Lyrical Love: Step Right Up

Art by Kingsley Wallis

Now don’t go getting too excited about a tax-refund shopping spree. First have a listen to this beat/jazz poem-song by Tom Waits, written in 1976, and you might think twice about how to spend your money. Or, the snaky salesman might successfully tempt you into trying the miracle product. “It finds you a job, it is a job… It sanitizes for your protection, it gives you an erection, it wins the election…” Well, how did I ever live without it? ‘Step Right Up’ is the perfect sarcastic answer to the stupidly unsustainable consumerism that is advocated in the name of “healthy economy” plaguing the whole world; you’ll wonder how you ever got through “Xmas” season without it.

Step right up, step right up, step right up,
Everyone’s a winner, bargains galore
That’s right, you too can be the proud owner
Of the quality goes in before the name goes on
One-tenth of a dollar, one-tenth of a dollar, we got service after sales
You need perfume? we got perfume, how ’bout an engagement ring?
Something for the little lady, something for the little lady,
Something for the little lady, hmm
Three for a dollar
We got a year-end clearance, we got a white sale
And a smoke-damaged furniture, you can drive it away today
Act now, act now, and receive as our gift, our gift to you
They come in all colors, one size fits all
No muss, no fuss, no spills, you’re tired of kitchen drudgery
Everything must go, going out of business, going out of business
Going out of business sale
Fifty percent off original retail price, skip the middle man
Don’t settle for less
How do we do it? how do we do it? volume, volume, turn up the volume
Now you’ve heard it advertised, don’t hesitate
Don’t be caught with your drawers down,
Don’t be caught with your drawers down
You can step right up, step right up
That’s right, it fillets, it chops, it dices, slices,
Never stops, lasts a lifetime, mows your lawn
And it mows your lawn and it picks up the kids from school
It gets rid of unwanted facial hair, it gets rid of embarrassing age spots,
It delivers a pizza, and it lengthens, and it strengthens
And it finds that slipper that’s been at large
Under the chaise lounge for several weeks
And it plays a mean Rhythm Master,
It makes excuses for unwanted lipstick on your collar
And it’s only a dollar, step right up, it’s only a dollar, step right up
‘Cause it forges your signature
If not completely satisfied, mail back unused portion of product
For complete refund of price of purchase
Step right up
Please allow thirty days for delivery, don’t be fooled by cheap imitations
You can live in it, live in it, laugh in it, love in it
Swim in it, sleep in it,
Live in it, swim in it, laugh in it, love in it
Removes embarrassing stains from contour sheets, that’s right
And it entertains visiting relatives, it turns a sandwich into a banquet
Tired of being the life of the party?
Change your shorts, change your life, change your life
Change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy, get rid of your wife,
And it walks your dog, and it doubles on sax
Doubles on sax, you can jump back Jack, see you later alligator
See you later alligator
And it steals your car
It gets rid of your gambling debts, it quits smoking
It’s a friend, and it’s a companion,
And it’s the only product you will ever need
Follow these easy assembly instructions it never needs ironing
Well it takes weights off hips, bust, thighs, chin, midriff,
Gives you dandruff, and it finds you a job, it is a job
And it strips the phone company free take ten for five exchange,
And it gives you denture breath
And you know it’s a friend, and it’s a companion
And it gets rid of your traveler’s checks
It’s new, it’s improved, it’s old-fashioned
Well it takes care of business, never needs winding,
Never needs winding, never needs winding
Gets rid of blackheads, the heartbreak of psoriasis,
Christ, you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy,
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon
Cause it’s effective, it’s defective, it creates household odors,
It disinfects, it sanitizes for your protection
It gives you an erection, it wins the election
Why put up with painful corns any longer?
It’s a redeemable coupon, no obligation, no salesman will visit your home
We got a jackpot, jackpot, jackpot, prizes, prizes, prizes, all work guaranteed
How do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it
We need your business, we’re going out of business
We’ll give you the business
Get on the business end of our going-out-of-business sale
Receive our free brochure, free brochure
Read the easy-to-follow assembly instructions, batteries not included
Send before midnight tomorrow, terms available,
Step right up, step right up, step right up
You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away
Step right up, you can step right up, you can step right up
C’mon step right up
(Get away from me kid, you bother me…)
Step right up, step right up, step right up, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon
Step right up, you can step right up, c’mon and step right up,
C’mon and step right up

2017, Amaya Engleking

*This is the fourth post of the series, Lyrical Love, in which I feature a song on the first Friday of the month. These songs are not exceptional solely in lyricism or in instrumentation, but these two components are perfectly matched to create exquisite compositions. I’d love to hear further suggestions on songs that meet this criteria. Thank you for reading/listening.

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2 comments

  1. deaththelifestory · 19 Days Ago

    Agreed about consumerism – although hard always to pull yourself in!

  2. Mark R. Stone · 15 Days Ago

    “stupidly unsustainable consumerism that is advocated in the name of “healthy economy” plaguing the whole world”
    Yes, you hit the nail on the head… i consider it an economic elitism. We must squash the rest of thew world in the name of “jobs” and GDP. I also love the lyrics… I bore easily and sometimes despise cliche… but he USES the cliches and turns them on their head and I love it. Wonderful statement and such fun jazz. THANK YOU for waking me up today!

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