Sarasponda

Sarasponda visualized with lyric
Photograph: Mumtahina Tanni

“Sarasponda” is the third song on Bachelors Anonymous’s eponymous six-song album, remastered and re-released digitally. Bachelor David Hughes tells the story behind the song.



Sarasponda, sarasponda,
sarasponda ret-set-set.

Thirty-six years after I used those words as the chorus to a phantasmagoric ditty by Bachelors Anonymous, I’m told by Wikipedia that “Sarasponda” is: 1) a children’s nonsense song, 2) a campfire song, and/or 3) a spinning song taught to Dutch daughters at the wheel, with a scheme behind their skeins: gaining a mate.

How strange. In fact, I was taught the song in high school by my friend Karin, not Dutch, but of Swedish seed. At about that same time I took a class in spinning and weaving. Had I sung as I spun I might have had some luck.

Ten years after Karin taught me “Sarasponda” I came upon a single by Anthony More (aka Moore, who had worked in the avant-pop group Slapp Happy and its merger with Henry Cow). More’s 1981 “World Service” was a favorite of mine and its expressionist imagery inspired me four years later.

“World Service” is about radiophonic imperialism and resultant blowback, a less literal “Listening Wind.” “Sarasponda” is a dream if not a delirium, lifting The Slits’ grapevine/bassline rhyme from their 1979 B-side, citing Richard Armory’s pulp classic along the way.

And then there’s Chatty Cathy…

Lyrics

The rustling of a dervish 
Calls flies from the darkroom. 
Striking a redundant chord, 
The grapevine booms 
With an obsolete language. 
As the Minotaur croons, “Sarasponda…,” 
The camera zooms. 

Diving off the high board… 
Diving off a high-rise… 
Striking a redundant chord, 
The bassline booms. 
In an obsolete language 
The Analyst moons. 
Sarasponda: 
The song of the loon. 

Chorus 
Sarasponda, sarasponda, 
Sarasponda ret-set-set 
Sarasponda, sarasponda, 
Sarasponda, ret-set-set 
Adoh-ray-o, adoray-boom-day-o 
Adoray-boom-day ret-set-set 
Hah-say-pah-say-o 

Chatter in the garden 
As the grapevine’s pruned. 
Aluminum magnolias 
Heavy with perfume— 
A liquor with a shiver 
That leaves you in a swoon— 
Metallic magnolias 
Everywhere strewn. 

Diving off a high-rise… 
Driving off the highway, 
Striking you between your eyes. 
Stroking him between his thighs, 
A photostat cry 
Goes out at high noon, 
“Sarasponda…,” 
A bit out of tune. 

Chorus

Lyrics Reprinted by Permission

Credits

See album credits

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