Sherman's Lament (Featuring Duality) (Shadow)

from by Common Lisp



A shadow entry for the SpinTunes 2 songwriting competition, round 3. I was eliminated in round 2 but I decided to write a song anyway. Joe and Denise, aka Duality, were kind enough to contribute tracks.

The narrator of this song is Sherman, the human sidekick to Mister Peabody, the famous time-traveling dog. If you've never seen the cartoon series called "Peabody's Improbable History," part of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show, this song probably isn't going to make a lot of sense. See:

The challenge was to "write a song about an unknown character from history, and what connection they had to a major historical event (fictionalization is fine). Paul Revere's stableboy, General Custer's wife, Hitler's art teacher, King Richard's blacksmith, etc." Well, Peabody doesn't just have a connection to a single major historical event, but to many of them! His sidekick Sherman did most of the grunt work. He isn't entirely unknown, but we don't know much about his back-story, or what happened to him when he grew up. In my telling, it's a sad story. And I'm sticking to it.


I've spent my career teaching history
But my colleagues always mock me
My papers are rejected
My letters to the editor never selected

My memories of those days are mostly a blur
Of crudely drawn animation
With our horn-rimmed glasses, we'd explore
The pasts of many nations

His bowtie he always kept impeccable
The puns were completely unacceptable
I tell you this without much joy
For I'm no longer Peabody's... boy


My life has been so ordinary
Since the day he went away
Now it's been almost fifty years
And I am old and gray
I've never stopped believing
That he'll come back for me
My master, mentor, friend Mister Peabody


I followed Peabody's detailed instructions
To make sure our history functions
Fixing problems in our past
We righted wrongs and we had ourselves a blast

When our show got cancelled, he took it really hard
We heard him howling in the yard
On that fateful day, he broke his chain
And with nothing but his big brain

He trotted right through the door of his machine
We'd know where he went, but he broke the view screen
The government men took it away
Now how can I... get back... to yesterday?



Cartoons can live forever
But not so human men
I'm hoping that he gets here soon
So I can see his fuzzy face again
Maybe he traveled forward
And in some very different when
Some clever future doctors
Can fix me and make me young again
Now night is fast approaching
But if we meet up one day
We'll be dog and boy like it was yesterday


I had to pack up and go back to school
Which felt so very cruel
The history books all seemed strange
It's not nearly as fun when it can't be rearranged

Me, I just got older, and I discovered girls
But they never seemed to like me
Maybe the dog tags put them off
Or maybe they saw me scratch a flea

I never got married and I never had friends
I really hope this isn't how it ends
I hope my master won't forget me
And I'll make history with Mister Peabody



Now you might think I'm just confused
And age has left me in a fog
But I never minded playing second fiddle
To a dog


from Foo Bar Baz, track released October 8, 2010
Paul wrote the lyrics and melodies, recorded nylon-string guitar, electric guitar, bass, and hand percussion, backing vocals, made the mix, and squinted and cursed a lot at his computer. Denise Hudson composed and performed Rhodes piano and synthesized violin, and sang unison and harmony backing vocals. Joe "Covenant" Lamb contributed the lead vocal. The song's creation crossed many time zones and borders, with contributions from Scotland, The United States of America, and the great nation of Texas.