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Philip Allen

Visit the Web Site of Kate and Anna McGarrigle


George's First Album for United Artists

OBITUARY.”was George Gerdes' first release on United Artists back in 1972. The title comes from a poem George penned lamenting the passing an unknown mythical singer-songwriter. The songwriter was not only mythical, he was in fact fictional. He symbolizes the rough reality in the world of Tin Pan Alley and beyond. Remember that when George signed that contract to a major label, the singer-songwriter craze was hitting its zenith. United Artists took over Liberty Records and was in search of a new major troubadour since Liberty's minstrel of the dawn, Gordon Lightfoot, had left for the greener contract pastures of Reprise Records, started by Sinatra and distributed by Warner Brothers. Gerdes' original intention was to decorate the album cover with newspaper obituaries he had cut and saved of songwriters passed on and probably soon forgotten (if not already). The most reknown of the obits would have been Gus Edwards, a.k.a. "Ukelele Ike" who was also the voice of Jimminy Cricket for Walt Disney. Unfortunately for George, the legal complications of getting clearance for all of these obits made such a concept impractical. So this poem took its place:

                       Songwriter, Joe Reissler,
often called "Mr. Showbusiness" by folks that knew him closely,
   was killed today  by a Mack truck  in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
                 Joe wrote  such old favorites as
        "Mama's Got Me Drunk,"   "Don't Kiss My Feet"
               and   "I Wish I Was in Copenhagen."
         Sid Reissler,  co-writer of many of Joe's hits,
      commented on his brother's passing by remarking,
"His face was a mess" and "The truck was covered with blood."

Notables such as Pop Sweeney, owner of Sweeney's Delicatessen,
              were on hand to view the remains
    and collect various debts that Joe had mounted.
      Frank Sinatra, who once met Joe back in 1943,
    summed up Reissler's entire career by remarking,
                            "Who’s he?"

UA would not risk the legal repercussions of using Frank Sinatra as a character in the poem so the ending was revised to:



...folk hero George Gerdes,  who once met Joe back in 1967,
     summed up Reissler's entire career  by remarking, 


Songs on OBITUARY are as follows:

Peas Porridge Hot
Sweet Janine
Real as Rain
Lap of Luxury

Song of the Hero's Heroine
Tequila Blue
Time Will Let You In
Old Gardenia Lady

Every love that is real must hold pain,
All the poems, plays and songs will explain,
But to some it's a game just the same,
Though to you it's as real as the rain

And you're beauty is real as the rain
And my voice can't conceal what shows plain
when the finger pickin' guitar lick is playin'
and the music cascades like the rain

Seeking to spread more light- that's the aim,
Every moment you don't is spent in vain,
Carefully carve wood along the grain
And the rest shall follow like the rain

(repeat 2nd verse)


The Song of the Hero's Heroine I'll sing
of a flaxen hair'd beauty with a gold carat ring.
The hero pursued her portraying persuasion
but the dear lady acted out ways of evasion.
He put his foot forward but the dear lady turn'd
and she smiled o so slightly, not to yield what he yearn'd.
Here's to the hero in all of the dramas undone
and to all the heroines who'll never be won.

Well the hero was headed for his great destination
when he fell to a lady of high affectation
whose ivory smile and soft calm composure
soon suffer'd the hero to overexposure.
So lift up your cups, raise up you figs,
hold up your glasses,
the hero he rises as the dear lady passes.

Poor doom'd Adonis, how could you have known?
But the ladies in waiting never leave you alone,
they jig and the amble as a gentleman dreams
and a Venus may smile though she's not what she seems.
O here's to the heroes shining so gallant and brave
and to all the fair maidens who'll never be saved.

This song is a circle- a cycle it goes
but just where it stops, well, nobody knows.
The heroine finally the hero she paged
but the hero he lunged and then fled in a rage.
O here's to the hero in all of the dramas undone
and to all the heroines who'll never be one.
Never be won.
Never be One.


I'm so blue. I don't know what to do.
I got a mind that's mess up n' mean.
Couldn't keep calm 'cause I'm stuck in between
and I can't seem to fit in the scheme.

I got a head that's screwed wrong
and I ain't sung a new song
in about three weeks, maybe more.
I got a chip on my shoulder that's sore
and what's more, I can't even seem to think of what for.

Well, my whole past's been revealed
but my future's concealed
by the presence that it stands to believe.
I been denied to take an absence of leave
n' my heart's in my throat on my sleeve.

I think I know what I'll do.
I'll get a bottle of booze
and margarita tequila away...
A lick a lemon n' salt is okay
'cause Ole! The Magarita'll be callin' my play! 



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