Thursday, March 12, 2009
What Does it Mean to Have a Theme Song for a Book?
A few weeks ago, Chris Lund asked whether it was "crazy" to ask what it meant when I pointed out that Mike Newdow, of "under God" fame, had agreed to write the theme song for my book Holy Hullabaloos. I don't think it was crazy to ask such a thing. Let me explain. I realized after finishing my book that there were two things I could do. Either I could just stay silent and let the book come out without any fanfare, or I could work to publicize the book so that people would buy it (yes, yes, I understand there are many points in between doing nothing and doing what I've done). As much as I feel smarmy when I do all this self-promotion, and as much as I realize there are people out there who are going to say, please please let this guy shut up about this stupid book if I have to hear about Holy Hullabaloos one more time I'm going to puke, I figured that this state of affairs would be better than the alternative, which is to have worked for two years to write something I'm very proud of and then have it come out and stay at #1,742,389 on the amazon rankings and be read by seventeen people, which is basically the number of people who have read my law review articles (including the several external reviewers for my tenure file who panned it).
Doing the smarmy publicity is made much more fun and palatable by the internet and all the multimedia opportunities there are to publicize a book these days. It's sort of like turning the book into something bigger--an all consuming multi-dimensional art project or something. I don't have a video book trailer yet, which is something that people are doing a lot of these days, but having a blog and a website and my 4 year old son "reading" the book on YouTube ("blah blah blahbetty blah," he says, over and over) has been a great deal of fun. So one day I was thinking about what else I could do and I thought, aha, why not a theme song, and my wife suggested that maybe Mike Newdow would agree to do it, and since I'm a huge fan of his, I asked him, and luckily for me he said yes. Well, the other day he sent it to me, and I'm delighted. I can't stop listening to it over and over and over. He captured the idea of the book and some of the details while still putting his own distinctive personal stamp on it. For example, the ending lyrics, which pick up on my observation regarding Marsh v. Chambers (holding legislative prayer basically constitutional) that it was written by Justice Burger in five minutes on the can, Newdow sings:
From its job they sure did stink that time.
In five minutes sitting on the can, Chief Justice Burger wrote pure slime.
Not a single word about equality, absurd
Was that decision like a turd to flush.
Anyone who's proud of our great nation reads that case and then does blush.
Religion can do wondrous work.
But government should never shirk
From making sure not to confuse
The seat of legislation and our pews.
Hey don't you all just sit around and snooze.
Keep watching out for Holy Hullabaloos.
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I envisioned your book being like one of those horrible musical greeting cards--everytime you open it, Newdow starts singing.
Posted by: JP | Mar 12, 2009 10:42:45 AM
Sounds like your son is bleeping out expletives.
Posted by: Chris | Mar 12, 2009 11:43:15 AM
While I agree with the sentiment, Michael Newdow had better not give up his day job. The nicest thing I can say about those lyrics is that they are protected by the First Amendment.
Posted by: plum grenville | Mar 12, 2009 2:10:04 PM
I loved the song. It's like the old Wobbly anthems, which is the perfect tone for protest song.
Posted by: shg | Mar 12, 2009 7:45:02 PM
Too bad I can't listen to it just yet -- I'm on a laptop with no sound. But, just looking at the lyrics, I might agree with plum grenville about Newdow giving up his day job... =)
Posted by: Chris Lund | Mar 13, 2009 2:16:44 PM
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