Memories are weird things. Back in junior high school and high school, I often wondered why I could hear a song once and know all the words at once; but I couldn’t do the same reading a book. Obviously it had something to do with music’s affect on memory on the brain. Therefore, most songs that I’ve heard in my life I still know all of the words to. That is not to say I don’t mishear and get the words wrong sometime. (And sometimes, these are pretty funny, especially when I was much younger and had a more limited vocabulary.) In thinking about this post, however, the choice came down to two songs, and I opted for the one that I thought had some of the most clever (and complicated) lyrics that I could think of:
I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.
I mean, you’ve got to love a song that includes rhyming phrases like, “the square of they hypotenuse” or the word “animalculous” (to rhyme with “calculus”). It is a hilarious song, and the few references I didn’t get when I first heard it were neatly filled in for me by Isaac Asimov’s annotation of the song in his massive Asimov’s Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan. If you’ve never heard the song, you should. Or at the very least, take a look at the lyrics.