the blackadder theme tune and Pachabells Canon in D.

So the music is wonderful, but the lyrics Tom, not so much. It's less overtly rude and more innuendo driven – but don't worry, our next stop is very much more in your face, so allow me to be academic for a moment. It starts off like this.

There was a maid this other day,

And she would needs go forth to play;

And as she walked she sithd and said,

I am afraid to die a mayd.With that, behard a lad,

What talke this maiden had,

Whereof he was full glad,

And did not spare

To say, faire mayd, I pray,

Whether goe you to play?

Good sir, then did she say,

What do you care?For I will, without faile,

Mayden, giue you Watkins ale;

Watkins ale, good sir, quoth she,

What is that I pray you tel me?So basically, there's a young lady afraid to die a virgin, and some bloke overhears her and says I'll give you something to drink, love. Phwoar. Ave it.

2. Tis sweeter farre then suger fine,

And pleasanter than muskadine;

And if you please, faire mayd, to stay

A little while, with me to play,I will giue you the same,

Watkins ale cald by name,--

Or els I were to blame,

In truth, faire mayd.

Good sir, quoth she againe,

Yf you will take the paine,

I will it not refraine,

Nor be dismayd.He took this mayden then aside,

And led her where she was not spyde,

And told her many a prety tale,

And gaue her well of Watkins ale.

Allow me to translate again. He said it tastes lovely, then took er off somewhere quiet and shagged her brains out. Phwoaaar, have it!

The song goes on, he chats her up, she says stop talking, I want another go. Phwoar. Then a couple of verses later:

4. When he had done to her his will,

They talkt, but what it shall not skill;

At last, quoth she, sauing your tale,

Giue me some more of Watkins ale,Or else I will not stay,

For I must needs away,--

My mother bad me play,--

The time is past;

Therfore, good sir, quoth she,

If you haue done with me.

Nay, soft, faire maid, quoth he,

Againe at lastLet vs talke a little while.

With that the mayd began to smile,

And saide, good sir, full well I know,

Your ale, I see, runs very low.

He's knackered! Spent, tanks are empty, nothing left.

5. This yong man then, being so blamd,

Did blush as one being ashamde;

He tooke her by the midle small,

And gaue her more of Watkins ale;

And saide, faire maid, I pray,

When you goe forth to play,

Remember what I say,

Walke not alone.

Good sir, quoth she againe,

I thanke you for your paine,

For feare of further staine,

I will be gone.

Farewell,mayden, then quoth he;

Adue, good sir, againe quoth she.

Thus they parted at last,

Till thrice three months were gone and past.

6. This mayden then fell very sicke,

Her maydenhead began to kicke,

Her colour waxed wan and pale

With taking much of Watkins ale.

I wish all maydens coy,

That heare this prety toy,

Where in most women ioy,

How they doe sport;

For surely Watkins ale,

And if it not be stale,

Will turne them to some bale,

As hath report.

New ale will make their bellies bowne,

As trial by this same is knowne;

This prouerbe hath bin taught in schools,--

It is no jesting with edge tooles.

So he gave her another one. Phwoar! Then he buggered off and oopsie, she's preggers. My favourite line is This prouerbe hath bin taught in schools,- It is no jesting with edge tooles.

Which translates as hey girls, just like they taught you in school, don't play with sharp objects. And there's a couple more verses, and the song finishes:

8. Good maydes and wiues, I pardon craue,

And lack not the which you would haue;

To blush it is a womans grace,

And well becometh a maidens face,For women will refuse

The thing that they would chuse,

Cause men should them excuse

Of thinking ill;

Cat will after kind,

All winkers are not blind,-- he's talking about men being led by their willies

Faire maydes, you know my mind,

Say what you will.When you drinke ale beware the toast,

For therein lay the danger most.

If any heere offended be,

Then blame the author, blame not me.

And so we finish with a warning about the withdrawal method. What a lovely tale, Tom. And it shows that despite changing musical tastes and 150 years of cultural evolution, Boys will be boys. Twats.

