It’s hard to believe that the first day of spring is already here. Now that we’ve turned that seasonal corner, it’s only natural to start thinking about bluegrass festivals, and/or mud, depending on where you live. For fans and professional musicians alike, festival season means hitting the road. The road means you could use some road games, that is if you can convince anyone to put down his/her phone long enough.
A few years ago, I suggested the playing of Mad Libs, specifically Mad Libs with a bluegrass theme. If you’re not familiar with Mad Libs, it’s a word game that has been around for decades. You buy booklets which contain various stories or short essays, for which you supply words to fill in the blanks that are left in each story. One person writes them in, while the others provide the words, not having any idea what the context of those words might be.
For example, if you presented the Gettysburg Address opening with the following words left blank, you might get this:
(number) score and (number) years ago, our forefathers (verb, past tense) forth, on this (noun), a new (noun), (verb, past tense) in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all (plural noun) are created (adjective).
After your friends or family members supply the new words, you might end up with the following:
68 score and 9 years ago, our forefathers jumped forth, on this buzz saw, a new grapefruit, dredged in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all sausages are created sticky.
Mad Libs sells booklets of these with various themes, so you have “Movie Mad Libs,” “Halloween Mad Libs,” “Beach Mad Libs,” etc. To my knowledge, they’ve never had a “Bluegrass Mad Libs” so I’ve decided to do it for them. The last time we did this, we used a harmless recap of the IBMA World of Bluegrass. I made it a reader contest, and posted the winning entry. The result was pretty hilarious.
I’ve decided to do it again, this time using a committee approach, taking words submitted thru my Facebook page. I’ve attempted a rewrite of one of our beloved classic songs, one first recorded by the Carter Family, Bury Me Beneath the Willow (or Weeping Willow Tree). None of the contributors had any idea what their words would be used for, and I chose them from among the entries randomly, as if we were all driving down the road together, about to argue about where to stop for food.
For the uninitiated, here are the original lyrics. It’s a classic country guilt trip song at its finest. It’s likely to end up something quite different by the time we’re through:
My heart is sad and I am lonely
For the only one I love
When shall I see her, oh no never
Till we meet in heaven above
Oh bury me beneath the willow
Under the weeping willow tree
So she will know where I am sleeping
Then perhaps she’ll weep for me
She told me that she dearly loved me
How could I believe it untrue
Until the angels softly whispered
She will prove untrue to you
Here’s the new version, thanks to some inspiring contributions from several people. I can’t promise this new version will still inspire as much guilt, or even rhyme:
My heart is smoggy and I am sooty
For the only one I burn
When shall I boil her, oh no never
Til we meet in Mt. Rushmore above
Oh bury me beneath the pommel horse
Under the groggy willow value meal
So she will know where I am rinsing
And perhaps she’ll cluck for me
She told me that she awkwardly shot me
How could I believe it tingly
Until the boyfriends sickly screeched
She will prove bass-ackwards to you
Oh bury me beneath the dogma
Under the bespectacled willow pig
So she will know where I am waddling
And perhaps she’ll bite for me
Try it this way the next time you perform it. It might be the ultimate test of whether the audience is paying attention to the lyrics or not.