Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dan, the Atheist Killjoy

OK, so this song has an interesting pedigree. For Christmas of 2008, Ken Plume posted the following challenge to the Masters of Song Fu
Tis the season and all that, right? Well, your challenge is to create a brand new character for this holiday season, and write a holiday song for him/her/it. Think Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman, etc. Now you can add your own musical contribution to the festivities. That’s it. The only other directive is that your song must run no shorter than 1 minute 45 seconds.
Sounds simple, right? And in fact, the challenge did yield some nice results, such as my hands-down favorite, "Twangles, the Christmas Squid" by Jason Morris. (Follow this link for others.)  As it turns out, it ain't so easy. Although I'd sort of halfway thought about it, I never seriously tackled the challenge until now, and that was as a result of an off-hand comment that the only idea I could come up with was "Dan, the Atheist Killjoy". Someone said "do it", so I did.

Here's the song. Stick around (especially if you hate it) and I've got some more commentary below, after the lyrics.

Dan, the Atheist Killjoy
by Dr Lindyke

[pattern 1]
Dan, the Atheist Killjoy
Loves to celebrate Christmas
By making fun of the Christians
And generally being a dick.

Should you bow your head in reverence
Don't look to God for deliverance
Because Dan is highly litigious
And he usually makes the lawsuit stick 

 [pattern 2]

(And Dan says,) 
"There can be... a holiday tree,
"So long as it doesn't have angels on it
"Or Supernatural references that might 
"Imply the existence of God."

(And he says)
"You can't pray within sight of me,
"Or anywhere in my vicinity,
"Because First Amendment guarantees
"Are for me and me alone." 

 [pattern 3]

But Ramadan is a gas,
And Kwanzaa gets a great big pass,
Because multicultural Dan is also
A hypocritical ass (but don't get me started...) 

 [instrumental break]

 [pattern 1]

Dan the Atheist Killjoy
Was set upon by wild pastors
Who hacked off both his arms and legs
With a flaming sword of Justice and Truth

Because Everyone has their Reasonable limits
and in All fairness Dan exCeeded his by a wide 
Margin... by Any conceivable 
Measure you wish to apply. 

 [pattern 2]

Then with a double touch of irony
Dan filled the air with heartfelt screams
"Oh, God! Oh God! OH GOD!" cried he,
...But no one actually... came. 

 [pattern 3]

Some see this as evidence that Dan faked his conversion
At least that's what SHE said, but I don't want to cast aspersions
And I didn't mean to suggest some kind of sexual perversion...

And now I'll have to write a fam'ly oriented version 
Of this song... 

 [pattern 1]

Now, I must admit the true events of this story
Are not quite so violent and not quite so gory
And by "not quite so" I mean...
Not in the slightest detail 

 [pattern 4]

In truth, the preachers looked to the Heavens above
And poured out upon Dan unconditional love
And prayed for the soul of that poor heathen schlub
Nestled safe and secure in the arms ... 
of Beelzebub 

 [outro. pattern 5]

Sing Hallelujah
And Dan will sue ya
He's got a lawya'
He can destroy ya

Sing Hallelujah
And he'll stick it to ya
He's gunnin' for ya
Dan's an Atheist Killjoy, bay-bee!

[outro. pattern 6]
He's an atheist killjoy!
Oh Dan!
For Pete's sake don't tell him santa means saint!
He's an atheist killjoy!
Oh Dan!
Can't celebrate Christmas around Dan....!

OK, There are a few odd things about this song. It's a hypocrite sieve, designed to offend anyone who deserves to be. It's a joke, and if you're overly serious you're going to miss it. On the surface, it takes up position on the Christian Right, and overtly makes fun of atheists. But not just any atheist... only the overly litigious, hypocritical sort as described. So taking offense for being made fun of means you've selected yourself as exactly that sort of person. On the other hand, if you're Christian, there's a point in the song at which you should become extremely uncomfortable. It's the only Christmas song I know of with a feigned orgasm and a "that's what she said" joke in it. Granted, it's in a "fantasy sequence", but you don't know that until the cat's out of the bag.

So while it insults atheists from the Christian Right, if you're an atheist who takes offense, there's something wrong with you. And if you're a professed Christian who likes the song, there's something wrong with you, too.  And oddly enough, that's by design.

Happy Christmahanakwanzika, everyone.
And Merry Christmas to you, Dan.

Other composing notes: 

At one point I'd written that Dan was "set upon by wild preachers", which looks much better on paper, having that "in your face" fire-and-brimstone kind of vibe. However, in performing it, it became clear that "preachers" is nearly indistinguishable from "creatures" no matter how carefully you pronounce it, so it just confused people.

The style is deliberately reminiscent of Tom Lehrer or Tim Minchin, both noted atheists. That's part of the joke. BTW, I love the work of both of them, and I'm Christian. It's not intended to be so close as to be a parody or pastiche, but just a nod in that direction. It's not the easiest style to replicate, as you have to just ramble away from the meter and somehow still hit the rhyme on time, as well as spend a bit of the song acting as well as singing. I mess that up a few places in this performance, but it's written to do that if I play it well.

The weird capitalization in the "reasonable limits" verse is simply to remind me which syllables to stress. Those are the ones that have to hit the mark, and the rest have to be deliberately relaxed, not forced or mechanically precise.

This performance is simply a draft to get the idea across. That's why it's recorded raw, on my cell phone. I might do a better performance later, maybe even with instrumentation and a pre-thought arrangement... then again, maybe not. In either case, the song is licensed as Creative Commons (non-commercial share-alike attribution). Use in non-commercial stuff with my blessing; and contact me for permission before using it commercially (as if!)

  Creative Commons License
Based on a work at

1 comment:

BoffoYuxDudes said...

I think this came together quite well. There's a few layers I overlooked that I picked up on in your commentary. It's not easy to come up with a good christmas song character. We'll have to mull on it and see what we can come up with.

Here's hoping Ken actually comes through and restarts a version of 'Masters of Song Fu' after a long break.

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