All songs written by Stephin Merritt.


A New House

It's a new house to me, though it's old and ord'nary, fifty miles from the next city, and dull as one house can be.  I just love to explore; other people are a bore.  I don't know what I'm looking for, but I just love to explore.  There's a garden to get lost in with some Highland Terriers tossed in and a black cat always basking in the sun.  (Mkgnao!)  There's one tennis court -- a ruin -- and one well: the rocks I threw in made no sound until I counted fifty-one.  There's a snakeskin with no snake in and one frog.

I Am Miss Spink

I am Miss Spink, and I am Miss Forcible: elderly thespians fallen from grace.  We never married, so we're undivorceable.  Tripping on clippings all over the place.  Fact is we're actresses -- famous tragediennes -- lately retired to stay home and bake, raise Highland terriers, and help the needy ensconced in suburbia.  Try the fruitcake.  Where there's a terrier, the more the merrier.  Meet Hamish, Andrew, Jock, Angus, and... BRUCE!  Feel free to give him a kick in the derrière.  Don't give him fruitcake; his tummy is loose...  We trod the boards, and hordes of men'd send showers of flow'rs, but men are but men.  We were perused by rude and nice, twice!  We got a lot of terriers then.  Jock is the one who lunches on bon-bons of poo, luv.   He's at it again!

A Mouse Circus

A mouse circus I am training, Caroline.  (Coraline.)  But the mice, they love complaining: whine, whine, whine.  All of my songs go "oompah, oompah," but they only toodle-oodle.  If the mice won't go "oompah"?  No more strudel.  When my circus mice are prepared to perform, we will take this lonely, old, scared world by storm!  Oh, the things they'll play someday, one day with all their pink little fingers!  Little bassoons, flutes, spoons, lutes, little singers.  Ev'ryone will say, "That octet: what a gem!"  But until that day, I can't let you see them.

Mum and Dad

Mum and Dad are not commuters.  They stay home at their computers, which means they have to work from nine to nine.  May I go out?  No, it's pouring.  But I want to keep exploring.  What does Mum say?  She says, "No offspring of mine will adventure in this drencher, Coraline Jones."  Read a book, then.  Check.  Make a drawing.  Check.  Watch TV.  TV is boring.  I don't care, as long as you don't make a mess.  Count the windows.  Twelve.  Count all the blue things.  There's a hundred fifty-two things.  Find the water tank.  Beneath the sink?  I guess.  I am working.  You are lurking.  Go play chess.

At the Other End

At the other end of the drawing room is the oldest, largest wooden door.  The house is very old.  It was once one home.  Now there's just a flat on every floor.  The garden's overgrown with enormous trees and the oldest, deepest hidden well.  (Hidden well...)  What else could there be in this big old house?  What's behind that door?  Who can tell?  Who?

Song of the Rats

We are small, but we are many.  We are many; we are small.  We were here before you rose.  We will be here when you fall.

When We Were Young and Trod the Boards

When we were young and trod the boards, our cardboard lyres played silver chords, and flowers were flung.  We gave our all each matinee and never named the Scottish play, when we were young.  When I played St. Joan, their minds were "blown."  And yours too.  It was for my tone that I was known.  All too true.  We sported hats with six foot plumes and wore no green in dressing rooms.  We flew.  We swung.  Princes came to see me as Ophelia.  Me too.  I made Portia mine.  You said each line right on cue.  We bounced about with cardboard swords, when we were young and trod the boards.  We trod the boards, luvvy.

Fluorescent Green Gloves

I should like some fluorescent green gloves.  It's a color that nobody loves, and I think I could wear them to school.  And if they thought I cared what they thought, with one look at these gloves that I'd bought, they would know I was nobody's fool.  With iridescent zippers extending from shoulder to elbow to fluorescent green thumb, when the other people say I look dumb, I'll poke them in the eye with my delightful fluorescent green hand.  And if they still will not understand... cool.

Welcome Home

Silently we waited, centuries and centuries feeling sad.  Meanwhile, we created the home you never knew you had.  Welcome home!

