The Sunday Song Poem – #1 Bill Joy ‘How Long Are You Staying?’

songpoem1 For those unfamiliar with the term, the Song Poem was an American phenomenon of long distance collaboration far predating, and out-weirding the hinterlands of the internet.  Those hokey ads in old comics, for outlandish products that couldn’t possibly do what they purported to? Imagine one of those ads asked you for poetry that they would, for a nominal fee, turn into a Chart topping hit single, the proceeds of which you could live off for the rest of your days, and you’re on the right track. In reality. the truth was alot closer to those ‘Make Your Own Music Video’ booths in a mall.

Your ‘poetry’ was handed to an ageing, jaded, nicotine-tanned lounge band, and forcibly inserted into a cookie cutter performance of a limp rendition of a song reminiscent of a musical style that died when their ambition did. The sonic accompaniment is often priceless in itself, but the ventriloquism is where the magic – and terror – lies (Bill Joy is merely the instrument, not the author). These ‘poems’ were so often demonstrative of the diseased mind that believed they were going to see a return on their investment, and the results of so many suckers born every minute have created a vast tapestry, a hellish parallel universe of popular song.

For this inaugural post, I thought long and hard about which song best represented the surreality and madness often present in these gems, and eventually settled on Bill Joy’s ‘How Long Are You Staying?’. Like many of the best examples of the (de)form, it entered my consciousness via the incredible  2003 released Anthology ‘Do You Know The Difference Between Big Wood and Brush?‘, which is well worth seeking out or keeping an eye open for, although in the last decade or so many  Song Poems have been unearthed and shared by fevered enthusiasts and bandied around the internet, and it will probably be these rarer examples I will showcasing in ensuing installments.

Bill Joy’s ‘How Long Are You Staying?’ is, like so many of it’s kind, a deliberate attempt to make good on the promise of that dangling carrot of an advert and tap into ‘a market’. It’s this premeditation that makes it so sinister and unforgivable – not only in the sense that it’s a cynical attempt by its writer to ooze out a passionless, commerce-sucking piece of art – but that the lyrics are indicative of the author being a hair’s breadth from climbing a bell tower with a rifle. The musical stylings, coupled with the title initially hint at a prescient meditation on the potential longevity of the Disco fad…that is until you’ve heard the word ‘Disco’ for the eighteenth time in the first minute, every word that rhymes with it in popular parlance (Mount Kisco, Krisco, Frisco, Cisco) and even one which isn’t ‘Jail-isco’ – which is introduced when the disembodied author starts threatening to get a gun if he isn’t hired to write Disco songs on a permanent basis.

Stare into the greyness of the below video, a greyness as grey as the area in which the author’s morality resides, and enjoy…if you can.


Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks

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’.

5 Responses to The Sunday Song Poem – #1 Bill Joy ‘How Long Are You Staying?’
  1. [...] Bill Joy’s ‘How Long Are You Staying?’ is, like so many of it’s kind, a deliberate attempt to ma...
  2. Thomas H Williams

    Thomas H Williams Reply

    How did i not know about this kind of stuff?! I’ve been an avid collector of private press oddities for years, but this is a whole new level. Three cheers for my next obsession.

  3. [...] Killer to put on wax the potentially homicidal Disco-ambitions of the lyrical contributor of ‘How ...
  4. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    I LOVE this! At first I laughed, and I laughed a lot and uproariously and out loud. Then the laughter fell away and I found that I was very cold, very tired and very, very frightened.

    Parallel Universe indeed sir. Perhaps this is the tendril of brain-breaking madness that Lovecraft and later Stuart Gordon were trying to warn us about in “From Beyond”?

    • Chester Whelks

      Chester Whelks Reply

      Perhaps a ditty such as this is the missing ingredient in your, ’til now, fruitless attempts at rousing the mighty Cthulu from his aquatic nap?

      Tread carefully my friend…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>