The Ballad of Sir Perry Pufflingpants

We’ve been watching the marvelously witty Britcom “Upstart Crow”, a fictionalized account of the Bard’s early days. I’ve been looking for an excuse to use the phrase “puffling pants” since the first episode. This also gives me leave to include my other favorite word to say, codswallop.


Sir Perry Pufflingpants was a mighty sailing man
Captain of the HMS Codswallop
His heart contained the bravery of eleven men
And perhaps of preening pride a tiny dollop

His 1st mate, and his best mate, who helped to run the ship
Was a working lad named Roger Dodgington
Who was in charge of sailing stuff like how to pull the ropes
And manly things like when to fire the gun

Sir Perry Pufflingpants and Roger Dodgington
Always worked together because it was more fun

They’d sailed together many years, Sir Perry and old Rog
A pair of friends who made a tight old team
The HMS Codswallop was the best ship of the line
But sometimes things aren’t what they seem

Sir Perry Pufflingpants and Roger Dodgington
Have always worked together but some trouble has begun

Sir Perry Pufflingpants, that might sailing bloke
Whose heart contained his bravery plus ten
Secretly believed it was he who ran all things
And he the one revered by all his men

Sir Perry Pufflingpants and Roger Dodgington
Ought to see the same or their friendship is undone

Near the end of one long journey when the grog was running short
The crew began to grumble in complaint
Sir Perry Pufflingpants said they ought to just buck up
And follow his example of restraint

Sir Perry Pufflingpants and Roger Dodgington
Faced a brand new challenge when they didn’t work as one

Now Roger Dodgington, that loyal mate the first
Objected to his captain’s Stoic stance
And when he spoke his mind the men agreed and said
“Let’s haul him down and kick him in the pants!”

Sir Perry Pufflingpants and Roger Dodgington
Could one keep the other from a kicking in the bun?

“Avast there, salty sailors!” cried Roger Dodgington
“There’ll be no kicking, not while I’m still strong.
A side trip to the islands will fill our hold with grog
And keep our heads attached where they belong.”

Sir Perry Pufflingpants and Roger Dodgington
Would they work together? Would it still be fun?

Sir Perry Pufflingpants, that captain so sagacious
Acquiesced, endorsing Roger’s plan
Nodding to his mate he thanked him for his help
And the crew all cheered them both, to a man

Sir Perry Pufflingpants and Roger Dodgington
Always worked together because it was more fun

Not Just Believe

A caravan of angry camels tramping o’\ner the dunes
Precious cargo swaying to and fro
They circle round and round the map that’s tacked up on my wall
As I lay restless, dreaming here below

They never seem to tire as they make their dusty way
Endlessly they circle ’round and ’round
They never take me with ‘\nem on a journey far away
To see the things that Marco Polo found

I want to know the world is round
Not just believe

I read about those far off lands and wonder what it’s like
To wander through a market in Peru
To taste the precious spices of Madagascar’s coast
And ride a camel into Timbuktu

Let me see the sails of a flying clipper ship
Grow on the horizon as it nears
Show me what the jungle’s like in darkest Africa
And the beauty of the garden in Algiers


With Slocum and with Dana, two years before the mast
Help Amundsen find Scott in frozen lands
Then warmer climes with Ibn BattĂșta, out of old Tangier
Learn wisdom’s seven pillars in the sands

I want to tramp with Halliburton that romantic road
For seven years I’ll ponder in Tibet
Fly with Saint-Exupéry into the desert sands
And make a mark no one will e’\ner forget

chorus, then
Not just believe [x3]

Take a Boat

mandolin G

if you’re thinking just like me
that you’d like to go to sea
I’ve some words of good advice
that you should note
your floating will be better
and you end up far less wetter
if you’ll only take along
a little boat

now boats are fancy things
says the dry man as he sings
for keeping all the ocean
from your socks
and even if they match
you can bet they’re not a patch
on a boat for when you
leave behind the docks

take a boat that’ll float
and you can quote me when I say
a boat is better any day
for when you’d like to go to sea
and you’re thinking just like me
you’ll need a boat to stay afloat

if you’re thinking just like me
that you’d like to go to see
there’s another bit of wisdom
you should note
your health will be robust
and your joints will never rust
if you’ll only take along
a little coat

