Heart and Soul

At some point in your life this has probably happened to you. And it will likely happen again. Be prepared.

You’re in a room with a piano. No one in the room plays the piano very well. A couple of people, however, know one song. It’s a catchy duet that’s fun to play, and they can’t resist playing it.

That’s fine. Hoagy Carmichael was a genius and “Heart and Soul” is a lovely tune. Even a sloppy rendition can be enjoyable. The second and maybe even the third rendition may be fun and pleasant.

But the fourth time through, and the fifth, and the sixth, will be less enjoyable. The seventh may be unbearable. And the enthusiastic pianists will show no signs of stopping.

There’s only one way I’ve found to make it stop without coming across like a jerk: Sing.

Frank Loesser was a genius too. Here are his lyrics:

Heart and soul, I fell in love with you,
Heart and soul, the way a fool would do,
Madly…
Because you held me tight,
And stole a kiss in the night…

Heart and soul, I begged to be adored,
Lost control, and tumbled overboard,
Gladly…
That magic night we kissed,
There in the moon mist.

Oh! but your lips were thrilling, much too thrilling,
Never before were mine so strangely willing.

But now I see, what one embrace can do,
Look at me, it’s got me loving you,
Madly…
That little kiss you stole,
Held all my heart and soul.

Memorize them. Learn to sing them with gusto. If singing is not your forté, don’t let that stop you — remember, piano isn’t their forté either and that’s not stopping them.

Pay special attention to the end of the song. You need this to be a Big Finish. End high and loud and people will clap. High and loud endings always make people clap.

This is important, because when people clap, everyone will realize that the song is now over. Smile and take a bow and gesture for the pianists to take a bow as well. Taking their bow, your musical friends will realize that the “Heart and Soul” portion of the evening is now finished.

Alas, I do not know the lyrics to “Chopsticks.”

  • G127

    Maybe you should just learn to play the piano. Then you can show them how it’s done properly…

  • Sam

    I think you wrote this whole post just so you could employ the phrase “piano isn’t their forté”. If so, it was worth it.

  • Sam

    I think you wrote this whole post just so you could employ the phrase “piano isn’t their forté”. If so, it was worth it.

  • Anonymous

    Does Chopsticks even have lyrics?

  • Tonio

    In the opening track to Rev. Billy C. Wirtz’s album Pianist Envy, he begins playing Heart and Soul but then launches into a boogie-woogie variation on it.

  • Marserin

    At Christmastime, you can sing Christmas Chopsticks…
    ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

    All the stockings were hung by the chimney with care

    In the hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there

    He’s bringing lots of toys

    For girls and boys

    But wait until you see

    That merry Christmas tree

    So on, Dasher, on, Dancer, on, Prancer and Vixen

    And Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen

    To the top of the roof, to the top of the wall

    Here they come and they’re sayin’, “Merry Christmas to all!”

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    So, I’ve found several different sets of lyrics to, supposedly, Chopsticks. One is by the Sesame Street muppets: http://www.metrolyrics.com/chopsticks-lyrics-sesame-street.html and it’s about chopsticks and what you can do with them. I imagine that would be appropriate in most mixed company, although it’s somewhat long. The other is by Liz Phair: http://www.metrolyrics.com/chopsticks-lyrics-liz-phair.html and it’s about … well, it’s about sex. I imagine it would work in some groups, but not in others. Neither of them allow for the big finish, though. There is this, by Bobby Vinton: http://www.lyred.com/lyrics/Bobby+Vinton/A+Very+Merry+Christmas/Christmas+Chopsticks/, which is seasonal. There’s a version by Elmer Fudd.

  • Skcoyle

    The lyrics to Chopsticks are:

    Blinded by the light.
    Revved up like a deuce,
    another runner in the night….

  • Irony

    Thank you! I have a version of Heart and Soul in one of the “Reader’s Digest Big Books of [Whatever] Songs” and it is wonderful to play and sing, just an absolutely beautiful song. Thanks for reminding me of it! Maybe singing will make everyone’s version better (or at least end it).

  • Izzy

    Lovely lyrics–and my God, that’s an earworm.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    That sounds a shade time-consuming.

  • cjmr’s husband

    I always preferred T’Pau’s version.

  • Chunky Style

    Ching chong ching chong ching chong
    Ling long ling long ling long
    Ting tong ting tong ting tong

    Or, the updated version:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulEMWj3sVA

  • Tonio

    Speaking of music, RIP Nick Ashford. I remember him best for the hits he co-wrote for Marvin Gaye’s duets. It’s not on YouTube, but the version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” from the Funk Brothers film is excellent.

