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…


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. 
The song of the loon. 

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 

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, 
A bit out of tune. 


Lyrics Reprinted by Permission


Rob Berg: Synth, Vocals
David Hughes: Drum Box, Vocals

Written and arranged by
Rob Berg & David Hughes

Produced by
Bachelors Anonymous and Rick Novak

Instruments recorded at
The Men’s Dept. (4-track), 1985

Vocals recorded at
Control Center, 1985

Engineered and mixed by
Rick Novak
Control Center, 1985

Mastered by
Scott A. Jennings
Artistry in Sound, 2020

Photograph by
Rocky Schenck
Album cover by
David Hughes

© ℗ 1985, 2020 Berg & Hughes
Celibataire Music (ASCAP)

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