Don Rosler: Lyricist/Songwriter/Producer

Eddie the Actor reciting "Gunga Din" Recorded Live from Barrow's Pub

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LIVE FROM BARROW’S PUB

 EDDIE THE ACTOR:

A spontaneous recitation of Rudyard Kipling's “Gunga Din" (from memory).

 Featuring the BudaPabst Philharmonic Orchestra

"...It was crawlin' and it stunk But of all the drinks I've drunk,

I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was "Din! Din! Din!"

 

 

Running time: 4:02 minutes (sans intermission). Please turn off all cell phones and unwrap any candy wrappers.

 

(Private/hidden link for Eddie's fans). Stream or download.

 

Program Notes:

 

Four years ago, I decided briefly record Eddie the Actor as he sat on his barstool at Barrow's Pub. I was working on a song, considering demo-ing it, and I thought I'd have him shout out just one line to add a little grit to the chorus. He nailed the "hook" in two takes.

 

I was just about to turn off the cell phone recorder, and leaned forward to buy him a Bud, when, without provocation, sans anyone shouting out any request, Eddie just launched right into Kipling's "Gunga Din." He was perched on his usual bar stool towards the east corner and surrounded by myself, James Duffy, and three dogs who shall remain nameless. (Thus, the 5 of us were the only ones to hear it performed live).

 

None of us were expecting it, and I didn't know he was doing a poem or what he was goin' on about, and I was a bit worried he was losing his marbles. He was shouting something about gin and beer, and I'm pretty sure Eddie was strictly a beer (Bud) man. And next, penny-fights and slaughter or something or other. Was he having a feud with Duffy and about to slaughter him? Or getting all worked up about something far in the past. (I didn't know the poem all that well: I went to school when memorized recitations of poetry weren't as valued).

 

Perhaps he was worked up about some injustice far in the past!? Maybe the very distant past? "Gunga Din" was written in 1890 -- and then, I'm guessing Eddie first heard it in the somewhat less distant past (maybe learning to recite it in a schoolroom in the early 30s?).

 

But, by the time I heard "Din Din Din!" I knew what was up. I lost just a bit of the poem's beginning because I didn't get the mic up to his mouth for the first half minute, but then---well, hold on to your camels!

 

I checked it against the original text, and it's pretty damn close.

 

I added some effects and music and verb back then, but I wish I had left it alone, maybe just the reverb. Can't find the original track.

 

BTW, it just occurred to me just now that if Missy or any of the bartenders were at the other end of the bar, he would shout out their names across the bar with the urgency of a man "chokin’ mad with thirst...". But it wasn't a glass of water that was at stake. His "MISSSSSSSSSY!" could probably be heard traveling to the west end of the bar all the way across the Hudson.

 

It's quite the stirring performance! Feel free to download and play it for your kids. Then, some day, decades from now, when we're all hobbling into Missy's Pub (the Mayor will have decreed the name change), there may be some young whippersnapper who will launch into the poem at the drop of a hat, carrying on the tradition, having learned it from Eddie!

 

Din din din! Happy Birthday to Eddie. (He was already thrown a swell party for his 96th by his posse at the pub just a few weeks back).

 

(Or, You're a better man than me, Eddie!).

---

If you want to follow along to just how accurate he was?

Gunga Din

 

You may talk o’ gin and beer   
When you’re quartered safe out ’ere,   
An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it; 
But when it comes to slaughter   
You will do your work on water, 
An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ’im that’s got it.   
Now in Injia’s sunny clime,   
Where I used to spend my time   
A-servin’ of ’Er Majesty the Queen,   
Of all them blackfaced crew   
The finest man I knew 
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din,   
      He was ‘Din! Din! Din! 
   ‘You limpin’ lump o’ brick-dust, Gunga Din! 
      ‘Hi! Slippy hitherao 
      ‘Water, get it! Panee lao, 
   ‘You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din.’ 
The uniform ’e wore 
Was nothin’ much before, 
An’ rather less than ’arf o’ that be’ind, 
For a piece o’ twisty rag   
An’ a goatskin water-bag 
Was all the field-equipment ’e could find. 
When the sweatin’ troop-train lay 
In a sidin’ through the day, 
Where the ’eat would make your bloomin’ eyebrows crawl, 
We shouted ‘Harry By!’ 
Till our throats were bricky-dry, 
Then we wopped ’im ’cause ’e couldn’t serve us all. 
      It was ‘Din! Din! Din! 
   ‘You ’eathen, where the mischief ’ave you been?   
      ‘You put some juldee in it 
      ‘Or I’ll marrow you this minute 
   ‘If you don’t fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!’ 
’E would dot an’ carry one 
Till the longest day was done; 
An’ ’e didn’t seem to know the use o’ fear. 
If we charged or broke or cut, 
You could bet your bloomin’ nut, 
’E’d be waitin’ fifty paces right flank rear.   
With ’is mussick on ’is back, 
’E would skip with our attack, 
An’ watch us till the bugles made 'Retire,’   
An’ for all ’is dirty ’ide 
’E was white, clear white, inside 
When ’e went to tend the wounded under fire!   
      It was ‘Din! Din! Din!’ 
   With the bullets kickin’ dust-spots on the green.   
      When the cartridges ran out, 
      You could hear the front-ranks shout,   
   ‘Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!’ 
I shan’t forgit the night 
When I dropped be’ind the fight 
With a bullet where my belt-plate should ’a’ been.   
I was chokin’ mad with thirst, 
An’ the man that spied me first 
Was our good old grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din.   
’E lifted up my ’ead, 
An’ he plugged me where I bled, 
An’ ’e guv me ’arf-a-pint o’ water green. 
It was crawlin’ and it stunk, 
But of all the drinks I’ve drunk, 
I’m gratefullest to one from Gunga Din. 
      It was 'Din! Din! Din! 
   ‘’Ere’s a beggar with a bullet through ’is spleen;   
   ‘’E's chawin’ up the ground, 
      ‘An’ ’e’s kickin’ all around: 
   ‘For Gawd’s sake git the water, Gunga Din!’ 
’E carried me away 
To where a dooli lay, 
An’ a bullet come an’ drilled the beggar clean.   
’E put me safe inside, 
An’ just before ’e died, 
'I ’ope you liked your drink,’ sez Gunga Din.   
So I’ll meet ’im later on 
At the place where ’e is gone— 
Where it’s always double drill and no canteen.   
’E’ll be squattin’ on the coals 
Givin’ drink to poor damned souls, 
An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!   
      Yes, Din! Din! Din! 
   You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!   
   Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,   
      By the livin’ Gawd that made you, 
   You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46783

 

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