Bourland choral music: Crocodile’s Xmas Ball (2002)

July 17, 2009

The Crocodile’s Christmas Ball and other odd tales (2002)
1. Tropical Christmas
2. A Proper Cat Reflects upon the Holidays
3. After Halloween
4. Santa Claws (Daniel Cummings, tenor)
5. Down Home Christmas on Mars (Roger Bourland, solo)
6. The Crocodile’s Christmas Ball (Tim Mussard, baritone)
7. It Isn’t Christmas (Juliana Gondek, soprano)
8. A Fly on the Wall

Music: Roger Bourland
Lyrics: William MacDuff
UCLA Chorale, Donald Neuen, Director
UCLA Wind Ensemble, D. Thomas Lee, Director
Roger Bourland, conducting

[wonderplugin_audio id=”39″]


1. Tropical Christmas

The snow is falling
The sleigh-bells calling
All across the frozen North.
It’s oh, so grand
In this winter wonderland,
Now is the very best of times!
But it’s December the twenty-fourth
And I’m longing for warmer climes…
I’m dreaming of a tropical Christmas
Just like I knew when I was young,
Where palm trees sway
Beside the bay
And Santa Claus rides
In an open Chevrolet.
I’m dreaming of a tropical Christmas
Whenever “Silent Night” is sung,
Where Santa and
His elves are tanned
And carolers sing
With a mariachi band.
Deck the malls with cotton snowballs,
Paint a frost on the window pane.
Christmas can be just as jolly
With a holly
Made of polyurethane.
I’m dreaming of a tropical Christmas
Where lights on lemon trees are hung.
The snow-bird sports
Black socks and shorts
And flocks to his kind
By the pools and tennis courts.
Christmas day we’ll open presents
Then we’ll swim in the balmy sea.
After dinner we’ll retire
To perspire
By the fire on TV.
I’m dreaming of a tropical Christmas
Just like I knew when I was young.
Where moonlight pours
On sandy shores
I’m longing to go
In December, for it seems
A merry Christmas
Is the very Christmas
You remember in your dreams.

2. A Proper Cat Reflects upon the Holidays

I am a proper cat and I keep a model house,
A paragon of order and propriety.
Ev’rything is in its rightful place,
Ev’ry place according to design.
A bit of rag, a ball of hair,
A paper bag, I keep them where
Ev’ryone will know that they are mine.
All in all, a well-appointed domicile,
But ev’ry once in awhile…
Suddenly there’s a tree
Growing where you’ll agree
A shrubbery never should grow!
What is more three or four
Stockings hang off the floor.
That’s not where the laundry should go!
And I look for my rag
And my bag and my ball
But my treasures are all swept away!
Ev’rything’s in total disarray,
Here is over there and this is that!
You will understand me when I say,
“Christmas is a bother to a cat!”
I am a proper cat, you’ll forgive me if I grouse,
But human beings cause me such anxiety!
Ev’ry human I assign a chore,
Ev’ry chore is done as I demand.
The workday starts, the household hums,
I have the smarts, they have the thumbs
Just as Mother Nature surely planned.
So I think I know the homo sapiens,
But then the madness begins…
What a clatter! What a roar!
How they chatter! What a bore!
Now they meet in a mob around the tree,
And they sing in their so-called harmony…
When they should pay attention just to me.
What’s the matter, don’t they love me any more?
I am a proper cat, now and then I chase a mouse,
But as a rule I’m known for my sobriety.
I am ever nonchalant and so correct
I’m sure you’d never suspect…
Suddenly, I go, “Whee!
What delightful debris!”
I fear I am losing control.
Here a string, there a string,
Now I pounce, now I fling!
I trip and I flip and I roll!
Here a scrap, there a crumb,
Look out, wrapping, here I come unglued!
What could cause this shocking interlude?
Maybe it was sampling the nog.
After much reflection I conclude:
Christmas was invented by a dog!

