Not Nor Mal

by Mal Webb

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released September 2, 2016




Mal Webb Melbourne, Australia

Vocal adventurer, multi-instrumentist, looping beatboxing songwriter Mal Webb sings his songs about all manner of stuff, using all sorts of vocal techniques (like sideways yodeling) and plays guitar, bass, mbira, slide trumpet, trombone, chromatic harmonica, bass and piano. He's like Bobby McFerrin, Aphex Twin and Cole Porter playing scrabble. Ani DiFranco said to Mal: "You're a freak!"
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Track Name: Give It Up
Give It Up
(for John)

It’s been a long day
It’s been a long year
I could’ve gone home, but I came here
Listen to some music, check out the bands
But the guy with the microphone seems to like only making demands
And I’m thinking now, c’mon, c’mon c’mon now
If you’re gunna play a song, play a song
I’ve got an eager ear and I’m here to hear
My tastes are broad and my patience long
Don’t get me wrong, but I’ve gotta make this clear, you hear?
I don’t wanna sing along
I don’t wanna put my hands up
I don’t wanna make some noise, or go “woah oh, woah oh oh”
I won’t clap or cheer or dance or even sway. No chance! No way!
I wouldn’t go “Woo” in a pink fit
Ooh, and I don’t wanna give it up, unless giving it up is the ‘it’
Give up the ‘give it up’ bit, unless giving it up is the ‘it’ we’re giving up
Call me a grumpy git
I don’t give a damn, not a hoot, not a bit, nooo ...
But having said that, I hope you don’t think
That I’m not happy here, sipping my drink
And listen to the music, eventually
And respond in a way that on the day feels right to me
It may be kinda subtle, just a tap of the toe
Or a turn of the head
It might not even show
I’m gunna stay po-faced and proud
I’m not easily wowed
But if you’re really great, I might talk to my mates a little less loud
Well, I know you’re just trying to build the vibe, unite us like a team or a tribe
And if all the rest seem keen to roll with that
For sure, have a ball, you don’t need my bat
But I suggest I’m not the sole surly soul in here
Who longs to hear a song sometime this year
Skip the trite hype, corny, ham and cheese
When you say “Give it up”, I say “Please!”...
You may be amazing, no doubt, you could go far
But stop raving about how good you are ...
When you say “Hello GlasONBUry!”
Don’t expect me to cheer ’til I hear you pronounce it correctly ...
When you say “How’re you feeling?”, I may frown
Knowing you don’t really wanna know how I feel deep down
If it were amusing or original I’d join in gladly
But sadly it’s the same old schtick done badly …

Track Name: Henrietta Lacks
Well, I propose a toast to the mitosist with the mostest
She’s a ghost who can boast from coast to coast in every HeLa cell
She’s more cultured than Chanel, Cartier or YSL
But she’s tired of being quite so huge and dizzy from the centrifuge
She’s quick frozen, colour-fast
Her prison cell is built to last
Dear Henrietta Lacks
Did you know your coffin’s final nail
Is bigger than a blue whale?
A zillion artefacts
Grown as long as cell biologists keep peering at your private bits
’Cos it’s a grand humiliation
Showing now across the nation
Mutation on a huge scale
Bigger than a blue whale ...
Dear Henrietta Lacks
Did you know that bit you left behind may help to cure its own kind?
So many saintly acts
May claim a little perch in every church for contributions to research
Well, back in 1953 m’lady had a malady
A cervix abnormality that led to her fatality
Her cells went for a biopsy that showed up the malignancy
But also a propensity to multiply so rapidly
The scientists went on to see what other uses there could be for her expansive quality
They shared her ’round extensively to every good laboratory
Her fame was spreading globally
’Til nowadays she’s said to be the biggest lonely clone there’ll ever be
Arabidopsis and Drosophila may have advice to offer her
On how it’s best to keep your cool when you’ve become a research tool
Dear Henrietta Lacks
Did you know your flock of little vultures divide and conquer lesser cultures?
Not much one to relax
It parties even left out on the shelf
Immortally beside itself
Dear Henrietta Lacks
Did you know that part you left to science is now a giant among giants?
And for a grand climax
Your omnipresent question bids the answer
God’s a black woman’s cancer …
Track Name: Plague
The world’s got a fever
And we’re the disease
It’s gunna sweat it out
’Til the frogs and the bees are down on their knees
We’re a plague, we’re a plague
We make the rats and rabbits seem vague
Dutifully deluded by the doings of the deities
Chronic economics say the rate’s great the way it is
Breeding believing our innate ape imperatives
Don’t get me wrong, I think kids are grand
It’s all just a little out of hand
Why be so negative? It’ll be OK
Nature’s a mother, she made us this way
Any shortfall can be fixed by technology
Surely it’s folly to be at odds with our biology
Let’s be a plague together
Forever we’ll conquer the world
Be happy and vague, whatever
Have faith in our fate as our future’s unfurled
The world’s got a lurgy
And more is not the answer
We think we’re pretty smart
But our oversized brain’s both the chemo and the cancer
We’re a plague, we’re a swarm, yes
We make the toads and locusts seem gormless
Don’t get me wrong, I think kids are great
I just long to leave the world in a decent state.

