Once upon a time, I studied English literature at a British University. We started out reading 19th Century English works and had to choose five authors. We were supposed to read all of their major stuff. That’s a tough proposition when you’re 19-years-old and want to get down to the pub ASAP. Such, such were the pressures of a British University Education. Some of us made the mistake of choosing writers like Charles Dickens whose oeuvre is pretty vast. A lot of reading.
And then I discovered Lewis Carroll who was not only highly regarded as a Victorian writer, but didn’t write a vast amount of words. Also, there were those amazing John Tenniel illustrations.
What a godsend ! Of course I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from 1865, the The Hunting of the Snark, and then, Through the Looking Glass, And What Alice Found There from 1871, which includes the famous Jabberwocky poem. Let’s quote a bit:
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
What fun! So I managed to read Carroll’s books and wrote some dubious essays about the brilliant wordplay, its symbolism, how it foreshadowed modernism. But little did I realize that, years later, I would end up writing a song inspired by Wonderland, which is kind of a dreamlike state where things get pretty weird. Who doesn’t love a good talking animal?
If I digress, it’s only because Lewis Carroll made digression an art. So now there’s this song called Weird in Wonderland that I wrote and recorded with our band, Secret Radio. Here’s what Alice said about the poem Jabberwocky when she heard it; I would like to think it applies to the song too…
“It seems very pretty,” she said when she had finished it, “but it’s rather hard to understand!” (You see she didn’t like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all.) “Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas – only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that’s clear, at any rate.”
Anyway, here’s the song, Weird in Wonderland. Hope you like it.