3. After Halloween
Where can a goblin go for Christmas?
No one invites him in to stay.
A goblin does his worst
Before November first.
So surely he’s deserving
Of a jolly holiday.
Maybe a goblin’s breath is rotten,
Maybe he isn’t very clean.
Does that make it right that he’s forgotten
After Halloween?
Why can’t the werewolf howl at Christmas?
Why can’t he join the revelry?
And wouldn’t it be fine
To borrow Frankenstein
To reach the higher branches
When we trim the Christmas tree?
Think of the vampire in his coffin,
Maybe he’d like a change of scene.
So why can’t we see these ghouls more often
After Halloween?
Let’s take a zombie home for Christmas,
Though he may be an awful klutz.
He won’t make too much noise
Or steal the baby’s toys,
And when we carve the turkey
He will only eat the guts.
Even a monster had a mother,
Though she was someone low and mean.
Remember a fiend is still your brother
After Halloween.

4. Santa Claws
By the time that I was ten,
I’d lost my fear of boogey-men.
I had overcome my dread
Of alligators underneath the bed.
But I had one persistent fear
From when I was quite small:
For once ev’ry year
I knew he’d appear,
The most terrifying creature of all!
Even now I shudder to recall…
Santa’s gonna come and get me
with his Santa claws,
Soon I’ll hear his evil laugh and
see his hairy jaws.
Climbing down a chimney
oughta be against the laws!
Santa’s gonna come and get me
with his Santa claws!
Santa sees me when I’m sleeping –
what is up with that?
Santa knows if I’ve been bad
and I have been a brat.
Santa keeps a list; I think
the system has some flaws!
Santa’s gonna come and get me
with his Santa claws!
My Mom won’t listen,
My Dad says, “Not again!”
Wait until they find I’m missin’
They’ll be sorry then.
I can see it: my dad will start to cry
To hear that Santa took away the apple of his eye!
What’s that noise up on the roof?
I heard a sleigh bell ring!
I will close my eyes so tight
I won’t see anything.
Suddenly I’m sleepy and
my timing’s bad because
Santa’s fin’lly come to get me…
The clock strikes seven,
I see a blinding light!
Have I died and gone to heaven?
No, that can’t be right.
Mom is calling, she’s at the bottom stair.
So Santa passed me by again—
That doesn’t seem quite fair!
I don’t understand it,
But I join my family.
There’s a shiny, silver bike
beside the Christmas tree!
All at once I jump for joy
and burst into applause:
Santa brought a lot of presents
in his Santa claws!
I learned my lesson: I grew up and faced my fear.
Now I’m not afraid of Santa Claus—
except for once a year!

5. Down Home Christmas

‘Twas December in the Delta and the young ‘uns wanted snow,
We scanned the sky in vain until we saw the UFO.
When the flying saucer landed, I got in with all my kin,
But when the probing started, I said, “No sir, not agin!”
Take me to your leader ‘cause I’m gonna have my say:
It’s time we taught you aliens to take a holiday.”
We’ll have a Down Home Christmas on Mars,
We’ll practice good ol’ Southern ways among the stars.
For Mars has got the makin’ of a purty Christmas scene,
The planet’s mighty red and all them little men are green.
A spare antenna makes an artificial tree,
We’ll have a Down Home Yule. Yes, sirree!
We’ll have a Down Home Christmas on Mars,
We’ll roast our chestnuts on plutonium bars.
We’ll make a Christmas dinner with whatever they provide,
We’ll smother it with gravy and we’ll serve it chicken-fried!
But no one eats until we say a proper grace,
We’ll have a Down Home Christmas in space!
Poor Granny needs a possum for her famous Christmas pie,
She’s met up with E.T. and she is givin’ him the eye!
That critter better run, for there’s no tellin’ what she’ll do,
To Granny it ain’t Christmas till she’s killed a thing or two.
Loretta is the kind of gal that all the boys adore.
She’d be my kissin’ cousin, but that ain’t allowed no more.
She’s wavin’ mistletoe above each Martian on the ship,
But I don’t know what she’s kissin’ ‘cause they ain’t got any lips.
We’ll have a Down Home New Year’s on Mars,
We’ll run a rally with atomic-powered cars.
We’ll guzzle liquid hydrogen until we get annoyed,
Then we’ll wrassle with a comet and we’ll rope an asteroid.
We always knew the South would somehow rise again,
We’ll have a darn, good time. Say “Amen!”
We’ll have a Down Home Christmas on Mars!

