I’ve just entered birthday season. Starting March 5, and into the middle of May, a huge % of the significant people in my life have their birthdays. I wrote this tribute to one of them 12 years ago.
by Headley Hauser
An old friend of mine is having a birthday. I haven’t seen her for twenty years and it’s unlikely I will in the near future, but I still want to wish her a happy birthday. When I survey our culture’s offerings of birthday greetings, I find we really have only one: the birthday song. You know the one that wants to charge people a royalty every time they sing it: the song that has no other lyric than Happy Birthday to you and a dear so and so in the third line? (Actually, I think the dear so in so is a later edition. I believe the original lyric is nothing more than Happy Birthday to you repeated four times.) Now I could be accused of foisting drivel on society, but I think if I wrote a lyric that consisted of happy birthday to you four times, I might not be so quick to claim royalty credit.
Then again, these people are getting rich off the song.
I would like to announce (in a very legally binding way)the following lyrics.
- Happy Christmas day to you (repeat four times)
- Happy Saint Patrick’s day to you (repeat four times)
- Happy Arbor Day to you (repeat 3 times, insert an instrumental bridge from Iron Butterfly and close with Happy Arbor Day to you)
- And, just to be safe: Happy (insert any and all holidays declared or recognized by the greeting card industry – except birthday) to you (repeat four times).
There are volumes of Christmas carols, Thanksgiving hymns, and even New Years songs out there. Why are we stuck with only one birthday song – and a crappy one at that?
Why does our single birthday song rhyme you with itself three times? Is “you” so hard to find rhymes for? I eschew the snafu that to imbue a rhyme for you would ensue in a switcheroo of hue to a taboo milieu. I knew that to pursue such a true bugaboo that I need not construe with the IQ of a guru. So I subdue and spew that mildew residue goo. (Did you view the debut of a tattoo I drew anew of a bamboo horseshoe I threw from Honshu?)
(All right, enough of that pooh.)
There are sufficient rhymes for “you” and sufficient diversity of people out there, that we should have myriad birthday songs specialized to various interest groups.
For cheese lovers:
Happy Birthday to you
May your mold all be blue
May all of your troubles
First be dipped in fondue
To mystery fans:
Happy Birthday to you
To our favorite gumshoe
When you’re missing your car keys
May you soon get a clue
To Shirley McLaine fans:
Happy Birthdays to you
As past lives you review
With the latest book from Shirley
That’s just like the last two
Or even to Francophiles (if there still are any):
Happy Birthday a vous
Now we must say adieu
You’ll look a year older
When we next rendezvous
The point is to strive for diversity, creativity and royalty avoidance. To make birthdays, once again, something of which, to be proud.
Now if I can just get this stupid tune out of my head.
This video is from the greatest episode of the old Mary Tyler Moore Show. Granted, it’s missing something without the context.
You want the context? Okay, here’s the whole ep.