©Mal Webb 2010
Track Name: Brick
There’s an exhibition of my inhibition
Showing in a cupboard in the room down the hall
Hopes of selling out have come to no fruition
Probably ’cos the paintings are all face into the wall
But I find her so appealing that I can’t make my appeal
And you can’t say what you’re feeling when you don’t know how you feel
It’s no fun being in love with a brick
Maybe if she got to get to know me better
She would see it’s me that her life really lacks
Maybe I should try to write it in a letter
But then I wouldn’t get to see the way she reacts ...
Maybe I’ve just got a dodgy transmitter
My kisses and hugs seem to bite her and hit her
And that leaves me feeling all worthless and bitter
But maybe she’s just got a dodgy receiver
She says that she cares, but I don’t quite believe her
’Cos each time I leave her it seems to relieve her
There’s an exhibition of my inhibition
But I doubt that I’ll ever get a red dot
Due to recent showings, it’s in poor condition
’Cos inhibitions hate being stared at a lot ...

© Mal Webb 1994-2012
Track Name: The Lot
As I look through the menu at a takeaway shop
I think, “The one with the lot, that’s the shot”, but wait, stop!
There’s also ‘the lot with extras’
“What?!! That’s insane!” I exclaim with nomenclaturic pain
And the lady says, “Please explain?”
“Well, ‘The Lot’ should be one with everything, the Dalai Lama
So these ‘extras’ are high drama, semantically
It’s a culinary grammar calamity!
’Cos if it’s called ‘One with the Lot’ that should be what it’s got
Every possible option in the shop, piled up on top
Nothing dropped, nothing cropped, nothing lopped
’Cos if it were ‘a lot’ that’d be passable, but you’ve used the definite article
So any extras are farcical
It’s either ‘One with the Lot’ or it’s not”.

©Mal Webb 2013
Track Name: Fun Detector
You’re out having lots of fun
You’re not hurting anyone
But someone says, “That can’t be done”
Well, that’s a fun detector
Oh fun detector, fun detector
Lower your brow and raise your finger
All these people are having fun
Something must be done
The mirth monitor’s on a raid
Thinks they oughta be obeyed
Come to rain on your parade
That’s a fun detector
Someone’s trembling at the lip
They’re about to let it rip
Going on a power trip
That’s a fun detector
You’re a wet blanket
With a rulebook head and a heart of lead
You’re a wet blanket
You mustn’t’ve been breastfed ...

