"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Revolutionary Music

I wrote the poem further below as a model to my students for writing parody poems. The original poem comes first. My apologies to the genius that is Nikki Giovonni.

Revolutionary Music
by Nikki Giovonni
(published in The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni, 1996)

you’ve just got to dig sly
and the family
forget the words
you gonna be dancing to the music
james brown can go to
viet nam
or sing about whatever he
has to
since he already told
the honkie
“although you happy you better try
to get along
money won’t change you
but time is taking you on”
not to mention
doing a while
song they can’t even snap
their fingers to
“good god! ugh!”
talking bout
“i got the feeling baby i got the feeling”
and “hey everybody let me tell you the news”
martha and the vandellas dancing in the streets
while shorty long is functioning at that junction
yeah we hip to that 

aretha said they better
but she already said
“ain’t no way to love you”
(and you know she wasn’t talking to us)
and dig the o’jays asking “must i always be a stand
in for love”
i mean they say “i’m a fool for being myself” 

While the mighty mighty impressions have told the
for once and for all
“We’re a Winner”
even our names--le roi has said--are together
intruders (i mean intruders?)
not beatles and animals and white bad things like
young rascals and shit
we be digging all
our revolutionary music consciously or un
cause sam cooke said “a change is gonna come”

I had a lot of fun with this. Here's my version:

My Revolutionary Music
by Brent Wescott

you’ve just got to get stoked for kaja
and a flock of seagulls
forget the words—
like, gag me with a spoon—

you gonna be dancing to the music
u2 can go to
or sing about bloody sundays
since sinead o’connor told
the pope
to go “fight the real enemy”
not to mention
the smiths   
warning thatcher
“the queen is dead”
and the pistols demanding 

 “anarchy in the u.k.”
then kurt cobain
does a whole
song they can’t even sing along to
“here we are now
entertain us”
bowie and jagger dancing in the streets
while sting is dreaming of the blue turtles
fer shur we bad to the bone 

tears for fears said to
but modern english already said
“i melt with you”
(and you know what they were talking about)
and hear spandau ballet ask how much is

i mean depeche mode says “i want somebody
to share the rest of my life” 

While the americans tried to tell the
for once and for all
“We are the World”
even our names are built to provoke
pink dots
bunnymen (aren’t they cute?)
not madonna and springsteen and new white
kids on the block or other
safe boring throwaways
we be slamming to
our revolutionary music physically or un
cause henry rollins said “if you really want to rebel
against your parents:
outlearn them”


  1. Hmm, I've been assigned a project like that. It sounds intriguing.

  2. You are just full of all kinds of awesome, aren't you? What did the kids think?

  3. @ McKenzie: I'd be curious to see what you come up with.

    @ laughingmom: The student reaction varies from apathy to not caring at all. But that's pretty much their reaction to everything, so I don't take it personally.

  4. Nice. Haven't seen so many song references since "Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me".

  5. Who are you gonna get to sing your version and do a cover for YouTube?

  6. @ rev: I had to look that one up. Early 70's heaven?

    @ Michael: Maybe a Band Aid reunion?

  7. One of my favorite oldies. And one of the few things I can actually remember from that time. Most of the 70's never actually happened.

  8. Love Nikki, love this assignment.

  9. @ darev: to me the 70's is like a fever dream. But I was young. I knew nothin.

    @ Nicki: Thanks a mil.