Thursday, April 12, 2007


By now I'm sure you've heard the sad news of the death of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. If he wrote it I read it, with "Cat's Cradle" being the fave book of my teen years. I devoured it several times, but I never heard The Man himself reading from it until today's post on CrudCrud:

Kurt Connegut, Jr: reads from "Cat's Cradle" , or sings calypso, in the case of the first track; for a very different reading of those same lyrics, see the Ambrosia post below.

Classic quotes:

"History - read it and weep!"

One of the holy calypsos of the Caribbean religous leader Bokonon in "Cat's Cradle":
"Fish got to swim, bird got to fly
Man got to sit and wonder why why why"

"If flying-saucer creatures or angels or whatever were to come here in a hundred years, say, and find us gone like the dinosaurs, what might be a good message for humanity to leave for them, maybe carved in big letters on a Grand Canyon wall? We probably could have saved ourselves, but were too damn lazy to try very hard... and too damn cheap."

"I've had a hell of a good time. I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different."

Vonnegut subscribed to the athiest/skeptic philosophy of Humanism. When addressing a Humanists convention he said about deceased science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov, "Isaac's in Heaven now." It got a big laugh.

From WFMU's blog:

Two songs from Dave Soldier's Ice-9 Ballads (another "Cat's Cradle" reference, doncha know) album, with voiceover by Mr. Vonnegut:

"Duo For Clarinet And Meade Lux"
"Annihilation Life"

And big thanks to Idolator for posting a couple of Vonnegut-related tunes,including one from Ambrosia. Yup, the schlock-meisters famed for such '70s atrocities as "How Much I Feel" actually started off as a kind of laid-back L.A. prog band (soft-prog?) - their 1975 self-titled debut features a song with lyrics taken from another one of Bokonon's calypsos, complete with goofy fake Caribbean accent, though the music owes more to Gabriel-era Genesis then, say, Mighty Sparrow.

Ambrosia: "Nice, Nice, Very Nice"

It ain't gonna happen of course, but it sure would be great if Vonnegut is buried, like Bokonon at the end of "Cat's Cradle," frozen on his back, eternally "...thumbing his nose at You Know Who."


Anonymous said...

i think kurt's actually in the turkey farm...

great post, thanks!

Kevin said...

and now Don Ho too...
So it goes.

Anonymous said...

I'm rereading "Fates Worse Than Death" and thinking about what kind of drastic impact he had on my life and the way I think about what we do here on this planet. He gave me the detachment to understand that we can destroy this planet and we would just be gone, gone, and time would go on. We would be a cosmic fart and then we would be gone, like the doe doe bird. And there would be nothing special about it, see? Just another failed species. It scares me to think of us that way, without of crutch of religion or the notion that anyone would be crying for us once we were gone. No interventions, just what we do right now. And somehow this sentiment is the furthest thing from an atheistic view I can think of.

I'm not sure that I said what I wanted to say but what the hell, I tried. I'm going to miss the hell out of that man, the reason I have reason. Ha ha, he is learning some very new, very wild metaphysics now, isn't he? I'll bet he's having fun.