And so the final stop on our musical tour, Tom. About 150 years forward again, we're in Austria in 1782. A time and a land of playboys and dandies, a time of opulence, and the time of a little known composer called Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Now, Mozart, one of the most glorified classical composers in the world. And it turns out, Tom, also had an incredibly dirty sense of humour. And I mean absolute filth. The Germans and Austrians have a reputation for their scatological sense of humour and habits, and it clearly has a long and illustrious history because Mozart, and his contemporaries, wrote song incredibly dirty songs.

One of his favourite hobbies was to write choral pieces for his friends with very dirty lyrics, including one called lech Mich Im Arse, which translates as lick me in the arse. Now, when he died, his poor wife, wanting to preserve all his works, took this piece to a music publishers. Between them, they decided that whilst it was beautiful, it probably wasn't family friendly, so Lech Mich Im Arse became Last Froh Uns Sein or Let Us Be Glad. Which is what Mozart probably was after being Lecht in his Arse.

He also wrote a choral piece in Latin called Difficile Lectu, which has the line Difficle, lectu, lectu, lectu mihi mars. Which actually doesn't make much sense in latin, it translates as Difficult, reading, reading to Mars. But it was designed specifically to be sung by his friend Nepomuk Peyerl , who had a thick Bavarian accent. And what does the latin sound like in a thick Bavarian accent, Tom? Lick me in the arse.

He had a genuinely horrible way with words. In a letter to his cousin and possible love interest in 1777, he wrote you command that I, too, should send you my Portrait. Eh bien, I shall mail it for sure. Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin.

And he signs off the letter with I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind; I now go off to never-never land and sleep as much as I can stand. Tomorrow we'll speak freak sensubly with each other.

But mozart wasn't the only filthy composer knocking around Eastern Europe in the eighteenth century Tom, oh no.Because there's another song which for decades was attributes to Mozart, and may have been him, but was possibly another composer called Wenzel Trnka. And I'm going to finish this whislestop tour of the scatalogical pop music of historical Europe with the lyrics of this beautiful song, translated in to English.

Leck mire den Arse… recht schon,

fein sauber lecke ihn,

fein sauber lecke, leck mire den A…

Lick my arse nicely,

lick it nice and clean,

nice and clean, lick my arse.

That's a greasy desire,

nicely buttered,

like the licking of roast meat, my daily activity.

Three will lick more than two,

come on, just try it,

and lick, lick, lick.

Everybody lick their arse for themselves.

So there we go Tom. A lesson that music is beautiful, but boys will be boys will be awful.

Tom's notes:

Started with a google search ‘Mad German Composers’

· Jeez did I find some nutters

o Carol Gesualdo; killed his wife and lover violently and in later life would have himself flagellated daily

o Alexander Scriabin heard music as colours

o Richard Wagner enjoyed cross-dressing and enemas

o Frantisek Kotzwara; died of auto-erotic asphyxiation; gaspers!

§ Stephen Milligan; British Conservative MP 1994

§ David Carradine; played Bill in Kill Bill; 2009

· Amazingly his Wikipedia filmography has him playing roles up until 2017

§ Peter Motteux; British journalist; 1718

§ Kevin Gilbert; 1996; American musician

§ Albert Dekker; American actor, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

· Once Upon a Tractor

o WA Motzart found farting and shitting exceptionally funny

o Lots of them spent time in insane asylums

o Edvard Grieg had a tiny little model of a frog in his pocket at all times

Nursery Rhymes

Tommy Thumb’s Song Book and sequel Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book Volume II. 1744.