©Mal Webb 2000
Track Name: So Over You
I was on the rebound when we met, my heart so freshly broken
And there you were, unspoken for, not quite all I was hoping for
But my mind conspired to fix you up, selective sense avoiding
Your faults had some embroid’ing done
’Til you’d become my number one
But time has made the colours fade
The shroud has frayed away
And now the real you is standing there as plain as day
Well, I’m afraid I have to say
That I’m so so so so so over you
It’s time that you finally knew
You’re no longer who had at first enchanted me
How dare you not be all that I imagined you to be
So I’m so ...
I thought that you ought be told
Now my love’s run cold, let me hold somebody new
’Cos I’m oh so over you
But, of course, you’ll hear no word of this
I’ll just say, “You’re a bastard!
You lied to me so dastardly
You cad, you’ve seen the last of me!”
My friends all try to dry my tears
And help me to be strong
But can’t resist the urge to say they knew it all along
You were always Mr Wrong/ Now I’m so ...
You’re cast to the past, it’s true
My creative mind had me blind, but now I see
You’re not a patch upon the catch I’d built you up to be/ So I’m so ...
Here it ends and we shan’t be friends
While my poor heart mends, let me tend to someone new
Now I’m oh so over you/ Well, I’m queen of denial, delusion and dejection
Bumbling from flower to flower for fear of rejection
I’m riding on a vicious cycle, vexed by my own hexes
It’s why I never get along with any of my exes
But, of course, you’ll hear no word of this
I’ll just leave in a huff
And fly into the arms of my next blind romantic’s bluff
But it’s never quite enough
’Cos I’m so ...
Then again, given time, who knows?
When this heartache goes, I may see you as before
Recalling I adore you, God knows, maybe even more
But I’m so ...
Back away, form an orderly queue
’Til I’ve thought this though, let me hold somebody new
’Cos I’m oh so over you.

©Mal Webb 2008
Track Name: Oblivious Man
Oblivious Man, he’s the guy
When trouble’s at hand, he walks on by
Up in the air and down on the ground
He’s unaware of all that’s around
Mr Oblivious
Captain Oblivious

Oblivious Man’s never fussed
With head in the sand, he’s non-nonplussed
Hints miss completely, his skin is thick
Even the subtlety of a brick ...

How is it he came to be this way? A falling coconut? A dodgy pie? A cosmic ray?
Was he born so free of gorm? Could this be how he’ll stay?

Oblivious Man, he’s the best
When crap hits the fan, he stays unstressed
Signs never seen and words never heard
So unperturbed by all that’s occurred
And he’ll never know that he’s got a song!

Oblivious Man has no vice
If you need a hand, he won’t think twice
Chats to the bad guys, bores them to tears
Gross halitosis adds to their fears ...

See him blithely stride into the fray
The bad man’s plans don’t stand a chance with OM in the way
Evil’s inadvertently averted by feet of clay

Oblivious Man’s not alone
His unwitting clan of clones has grown
Random abandon, roaming unfazed
Age, race and gender, equally dazed

Mr Oblivious/ Sister Oblivious
Lord King Oblivious
Grand Dame Oblivious
General Obliviousness.

©Mal Webb 2007-2012
Track Name: TLA

©Mal Webb 2006
Track Name: Brooke's Jetty
When Grandad was a young man in St Kilda, you could bet he
Would take Grandma strolling summer evenings out along Brooke’s Jetty
Though all was hot and sweaty, that cool breeze was just in reach
When perched above the lapping waters off the crowded beach

Oh, Brooke’s Jetty, bayside lovers held you dear
Singing your sweet counterpoint to St Kilda pier
But now you’re just a drain and nothing more
You were meant to be maintained by Parks Victoria
But without a thought for all those who adore ya
They let you fall apart then tore ya down
But the good folks of St Kilda are demanding they rebuild a jetty equal in renown
Our voices will resound
As a tribute to the joy you brought to St Kilda town

They said, “It’s unsafe”, but nothing’s safe when folks lack common sense
They said, “It’s of no use or historical significance”
But a century ago, it was a thriving boating club
And ever since it’s always been a vibrant social hub ...

To sit upon Brooke’s Jetty’s end with dangled feet and setting sun
To curse at jet skis, gaze at clouds and waves as ukuleles strum
To watch the fun and frolics on the foreshore, pure St Kilda bliss
From such a tranquil vantage point, to dwell, to dream, to reminisce ...

Fred Brooke must now be tumbling in his grave
At this disrespectful underhand behaviour
And the tears and pain of those who tried to save ya
It’s sad you’re gone, but we won’t let our hopes drown ...

