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This morbid installment of my AmperArt series could have been entitled “Crypt Doors & Tombstones” but I chose the just-as-eerie verbs over the nouns “Creak & Quake.” These words are all from the first stanza of Grim Grinning Ghosts, the theme song permeating Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion.
Truth be told, I’m still only 99% sure that the song starts with
“When the crypt doors creak & the tombstones quake…” or
“When the crypt goes creak & the tombstones quake…”
Why? Because after visiting several websites to make sure I got the lyrics right (even though I’ve heard the song hundreds of times, it’s not embedded into the skull like “It’s a Small World”) there were discrepancies. The first site which sounded like an official lyrics site is what threw me off: It read “…goes creak” which was surprising, as I’ve always heard, so I thought, “When the crypt doors creak…” The original songwriters—Buddy Baker, melody, and lyrics by Xavier “X” Atencio, the Disney legend—were listed, along with dates and other information. So I figured that was what they wrote, and everyone just adapted what they thought they heard.
Until I visited a few more sites. Everywhere else the song goes “…doors creak…” which sounds so much better; is part of the Disney fans’ venacular; and what I chose to use in my piece of artwork. (It’s probably the correct choice.)
William Shakespeare & his poem, Venus & Adonis, influenced the title of the Haunted Mansion’s theme song:
- Look, how the world’s poor people are amaz’d
- At apparitions, signs, and prodigies,
- Whereon with fearful eyes they long have gaz’d,
- Infusing them with dreadful prophecies;
- So she at these sad sighs draws up her breath,
- And, sighing it again, exclaims on Death.
- ‘Hard-favour’d tyrant, ugly, meagre, lean,
- Hateful divorce of love,’—thus chides she Death,—
- ‘Grim-grinning ghost, earth’s worm, what dost thou mean
- To stifle beauty and to steal his breath,
- Who when he liv’d, his breath and beauty set
- Gloss on the rose, smell to the violet?
The tombstone and graveyard in this piece really do exist: The Granary Cemetery, Boston, Mass. Well, almost. The top and borders of the tombstone are authentic (except for the iconic “D” under the skull); I elongated the entire monument and replaced the somber inscription with silly lyrics. So much for reverence. I wish to give credit to an incredible photographer, whose image I came across on the Internet and used as reference for this piece. Her name is Della Huff. Her photography is spectacular. See it at http://dellahuffphoto.zenfolio.com/ I had no idea such morbid tombstones actually existed. The graveyard, though heavily distorted by my twisted mind, is among many wonderful photographs I found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mbdezines/sets/72157607857008082/
As much as I detest innacuracy (why can’t others do a little research like I did, even though it took longer than the artwork?) it led me to several interesting haunts:
I discovered alternate, highly entertaining versions of Grim Grinning Ghosts; a great video for the kids (and the grown-up kids); and of course it was hauntingly wonderful to hear the original soundtrack again (where I could swear they enunciate “doors”). Here are those sites:
Turn off the lights and turn up the sound:
Entertaining a capella from VoicePlay:
Here’s the original soundtrack followed by a cool alternate version (which seems to have been produced by James Presley) and some of the beginning and ending narrative:
The kids will enjoy this singalong video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eavo08IXduQ (I like it very much myself.)
And something really entertaining — spooky at first with organ and choir, then wildly zany with unique voices, and all sorts of other sounds…produced by James Presley:
Original size: 10×15 inches
Program: Photoshop, Illustrator (for the dingbats)
Fonts: Willow, Eccentric, Harrington
Ampersand: Harrington (line shadow added)
Tombstone & graveyard reference: Granary Cemetery, Boston, Massachussetts, USA
Della Huff is the photographer whose tombstone photo was used for reference and sampling by the artist. See her spectacular fine art photography at http://dellahuffphoto.zenfolio.com/ Della’s original photo that made this AmperArt piece possible:
Graveyard background: mbdezines Image modified so extensively it does not resemble the original photograph…but the background would not be “authentic” without this photographer’s contribution.
Artist discovered that crypts do have doors at:
Music and lyrics sites visited for reference:
H u r r y b a c k . . .