a coat’s a wondrous thing
says the warm man as he sings
for keeping all the chilly
from your throat
if it buttons or it zips
it’ll keep the frosty nips
from your throat
while you’re out sailing
on your boat

now, we’ve talked about boats
and we’ve talked about coats
and there’s only one thing left
to talk about: goats

if you’re thinking just like me
that you’d like to go to sea
I’ve some final words of wisdom
you should note
as you’re loading up your boat
in your warm and fuzzy coat
don’t ever ever ever bring a goat

goats, the hungry things
will eat your sofa to the springs
and if there’s eating to be done,
well here’s my vote
put the goat into a pot
and we’ll serve him up right hot
and prevent the creature
butting up our boat

chords 1st 2 lines?
so take a boat and get yer coat
and eat the goat and stay afloat—
your floating will be better
and you end up far less wetter
if you’ll only take along a little boat

That Mountain

This one, specifically:

Phoenix’s east valley is dominated by the Superstition Mountains, a range that, unlike the Rockies, is a great square block of jagged peaks for miles. The one in the photo is the edge, looming over Apache Junction.

mandolin Gm
sunset shadows sharp against the red
wisp of washed-out cloud snagged on the peak
watching silent up above the sand
silent, but listen to it speak

that mountain everywhere I go
that mountain everything I know
that mountain sunset bleeding red
that mountain can’t get it from my head

above the cactus, long and low and jagged
to the north and to the east it owns the sky
storm clouds rumble down along the range
nestle on its back and cry

no superstition keep your gold
I’ve heard every lying story ever told
tell you mine ’cause I know
I can leave here anytime I want to go

that mountain can’t get it from my head

Laminated Map of the World

I wanted to write a follow-up to my 12-minute epic Arabic trance mandolin piece from a few years ago.

This feels a bit like ordering whiskey and getting lemonade. I like lemonade, once I roll it around in my mouth a wee bit. Still ain’t whiskey.

mandolin Em
in the jungle deep and dark and fusty
where one’s boots and helmet often become musty
in the desert where the winds are gusty
and the everlasting dust is oh so dusty

it’s important for trav’lers far and near
to be able to get from there to here
my successful return year after year
can be ascribed to knowing which course to steer

where deserts winds have skirled
or oceans oysters pearled
into whatever setting one is hurled
I like to keep it furled
so the edges don’t get curled
my laminated map of the world

in the daytime it will always put you right
in valley green or on the mountains white
its value’s undiminished by the night
because, of course, you’ve brought along a light

on a journey, when brigands are about
don’t blanch in fear or give way to doubt
a map can turn retreat into a rout
when it’s wrapped around a cudgel good and stout

my laminated map of the world
my laminated map of the world

But Not Faded

you might think it’s in pretty rough shape
it’s wrinkled and tattered and torn
it’s patched up in places with old yellow tape
it’s folded and creased and well-worn

our love makes quite a picture
of the beautiful life that we share
like an old photograph, right here in my heart
but not faded; it’s just seen some wear

yeah, it’s folded in half, down the middle
stuck with tape so it don’t come apart
two smiling faces together
the two of us, joined at the heart


it’s with me wherever I go
though the edges are ragged and frayed
’cause it keeps getting clearer as time passes by
and I know that it won’t ever fade

chorus, then
but not faded; it’s just seen some wear


One take (teensy edit) on my Wishnevsky 4-string octave mandolin (it was pretending to be an oud) with its chestnut top and 4 pound neck.

It is wicked hard to switch from 4/4 to 5/4 on the fly.


she’s my primary means of locomotion
just made for traveling out here
every now and then I get the notion
something’s wrong with some of her gear

my camel has 3 trustworthy legs
but the 4th one you never know
every time I climb up on her back
she skips a beat
and off we go

we’re always careful what we deliver
clocks and music boxes are a pain
disappointing both receiver and giver
they never keep good time again


forty years we’ve faced the wind and dust
a desert ship, historically
and every time I dare a bit of trust
she throws me metaphorically

3/4 time

my CAmel has THREE good LEGS
someTIMES when I CLIMB on her BACK (hitch switch)
it kicks in again and really throws

it really throws me

5/4 outro