Walking with woodlice

an Interröbang Cartel song

Title Paddy Smith / The BBC
Lyrics Talysman
Recorded by Doctroid (December 2008):
Arrangement, vocals, software instruments, Gakken SX-150, art Doctroid
Walking with Woodlice MP3
Walking with Woodlice WAV (note that this lacks the metadata tags, including art, embedded in the MP3 file)

In the last months of 2008 there was a strong push to complete the Interröbang Cartel Tribute Album by the end of the year, to conform with Casey’s future history of the project. Of the songs remaining unrecorded I didn’t feel I could do justice to any of them — due either to unfamiliarity with the artists to be imitated or lack of confidence in my ability to imitate them — except for the one that was supposed to sound like no one but Interröbang Cartel itself, “Walking With Woodlice”. Casey himself had reportedly started on a version of this one, but he hadn’t been heard from in some time.

I considered recording it, decided not to when I heard Casey’d been working on it, decided to go ahead when I heard Casey’s version was unlikely to be finished anytime soon. As usual, I sequenced the main melodic materials in Melody Assistant, then moved everything into GarageBand for vocal recording, assembly, effects, and editing. My new Gakken SX-150 mini-synth makes an appearance in the bridge.

“Walking With Woodlice”, like the other Tribute Album song titles, was one of twenty “least common web searches” reported by the BBC in 2003. It was the name of a woodlouse survey run by the Natural History Museum in London, a fact which may or may not have been known to Taly when he wrote the lyrics.

I tweaked Taly’s lyrics in a couple places:

george came down to meet me the other day
just for a short vacation, he said he couldn’t stay
he had to go back home to a distant galaxy
back to his home planet (he called it Planet Z)

he was a woodlouse
a roly-poly with a giant brane
I fainted when I first saw him
because I thought I’d gone insane

but george would never hurt me
as he later would explain
to harm a sentient being
would cause him telepathic pain

george and I went walking the other day
we went out for a stroll and the hours flew away
he wanted conversation and enjoyed my company
he’d never met a mammal back on Planet Z

’cause he’s a woodlouse
a roly-poly with a jointed shell
I fainted when I first saw him
but he turned out to be real swell

oh, george would never hurt me
it would put him through such hell
and all he asked was my friendship
and to walk a little spell


(I guess I should explain that technically, george wasn’t really a pillbug, sowbug, roly-poly, or any other kind of woodlouse, he just reminded me of one with his articulated carapace, beady, multifaceted eyes, and multiple legs. george explained to me that his people evolved from what we would call trilobites, which is a kind of paleozoic arthropod. but he never told me much more than that, because he suddenly shrieked with pleasure and ran over to a rotting log, which he began to munch on gleefully.)

george said goodbye to me the other day
when we had finished walking and he had had his say
he thanked me quite profusely for my hospitality
he told me I should someday visit Planet Z

and walk with woodlice
aliens with public speaking skill
I won’t faint when I next see them
it will seem like such a thrill

george said he’d come back to get me
as he vanished on that hill
I really do believe that
if I wait for him, he will

it’s been a week since he left me
and I am waiting for him still

This work (music and recording) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.