  • Lori

    Yeah, yesterday was not a good day songwriter-wise. Jerry Leiber (half of Leiber & Stoller) also died. 

  • Tonio

    Yes, I didn’t hear about Leiber until this morning. I’ll have to play Hound Dog for my kids this evening. True story – I once was in the Brill Building and didn’t know it until I asked the music store clerk if the store was attached to the building.

  • http://heartfout.typepad.com/blog/ Heartfout

     I’ve never actually heard of this song before. Generally people play a weird three note tune that I’ve never managed to work out the name of…or, in the case of the Scifi society at uni, play `I am the Doctor`…

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    I’ve never heard of it either.

    However, odds are if I’m at a party and the room has a piano, most of the people there are musicians. If music breaks out it’ll run from a capella Latin quartets to “Hotel California”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jess-Goodwin/28602067 Jess Goodwin

    That’s…that’s happened to me…

    …but I was one of the piano players. Oh gee…

    *slinks away red-faced*

  • http://lihan161051.livejournal.com/ Bruce

     If singing is not your forté, don’t let that stop you — remember, piano isn’t their forté either and that’s not stopping them.

    Ugh. ::facepalm:: 

  • http://scientistcarrie.blogspot.com/ snowmentality

    Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!

    I’ve never heard anyone play the “Oh, but your lips were thrilling…” part. I guess I will have to skip straight to Verse 4.

  • Amaryllis

    I think you wrote this whole post just so you could employ the phrase “piano isn’t their forté”. If so, it was worth it.

    It was.

    As for Chopsticks, Piano Tuner, Untune Me That Tune

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    You’re in a room with a piano. No one in the room plays the piano very
    well. A couple of people, however, know one song. It’s a catchy duet
    that’s fun to play, and they can’t resist playing it.

    My parents always swore that someday I would be at a party, there would be a piano and people want to start singing or dancing. Therefore, they said,  I NEEDED to learn how to play the piano.

    In fact, I have been to precisely two parties where there was a piano in the room, and in both those cases, no one was paying the slightest attention to the piano because everyone was playing radios or CDs instead.

    Nor have I ever heard anyone sing the song “Heart and Soul.” I’ve heard the title before, but I’ve never read the lyrics  before now and I’ve never heard anyone sing the song.

    So I’d like to know…has the scenario Fred proposes ever happened to anyone in real life? Do people really sing around pianos in something other than old movies?

  • Will Hennessy

    Stop reading my mind, Fred….

  • Anonymous

    I learned “Christian” lyrics to chopsticks when I went to Christian school.  To sort of tie this in to “evangelicals”

    Jesus your savior will love you forever
    He’ll never forsake you no never
    and one day with angels in glory
    we’ll all sing the story
    forever around the Great Throne.

    Oh won’t you come and pray with me
    and be God’s own child for eternity?
    He’ll save your soul and he’ll make you whole
    If you only trust him just now.

  • Lonespark

    My family sings around pianos all the time.  Not at parties, per se, most of the time.  When I get near a piano or a violin I have the compulsion to play “The Music of the Night.”  Or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  Because I don’t have that many songs memorized, I guess…My brother used to play a lot of John Williams’ movie tunes.  By ear.  When he was six.  

  • Lonespark

    My family sings around pianos all the time.  Not at parties, per se, most of the time.  When I get near a piano or a violin I have the compulsion to play “The Music of the Night.”  Or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  Because I don’t have that many songs memorized, I guess…My brother used to play a lot of John Williams’ movie tunes.  By ear.  When he was six.  

  • Mathbard

    So I’d like to know…has the scenario Fred proposes ever happened to
    anyone in real life? Do people really sing around pianos in something
    other than old movies?

    Haven’t done this at a party, but my family does something similar rather frequently. Mostly tunes from various musicals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    I have a recording of my little brother singing “Chopsticks” when he was eleven.  He kind of made up the words as he went along.

    When I turned eleven, I had a slumber party at my house with five other girls.  At some point, they discovered the piano and sure enough, they played “Heart and Soul”.  That was the first time I ever heard it. 

  • P J Evans

    I think half the kids I knew in junior and senior high could play ‘Heart and Soul’. (most of them were also in band, orchestra, or chorus, so this is less than surprising.) I never learned that one, although i certainly know what it sounds like.

    We always got a kick out of playing Chopsticks in triplets, and with other variations on the theme.

