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MRI Blues - worth pursuing?


Monkey Uncle

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Several weeks ago I had to have an MRI to investigate a chronic shoulder/neck issue. The experience gave me the idea for this comedy song. I've used humor in songs before in the service of some larger meaning, but this is my first attempt at writing a straight-up, one-dimensional comedy song. I'm not sure the song is funny enough to stand on that one dimension. It's got a long way to go; should I bother continuing? Here is what I have so far:

 

MRI Blues

 

V1

I had an ache that would not go away

My doctor said, "Let's not delay

I think your spinal cord might be askew

We'll ask insurance if they'll pay

And if they say that it's o.k.

We'll take a long, hard look inside of you"

 

V2

So they stuffed me in this little tube

Took pictures of me in the nude

Said, "Just hold still, w'ell be done in a little while

Got to find out just what's wrong with you

So you won't be feeling sick and blue

No, it ain't that kind of picture, no need to smile"

 

C1

I've got those MRI blues

Saying, "Please hold still, now, don't you move"

MRI blues

Taking pictures of me in the nude

MRI blues

If I freak out now, it would be rude

This little tube is giving me the blues

 

V3

I guess I should have paid attention

My surgeries I should have mentioned

When they asked about my medical history

Imagine all my apprehension

Discomfort reaching new dimensions

My shoulder pin started moving inside of me! Owww!

 

C2

I've got those MRI blues

Taking pictures of me in the nude

MRI blues

All the junk in me is on the move

MRI blues

If I freak out now, would it be rude?

This little tube is giving me the blues

 

It needs another stanza. I'm mulling a couple of possibilities for that. (1) Write a new V3 (or a bridge) that explores the weird noises, cramped conditions, lying on a hard slab, etc. Push the current V3 to V4 (or V3 after the bridge). (2) Write a V4 that delves deeper into the foreign-objects-in-motion schtick (pacemaker, forgotten surgical clamps, etc.). It might need a key change to keep the song form from getting stale. It might also require writing a third version of the chorus (or maybe re-use C1 after V3 and save C2 for after V4).

 

Speaking of the chorus, I'm not happy with C2. The only line in it that I really like is "all the junk in me is on the move." I think the rest of it needs to be re-written to differentiate it more from C1.

 

For the music, I naturally fell into a very familiar country blues melody and chord progression. It's not very original, but I couldn't come up with anything else that fit the mood of the song.

 

This partial take is bordering on unlistenable; I'm including it just to give you an idea of where I'm headed:

 

[video=youtube;WmpPsWndEIY]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmpPsWndEIY&feature=player_detailpage

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The first verse is quite good.

 

You sometimes throw too many words into the mix in subsequent verses, and I think the chorus needs to have more of a melodic -- and maybe even a rhythmic -- shift. But it's a very good start.

 

LCK

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Well I like it.:wave:

 

I actually liked the whole informal presentation as well........shadowed room, empty chair, and you just walk right in and let loose.

 

I think the quantity of the words makes the song flow pretty well. I'd work on them some more so they flow really easily. The hook line sticks nicely....Got those MRI blues.

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I think the chorus needs to be stronger -- it seems like the rhymes feel a bit awkward -- and I think, for this kind of song, you really need a good punch line. Why stick to the realistic/believable here? Go for the laughs.With regard to the music, it's a vehicle for the comedy, like "Georgie and the I.R.T." or a hundred other send-ups of the folk ballad tradition, so I wouldn't worry too much about that aspect -- but you do want a good sing along chorus. The chorus doesn't have to be as funny as the punch line, of course, but it needs to sort of set up and hint at the sum up.

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I think the song is worth developing and I support what's been said thus far.

It looks like you're doing a C / F / G as the only chords. Throw in an Am and a D7 into the chorus and see if some melodic variation appears. It'll still remain a country honk.

Hell - I'd use an unexpected Bb somewhere as well - maybe.

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Thanks, guys. I like the suggestion about more melodic variation in the chorus. I've made that suggestion to others before, but can't seem to take my own advice. Maybe a blue note at the end of the second line instead of a tonic. Then maybe up the scale and back down on the fourth line. Early on, I tried my best to whip out a Little Richard-style falsetto on the word "blues" in the chorus, but it just wasn't happening. Maybe another singer could make it work, but when I tried it, it just sounded like someone was ax murdering Little Richard.

