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The Octopus Song

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” I am honored, cheered, and deeply moved at a song that is at once nimble, clever, and profound.”
— Sy Montgomery, author of “The Soul of an Octopus”

I once had a show scheduled at the Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland California. At the same time a book by the title of “The Soul of an Octopus” by Sy Montgomery appeared on my radar. I thought it would be fun to have a song I could play to promote the event.

So I wrote this tune with “You’re Looking at Me” by Nat King Cole in mind as music reference. Anecdotes from Montgomery’s book became the basis for verses, but it was her reference to the Hawaiian Kumulipo that inspired for the chorus. The claim islanders have a myth that octopuses are the only survivors from a previous world made for a wonderful jumping off point — and it might be mistaken as another of my references to Doctor Who.

As with “The Albatross Song” and my album “At Home at Sea,” the chorus for this piece became the title of the album on which it will be featured — “Alien from an Alternate Earth” (April 22, 2022) — and like other such songs I have written, “The Fish Song” and “The L.A. Song” the subject matter may ultimately not actually be Octopuses.

A West Coast jazz ballad, with horn interplay reminiscent of Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, might seem incongruous with lyrics that at both contemplate the nature of consciousness and contain the word “squirt” but I dig the end result.

Credits:
vocals – E.G. Phillips
tenor sax – Daniel Casares
muted trumpet – Rich Armstrong
piano – Kevin Seal
guitar – Jeffrey Burr
upright bass – Paul Eastburn
percussion – Chris McGrew
Recorded at Wally’s HydeOut, Hyde Street Studio C
​in San Francisco, Sept 5th-8th, 10th & Oct 3rd 2021

Recording Engineers: Desmond Shea, Liam Craddock
Mixed by Chris McGrew
Mastered by Gary Hobish, A. Hammer Mastering

Produced by Chris McGrew

​Artwork by Mario M. Noche

Written by E.G. Phillips (ASCAP)
​(c) 2021 Ducks With Pants Music

Lyrics:
From your point of view it must be a wonder
I somehow manage to survive
I don’t have suckers and I can’t change color
To instantly don a disguise

Perhaps this ancient is notion not so absurd
You’re not from the ocean
But a much older universe
You slipped through the cracks between worlds
Now you cannot return
You’re an alien from an alternate Earth

You’re a curious one, you have your moods,
You’ve got real personality
You’ll swim up ’n greet us when we open your tank
Or you’ll squirt at me

Perhaps this ancient is notion not so absurd
You’re not from the ocean
But a much older universe
You slipped through the cracks between worlds
Now you cannot return
You’re an alien from an alternate Earth

Does consciousness arise from a series of parallel
But independent processes?
Constructed in the moment it’s a useful delusion
If not a disease
One we are cured of once our minds drift off
Into the oblivious sea?

As for sleights of hand and multi-tasking
You’ve got the humans all beat
With one arm you stole the fish bucket
And occupied us with another three

Perhaps this ancient is notion not so absurd
You’re not from the ocean
But a much older universe
You slipped through the cracks between worlds
Now you cannot return
You’re an alien from an alternate Earth

We’ve built an environment that’s more suited for you
Than it is for us
This infinite division of our attention is not something
To which I’ll adjust
If you grind the gems of paradise
They become worthless dust

I once captained a ship now I’m playing for tips
In the lobby of a posh hotel
I’m the wallpaper; I’m the jukebox
I’m also the wishing well

Perhaps this flight of fancy is not so absurd
I’ve gone and slipped through the cracks
From another universe
I’ve slipped through the cracks between worlds
And I cannot return
I’m an alien from an alternate Earth


21 January, 2022

The Octopus Song

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