Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Filk music is a musical culture, genre, and community tied to science fiction/fantasy/horror fandom and a type of fan labor. The genre has been active since the early 1950s, and played primarily since the mid-1970s.

Source: Wikipedia

John Martin has been a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs for at least 50 years (or more!). At various times in his life John has been been a Postman, Marine, Newspaper Editor, Reporter, Musician, Preacher, and Poet in addition to Husband, Father, and Grandfather. The Poet activity earned Mr. Martin the ERB persona of "Bridge", a poetical character found in two novels by the creator of Tarzan and John Carter ... in which neither of those more famous characters appeared!

Bridge's poetry ranges from Humor to Reality, Happy to Sad, Outrageous to Contemplative. Yet, there is a special bit of poetry wherein Bridge displays a near genius quality: Filk. Filk is "in the manner of another" using melodies of others with new words for fandom. In that regard you are in for a treat.

Over the years Bridge has entertained the fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs with Filk Songs from Tarzan's Jungle, Carter's Barsoom, Napier's Amtor, Innes' Pellucidar, and oh-so-many more!

Those with a knowledge of music and pop culture will instantly recognize the songs and fun. Those new to the concept will also find enjoyment of the clever gags and gimmicks. However, for those who might not know the songs, links have been provided to the originals, usually on youtube, so you can more readily appreciate the Filk Songs of ERB by John "Bridge" Martin.


A Collection of Filk Songs by
John "Bridge" Martin


John Carter liked The Carpenters' song, "Top of the World", so much that he had to pen his own lyrics and sing it on Mars:


Such a feeling has come over me,

There are dead sea bottoms far as I can see,

There's two moons passing by

overhead in the sky

And I know for sure this isn't any dream.


I'm so old I can't recall my birth,

And for many years I roved upon the earth,

And now I'm up on Mars

with Tharks and zitidars

And here I've found a love of matchless worth.




I'm on the red sand of Barsoom looking 'round at the vistas

But the main attraction for me here is her:

She's the love of my life and I have her as my wife

Hand in hand here on the red sand of Barsoom


The only thing I have back on Jasoom,

Is just a lonely silent empty tomb,

But the difference, up here,

is my Dejah is near,

And another word for Heaven is Barsoom.


There is one thing that is pretty clear,

My incomparable princess is my dear,

The tomorrows are all ours

for a lifetime up on Mars

As we live and love each other on Barsoom.




I'm on the red sand of Barsoom looking 'round at the vistas

But the main attraction for me here is her:

She's the love of my life and I have her as my wife

Hand in hand here on the red sand of Barsoom


(chorus repeats)


I'm on the red sand of Barsoom looking 'round at the vistas

But the main attraction for me here is her:

She's the love of my life and I have her as my wife

Hand in hand here on the red sand of Barsoom


Tarzan and Robin Hood

Back in the days when most prime time TV shows had theme songs, many with words, it wasn't long before the viewer had the themes memorized and sang along. One of those shows was "The Adventures of Robin Hood," with 143 half-hour episodes starring Richard Greene, which aired from 1955 to 1960.

When Tarzan got his own series, 1966-68, there was a theme song, but no words. What if a film company had done "The Adventures of Tarzan" with a theme song to the same tune as the one for Robin Hood?

If you don't remember the Robin Hood theme...

And here's "The Adventures of Tarzan" version, the series that never was:



Here I come, here I come, Tarzan of the Apes,

Super jungle hero but without a need for capes,

Beasts I befriend, villains I rend!

Here I come, here I come, here I come.



I ride the mighty Tantor and I tame the lion strong,

I take the gold of Opar for my pay,

My faithful little monkey on my shoulder rides along,

As o'er the limbs of trees I fly away.





The jungle is my milieu, the Waziri are my friends,

Jane is right beside me as my wife.

My trusty bow and arrow always pays me dividends,

As does my sire's hunting knife!




A TV series which probably found favor with many ERB fans was the 1957-61 run of Walt Disney's "Zorro" -- featuring a dashing hero, swordplay, good vs evil, romance.

If Disney had done a series on Tarzan instead, and used the same song-writing team to come up with songs that were true to the original stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs, perhaps they would have been inspired to write some special lyrics for an episode based on the chapter in which "Tarzan Rescues the Moon" in "Jungle Tales of .Tarzan."

Since the great apes among whom Tarzan was raised had their own name for the moon, "Goro," it would have fit the meter perfectly.

