Lady Godiva (with apologies to the Beatles)

OK, to prepare for this read up on the legend of Lady Godiva, and then read the lyrics of the Beatles’ Lady Madonna. You might want to take the three minutes or so to watch it being performed.

Now sing this to yourself:

Lady Godiva, peasants at your feet
Suddenly you wonder how they make ends meet
Husband takes the money when they pay the rent
Did you think that money was heaven sent?

Begging him to give the poor their stores back
Sunday has you creeping like a nun
He'll do it if you streak the town on horseback
See how they run!

Thomas the peeper, gazing at your breast
Wonders if he'll manage to see the rest.
Peeping through a knothole, blinded by delight
Monday's when he traded that to lose his sight.

Tuesday afternoon is neverending
Wednesday morning's income didn't come
Thursday night your stocking needed mending
See how they run!

Lady Godiva, servants at your feet
Suddenly you wonder how you'll make ends meet.

16 thoughts on “Lady Godiva (with apologies to the Beatles)

  1. @esr:

    It’s too early. I was thinking “chocolate”; I didn’t follow the link and was confused until I got down to “Thomas the peeper” and then suddenly it was like “Oh, yeah, that Lady Godiva. Peeping Tom!” I do think they named the chocolate after her, though.

    Nicely done. Rumor has it that you can actually sing and that you actually know a thing or two about music. So now what we need is a YouTube video with you performing your song, with a couple friends on background vocals, of course… :)

    Kino is your friend, of course. :)

  2. >I do think they named the chocolate after her, though.

    The chocolate was causally involved. We have some houseguests arriving today, and last night my wife stopped at a Barnes & Noble to get some Godiva cocoa because she wanted to be sure of having enough not just my end-of-day cup but to share with them as well. So, I’m waiting for her, and I’m thinking “Lady Godiva”, and I free-associate to “Lady Madonna”, and the rest followed naturally.

    This is an example of what in SF fandom is called a filk song. It is representative of the parody style of filk, in which part of the humor is in the tension between the parody lyrics and the listener’s knowledge of the original. In this style of filk it is considered good form to leave lines of the original unaltered or very little altered if you can use context to give them a meaning that is quite different.

    I knew it was all going to work when the line “He’ll do it if you streak the town on horseback” popped into my head; the trickiest part of the composition was tweaking the first line of that verse so it would end-rhyme with “horseback”. Yes, the result is a little strained, metrically speaking, but a filk listener knows such contrivances are required and considers them part of the humor (compare Ogden Nash’s light verse, which uses similar devices and is very filk-like in spirit). A certain amount of reaching for wordplay like “blinded by delight” is also expected; one way this composition could have been better is if I’d been able to work in some awful stinker of a pun, preferably in the payoff line of a verse.

  3. What never struck me before is the apparent use of “streaking” to mean going nude in public. I thought (perhaps incorrectly) that it was first used that way in the mid-’70s.

  4. I actually didn’t need to see or hear the lyrics, I’m familiar enough with the Beatles =p

    This is excellent, well done.

  5. Nice art at wikipedia. Seems to me the artists did a better job with the horses than with Godiva.

  6. >What never struck me before is the apparent use of “streaking” to mean going nude in public. I thought (perhaps incorrectly) that it was first used that way in the mid-’70s.

    I believe you’re right. I used it that way here because (a) it was funny, and (b) fitting the meaning I wanted to the scansion would otherwise have been quite difficult.

  7. >How much do filk and pastiche have to do with one another?

    They overlap considerably, for sure.

  8. Just to keep the spirit going, here’s a video about Renaissance men set to “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes and it is just as bizarre as it sounds.

    The group that posted it, historyteachers, has also done such filks as “The Vikings” to the tune of “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode and The Divine Comedy to the tune of “Rapture” by Blondie.

    I tell you what, if this isn’t the Golden Age of Filk I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

  9. I saw the posting and I thought of the engineering song:

    Godiva was a lady who through coventry did ride.
    To show to all the villagers her lovely lilly white hide.
    The most observant villager, an Engineer of course,
    Was the only one that noticed that Godiva road a horse.

  10. @Desmond: That’s the Godiva Hymn, the first (of VERY) many verses to be exact. It’s primarily a Canadian thing, although I’m given to understand that MIT has adopted it as one of their drinking songs and it spread from there (much as Harvard adopted McGill’s preferred Rugby rules, which is where you Americans got Football from).

    The usual words are:

    Godiva was a lady who through Coventry did ride
    To show to all the villagers her lovely bare white hide
    The most observant man of all, an Engineer of course
    Was the only one who realized Godiva rode a horse

  11. Lady Godiva was a freedom rider
    She didn’t care if the whole world looked
    Joan of Arc with the Lord to guide her
    She was a sister who really cooked.

  12. The Monster,

    I can’t help but think of this as another verse to “88 lines about 44 women”

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