 

LCK, you're right about the syllables feeling crowded in the second verse and especially the third verse. I was really proud of myself for rhyming "attention," "mentioned," "apprehension," and "dimensions," but the extra syllable after each stressed "ent" sound makes those lines tough to sing. Plus each of the lines that follows each "ent" line has one or two lead-in syllables before the first stressed syllable, which doesn't leave much room for inhaling. I'm wondering if simply slowing the tempo a bit might help.

 

Blue, I agree the chorus needs some new lines. As it stands now, it's basically repeating much of the information from the second verse. Maybe this is an opportunity to work in some of the information that I was thinking of putting in another verse and/or bridge.

 

OGP, I'll try out some other chords and see how they sound. I often use the VIIb chord in my songs to increase tension; not sure why I didn't go there this time.

 

Lenny, bless your heart for saying something nice about the "production." That was recorded on the finest cheapo digital camera that Kodak sold in 2006. Maybe Santy Claus will bring me a decent recording device this year.

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V3 is very funny! I burst out laughing. (I hope this really did not happen to you, but I have been to the "tube" myself and I always worry the clips in my, ah, 2 "tubes" will be tugged on.)

 

if this is to be a comedy song, the laugh like I had in V3 needs to happen very early on, even in the first verse. I can't think of something clever to say myself, but I think some kind of attention getting twist of the words or something needs to happen up front.

 

The 2nd suggestion is the chorus itself. Melodically, it could really be the "punchline" for the song. It would need to have a dose (pardon the pun) of attention getting notes that would pop it above the surrounding verses. I think the chorus is something people could remember after the song ends if it is really jazzed up.

 

I bet this song hits home for a lot of people!

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definitely worth pursuing

 

A few spots I'd make changes

 

V1 'askew' doesn't really sound like a word that would be used by a doctor to describe a spinal chord.

V2 'sick and blue' feels like filler that rhymes with you.

 

In the choruses, I don't think 'rude' is the right word. I've never had an MRI, but whether or not I was rude would be the last thing on my mind. Unglued would give you the same tight rhyme, would ring more true, and in a really subtle way references that things might be coming undone.

 

I've got those MRI blues

Saying, "Please hold still, now, don't you move"

MRI blues

Taking pictures of me in the nude

MRI blues

Can't freak out now, Can't come unglued

This little tube is giving me the blues

 

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I like "askew" :idk:

 

I agree that the pacing and melody of the chorus is a little too similar to the verses. It also jumped out at me that the "ooh" rhymes of the second verse were heavily used in the chorus, which only made the similarity more clear.

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coming from a guy that has had several MRI's the thing that bothered me was the loud awful noise that occurs inside the "little tube". You might want to include that aspect as you might find a way to express that discomfort in a comical way. Since I am not really claustrophobic and the fact they covered my eyes that didn't bother me much. It sure does many others though. OOpps. I see you mentioned these possibilities after the lyrics. People who haven't experienced having an MRI could get a general idea

of why it is discomforting, while the ones that have, relate more to the song. It is so true how we can laugh at things later that we didn't enjoy at the time

As far as the song, I think it is a good start and agree with much of blue2blue's comments. I am interested to see where this goes

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Rick, I think you're right about the laughs needing to come earlier. I'm not sure about re-writing the first verse since that seems necessary to set up the situation, but definitely somewhere in verse 2, prior to the first chorus. My intent was that the line "ain't that kind of picture, no need to smile" would be the laugh line in that verse, but apparently it isn't doing the job. I agree the chorus melody needs to be bigger (already working on that). And no, verse 3 didn't really happen to me, but verse 1 did. The doctor recommended an MRI in January, but it was October before the insurance company finally relented agreed to cover it. Hmmm, maybe there is a laugh opportunity in verse 1: "We'll ask insurance if they'll pay and after their nine-month delay, we'll take a long, hard look inside of you."

 

Rhino - I kind of like "askew." Although I was searching for a rhyme there, and it's probably not a word a doctor would actually use, I think it's a weird little word that helps establish the comedic mood. You're absolutely right about "sick and blue" being filler. Need to think of a better rhyme there. I like your "unglued" suggestion, and also OGP's "picture's screwed." Got to try those out.

 

Oswlek - I was wondering if the "ooh" rhymes in the chorus were too much. I had a natural inclination to keep the rhyme the same all the way through, but it does seem a little tired.

 

Mahuska - Thanks for your ideas about the overall discomfort of the procedure, even if nothing is going wrong. That might be just what I need for the new verse or bridge. I was struggling with how to make that funny; I think your imagery might help me get there.

 

Great stuff! Thanks, all.

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