©Mal Webb 2016
Track Name: Rooster Tree
When wending north of Melbourne town along the great M31
Avail your eyes horizonwise to see some free-range freeway fun
At almost of four k’s short of Broadford, kind of Kilmore latitude
A growing crowing slowly showing swells your heart with gratitude, when

Heading up the Hume, at signs for Clonbinane
My eyes behold a sight that quite delights me once again
High on yonder hill, it cheers me up no end
To see the Rooster Tree, my friend around the bend

For yonks I thought this fine faux fowl affair was mine and mine alone
But then a flock of fans in Wang informed me how this love has grown
My private roadside scene, ‘Road Island Red in Green’, has flown the coop
Hume Highway Hilltop He Hen Tree Huggers now have a Facebook group ...

Initially I called it Chicken Tree but gender reassigned
And utter nutters see a Squirrel Tree, but we don’t like their kind
When from afar it’s singular but closer view shows more than two
It’s like a grand arboreal syzygy that lines up right on cue ...

It seems that even heathens like myself can’t stop the dropping jaw
Indeed the least religious still prodigiously have sacred awe for it
But plant poultry idolatry may sway you from your path
Distracting leghorn-leafed belief can leave a tragic aftermath, when hurtling ...

Though threat of bushfire and imprudent pruning fuel my brooding fears
This plucky hilltop topiary’s stayed clucky, luckily for years
May its herbaceous gallinaceous grace embrace these times of doubt
So future generations get the chance to say, “Hey, check that out” …
Hooning ...

©Mal Webb 2009
Track Name: Ad For Beer
Rainbow Hotel gigs for me were none
Chick, the owner, was so sincere
“I love your music, it’s clever and fun, but it’s not a good ad for beer”
“Thanks a lot, Chick”, I declared with glee, “Your phraseology makes it clear
There must be apter venues for me
I don’t wanna be an ad for beer”

Pat a dog, smell a flower, ride a bike
Try eating brussels sprouts and the like
Have a sing, be nerdy, sail a boat
They’re the things I prefer promoting
Now I play schools, halls and festivals
Bring the family, have no fear
See and hear clearly and, best of all
I don’t need to be an ad for beer

Pat a flower, ride a dog, smell a bike ...

I don’t mean to be a pious git
You do what you like, I’ll be here
Playing my music in places where it doesn’t need to be an ad for beer ...

©Mal Webb 2008
Track Name: Load
I love trains, I always have
For rail, a high esteem I’ve always had
It seems I got it from my Dad
And so indeed I’m sad to see so many train lines closing
And increasing rows of trucks imposing woes upon our roads
It makes no sense! I’m so incensed!
Thus hence, I must compose this ode

Get the load off the road, get it back on track
Our transport system’s out of whack
Rail is three times, 3 to 1, triple the efficiency in fuel and upkeep
Go bike and train, then boat, then plane
Bus, truck and car only when needed
Global warnings ought be heeded
Progress unimpeded
Hear that pleasing squeal of steel to steel
That woo woo, that clicketty clack
Get the load off the road, get it back on track

Let’s retrain our brains and ride more than we drive and fly
I’m sure it can be done in the long run
Kind open minds combined can find a balance
Utilise the talents of each transport mode
Transfer the load, so it’s most appropriately stowed
And if the way is wonky, get a donkey or a yak ...

Trucking has its place for sure, but the law of door to door is sorely flawed in the long haul
I’m afraid of that great weight of freight, borne on worn-out tyres by tired drivers, wired day and night
Those umpteen wheelers hack and crack and smack the tarmac
Belt the asphalt and beat it blue and black ...

Sleepers wake! We’ve been derailed! Stuck in a rut! Quick! Get the jack! ...
That truckin’ cardiac attack will drive us all to ruin and rack ...
Less freighting over all would be ideal, of course
Seek out a local source, and buy less stuff
Don’t feel the lack, change tack
Make and grow your own and share your stack, I dare you
’Cos if we all get the knack, it’s not a one-way cul-de-sac ...

©Mal Webb 2015
Track Name: Picture
If my heart could paint a picture of my love for you
You’d find my palette flying through the air
And landing in a boggy swamp somewhere
It was thrown in desperation of pigmented imitation

I could waste a thousand Derwents on your eyes alone
A million beetles long to line your lips
Your hair is lost in soft acrylic drips
Even trying to catch the magic of your voice in gouache is tragic

And the falling stars and wells ignore my wish
Dali thinks I should involve a fish
I watch my still life dance around the frame
As my pastel masterpiece bursts into flame

And now my studio is like a shrine to you
The pot plants in the window shun the rain
They’re watered by my tears of joy and pain
As the brokers try to sell you, I will wash my hands and tell you
If my heart could paint a picture ...

© Mal Webb 1989
Track Name: All The Birds
On all my birthdays, you compose for me a little poem
So witty, sweet and guaranteed to always scan and rhyme
But now’s my turn to burst with birthday verse for you, Mama
With some slight trepidation; gosh, I hope it’s up to par
But if you think it’s rubbish
If it makes you wince or sob
Of course, you’ll just forgive me; you’re my mother, that’s your job!
My birthday treat of lambs’ brains, you would cook with Highland pride
If only I could write a song so yummy, crumbed and fried!

May all the birds sing for you
All the frogs and insects too
May every voice rejoice with boisterous glee, the day you came to be
Born to this fond family throng
Warmly warbling all life long
A hundred hugs, bilione baci barely begin to show
How we love you so

You’ve been a keen birdwatcher since the days you wore a nappy
Your sisters had to test you bird by bird ’til you were happy
Binoculars and field guides make the blood rush in your veins
It’s fab you found a fella who’s more into birds than trains
Adept at clarinet and rather handy on piano
A voice so sweet and lilting, yes indeed, I’m quite a fan, oh!
But when you play harmonica, I’m chuffed down to my shoes
It’s such a hoot to hear you toot and NEVER play the blues ...

You might’ve noticed that the chorus doesn’t use your name
The second-person pronoun might seem just a little lame
But you are known as Susan, Sue and Mum and Granny too
Susannah Boardinghouse as well, your sisters swear it’s true
They also told me of a poem you wrote when young of age
Oft quoted by your family, it was really all the rage
It came in handy in a fix, when spirits failed or faltered
So here it is, sung jauntily, but otherwise unaltered

Laugh and you’ll get there ×2
Which way is it to London? Question
Laugh and you’ll get there ×2
Answer. I don’t know how to laugh. Question
Laugh like this: Ha ha ha ha ha. Answer
Like this? Ha ha ha? Question
No! Laugh and you’ll get there ×2
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha pom pom!

You learnt Italian to enhance your social work’s effect
But how annoying was it when they all spoke dialect
You taught us all compassion, empathy and social skills
But John and Cath weren’t up for that with bully boy Paul Mills
You used to sing a lullaby, a song called Barbara Allen
I’d nod off by the second verse, “When green buds they were swellin’”
I wished I’d stay awake a little longer just because
I’d wake up later dwellin’ who this Allen woman was ...

© Mal Webb 2009
Track Name: Roadworks
As I was driving up the highway with 500 k’s to go
I saw a sign for roadworks lurking up ahead
As it was quite a quiet day I thought, “OK, a short delay”
But nay, the queue was curiously long instead
And from a side road on the right, more drivers joined to further blight my plight
My fate to wait for life to pass me by
But crawling ’round the corner inch by inch, I glimpsed the distant workers
Then a vision clad in fluoro caught my eye

She held a sign that said ‘slow’, but my heart would not obey
Then when she turned it ’round and looked my way
I felt my whole world stop
Twirl that lollipop
Oh no, don’t ever let me go

To think such practical apparel could appear so appealing
Garish yellow vests would never seem the same
Right from her sun hat to her steel-cap boots she truly worked that workwear
While her smile put those reflector strips to shame
As I drew nearer, she grew clearer
I could hear her laugh
I dreamed I’d be the one she stopped
I’d ask her out for soup
I’d meet her mates on day-glo double dates
We’d say, “I do”, the earth will move
We’d do it in a front-end loader scoop ...