A Lot of Noise

We are the toys you should have always had and would have had if you'd had a better Mum and Dad.  I'm your soldier.  Your pirate.  Have some rum!  Your cymbal-bashing monkey.  I am your Martian chum.  I'm an eccentric chicken.  We are your toys.  We make a lot! of! noise!  What we enjoy's making a lot! of! noise!  We are your toys, 3-D and polychrome and in true stereo.  We bid you welcome home.  We're all the toys you'd ever want and more, and you are just the human we've always waited for!  Three... two... one... zero!

Song of the Rats

We have teeth and we have tails.  We have tails; we have eyes.  We were here before you fell.  You will be here when we rise.

Theatre Is Fun

Theatre is fun!  There is a role for everyone; you simply stand upon a stage, and that is Art.  Deliver one line and it's a "part."  And if you don't know your line by heart?  Read your sleeve!  Theatre is grand!  You've got the world at your command; you simply say "I'm in Hawaii" and you're there.  You can be Antigone or Cher.  Mention that you are a trillionaire and you are!  It's the only way to find a lover.  Sure beats hanging out in discotheques.  When your perfect lover you discover, you need only change your wig to change your sex.  Whee, theatre is fun!  Why learn to play accordion when you can play a virtuoso on the stage?  You can be a queen of any age.  You can be a bum and make a wage... of some sort.

Stay with Us

Stay with us--we love you.  We'll make you happy evermore.  Stay with us--we love you, which is what mums and dads are for.  And we will love you endlessly.  We will feed you bugs and tea!  We will sew these cute black buttons on your eyes.  Then we'll see what we will see.  Stay with us--we love you.  Come join our merry little crowd.  Play with us--above you will never be a single cloud!... As the exciting days whirl by, it will always be July.  You can dress up like a giant octopus, and we'll never bat an eye!  Stay with us--we love you.  We love you.  We'll make you smile in ev'ry way!  Play with us, and stay with us...  Make life more interesting, more interesting each day!

The Ballad of the Wasps

At the dump near our flat -- our old flat -- one Sunday, I went out exploring with my dad.  There were mountains of that stuff that gets tossed away when people don't know what they've had: broken chairs, old appliances, dishes, debris were taking their naps in the Sunday sun.  Suddenly I felt a jab in my knee and Dad shouted, "Coraline!  Run!"  Wasps!  Thousands of wasps filled the air.  I high-tailed it over the hill.  Dad?  Dad, silly Dad, stayed there standing... perfectly... still -- getting stung what would prove to be thirty-two stings, we counted that night in the bath -- giving me time to move far away from the things while Dad took the brunt of their wrath.  Wasps!  Millions of wasps filled the air, but they didn't scare him, until the next day when he had to go back over there.  His glasses had dropped on the hill.  He said he wasn't brave, for he wasn't afraid while watching me running away.  He knew he had to save me.  His choice had been made.  He'd only been brave the next day.

Oh, What a Lovely Trip!

Oh, what a lovely trip without Coraline.  What a vacation we can have all to ourselves.  Now we can disco dance!  Now we can join the social whirl, going to parties we never could go to with... that girl!  Why does it always seem to rain around Coraline?  Why does the sunlight only shine everywhere else?  Good thing her Other Mother's making her a family.  She can take infinitely better care of her than we.  Tra la la la... Oh, but it's true: we never really loved Caroline.  (Coraline.)  Isn't her Other Mother trusty and sincere?  If only you could learn who does her Other Mother's hair!  If you could emulate her culinary savoir-faire!  Oh, what a lovely trip without Coraline.

Go To Sleep

Go to sleep and dream of me.  Rest assured I'll dream of you.  If and when you wake, you will see I will make your dreams come true.  Go to sleep and dream of rats -- black and brown, zaftig and small -- wearing silk top hats, cravats, and spats.  I will make you dream it all.

We Were Children Once

We were children once, I guess.  Well, we must have been something; after years in this darkness, we have turned into something less.  Looking back, it's all a blur.  But there must have been something; to be honest, I'm not sure I remember what children were.  Did we have names and faces?  Play games, run races?  Did we die?  Does it matter?  Please don't touch us... we could shatter.  Were we children?  I don't know.  Either way, can you save us?  We've become as cold as snow.  Maybe you can help us... go.

