Resetting Somebody Will

by jkaufman jefftk9 min read25th Sep 201910 comments

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[EDIT: I had another go at this, preserving the easier parts of the melody, and I think that version is a lot better: Resetting 'Somebody Will' V2]

Each December I've been running music for the Boston Secular Solstice, and I'm starting to think about this year. One of the songs we've done in the past is Somebody Will, and it's a tricky one. The lyrics of the song are great, and get at a lot of important themes it's hard to find songs for: working on a project you won't see the completion of, how our everyday work ties into humanity's long term progress, and pride in essential but less visible roles. The melody is also great but too hard for the kind of group singing we do at our solstice.

We've tried a few ways of handling this. The first year we treated it like all the other songs, with a song leader, an accompanist, and everyone singing. This didn't really work (mp3): while most of the songs we do are either well known tunes or easy enough to sing along to this one has a lot of unpredictable turns to the melody. The next time we tried running it as a performance (mp3), but with it's lyrics and message this is a song the audience really wants to sing along with.

One idea I had was setting the lyrics to a new melody. The full melody is interesting and haunting, but also isn't very predictable, with key and mode changes. I initially hoped I could find a simpler melody where the real melody would work as a harmony, but the structure of the original song forces most of the complexity. Instead, I wrote something new, with a bit of inspiration from the full melody:

[EDIT: the original had a youtube embed here, but LessWrong reasonably stripped it out. It pointed to www.youtube.com/embed/ywQ9C7NBySM.]

[EDIT: I'm playing with a new version, and recorded a rough take: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwkinZMr858.]

This is not as moving as the original, but I think it's still good, and can make the song work in our group singing context.

Thoughts? I'm especially interested in feedback from people who like the idea of the song but aren't used to the original, because it's hard to tell how much of my and other people's reaction is "this is off because it's different from what I'm used to", but any feedback is helpful. I'm not decided yet on whether I think we should do this, vs try and get several people to learn the original melody well enough that the crowd will be well supported.

Chords:

        D           A
Our new world is so close.
         D               A         G           A
Mars has treasures we're only just starting to find.
       D             A            D           A
Frozen mountains and crimson dust waiting for footprints
     G           A
That will not be mine.


D         A        D             A
A hundred years to run the first tests
G          G               A                     
another to raise the first dome.
D              A          D     A
The moon, then Mars, then Titan next,
  G            G              A
A life time to touch each new home.


      Bm         A
And I want it so much.
         Bm          A         G                A
Close my eyes, I can taste the Mars dust in the air.
       Bm           A              G          A
In the darkness the space stations shimmer in orbits that
G          A
I will not share.


D                  A       D                 A
But I'll teach the student who'll manage the fact'ry
D                A                G        A
That tempers the steel that makes colonies strong.
D                  A            D        A
And I'll write the program that runs the computer
     D              A               G       A
That charts out the stars where our rockets belong.


        Bm        A       G            A
It will never get easy to wake from my dream
         Bm       A           G      A
When the future I dream of is so far away.


     Bm  A   G          A
But  I   am  willing to sacrifice
G           A              G           A
Something I don't have for something I won't have
    G        A        D
But somebody will someday

       D            A
And it feels like a waste.
         D           A           G        A
All this working and waiting and battling time,
    D         A            D         A
And all for a kingdom that all of my efforts
     G          A
Will never make mine,


    D        A         D        A
But brick by brick the Pyramids rose,
     G           G         A
With most hidden under the sand,
   D       A        D       A
So life by life the project grows
   G            G        A    
In ways I might not understand.


     Bm       A
I am voyaging too,
        Bm           A         G           A
We will need the foundation as much as the dome
          G              A
For those worlds to come true,


    D              A           D           A
And I'll clerk the office that handles the funding
     D          A          G           A
That raises the tower that watches the sky.
    D              A              D           A
And I'll staff the bookstore that carries the journal
     D           A              G           A
That sparks the idea that makes solar sails fly.


         Bm      A          G          A
It takes so many sailors to conquer an ocean
    Bm      A              G           A
And so many more when it's light-years away,


    Bm  A  G          A
But I   am willing to sacrifice
G         A                G           A
Something I don't have for something I won't have
    G        A    D
But somebody will someday.

        D       A
It's so easy to run.
      D         A                G       A
Hide away in my books, games and fantasy plans,
         D         A          D          A
Let them call me a coward who can't face reality's
G       A
Grownup demands,


    D    A       D       A
But if I love my fantasy worlds
         G       G           A
It's not fantasy love that I feel.
    D       A      D        A
And so much more I feel for this
    G             G
The world that created them,
G           G
World we create with them,
G             G             A
One chance to make them all real.


      Bm            A
And I know we won't stop.
              Bm       A           G          A
We've planned too many wonders for one little star.
       Bm        A           G        A
Though often the present may seem too complacent
   G            A
To take us that far.


    D             A         D             A
But I'll tell the story and I'll draw the picture
    D             A           G        A
And I'll sing the anthem that banishes doubt,
    D           A            D           A  
And host the convention that summons the family
     D           A         G           A
That carries the fire that never burns out


          Bm      A          G           A
There are so many chances to give up the journey,
  Bm       A            G       A
Especially when it's so easy to stay,

    Bm  A   G          A
But I   am  willing to sacrifice
G           A              G           A
Something I don't have for something I won't have
    G        A
And not only me,

    Bm  A   G          A
But we  are willing to sacrifice
G            A              G           A
Something we don't have for something we won't have
   G        A     D
So somebody will, someday.

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