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Date: 09/01/14

"Fall Not In Love, Therefore; It Will Stick To Your Face"

Let's have a bit of spiritual uplift at the start of the year, shall we?

Well...sort of.

Those of you old enough (and how many times do I find myself making that caveat nowadays?) will remember a rather gooey verse called Desiderata. You know, the one that begins:

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste..."

It was written by an American called Max Ehrmann in 1927. Due to a misapprehension when it was included in a compilation of inspirational texts by a Baltimore clergyman, it was long believed to have originated in 1692 (this was, in fact, the year in which Old Saint Paul's Church in the city was founded), and Ehrmann's authorship was obscured.

The verse was always going to find favour with the more drippy of the hippy 'movement', and this led ultimately to a recording of it - set to music by Fred Werner - being issued by the radio and television talk-show host Les Crane, winning Crane a Grammy. Again, due to the continuing confusion over the work's provenance, Ehrmann went uncredited on the record label (although royalties were eventually paid to Ehrmann's estate; he had died some twenty-six years before).

Desiderata was always ripe for parody, and in 1972 the legendary National Lampoon provided the best - and sharpest - example on their Radio Dinner LP of that year. With music by Christopher Guest, backing vocals by Melissa Manchester and a narration from Norman Rose which stands nicely at the junction of cloying sincerity and dryness, Deteriorata became almost as much a success as what it was sending up. Indeed, Les Crane himself latterly said that he couldn't hear his own version without gagging, and that he had come greatly to prefer National Lampoon's take.

The video below is the best I've been able to find on YouTube so far, even though it omits Manchester's sung introduction, which contains the opening lines of the chorus:

"You are a fluke of the universe
You have no right to be here."

Nonetheless, listen, be inspired, and take heart that your dog is finally getting enough cheese: