iTom: Free Music From Tom Smith

Music in every style -- except dull. Tom Smith, the World's Fastest Filker and the prototypical geek folk-rocker, releases new music for free download on a regular basis. (It was a song a week for almost a year.) You can subscribe to the RSS feed, purchase a better-quality MP3 of the song, or purchase three months' worth as a downloadable album.

Friday, March 30, 2007

033: Pygmalion 2.0

One of the ultimate male fantasies is having some kind of Love Machine -- to be blunt, a robot that looks exactly like a woman but will fulfill your every command, that is, sexual request. And won't nag you to take out the garbage or turn down the TV. And doesn't expect anything in return. (I know most of you are thinking Cherry 2000 or Galaxina or AF709 or something like that, but the really chilling version is The Stepford Wives.)

Of course, the whole scenario has a glaring problem (among many): Even to most guys, as in
guys, sex as the lynchpin of a "relationship" alone is nowhere near enough for the long term, or even very much of a short term. If it turns out that you are one of the guys for whom sex alone is enough... well, you'll likely be having lots of sex alone. If you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Note: The last line of the song has been revised since the original post. It used to be, "But just in case, I bookmarked that Amazon page", which some people found creepy. I just found it creepier. I mean, we are talking about a guy who bought a sex bot.

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Pygmalion 2.0
Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
Released under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike License

I've got a sex droid, ordered it from Amazon,
On the secret pages that they tell you don't exist.
She is amazing, programmed to do anything,
ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING, and I have got a list.

Her remote control has more buttons than a fabric store,
And her eight attachments fit sixty-nine ways.
Fully functional, she does everything you want and more,
So don't try to reach me for at least a few days.

I've got a love doll, cost a frickin' lotta bucks,
Looks like Salma Hayek 'cept her skin is soft chrome.
Maintenance-free, never takes over the bathroom,
Messes with my TiVo or redecorates my home.

She was really quiet so I upgraded her audio,
When they say Creative sound card, ain't no lie,
So now when I lie back while she performs a Latin term,
I can tell she likes it just as much as I.

I've got a robot, she's my very best friend,
She doesn't try to change me or drag me down,
Sure, she's a sexbot, that was why I got her, but
I find I tend to talk to her as much as fool around

Her canned responses are getting more repetitive,
Although there's an upgrade to make her more verbose.
And when we make love, I'm being lots more sensitive,
I want to make her happy, I like it when she's close.

I've got a sex droid, I was getting too attached,
But the thing is only just a stupid machine,
I brought her flowers and candy, and she frickin' crashed,
Hang on, honey, reboot and I'll read what's on your screen.

"Operating System software has been compromised,
Would you like to install another O.S.?"
All that I've got here is some open-source that's optimised
For music composition, but I'll try it, I guess.

I've got a girlfriend, beautiful and wonderful,
Blessed be the day I installed that hack,
She's more intelligent, humorous and versatile,
And best of all she says that she loves me back.

Now and then we get into these stupid little conflicts
But that's just the open-source talking, not rage,
We are living proof humans, love and droids can all mix --
Ummm, honey? Why'd you bookmark that Amazon page?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

032: The Mechanicsburg Tourism Song

Another Girl Genius song! In the current adventure, Agatha Heterodyne has just reached Mechanicsburg. As creator Phil Foglio describes it:
These days Mechanicsburg is a major tourist trap. It's a destination because of the Great Hospital, which handles unusual ailments, and it is, of course, the home of the Heterodyne Boys. As the latter, it's almost a pilgrimage thing to some people, who desperately hope that someday the Heterodynes will return.... [T]he song would be the kind of thing that adorable children would sing on street corners for the tourists, welcoming them to town and inveigling them to buy the local cheese and souvenirs.
But you want to know the best part for me about this song?

This ain't all of it.

Heh heh heh.
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The Mechanicsburg Tourism Song
Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
Released under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike License
Girl Genius is a registered trademark of Studio Foglio, LLC. Agatha Heterodyne, Transylvania Polygnostic and all Girl Genius art, characters, design elements and logos ™ & © 2000-2006 Studio Foglio, LLC., All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
Welcome to Mechanicsburg!
There's no finer city from
St. Petersburg to Rome.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
The loveliest we've ever heard of,
Jewel of Europa and
The place where we call home.

How mighty are her mighty walls,
How shiny are her clanks,
How beautiful her dairy farms,
And for her cheese we all give thanks.

