12 March 2017

On "My White Knight"



These lyrics don't exist online--I had to transcribe the whole thing, myself. This is a sort of reconstruction, by Cook and company, for that first, legendary Carnegie concert, of a version that never really existed because there were so many versions of "My White Knight," as they put The Music Man together; my friends, Meredith Wilson and friends: Welcome to the stream-of-consciousness that is Marian the Librarian.


My White Knight

All I want is a plain man,
A modest man, a quiet man,
A straightforward and honest man,
With habits
That do not exclude the occasional reading of a book;

I do not yearn for,
Nor do I wait,
Any handsome,
Hand-kissing,
Wine-tasting,
Silk-pillow,
Hookah-smoker;

No world-traveller,
In fact or fancy,
No show-off,
No clotheshorse;
He need not necessarily be
In uniform;

Ah, you wait,
No clean-cut,
Weather-beaten,
Square-rigged, white duck
Pants in tennis shoes;

No plumed hat,
No splendid insignia,
No Moose-, Elk-, Eagle-
Oddfellows-, National Guardsman,
Fire chief, or Highlander;

Be he from the Arabian Knights,
Or the French Foreign Legion;
No lothario shoe salesman,
No bandleader, no railroad conductor,
Or any other charmer,
Either of me, or anybody else;

No Chautauqua advance agent,
No vaudevillian,
No depot telegrapher;
I'm not dazzled or for any such a kind
Of fascinating flame.

All I want is a plain man,
A modest man,
A quiet man,
A straightforward,

And honest man,
To sit with me,
In a cottage somewhere,
In the state of Iowa;

And listen with a smile,
To a poem or a song
That is neither a five-line
Limerick about Saint Peter,
And the Man from Duluth,

Or a sing-song Lament
Of a Purple Cow;
And not every day,

But just occasionally,
We could walk down by the meadow,
In the twilight-sprinkled dew:

My White Knight,
Can be blacksmith,
Welldigger, clerk, or king;

All I want is a plain man,
A modest man, a quiet man,
A straightforward, and honest man,

With habits,
That do not
Necessarily include

The chewing of snuff,
Or exploding root beer,
In the cellar, every June;

And I would like him to be
More interested in me,
Than he is in himself,

And more interested in us,
Than in me.
And if occasionally

He'd ponder
What makes
Shakespeare and
Beethoven great:

Him, I could love,
till I die. Him,
I could love,
Till I die.

My White Knight,
Not a Lancelot,
Nor an angel with wings,

Just someone to love me,
Who is not ashamed
Of a few nice things;

My White Knight,
Let me walk with him,
Where the others ride by,

Walk, and love him,
Till I die,
Till I die.

Meredith Wilson, "My White Knight," The Music Man, 1957. Book, lyrics, and music: Meredith Wilson. Barbara Cook went through the development process of The Music Man and put this version together, with her music director, from snippets and versions that didn't make it into the final song; from "My White Knight," Barbara Cook at Carnegie Hall, 1975.

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