6. Mrs. Claus Writes a Letter to Santa 
(It Isn’t Christmas)

The tree has never been so green,
The star has never seemed so gold,
I’ve never been so blue in all my life!
And so because I need it to feel a little better,
Although you’ll never read it, I’m writing you this letter:
“Dear Santa Claus from Your Devoted Wife…”
The stockings hang all red and ripe,
I wove new blankets for the reindeer
And for you, I carved a pipe.
I trim the tree
And yet for me
It isn’t Christmas.
The table’s laid with ev’ry treat,
I find I’ve made more kinds of pie than
We could ever hope to eat.
I baste the bird.
It seems absurd:
It isn’t Christmas.
While you’re in flight
To bring each child delight,
Below there’s hunger and squalor
and terror and hate.
Who knows what lies in wait?
I shouldn’t fret or worry so,
The elves are wet and getting wetter
making angels in the snow.
It’s fun, I guess,
But nonetheless
It isn’t Christmas.
Beware, my love,
The silent sky above
Is very beautiful, yes, but it’s dangerous, too.
More deadly than we knew.
So catch a breeze before the storm,
So catch a breeze and ride it home
Where I can keep you dry and warm.
Who cares what decorations I put on display?
Until you’re safe and sound upon the ground,
It won’t be Christmas,
It can’t be Christmas!
It’s only Christmas
When you are home with me at last—
For then it’s Christmas every day.

7. The Crocodile’s Christmas Ball

Across the Kalahari
The vulture brought the word,
From Chad to Zanzibar, he
Declared to beast and bird.
“It’s Christmas in the jungle,
A time for harmony,
The beetle in his dung’ll
Soon trim a tiny tree.
Beside the Nile the crocodile
Hangs holly in the hall.
So grab a date and don’t be late
To the Crocodile’s Christmas Ball.”
The mighty zebra nation
In caps of scarlet felt
Began the great migration
Across the grassy veldt.
The antelope came bringing
The prettiest gazelles.
Flamingos came awinging
and singing “Jingle Bells.”
The shy gnu, the kudu, too,
Traversed the Transvaal.
With all due pomp they crossed the swamp
To the Crocodile’s Christmas Ball.
No other jungle gala
Was ever quite so gay,
A team of eight impala
Gave rides upon a sleigh.
Hyena pitched a battle
With artificial snow,
Okapi kissed the cattle
Then ate the mistletoe.
The elephant could only grunt
To see such folderol
And yet the fun had just begun
At the Crocodile’s Christmas Ball.
The crocodile began to smile
And hug a wildebeest.
He said, “My friends, no Christmas ends
Without a proper feast.
I’ve planned a meal that’s quite ideal,
A culinary winner.
And here’s your part: you’re a la carte
At the Crocodile’s Christmas Dinner!”
With that, he grabbed a pheasant
And made a nice paté.
The zebra were unpleasant-
Ly eaten en flambé.
He ate a dozen dik-dik
And still unsatisfied,
He made himself a picnic
Of all the lion’s pride.
The poor gnu became a stew,
All creatures great and small
Soon met their fate upon a plate
At the Crocodile’s Christmas Ball.
The moral is that when you
Attend a table d’hote,
Be sure to check the menu
Before you check your coat.
Beware of eager strangers
Too full of Christmas cheer,
For Christmas has its dangers
Like any time of year.
In Santa’s suit a croc is cute
But he’s an animal.
He’ll have your hide, sautéed or fried,
At the Crocodile’s Christmas Ball!

8. A Fly on the Wall

Within a stable many years ago,
A common fly took refuge from the snow.
And there, among the animals, it saw
A man and woman huddled in the straw.
“The woman’s time is close at hand, I fear,
By dawn we’ll have another guest in here,”
Said the fly on the wall of a stable in Bethlehem.
And then, as if by plan,
The stunning change began.
By light of one, amazing star,
The Birth of Man.
A multitude of creatures came by day
To greet the new arrival in the hay.
The common fly was drawn to him somehow
And helped to clean the baby’s tiny brow.
“This seems an awful fuss for just one child,”
The fly complained until the baby smiled
At the fly on the wall of a stable in Bethlehem.
A rich, well-meaning king
For fear the fly might sting
Was quick to flick the fly away.
The fly took wing.
The fly continued on its lonely way,
But there were those who swore they heard it say:
“In all my thirty days upon the earth,
I’ve seen no greater miracle than birth!
Before you condescend to one like me,
Imagine first how blessed I was to be
Just a fly on the wall of a stable in Bethlehem.
Just a fly on the wall…”

Lyrics by William MacDuff
© 2002 Yelton Rhodes Music (BMI) Los Angeles.

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