How glorious her Hospital
Which helps folk far and near,
Bill and Barry Heterodyne
Built it for us here.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
Welcome to Mechanicsburg,
We thank you so for visiting,
With every erg and ohm.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
The greatest burg we've ever heard of,
Jewel of Europa and
The place where we call home.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

031: Contessa

Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening of an Ann Arbor legend: Zingerman's Deli. In my opinion, best damn deli on the planet. A haven for artisanal foods, where your mind reels at the thought of paying fifteen dollars for a stinkin' sandwich, no matter how huge, and then you take a bite and it's suddenly fifteen dollars well spent because you have never in your life tasted a sandwich like that. They care about the food they sell more than any restaurant or grocer I've ever seen, and their guiding light and co-founder Ari Weinzweig is a gifted writer who makes you feel the love his subjects have for the food they create.

About twelve years ago, the Zingerman's newsletter printed an article by Ari about the Italian producer of olive oils and vinegars, Marina Colonna, and her uphill struggle to bring traditionally-made oil back to Molise. In this article, I heard echoes of another story -- one that, as much as the upcoming song by that name, embodies several meanings of the phrase "true love waits". The characters in this song are not meant to be Ari (who I believe is happily married) or Donna Marina (who very well may be). But they are without question inspired by those people, and I dedicate this song to them.
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Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
Released under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike License

I had nearly completed my first book,
On Italian small-farm olive oil,
One more interview and the project was through,
I was ready to see my home soil,

The farmhouse was sprawling and rustic,
But a princess opened the door,
Some years after the ball, no Prince Charming would call,
Yet I saw all she'd been and then more.

And she laughs when I call her "Contessa",
And I watch her work all afternoon,
What she's chosen demands that her pale, slender hands
Become weathered and careworn too soon.

And the lines of her face speak of privilege and grace,
But she talks to me like an old friend,
And as we blather on, soon the daylight is gone,
And I don't want the evening to end.

Every day brings the scorn of her fellows,
Those who should join her in the old ways,
They've abandoned their arts for machines with steel parts
That make oil in hours, not days.

As time passes we speak less of oil
Sometimes not even speaking at all
And she eyes me, bemused, but she does not refuse
When I offer to help through the fall.

And she laughs when I call her "Contessa",
And each night I hear her family's tale,
Of their triumphs and tears over hundreds of years
And how frightened she is she might fail.

And I shake my head, saying something foolish,
And she smiles at my schoolboy charms,
And we're both so surprised by the light in our eyes
As we fall into each others' arms.

One day, my first draft reached the office,
With a letter in which I resigned
Whatever I'd looked for while writing a book
Turned out not to be what I would find

Now I study the grape and the olive,
I study the climate and lands,
And what I don't know, she will patiently show
With her weathered and beautiful hands.

And she laughs when I call her "Contessa",
But she's grateful I do all the same,
She has much to do yet, and she will not forget
All the strength of her family name.

And machines do the work on the big farms,
They sell much more oil than she,
But she sells enough, and their hands aren't as rough
As a artisan's hands ought to be.

My aging princess and her careworn caress,
My lovely Contessa and me.

Friday, March 09, 2007

030: Dervish

One of the central images of the ad campaign for Nightfall, the new expansion for the MMORPG Guild Wars, is a fantastic illustration (this one might be a little clearer) for a character class known as the Dervish, inspired by the historical Dervish of the Sufi Muslims. The beauty of that image haunted me for weeks, and when the song came together I tried to keep that sensation intact.
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Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
Released under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike License

I remember her eyes, as dark as the skies
In the desert an hour before dawn.
Her throat would hum like the skin of a drum
With a battle coming on.

She never would speak, she'd be thought of as weak
if a word of endearment was said.
And we swore on our lives not to take off our knives
Even as we made love in her bed.

But she would not dance for me.
Never for romance, you see.
She was raised in an ancient land,
With ancient ways I did not understand.
Her eyes would glaze with blood at hand...
But she would not dance for me.

I was entranced when I first saw her dance --
Such beauty, grace and gore!
With her curving swords she struck down lords
Who thought they knew of war.

But I thought of sin and the sheen of her skin
And the smoulder of her glance,
And it burned my soul beyond all control
That she still refused to dance.

But she would not dance for me,
Even though I begged to see.
She gave me all else that she had,
But that one exception drove me mad.
She danced for scum while armor-clad...
But she would not dance for me.

