Thursday, November 5, 2009

We are all just prisoners here of our own device

Having way too much free time, I have devised a new game with which to while away the hours and stump my friends. I am absolutely certain, in my egotistical but completely endearing way, that no one has ever thought of this game before. Please do not disabuse me of my conceit.

Here’s the object of the game: We (by which I mean you) are going to identify well-known songs by using only the initial letters of the words in the first couple of lines. (Exception: If the song has a verse and a chorus, we’ll (you’ll) use the chorus.) The only question that remains might be what, exactly, constitutes “a well-known song”? I have decided, unilaterally and arbitrarily, that songs written after 1950 are ineligible. Therefore, no matter how much I would like to include the wonderful “Hotel California” by the Eagles (or WTTHC, SALP, SALF) -- it has such great lines as, “We are all just prisoners here of our own device” and “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” -- the rules of my own game, unfortunately, prevent me from doing so.

Ready? Let us begin. And if, after a decent interval, you absolutely cannot figure it out, a click on the song’s composer and year of composition will reveal the answer.

1. JBJBJATW, OWFIITRIAOHOS! (James Pierpont, 1857)

2. MDADDALLD, AKDT,WY? (Milton Drake, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston, 1943)

3. YDWTTROAP, SAFIHHACIM! (Anonymous, circa 1755)

4, WDUTSRFFA, TWMHIYE, TWTOFS (Stephen Foster, 1851)


6. SIWWISTLNDOAS, TMHMR AIAOAWY (Hoagy Carmichael composed the music in 1927, Mitchell Parish wrote the lyrics in 1929, and here’s Nat “King” Cole singing it around 1957)

See how this can go on and on and on? See how addictive it is?

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.


  1. 4. ATWISAD, EWIR. dum dum de dum MYHGW,FFTOFAH. "Swannee River"

    5. "Star Spangled Banner," of course

    6. "Star Dust"

    Of the others, I have no clue, but have not yet been to your links to check them out, and my brain is already tired.

    Very clever, RWP.

    J,TAAC,P,ULTA;VUWTS;EETH. - Charles Wesley, John Zundel-- year unknown but definitely pre 1950, not a pop tune but the melody was in my head when I awoke this morning, and I'll bet you've played it on the piano many times.

  2. Pat - "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" of course! A great hymn.

  3. I got Way Down Upon the Suwannee River, and the National Anthem with just a quick read (and the composers didn't hurt), but I'll have to work harder at the others. I love Pat's hymn!

  4. I got three four and five.
    How about

  5. Rosezilla - Keep going! I know they're on the tip of your tongue!

    Dr. John - Well, it's not "Jesus, Lover Of My Soul" and it's not "Jimmy Cracked Corn But I Don't Care" and it's not "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and it's not "Jambalaya And A Crawfish Pie And A Filet Gumbo" -- I don't have a clue.

  6. Angela, RWP's daughter!November 6, 2009 at 3:33 PM

    I can't believe I know this one and not you, dad...Dr. John's song is "Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so"!!

    How 'bout that for an Alabama girl??

  7. Angela - I guess there are none so blind as those who will not see.

  8. I got four and five . . . which isn't too bad for 10:30 at night.

    Great idea.

  9. I suppose enough time has passed now that any further answerers can be considered strays just passing through and not part of "the regular group" or readers of this blog, so it can now be revealed (Note to self: Avoid the passive voice) that the songs are:

    1. Jingle Bells
    2. Mairzy Doats And Dozy Doats
    3. Yankee Doodle
    4. Old Folks At Home (Swannee River)
    5. The Star-Spangled Banner
    6. Stardust

    I know, you could have clicked on the links, but no one follows directions any more.

  10. I cannot do this, but at least I recognize all the song titles. This is too hard for my Generation X brain. Help.