GOING DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF TOWN.

This may be the perfect rock-and-roll song:

1 2 3 4 go!
I’m going down in the middle of town
you’re going up in the middle of town
It’s all so sad ’cause we’re all going to Hell.
Oh oh oh uh uh uh
I am talking
you are yelling
he is fighting
no one’s listening.
Oh oh oh uh uh uh.
My song is dying
No one’s coming
But now everyone is coming
it’s louder it’s noisier
now the song is over so bye and thanks for coming.

I’d love to have heard the New York Dolls or the Minutemen perform that in their heyday; I can imagine it done in either of their very different styles.
I should add that I’ve normalized the spelling; you can see the original at Derryl Murphy’s Cold Ground entry—it was written by his 8-year-old son Aidan.

Comments

  1. James James Morrison Morrison, on the other hand, tried to go down to the end of the town.

  2. D’oh! Sorry — it was of course his mother who did.

  3. Furthermore, it was James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree. Don’t call him out of his name.

  4. Hey! That’s my name too!

  5. “Don’t call him out of his name.”
    I’ve never heard that phrasing before. Where does that come from? How is it usually used? I find it fascinating.

  6. That’s the thing I was trying to quote for you a while ago – in Marshak’s translation – as an illustration of Yashka’s determined character and his ‘leadership qualities’, if you permit me little corp talk. Pity you couldn’t read my fonts.
    How’s he, btw?

  7. It’s originally a black phrase, implying insulting someone — it was very common in pre-Civil Rights Movement America for blacks to be called “boy” or worse, so being called by one’s proper name was extremely important. You can see a quote defining it in one of the comments here.

  8. Tatyana: Aha! I’m glad the subject came up. As for James, he’s fine, bigger and better than ever; when he came up last weekend we took him to the pool and dabbled his feet in the water, which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy. And so far he’s very good-tempered and hardly ever cries; let’s hope he continues that way!

  9. Aidan’s eyes got wider and wider as he read your post; thanks for that. And now a friend wants to put it all to music. Which he’ll hopefully do before he reads the comments here, as I for one can’t get John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt out of my friggin’ skull.
    D

  10. Hee!

  11. PS: Did you all know the bassist for the New York Dolls died of lukemia just recently? Morrissey had got them back together for a couple nights, and it had gone so well that they were planning a big ole reunion tour, and then whoops, one out of three is no more. Didn’t tell anyone else he had lukemia, and maybe he didn’t even know. Sad.

  12. One out of three of the ersatz revival trio, you mean. The Dolls were the greatest quintet after the Stones: David Johansen, Johnny Thunders, “Killer” Kane, Syl Sylvain, and Billy Murcia (who died before their first LP and was replaced by Jerry Nolan). Only Syl and David “Buster ‘I Haven’t Given a Shit For Years’ Poindexter” Johansen are still with us.

  13. In order to set the record straight, we need to examine the evidence:
    King John
    Put up a notice,
    “LOST OR STOLEN OR STRAYED!
    JAMES JAMES
    MORRISON’S MOTHER
    SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISLAID.
    LAST SEEN WANDERING VAGUELY:
    QUITE OF HER OWN ACCORD.
    SHE TRIED TO GET DOWN TO THE END OF THE DOWN – FORTY SHILLINGS REWARD!

    (My emboldening).
    There is no evidence to suggest that she ever DID get down to the end of the town. Another reference: If people go down to the end of the town, well, what can anyone do? is inconclusive evidence that she ever actually reached the end of the town.
    Neither is there any evidence that James James got down to the end of the town. The fact that he was concerned about his Mother’s ability to navigate her way to the end of the town suggests that he may have been privy to knowledge about the area, but this is not conclusive evidence.
    Facts. Stick to the facts.

  14. Not only that, but your citation clearly reveals that the phrase “James James Morrison’s mother” is canonical and my name-related reproach was entirely misplaced. I stand abashed.

  15. LH — there is also, in another verse,

    James James Morrison Morrison
    (commonly known as Jim)
    Said to his other relations
    Not to go blaming him.

  16. And that was translated by Boris Zakhoder, not Marshak…

  17. Just curious — how many people here know James James Morrison Morrison primarily via reading Milne’s poem, vs. via hearing it sung? I seem to remember hearing it sung before I was reading, and before anyone read it to me. The performance I would have heard was the Chad Mitchell Trio, from either “Reflections” or one of their “Best of” albums, not sure which. Did they set it to music, or were they performing somebody else’s composition? It’s a lovely song.

  18. though a Pooh fan as a child, I was unfamiliar with Milne’s other writing until a friend set three poems(including James) for a music camp I was leading a few years ago. delightful.

  19. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sung. I know it exclusively from Milne.

  20. Well if you have access to some Chad Mitchell recordings (I am going to assume for now that it is just their song), do go check it out — it’s lovely — I realized as I was reading along through the thread, hey, I’m thinking about a song now but my interscriptors [?] may just have in mind a non-musical poem. One fine bit is, at the end (next to last verse), they sing only initials:

    Well J J, M M,
    Double-U G D-P,
    Took great care of his M,
    Though he was only 3;
    J J, said to his M,
    M he said said he,
    Don’t ever go down to the end of the town
    If you don’t go down with me.

  21. I just happened across this on a search. The Chad Mitchell Trio’s version of this A.A. Milne poem was from the Live–At the Bitter End recording, now available on CD. The music was actually written by Chad Mitchell. Good stuff!

  22. I just happened across this on a search. The Chad Mitchell Trio’s version of this A.A. Milne poem was from the Live–At the Bitter End recording, now available on CD. The music was actually written by Chad Mitchell. Good stuff!

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