All songs written by Stephin Merritt.
At Madam Plum's
Just outside this window, blood might get on your shoes. Please don't track it in, though. Thank you. We've all read the news. Outside it's drums and trumpets, but here it's tea and crumpets! Here at Madam Plum's, where everybody comes, we watch the world decay and dance the night away. Here at Madam Plum's, their trumpets and their drums are hardly ever heard, and war is just a word. It may be raining fire, but here we don't enquire. We find it necessary to take a spot of sherry, and so we find a very secluded sanctuary. Way down in the slums, we step over the bums behind the liquor store to find the hidden door. Down at Madam Plum's, we spend fantastic sums, and all our idle hours, admiring the flowers. Here at Madam Plum's we grow chrysanthemums of every size and kind, however you're inclined...
I Am Yang Long You
I am Yang Long You, and I am the Dragon's Friend: a man with no particular agenda, happy to lend a hand and make suggestions, ready to bend a rule, who'll ask no questions, because I'm Yang Long You. I am the Dragon's Friend.
Fan Dance Cha-Cha
When it's time to do the cha-cha-cha, ain't no crime to do the cha-cha-cha; and if I'm to do the cha-cha-cha, I may cha-cha-cha without warning. Close your lips and do the cha-cha-cha. Shake your hips and do the cha-cha-cha. Do some flips and do the cha-cha-cha. We can cha-cha-cha till the morning... If you ever do the cha-cha-cha, you'll forever do the cha-cha-cha; if you never do the cha-cha-cha, you'll have lived without really dancing. It may be you do the cha-cha-cha. Like to see you do the cha-cha-cha. Stick with me and do the cha-cha-cha: it's the only thing for romancing...
This Is Hou Fang Yu
This is Hou Fang Yu, and I knew his father too. It's a grand, upstanding name to live up to; but his poetry is new, which will bring him wealth and fame...
I criss-cross this wide world for a single flower... Pussy Willow can go and go. Black-Eyed Susan: bruise but don't burn. Poison Ivy could take a tree. Obviously, Five Finger Fern, um... Narcissus folds in unusual ways. Jack-in-the-Pulpit bends. You give the orders and Catnip obeys. Lily-of-the-Nile waters her friends... um... African Violet does tricks with her tongue. Venus Fly Trap is... tight. Honeysuckle is especially young. All are not free, but they're free for the night.
This Is Shiang-Jun
This is Shiang-Jun, meaning Fragrant Princess, never touched by a man. It's the new moon, and she's got a new dress. She's our new courtesan!
Shall We Sing a Duet?
I can't wait to make you my wife. I've been waiting for love all of my life. Shall we sing a duet? But we've only just met... You've got beautiful eyes. Shall we sing a duet? One we'll never forget, full of clichés and lies. I've got nothing to gain by pretending, and I will love you till the ending.
I Am Yuen Da-Cheng
I am Yuen Da-Cheng, a success all round. All my songs are sung, all my plays astound, and my acting troupe is renowned throughout the land. Others flew the coop, then they found their plays were banned... Because I'm Yuen Da-Cheng, a success all round. A success, yes...
I would like for you to have this emerald ring. It was crafted many years before the Ming. Since the story's far too sad to tell, I'll sing. It was made for the blind concubine, Lola Li, who was famous for being a little choosy. Her rejections were something no man could survive, so the ring-maker had himself buried alive. It's a terrible tale, full of passion and gore. That's sure sounds expensive! We can't wait to hear more. In a few generations, it came to a monk who said, "Things of this world are all baubles and junk." So he gave it to Lola Lo, some general's wife, which was quickly discovered. He paid with his life. It's a tale full of violence, a thing we deplore. But it sounds expensive! What are you stopping for? A bad playwright gave it to his new ingénue, the impossibly bad actress Sweet Lola Lu. But the playwright said something he shouldn't have said, and now both the playwright and the actress are dead. It's the kind of thing no one can make anymore! And it sounds expensive when it falls to the floor.
Shall We Sing a Duet? Reprise
Shall we sing a duet? Say it's not over yet. Say it's not just the wine. Say you'll always be mine. Say that's not just a line... Take my sorrow away. Bring me tomorrow today. Teach me to borrow today. Teach me to borrow this clay from time, to take all my sorrow away... I've been waiting. Shall we sing a duet and intertwine, like ivy, twisting and tangled? I've been waiting all my life... I can't wait to make you my wife... Any attempt at harmony hopelessly mangled... I'll take your sorrow away... I'll bring you tomorrow today and teach you to borrow this clay from time...
I Am Ma Shih-Ying
I am Ma Shih-Ying, the heroic cavalier, and I'll do anything to protect my sphere. But that's neither here nor there, for spring is in the air! There are insects everywhere in my garden and, though my heart is made of steel, in early spring I begin to feel my heart harden. And I dance, dance, dance when my scorpion stings, and I burn, burn, burn off my butterflies' wings, because I'm Ma Shih-Ying, the heroic cavalier.
And He Would Say...
I'm not afraid, because I know you'll come again through wind and rain or falling snow when they invade. And he would say: "Don't leave without me! Don't run away. Then where would I be?" And I/he would say: "I'll wait for you till my last day." My love is pure and will abide for time untold. You're young and bold, but we must hide. Where, I'm not sure. And he would say: "Here, we have no chance. Let's steal away. No time for romance!" And I/he would say: "I'll run with you till our last day."