  • http://twitter.com/selcaby Eleanor Joslin

    Judging by the variety of lyrics for Chopsticks posted here, there is more than one tune called Chopsticks.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    Judging by the variety of lyrics for Chopsticks posted here, there is more than one tune called Chopsticks.

    I don’t know about any of the rest of the proposed lyrics, but I hunted down versions of the music I posted, and it used the basic Chopsticks tune as a base.

  • txredd

    Holy moley that’s a freaky coincidence.  One of the homeless men who was a guest at our church last night sat down at the piano in the corner and started playing Heart and Soul.  One of the church ladies then sat next to him and played the top part.

    It was a lovely moment.

  • MikeJ

    And yet not one mention of Liz Phair:

    I met him at a party and he told me how to drive him home

    He said he liked to do it backwards

    I said, “That’s just fine with me,

    That way we can fuck and watch TV.”

  • http://twitter.com/doctordave Dave M

    Your plan didn’t have quite the point I thought it was going to. When you posted the lyrics, I thought your point was going to be – “Then you’ll get to the bridge and the whole thing will fall apart, and you can say ‘What, you don’t know the BRIDGE?’ and the would-be pianists would slink away.”

  • Izzy

    I did once–it was freshman year in boarding school, there was a piano on the landing outside our dining room, and a bunch of us gathered around and sang Christmas carols.

    It was disturbingly wholesome. The bit where my friend Matt got a little too into the “BRING ME FLESH” line on Good King Wensesclas was a little less so.

  • Izzy

    I did once–it was freshman year in boarding school, there was a piano on the landing outside our dining room, and a bunch of us gathered around and sang Christmas carols.

    It was disturbingly wholesome. The bit where my friend Matt got a little too into the “BRING ME FLESH” line on Good King Wensesclas was a little less so.

  • http://profiles.google.com/chakatfirepaw Rick Pikul

     Be careful about playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, there might be someone who took engineering at a Canadian university who will counter by singing the Plummers Hymn.

    Godiva was a lady, who through Coventry did ride

    To show to all the villagers her lovely bare white hide.

    The most observant villager, an engineer of course,

    Was the only one to notice that Godiva rode a horse.

  • http://profiles.google.com/chakatfirepaw Rick Pikul

    If you want to keep people from playing the piano, just make them play “Those  Endearing Young Charms”.  By the twelfth note you will be rid of both the piano and the player.

  • http://profiles.google.com/chakatfirepaw Rick Pikul

    If you want to keep people from playing the piano, just make them play “Those  Endearing Young Charms”.  By the twelfth note you will be rid of both the piano and the player.

  • hapax

    I have actually been in the precise scenario that Fred Clark describes, and since I *did* know the lyrics, and I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, the proposed remedy is indeed effective.

    Of course, hapaxspouse learned the lyrics to “To Anacreon in Heav’n”, just so he could sing them at sporting events.

    Loudly.

    And he has a magnificent voice.

  • Panda Rosa

    Oh, but the victi-er player will keep messing up on that one note, unto you get upset and shout, “Not that way, stupid, it goes like this!” run up to the piano and start in: dink, diiink, di-dah dink-dink, dah dink dah, dah-dink-KaBOOM!!!!

    Ever also notice that when kids play “Chopsticks” it’s not just almost always wrong, but almost always wrong the same way? 

  • Amaryllis

    Of course, hapaxspouse learned the lyrics to “To Anacreon in Heav’n”, just so he could sing them at sporting events.

    Oh, please, send him to  Baltimore.

    Or I guess that should be, O! please.

  • Dan Whitmarsh

    It’s not just at parties. Churches have pianos. And churches always have gaggles of girls who are just turning 12, who all just learned Heart and Soul, and who want to share it with everyone (in their defense, I realize it’s pretty cool the first time you can actually make music come out of a piano, and Heart and Soul is catchy, and it’s probably better than them playing anything by Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus. But I digress). So since I work for a church, I find I’m constantly working to a background of Heart and Soul. For years I dreamed of building a time machine just to go back and kill the guy who wrote it, so that it would never be written, and we wouldn’t be forced to hear it forever and ever amen. Then I found out it was Hoagy Carmichael. I have since repented of my desire to murder him. However. . .my daughter is almost 12. I’m already steeling myself for the inevitable onslaught soon to come.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cactuswren Susan Cactuswren

    The only tie I ever heard “Chopsticks” sung, it was by a nine-year-old girl who as far as I could tell genuinely believed the lyric went “Chopsticks and chopsticks and chopsticks and chopsticks and chopsticks and chopsticks … “


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