When You're a Cat

When you're a cat, you know the ways into and out of an empty flat, all falling down, the fixtures dangling at sad angles, the walls gone brown.  And there's a plucky lass sleeping behind the glass.  You know her.  When you're a cat, you see it all, without detection; you're good at that.  That phantom stands before the glass, without reflection, pushing her hands through it as through water, lifting out her daughter, as it were.  This strange creature knows only rats and bats, and that's fine.  She knows bugger-all about cats, so the advantage is thine.  Being a cat is divine.  When you're a cat, you hide your claws in paws to be ready for combat.  Her claws are long, but by the laws of evolution, they're made all wrong.  I will not hesitate to sit around and wait, licking fur.

Song of the Rats

We have eyes and we have nerveses.  We have tails; we have teeth.  You'll all get what you deserveses when we rise from underneath.


Seems to me that when I was small, I wore skirts down to there... but! I'm a boy! for I now recall they cut off all my hair.  Tall I was for a girl, quite tall.  It's an awkward feeling.  "Don't slouch, girl," my papa would call as I brushed the ceiling.  Aye, I fly through the highest trees in the deep woods playing hide and seek with the dancing breeze, with the willow swaying.

Whatever You Want

Will there be grey days when they say stay in and play and you go crazy with nothing to do?  Boo!  There will be no rain, no cause to complain.  The sky will always be infinitely blue, with maybe a rainbow she found in Vermont.  Whatever!  Whatever you want.  Will there be stock frocks about which nobody talks and ugly socks from a box in a shop?  Stop!  Take off your tweed togs; feed them to the dogs.  Put on this fuzzy thing and have a lollipop.  You're a pterodactyl or a debutante...  Will there be food stewed until you're not in the mood for it, and soon you'll conclude you shall fast?  Past are those outré meals, duck with orange peels.  Now every dinner more delicious than the last and endless fantastic new houses to haunt...

Song of the Rats

There will be a little tussle.  You will topple from your throne.  We will nibble off the muscle.  We will nibble off the bone.

The World Goes Flat

We are small, but we are many.  We have teeth and we have tails.  We have eyes and we have nerveses.  There will be a little tussle.  We are many; we are small.  We have tails; we have eyes.  We have tails; we have teeth.  You will topple from your throne.  We were here before you rose.  We were here before you fell.  You'll all get what you deserveses.  We will nibble off the muscle.  We will be here when you fall.  You will be here when we rise.  When we rise from underneath.  We will nibble off the bone.

I Saw a Show on Telly Once

I saw a show on telly once, how Russians go on tiger hunts.  They make ingenious tiger traps from one thick skin -- meant to collapse -- stretched on a hole they've dug or found.  To see that tigers come around, the bait the trap with tiger bait.  And then they hide and lie in wait.  Soon tigers come to call and leap and fall into a deep, deep... sleep.

Falling... Falling...

Falling... Falling, at last, to the end of tears... Each second stretched to a thousand years... Dancing, alone, to an empty hall... Nothing to do now but fall... Fall... Waiting to be dashed into a thousand pieces, gasping as each vital little organ ceases... Aaah!

One Long Fairytale

Oh, wife ith one long faiwytale to show uth again that dwagonth egthitht and they can be beaten--not only with thwowdth, magic wandth, and hectheth, but with youw noodle--and thatth no myth, Mith!  Tho follow youw tale, little one, and follow it faw, on thtiltth and on thteamshipth, by camel and caw.  You'll thometimeth get lotht, little one, ow wind up in jail, but -- plaything -- keep chathing youw tale!  It's hard to do a thing when you might fail.  When you might lothe an eaw, thome fuw, youw tail!  It's easier by far to sit and grouse.  But awe you jutht a man?  No!  You'we a mouthe!  You follow youw long faiwytale whewevew it go, meanderwing thwough matheth and danthing thwough thnow.  You'll pwobably gwow, little one, ath big ath a whale.  Amathing?  Keep chathing yow tale.  O!  Follow youw tale.

Copyright (c) May 2010 - Jul 2010 by The Distant Plastic Treehouse