Peace Corps Writers
You Can’t Break My Window Mister — David Schickele’s Music (cont.)

David Schickele's Music
page 1, page 2

     Studying his lyrics now, I see how David melded his old yen for cowboy honky-tonkin’ music with the Western-romantic-grail-questing of the Peace Corps (which quest few of us abandon). From “Under the Baobab”:

    when the bastards wear you down
    and your love life’s all undone
    when you feel like skipping town
    with a suitcase and a gun
    when you’re beat to your soul
    wend your way down to the riverside
    where the waters roll
    sit you down under the baobab
    where the hippos play. . . .

    Hippo Rob will pull you through
    make you see the world anew
    so dry your tears and tie your shoe
    Hippo Rob will pull you through.

     Such merry music was a family affair. David’s brother Peter Schickele tells listeners of his Public Radio series “Schickele Mix” about how he and his brother started presenting these weirdly funny family musicales which later grew into his satirical classical music and the character of P.D.Q. Bach. (David was also a serious viola player.) Here’s David’s maverick self in “You Can’t Break My Window”:

    you can’t break my window mister with
    BB gun
    the clouds will beat you to the draw
    they’re drawn with fingers finer than your
    trigger’s ever known
    you’ll need a wrecker’s ball
    you can’t break my window mister cause it’s
    painted on the wall

    you can’t break my window mister cause it’s
    made too strong
    its glass is spun of songs that echo round in
    Hildy’s eyes
    clear songs of longing hiding in these
    desert skies
    I feel the wind a-scraping on my
    stubble chin
    the clouds they change like Hamlet’s whale
    you gotta
    stare down the valley, till it lets you
    till it lets you in
    you need only heed the call
    you can’t break my window mister cause it’s
    painted on the wall

     And lastly, from “Sophie Sleeps”:

    The moon wears black pajamas
    with buttons made of stars
    moonbeams stroll the avenues
    strumming cheap guitars
    so turn down the lamplight
    now is the hour
    Sophie’s sleeping . . . .

     Last November phone calls and e-mails asked, “Did you know David Schickele just died?” Damn! But we do got his songs. David’s sleeping.

Tom Hebert (Nigeria 1962-64) worked with the USO in Vietnam and Bahrain after the Peace Corps. He was involved with emergency relief work in Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War, and was a consultant with Antioch College and the State University of New York at Old Westbury. He has written three books about innovative American training and education and spent eight years with TVA. He lives now in Pendleton, Oregon and is a consultant to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, developing a Tribal horse program. His article on David Schickele appeared in Friends of Nigeria Newsletter, Winter 2000 Vol 4, No. 4. We thank FoN for permission to reprint it here.

All lyrics copyrighted by David Schickele and reprinted with permission.

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