I then moved on from pining onto priming, trying to suss the timing
And with just four cars to go, it sure looked good
That she might spin the sign and stem the traffic’s tide
So timed that I’d be halted by her side ... oh, how I wished she would
The call to stop us came though on her two-way right on cue
But at that very moment, some guy shouted from nearby
“Hey, do youse want some lunch?” She held fast to that slow sign
So I drove past hearing her reply
“Yeah, thanks, I’ll have a pie”

She held a sign that said slow as I slowly drove away
Her image sank into the rear-view depths
But my despair soon turned determined, thinking, “No, it mustn’t end this way”
I checked the map and just like that, I found a route that looped back ’round
A little road off to the right in half a k
Excitedly I switched my indicator on, as I approached the turn-off
But a sight then filled my heart with dread
A row of other cars all turning right, all single guys
I sighed and flicked my blinker off and drove on, straight ahead

She’d held a sign that said ‘slow’, but my heart had not obeyed
Oh, if she’d spun that sign, I could’ve made her mine
But probably not
Delusion’s all I’ve got
I know I oughta let it go ...

©Mal Webb 2012
Track Name: Pash Crush
I’m melting, I’m melting, your thermonuclear hug’s my drug
My ice has turned to steam to flow with the stream of the tides, the waves collide
I’m diving, I’m diving
Into your deep blue ocean
The devil’s nowhere to be seen
But we’re in between with our gods to play the odds
A smile so inviting, incisively enticing my lips to sink into the bliss
But who needs to breathe when I’m drowning in your kiss
I’m floating, I’m drifting
The sand is barely shifting, I’d cross the desert on a snail
For you in a crush so plush I want to pace the rush ...

©Mal Webb 2000
Track Name: Win
I don’t like being competitive
I only like to win
To lose is just a place in France
It’s Leeds that I’ll be in
But it gets lonely at the top
And so I’ll form a team
I’ll find a fine like-minded mob
Whose eyes all share the gleam
But victory is not enough
We’ll win without a fuss
The losers will feel honoured
That they got to lose to us
No cheating, drugs or teasing thugs
We’ll play the model role
With charm and grace we’ll win the race
One love will be our goal
But triumph’s really just the start
Our quest will never rest
’Til all the winners of the world
Agree that we’re the best
But still we’ll strive for greater glory
History will concur
For ever more they’ll all recall
How great we really were
The universe! Eternity!
No boundaries in our way
This plan is good and now I should
Decide what game to play.

©Mal Webb 2008
Track Name: Follicle Drive
Follicle Drive
(for Dad, RIP)

The things I really loved
That I’ll miss the most about my Dad
Are the things that could also drive me mad
He was a full-on guy with a bursting brain
And a thirst for how and why, sustained by a heart like a steam train
His ingrained sense of justice drove him on
Relentlessly he strove to champion what’s right and fair
And all this with a gentlemanly air
And his voice, above all, would resound
Facts and stories would abound
Right into his anecdotage
Telling tangential tales related unabated
He was vaccinated with a gramophone needle
So he often stated
His many favourite phrases stay with me
Like music in my mind, they linger
While I picture that triumphant pointing of his finger

“Aahh! That’s fixed it, as good as a bought one
Aahh! You crumb! That’s a wizard idea
If dropped naked on a desert island, I would survive/ Follicle Drive”

‘Follicle Drive’ is the name Dad gave to the subject of the research paper he was writing when he died
His colleagues are continuing with his work

Whether trains, lacrosse, genetics, fishing, rowing
Yes, whatever the endeavour he was keen as mustard
Truly an enthusiast
Infusing others with his eager educative passion
For doing stuff
He loved lists and labels, fixing things, he hated waste
Post office red rubber bands on footpaths would invariably end up in his pocket
And I’ve ended up the same
I grew up helping with repairs
Soaked in brake fluid, acetone and Araldite
Holding torches for him, with him saying
“Shine it on my hands, not on my face!”
And all this to the soundtrack of the Goons
His science, I never understood
But I knew that it was good
The sheer breadth of his intellect
So vast it brought us all to unexpected paths of thought ...

At the age of five, to help me to explain my lack of red hair
He taught me how to say, “It’s a recessive gene”, and I did
He taught me sooo much
And in return, I taught him how to hug
And creative ways of eating something green
His legendary high diaphragm never really held him back
And that crumb still had hair on his head
When he sailed over the horizon ...

©Mal Webb 2015