The View from Above
This scene is set on a mountain slope. Hooray! Where the happy deer and the antelope just play all day! Surgin' through the virgin snow with you (and you, and you), I'm in heaven climbin' up the view! Why would one look up at the sun? I just love the view from above! What man has seen such a lovely view? Oh, joy! A world of ants, and as easy to destroy! Gazing down on hazy townfolk... we can see it's all a stupid joke, like the sun looking down with love. We have won the view from above!
Hail! Son of Heaven
Hail, son of heaven, glorious! Long life! A thousand more! Always to be victorious--every battle, every war! Hail, hail the all-beneficent! Play drums and trumpets loud! Sing, sing, you are an instrument. Raise your voice among the crowd. Play, play the never-ending song, loud, loud for all to hear! Bow lower as we march along. Throw hats aloft and cheer!
It's Hard To Be the Emperor
It's hard to be the Emperor, and when it's hard, it's hard. I'm scarred by being Emperor: no ball, no friends, no yard. My predecessor hanged himself, and I might do that, too. The entertainment's awful here, and, oh! the plays they do! It's dull to be the Emperor. It's deadly dull, in fact. Of all the actors in the court, not one of them can act! An early death seems probable. Perhaps it's just as well. With drama in this dreadful state, my life's a living hell! My life's a living hell.
One Little Flower More or Less
One little flower more or less: who cares? One little hour more or less upstairs... When everybody loves you, nobody ever loves you. One little dancer doesn't dance: so what? One little slut doesn't put out: what slut? One tree falls in the forest. Fine. Let the little whore rest. Who'd ever want to say, "She's mine"? Who'd ever wed a concubine? One little flower more or less? Don't laugh. One little coward tears her dress in half. Nobody in the world cries when one little flower dies...
Ukulele, mekulele, how happy we could bekulele! Onekulele twokulele threekulele, ukulele me! When I hear the sound of that little brown thing humming, I don't know if I'm going or coming. Down, up down, up down, down. Keep strumming. Ukulele me! Ukulele, mekulele, how happy we could bekulele! Akulele Bkulele Ckulele, ukulele me! Play a little tune. Sing about the moon, who cares? Something that won't give me nightmares. Sing it sweetly or say your prayers. Ukulele me! Xkulele Ykulele Zkulele, ukulele me! Xkulele Wkulele Vkulele, ukulele me!
Behold the Lowly Centipede
Behold the lowly centipede. He undulates and wiggles. To form and poise he pays no heed. He oscillates and wriggles. He wriggles high, he wriggles low, he wriggles far and wide. He wriggles in the eye sockets of ladies who have died. He wriggles in the highest trees. He wriggles in the deep. He wriggles in the dainty ears of ladies fast asleep. Behold the lowly centipede. He crawls hither and thither. Of gold and guns he has no heed. He only needs to slither. He slithers here, he slithers there, through country, field, and town. He slithers in the underwear of ladies sitting down. He slithers anywhere he likes, wherever passion leads. He slithers into ladies and makes baby centipedes.
And She Would Say...
Don't be afraid. Trumpets and drums can't hurt you here. Don't waste a tear. When trouble comes, we've got it made. And she would say, "Stay and instruct me. Don't run away now that you've plucked me." And I/she would say, "Here is my home, and here I'll stay." My heart is strong. The proof of that is I've survived. I have arrived and hung my hat where I belong. And she would say, "Children should play here, out of the fray. Promise to stay here." And I/she would say, "I'll stay with you till our last day."
This Is Shih Ko-Fa
This is Shih Ko-Fa, which means "Tradition of Upholding the Law." He's a general, ha... The lack of an army is his only flaw. As the Great Wall becomes longer and longer, more cities fall and the Manchu is stronger. Where is the emperor? Has he no pity? Has he escaped from the Forbidden City? From all directions come rumors of slaughters. Common folk starve while the dynasty totters. Powers that be are now not even being. No one's attacking or packing, just fleeing. And this is Shih Ko-Fa...
Sorry, Wrong Show
I thought this was the world for me. Wrong world, sorry. I'd sing love songs before I go. Sorry, wrong show. I thought I'd do a little dance. I never even got the chance. Ah, but how was I to know? Sorry, wrong show. They must have taken me for some piece of pond scum. They thought I wouldn't choose to die? Sorry, wrong guy.
Come Away With Me Now
Hey--come away with me now. Little bird, it's not safe here. We'll escape, and here's how: my carriage is waiting; if we drive all night, we can get to the river and get a boat by light. Hey, come away and be mine and you'll never be lonely. You'd be mad to decline. When a house is on fire, one simply can't stay; but you haven't said yes yet. Please come away.
The horsemen hang bells in the breeze to fold back time; with every chime come memories of songs they sang. For all their guns and greater forces, barbarians stink of their horses. Imagine! Time begins anew with every chime. Let's not forget, these people are barbarians. Everyone runs... but, how bizarre, you haven't yet. I always knew someone would change things. We'll have to do some rather strange things. If this is true, love is a crime. I don't know you. A single bird circles for landing. But how absurd! Nothing is standing. Nothing is true... beauty remains. So much to do...
Copyright (c) Mar 2006 by The Distant Plastic Treehouse