I’m going to keep posting these until you all unfollow me…
As Some Day it May Happen (commonly know as “I’ve got a little list” or “the list song”) from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.
This is probably the most famous song from the mikado, if not the most famous G&S song. It’s also one of Gilbert’s most pointed pieces of satire - mocking society’s need to persecute and punish people. The wording is very telling, opening with:
“As some day it may happen that a victim must be found” - as the Lord High Executioner begins his song about looking for people he may execute to fulfil his obligations as an executioner and judge.
And closing with the rather pithy:
“But it really doesn’t matter whom you put upon the list,
For they’d none of ‘em be missed — they’d none of ‘em be missed!”
Still rings true today doesn’t it?
In any event this is a performance with the original lyrics in tact. The song is never performed like this today because a few lines have become problematic since victorian times. I’ll explain them here so nobody gets enraged over the non-pc-ness of a song that is over 100 years old.
When listing “the nigger serenader” - this is a reference to blackface performers - not black people. Blackface wasn’t as popular in England as it was in the U.S. - and was considered low brow enough by Gilbert to be included on the executioner’s list of people nobody would miss.
”And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy” is not refering to a cross dresser. If you’re familiar with British English then you know that they don’t use the word “guy” like we do. Guy refers to Guy Fawkes (don’t know who? google it) - and more generally, to a scare crow type thing… you’ll have to google it.
Today other lyrics are commonly substituted, often refering to current events, or anything else topical.
Thomas Allen sings the list song at the proms
Stewie sings the list song on a cut scene from Family Guy
The 1990 D’oyly Carte Opera version
Creative Commons info:
Gilbert & Sullivan: THE MIKADO.
D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.
Isidore Godfrey, conductor.
Victor 78rpm Album C-26 (02044 - 02065). Recorded June 3-22, 1936.
Digital transfer by F. Reeder