Throughout the course of reacquainting myself with the genre for this column, I discovered that Song Poems (or ‘Song Sharking’ as it was referred to by jaded contributors to the industry) are 100 years old this year. In celebration of the Song Poem’s centenary, it seemed fitting to showcase a modern example of the form. A few years I ago, I was surprised to find that Song Poems were still being sourced and recorded at all while watching the definitive documentary on the subject ‘Off The Charts: The Song Poem Story‘ – the stand out track from which is our chosen Song for today.
While last week, we bore appalled witness to Jim Muir channelling his inner Zodiac Killer to put on wax the potentially homicidal, San Franciscan Disco-ambitions of the lyrical contributor of ‘How Long Are You Staying?‘, we this week stand aghast as modern Song Poem composer Art Kaufman (a.k.a. David Fox) gallantly clasps the baton, and pelts into the future of Song Poems, with the jaw dropping Synth driven Sci-Fi of ‘Non-Violent Taekwondo Troopers’. Penned by one Caglar Juan Singletary (there it is, that’s the best name you are ever going to encounter), ‘Non-Violent Taekwondo Troopers’ is a 3 minute and 15 second powerhouse of a paean to Automated Bicycles (told from the perspective of the ‘Captain’ who rides them), Martial Arts, a legendary Kung Fu Bicycle named ‘Angelaria’, imperilled felines, ‘Cybergs’ and most importantly it would seem, the widowed Queen of Rock N’ Roll.
Below, Caglar discusses his other Song Poem, an ode to Annie Oakley, from the documentary ‘Off The Charts: The Song Poem Story‘.
In forthcoming instalments, perhaps when the head gets a little too aswim with the visions of these remarkable individuals, we’re going to take a lingering look at the tragic story of the Burt Bacharach of Song Poems, Rodd Keith. And I’ll be reminiscing about tentatively sending out the feelers to Art Kaufman’s ‘Red Rock Studios’ in pursuance of my very own Song Poem, only to be quickly repelled – not only by the obscene amount of money he wanted from me, but the way he personally emailed me every couple of months for the next two years to try and relieve me of it.
Chester Whelks is a peripheral figure on the fringes of existence. Predominantly bothering the local music scene of his native Manchester, England, he has a very finely attuned Justice-button, and knows how to call a spade a ‘Multi-Purpose Murder/Concealment Device’.