· Earliest known collection of British nursery rhymes

· No known originals of the first book; earliest copies are from 1788

· A few original copies of the sequel in existence; one in the British Library

o Clearly targeted at children and their female nurses, the book is very small with large font and lots of illustrations

§ Illustrations by George Bickham The Younger

· Known to also produce pornographic prints

Preface to the 1915 version of the sequel

· “I recommend this your laudable design, of compiling a Collection of Songs, so fit for the capacities of Infants, both in words and tunes, by which they are often lull'd to rest, when cross, and in great pain. The first Songs are very suitably compos'd for a Baby, but pray be careful, not to sing them too loud; lest you frighten the child”

· A quick tip to not let the children become too relaxed around animals in case they get caught playing with unfriendly dogs and cats in cafes

o Presumably because there are lots of animals in the nursery rhymes and also because the writer encourages caregivers to teach their children animal noises before speech

· Also, don’t throw your child around too enthusiastically; many a child has had their back dislocated with this

Nursey rhymes

· Lullaby baby

· Patty cake

o One of the oldest British nursey rhymes

· London bells

· London bridge

London bridge

⁠Is broken down,

Dance over my Lady Lee;

⁠London bridge

⁠Is broken down,

With a gay lady.

⁠How shall we build

⁠It up again,

With a gay lady?

⁠Build it up with

⁠Gravel and stone,

Dance over my Lady Lee;

⁠Build it up with

⁠Gravel and stone,

With a gay lady;

⁠Gravel and stone

⁠Will wash away,

Dance over my Lady Lee;

⁠Gravel and stone

⁠Will wash away,

With a gay lady;

⁠Build it up with

⁠Iron and steel,

Dance over my Lady Lee;

⁠Build it up with

⁠Iron and steel,

With a gay lady;

⁠Iron and steel

⁠Will bend and bow,

Dance over my Lady Lee;

⁠Iron and steel

⁠Will bend and bow,

With a gay lady;

⁠Build it up with

⁠Silver and gold,

Dance over my Lady Lee;

⁠Build it up with

⁠Silver and gold,

With a gay lady;

⁠Silver and gold

⁠Will be stol'n away,

Dance over my Lady Lee;

⁠Silver and gold

⁠Will be stol'n away,

With a gay lady;

⁠Then we will set

⁠A man to watch,

Dance over my Lady Lee;

⁠Then we will set

⁠A man to watch

With a gay Lady.

· Tom Thumb

Piss a Bed,

Piss a Bed,

Barley Butt,

Your Bum is so heavy,

You can't get up.

· Baa, baa, black sheep

o Interesting aside

§ 1987 British general election, the term ‘loony left’ was coined

§ In 1986 there had been a few examples of nurseries choosing not to use the rhyme because it was apparently racist

· This probably did happen but was no doubt exaggerated by those looking to discredit the labour party and left wing politics

· Hickory dickory dock

o Exeter Cathedral; astronomical clock; hole in door to the room housing the mechanisms for cat to hunt mice

· Ladybird, ladybird

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,

Your house is on fire and your children are gone,

All except one, and her name is Ann,

And she hid under the baking pan.

Your house is on fire,

Your children shall burn!

· Little Robin Red breast

Little Robin Red breast,

Sitting on a pole,

Nidde, Noddle, Went his head.

And poop[4] went his Hole.

Early example of bowlderisation; or expurgation; censoring content deemed to be a bit rude

· Mary, Mary

· Sing a song of sixpence

Lots of the nursery rhymes are postulated, without much strong evidence, to be about historical events

· London Bridge is falling down; destruction of London Bridge in early 11th century by Olaf II of Norway

· Fair Lady; Matilda of Scotland who had numerous bridges built across the Thames in the first few decades of the 12th Century

· Realistically, the nursey rhymes will have evolved rapidly through the centuries due to the fact that they are passed on orally. Meanings and interpretations will have been made as a result of contemporary events.

· Ring-a-ring-a-roses; urban myth is that it is about the great plague

o Plague references are only made in the last century

Roud Folk Song Index

Watching every motion

In my foolish lover's game

On this endless ocean

Finally lovers know no shame

Turning and returning

To some secret place inside

Watching in slow motion

As you turn around and say

Take my breath away

Take my breath away

Asphyxiation and masturbation, I want the world to know how kinky I can be.

Self-flagellation and strangulation, kicking the bucket whilst touching my willy.

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