“Alice’s Theme”: Music & Lyrics by Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman’s soundtrack to Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland will be released on CD (an ancient kind of optical disc used to store digital audio) next Tuesday, March 2nd, and there’s some short clips at the Amazon store if you desire a teaser. I couldn’t help noticing the opening song – with children’s voices singing “Oh, Alice, dear where have you been?” – and I found the complete lyrics at a blog called cinemusic.net. I’ll include them with that website’s charming introduction:

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp as Elijah Wood The Mad Hatter begins pissing off prickly Lewis Carroll purists on March 5, 2010 in theaters everywhere in eye-popping 3D. Lending musical support is Burton’s constant composer Danny Elfman, AKA film music’s most awesome red head.

Threaded throughout the score is an original song penned by Elfman, called “Alice’s Theme”, and it opens up the Disney Records score album due in stores on March 2 (obligatory Amazon link). Here’s a sneak peek at the song’s lyrics (thanks to the supremely talented LD for these)…

“Alice’s Theme”

Music and Lyrics by Danny Elfman

Oh, Alice, dear where have you been?
So near, so far or in between?
What have you heard what have you seen?
Alice, Alice, please, Alice!

Oh, tell us are you big or small
To try this one or try them all
It’s such a long, long way to fall
Alice, Alice, oh, Alice

How can you know this way not that?
You choose the door you choose the path
Perhaps you should be coming back
Another day, another day

And nothing is quite what is seems
You’re dreaming are you dreaming, oh, Alice?
(Oh, how will you find your way? Oh, how will you find your way?)
(There’s not time for tears today. There’s no time for tears today.)

So many doors – how did you choose
So much to gain so much to lose
So many things got in your way
No time today, no time today
Be careful not to lose your head
Just think of what the doormouse [sic] said…Alice!

Did someone pull you by the hand?
How many miles to Wonderland?
Please tell us so we’ll understand
Alice…Alice…Oh, Alice

(Oh how will you find you way? … Oh, how will you find you way?)

Sing along!

I’ve never met a prickly Lewis Carroll purist, let alone a pissed-off one, but I would presume they’re easily decapitated with a vorpal sword. Or defenestrated with a defibrillator.

Anyway, if you are not familiar with Mr. Elfman, he is the film composer and long-time collaborator with Mr. Burton, the man wrote the iconic music for Batman, The Simpsons theme, and those wonderful songs for The Nightmare Before Christmas. He has done less-than-stellar work for some of Mr. Burton’s more recent mediocrities. Elfman is often mocked in the classical world for basically having a team of composers do his work for him, although I sometimes feel this criticism is harsh. (After all, Renaissance painters employed whole crews of apprentices, Dale Chihuly has a studio to manifest his glass-art masterpieces, and George Gershwin didn’t do the orchestrations for Rhapsody in Blue (free round of drinks if you can name the composer who did!) Art is not always the product of an agonized solo genius, sometimes she can be more of an architectural designer, et cetera, especially in the film music world. Thus ends this parenthetical rant.)
As dear to my adolescent heart as Elfman’s music for The Nightmare Before Christmas is, there’s many cringeworthy lyrics (e.g., “I wish my cohorts weren’t so dumb / I’m not the dumb one / You’re no fun / Shut up! / Make me!”) I would pay a large sum of money to hire William Shatner to read the lyrics to “Alice’s Theme” as a beat poem accompanied by bongos and upright bass (as he did for Sarah Palin’s verbiage). In conclusion, Mr. Elfman should hire a real librettist.