Fiction is replete with masked rider stories, some being good guys and some not-so-good. ERB wrote of a masked highwayman called The Wolf, or The Rider, in 1918. A year later, Johnston McCulley came out with "The Mark of Zorro," the word "zorro" being Spanish for "fox."

Later, ERB had one of his famous heroes, John Carter, go into a Zorro-like mode in "Swords of Mars," although Carter opted for a disguise rather than a mask as he went to Zodanga to dispatch members of the assassin's guild. After dealing with them, John Carter marked the men with an X with the point of his sword, just as Zorro liked to leave behind his Z mark.

So, here is a song that might have been part of an old Tarzan series, to the tune of Disney's "Zorro."

Everyone remembers that tune, but in case you don't, see:youtube.

Then, sing away:


(First verse)

All through the night,

He makes everything bright,

He's the watchman known as Goro.

He shines all night long,

But each morning he's gone,

The watchman known as Goro.



Goro, the moon so shining and free,

Goro (Goro, Goro), He shines a light upon me.


(Second Verse)

Then late one night,

Something strange took a bite,

Of the watchman known as Goro!

I pulled out my bow,

Fired off an arrow,

And rescued my friend Goro!





Perhaps if TV's "Big City" Tarzan attempt had come with a snappy and memorable theme song, it might have been more successful Maybe the lyrics to Petula Clark's enduring hit, "Downtown", could have been adapted for the ape man. Something like this:


All are agape while

staring up at the ape,

who's having lots of fun,



He never tires

as he travels on wires,

stunning everyone,



Just listen to the twanging

as he moves upon the clotheslines,

See the neon flashing

as he swings in front of bright signs,

How does he stay?


... Among the bright lights up there,

As if he had not a worry,

and had not a care?


Downtown! What a great sight when you're

Downtown! It's a delight going

Downtown! Tarzan is swinging for you.



He hangs around

with his leaps and his bounds

above the movie shows,



There isn't any little place

you can go

Where he will not swing by,



Just listen to the yodel

that's escaping from his lips now,

It sends a little shiver

down your undershirt or slip now.

Doesn't it dear?


You will be happy there,

Heck with your troubles

and heck with your cares, you are


Downtown! Home of that cable guy

Downtown! Seeing him swinging by,

Downtown! Tarzan is swinging on high.






And you will find he's of a mind

to help you if you need him.

Someone who will rescue you

from muggers, thugs or vermin

He's always there....


Guarding the big city jungle out there,

Making it safe so you needn't be wary of


Downtown! He's on patrol in the

Downtown! He's on a roll in the

Downtown! Tarzan is watching o'er you.


Downtown... Downtown....... fade


"The Ballad of Davy Crockett" was an astoundingly popular song and one which is still sung by many today. If Walt had been of a mind to do a Tarzan series on his weekly Disneyland television show back in the mid-50s, a song such as this might well have been written for the ape man, assuming that Disney would actually have followed ERB's original story line!

Twenty verses of Davy Crockett. Or enjoy Disney's Crockett.

Born in a cabin by the ocean side,

Kept in a cradle 'til his parents died,

Taken by an ape for a treetop ride,

Nursed by Kala ever' time he cried:

Tarzan, of the Jungle, orphaned in his very first year.


A little at a time he began to grow,

But the old apes said he was just too slow,

They wanted to kill their whiteskin foe,

But Kala just snarled, and told 'em all No!

Tarzan, of the Jungle, Kala held him dear.


Kneelin' one day by the water's brim,

He saw his reflection starin' back at him,

When up behind come a lion grim,

He jumped in the pool and he learnt how to swim.

Tarzan, of the Jungle, learnin' new things each year.


When he grew up enough to roam,

He happened to find his seaside home,

He got his daddy's knife and a pocket comb,

And learned how to read from an A-B-C tome.

Tarzan, of the Jungle, gettin' hisself some gear.


He used his knife to make a rope,

To kill ol' Sabor and the antelope,

With tools like that he'd more than a hope,

That in the Jungle he always would cope.

Tarzan, of the Jungle, didn't know no fear.


Kerchak ruled with an iron hand,

He cowed and bullied the whole ape band,

But one day Tarzan took a stand,

And wound up the ruler of Mangani land,

Tarzan, of the Jungle, known both far and near.


Into the Jungle come a girl named Jane,

She was lovely but never vain,

For Tarzan and her there met the twain,

A love they knew would not ever wane.

Tarzan, of the Jungle, someone to call him dear.


