30 day song challenge, day 8: a song you know all the words to

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.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

One reply on “30 day song challenge, day 8: a song you know all the words to”

  1. I love this song. My brother played the Major General in our high school rendition of Pirates, and I was Mabel. So we both ended up knowing that song pretty well!

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