Play The Piano Drunk ... Is it a Poem (1 Viewer)




All the Bukowski books I have (15, all I can get my hands on here) take their titles from a poem title or a phrase contained inside except for "Play The Piano Drunk Like A Percussion Instrument Until The Fingers Begin To Bleed A Bit."

Does anyone know if there is an actual poem with this title?

I did find a poem "inverted love song" ("The People Look Like Flowers At Last") that includes the line "play the piano drunk/listen to the drunk piano" but that's as close as I've gotten.

I ask because I'm writing a song cycle of his poems and want to use that as the title song... if it exists.

Thanks for help, anyone.
Like this?

"Dear Sir/Madam,
Can you please send me Linda Bukowski's e-mail address so that I can send her an e-mail to get permission to use Bukowski's poem in my music?

insert name here"

Thanks for your sarcastic but well-intentioned reply. Indeed, I'm familiar with the procedure for securing copyright permission to use an author's words in a derivative work, and although I was intending to contact the publisher, I WOULD like her e-mail address if you have it.

This hasn't been done so far for 2 reasons: (1) I can't ask for persmission until after I know which poems need to be cleared, and this is very much a work-in-progress, and (2) the chances of this music ever being performed or sold are pretty poor, as I, too, decided long ago to write only for the roaches and the spiders and the air and myself, and fuck the rest of you. This is not pop music - it's for an improbable orchestra and baritone.

Anyway, the title provides many of the themes in the work, which so far comprises:

christmas eve, alone
this poet
inverted love song
Chopin Bukowski
love poem to a stripper

Buk often used the piano as a metaphor for his writing (unless he literally did get drunk and play Chopin on the piano).

You would want to contact HarperCollins. I have no contact for them. But be prepared for them to ask for a number, possibly in the tens of thousands. I could be wrong, but know that the big publishers do not normally grant permission without some big royalties being paid. Others have tried this before and failed. So far other than Bukowski related soundtracks sung by women with smokey voices, I have yet to see permission granted.

What I'm saying is that if there is not enough money to be made from your music, then you would usually need deep pockets to pay, knowing that you will not make the money back.

Good luck,
Tenor sax
Bb trumpet
6 piano players (2 pianos, Rhodes EP, Wurlitzer EP, various combos)
Drum set
5 percussionists (timbales, guiro, woodblocks, talking drum, etc etc)
Electric guitar
Bass guitar
2 violins

baritone voice

I do have deep pockets, but this is not a commercial work. I, too, avoided turning art into commerce/prostitution, though my role model was Charles Ives and not Bukowski. I make plenty of money with my "day job", while my "professional" composer friends beg and grovel for grants and honoraria.

Actually, my plan is to complete the work, including the recording (I have a virtual orchestra) and - here comes the wishful thinking - give it to a sympathetic ear who would see it as an homage and grant permission on a 50/50 royalty basis. If not, it will go in the vault with my other stuff, to be released by my great-grandchildren when the copyright expires (I think in 2069). Too bad, because "christmas eve, alone" is the perfect 21st century Xmas song for those of us who just want the holiday to go away.
Hi again,

"Play The Piano Drunk..." is not in the poem database on this site, so maybe it doesn't exist. It does seem to be a recurring theme. Somewhere on the database (now I forget where) I found this long poem that reads, in part:

The piano has been drinking
My necktie's asleep
The combo went back to New York, and left me all alone
The jukebox has to take a leak
Have you noticed that the carpet needs a haircut?
And the spotlight looks just like a prison break
And the telephone's out of cigarettes
As usual the balcony's on the make
And the piano has been drinking, heavily
The piano has been drinking
And he's on the hard stuff tonight
Now, good lyrics ARE poems! (Lou Reed, Tom Waits, U2, et al)
and some poems can make very good lyrics/songs too.

Aren't we beyond the idea, that everything must fit into one category? (as Buk's poems also did not fit into the 'official' category, lacking rhyme, meter and the classic architecture of stanza/verse)...
Yes, I inclued that poem in the set mainly because of that one line, which gives an opportunity to launch into an extended instrumental section (with lots of piano, of course). It's certainly a strange love song.

But lyrics are not poems. Lyrics are written to be sung to a particular melody, and poems are not, or at least, we make up our own melody as we read them. Many beautiful poems by Buk and others do not make very good lyrics, and a lot of great lyrics make banal poems. On the other hand, many of his poems are very rhythmic, though not always obviosly so. "Beast" makes a great blues/rock lyric.

In any case. "PLAY THE PIANO DRUNK LIKE A PERCUSSION...." is apparently a title that does not appear in any of his poems. Generally, titles have not been deemed copyrightable.

it's from his 'small change' record.

Thanks, I'll check it out!
In any case. "PLAY THE PIANO DRUNK LIKE A PERCUSSION...." is apparently a title that does not appear in any of his poems. Generally, titles have not been deemed copyrightable.
That's true. Titles have not been deemed copyrightable.

Here's my new painting.
I call it, simply,
The Mona Lisa

10 - 4

We don't got to show you no, etc., etc., :cool:

The kid you may recognize. He's been - uh, lifted, appropriated, 'enhanced' (?)
and now-a-days he's called Al, or more properly:

Alfred E. Neuman


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