As we cut a swath through an empire,
As she danced 'cross a continent,
Each day it grew harder and harder
To not have her dance in our tent.

To see her whirling in saffron, in desire,
To see her sink to her knee,
To see her eyes filled with ardor,
To see her focus her passion on me.

Then a battle came, left a city in flame
And separated us two.
And a sweet young maid whose life I'd saved
Whispered "I shall dance for you".

I was tired and weak, and the rose in her cheek
And her scent of tamarind
Set my blood on fire, I forgot my desire
For a whirling desert wind.

The dawn was fine with figs and wine
And that harlot by my side.
She'd begun again to dance for me when
The tent flap was flung wide.

My desert flower had her scimitar
And a new glint in her eye.
She slew the slut with a single cut
Then turned and whispered, "why?"

You would not dance for me.
It's consumed me, can't you see?
And you do not shed a single tear,
And I don't know why but I feel no fear
As for one last time, you draw near...
And at last you dance for me.

She stretched her arms and revealed her charms,
Robes fell in a silken splash.
With heavenly grace and death on her face
Her blades began to flash.

She was sand and dust and heat and lust
And wind and will and war.
She was pliant and warm, defiant, a storm,
She was all men want and more.

She was love and life and the flash of a knife
And the dance of blood on steel,
But she'd sought escape in a mortal shape...
And found me... and begun to feel.

In her burning eyes and the thundering skies,
I knew what she'd kept from me,
What she'd tried to prevent, but I would not relent....
And now she let me see.

And that is all that I can recall,
I've seen nothing since that night.
But though I'm blind, she fills my mind
And I cannot quench the sight.

Everything I was is a long-lost cause,
Every dream a might-have-been,
Yet had I one chance for one last glance...
I'd watch her dance again.

She would not dance for me,
And I should have let that be.
There are forces far beyond the ken
Of foolish, selfish mortal men.
I can't look past the moment when
At last she danced for me.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

029: Hot Sauce and Ice Cream

The phrase came to me some time back, and I actually thought of making it the title song for iTom 2.0. The first complete version I had tried a little too hard to be Leon Redbone, i.e., it didn't actually tell enough of the story to tell a story. (I never metaphor I didn't like.) I am pretty fond of the construction "you and you alone".
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Hot Sauce and Ice Cream
Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
Released under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike License

I met this girl, cute and shy, too quiet for your average guy,
But somethin' 'bout her caught my eye and soon we started to date
Soft kisses, sweeter than wine, and I wanted to make her mine,
But she said, "I won't cross that line, please, darling, we can wait."

One night we were at her place, she got a smile on her face,
And said she really liked the taste of hot sauce on ice cream
She shook her head when she had a bite, her eyes got red and awful bright,
She dragged me to bed and all that night Was a hot romantic dream.

Hot sauce, ice cream,
She got lost in between,
Fire and frost, the two extremes
But things aren't what they seem
Is she the girl I thought I knew?
Is this somethin' other women do?
Do Ben and Jerry have a clue
What can happen to an ice cream cone?

She got up with the morning sun, and no memory of what we'd done,
She kissed me softly and said "Hon, could you bring me another plate?"
I was suspicious but poured that heat on the frozen vanilla treat
Next thing I knew I was off my feet and the next two hours were great.

Hot sauce, ice cream,
Double-crossed, double-teamed,
Lip gloss and sticky steam,
Exhausted, ready to scream,
I love her both, and we love to play,
But please, girls, not all night and day,
There's not a lot more I can say,
Or do but mewl and moan.

I can't explain it, though I've tried, what's her brain got goin' inside?
It must be a strain being Jekyll and Hyde, but I know there's somethin' more.
Is she pretending? Is she stressed? Is she demented or possessed?
What's the ending? I Can't guess. That's what the last verse is for.

I went to my place and found two of her there, she'd undergone fission, split into a pair,
They were kissin' like they didn't need air, I'm caught between frisson and despair,
I saw the lay of the land, Why would they still want a man,
I turned away but then two hands pulled me back and shut the door.

Hot sauce, ice cream,
I'm lost in between,
Fire and frost, the two extremes,
I'll pay the cost, and all my dreams
Of being complete have come twice as true
'Cause now my sweetie is the two of you
An ice cream treat with tabasco too,
Just you and you alone.