Fingerprints showed he was the bloke,

Who owned the title of Lord Greystoke,

It came with land and a money poke,

But he never forsook all the Jungle folk.

Tarzan, of the Jungle, known as a British peer.

"Whatever Happened to Gordon Scott?"

Everybody knows when you go to the show, you feel like a kid again.

You wanna see Lex and Herman Brix, and Brenda Joyce in a cutoff dress.

You already know what the plot line is, before you see the show:

Tarzan swings and Tarzan yells and makes the jungle go!


Whatever happened to Gordon Scott, swingin' upon a vine?

Whatever happened to Tabler, Pierce, and Casper, Johnny, Denny Miller?

Whatever happened to Gordon Scott, the Tarzan of my teens?

Whatever happened to Gordon Scott? He's livin' in my memory!


Everybody looks back on those films with happy memories.

Tarzan the Ape Man, Savage Fury, Huntress, Fearless, Lost Safari,

You don't need to take a shrink along to help explain the show:

Tarzan fights and Tarzan wins and the bad guys have to go.


Whatever happened to Buster Crabbe, divin' into a pool,

Whatever happened to Jock Mahoney, Elmo Lincoln, Glenn and Ely,

Whatever happened to Miles O'Keeffe, Merrill and Mike Henry?

Whatever happened to all of these? They're swingin' in my memory!

Whatever happened to Gordon Scott? He's livin' in my memory!


Many enjoyed George of the Jungle, so would we have liked a Munsters-like takeoff on the ape-man titled "The Tarzans"?

The Munsters was a television series from 1964 to 1966 and Ron Ely's Tarzan debuted in 1966. What if things had gone somewhat differently in that era and the TV moguls had instead developed Tarzan as a sit-com. We might have seen something in the style of The Munsters with:

Yvonne de Carlo as the sinister La,

Al Lewis as Professor Porter,

Beverley Owen or Pat Priest as Jane,

Manuel Padilla Jr. as Jai, or Boy

Joe E. Ross as Cheetah, and...

Gordon Scott as Tarzan!

There were lyrics to The Munsters theme (hear them on youtube). But instead of talking about Munsters "following you" they could have been about The Tarzans "rescuing you."

As in this, sung to the tune of The Munsters theme:


When you go to Africa,

And you walk down a dark jungle trail

You know you're not in America,

Cause the residents each have a tail.


See the lion charge at you,

With his mouth showing all of his teeth,

Monkeys throwing fruit at you,

And the snakes coming up from beneath.


--Up above, you hear the rustling leaves,

--Down below, are many more pet peeves,

--And all are out to eat up you,

--If the Tarzans aren't rescuing you!


La is coming to capture you,

She is pretty but not very nice!

Unless the Tarzans rescue you,

You'll be her next sacrifice!


Gimla's layin' in wait for you,

If you go for a dip in the pool;

Cannibals want to barbecue,

And the main course is gonna be YOU!


--Up ahead, a leopard in the brush,

--Plans to give you quite a scary rush,

--And the apes will sit on you,

--If the Tarzans aren't rescuing you!


Mary Poppins never dropped in on Kerchak and Kala to help make Tarzan's life better so there were no catchy songs such as "A Handful of Honey Makes the Bugs and Slugs Go Down." But Disney has remade Mary Poppins and it's a reminder of the song in the original, "Chim-Chim-Cheree," the tune of which could have well been used to sum up Tarzan's brief fascination with the lovely and gracious Teeka in "Jungle Tales of Tarzan."

Just for fun, here's what such a song might have sounded like if written to the tune of the chimney sweep's ballad.


Teeka is sleek and she's covered with hair,

Of all the Mangani, she is the most fair.

Large bushy eyebrows and nostrils that flare,

Big gleaming teeth and a simian stare...

Tarzan loves Teeka, but does Teeka care?


Teeka's unique but it's easy to see,

An ape name of Taug's also after this she.

I wonder and watch as I sit in this tree,

Is something coming between her and me?

Yes, Tarzan loves Teeka, but does she love me?


Ron Ely's "Tarzan" was on the air from 1966 to 1968. During that time, "The Beverly Hillbillies" debuted (September, 1967).

In the latter, a hillbilly family strikes it rich and moves to Hollywood, where comic situations run riot as the back-country folks try to adjust to Southern California life.

What if, the creative team that imagined the hillbilly show, had instead come up with the idea for what life would be like for Tarzan and his family when they moved from Africa to London? You might have seen Donna Douglas as Jane, Buddy Ebsen as Professor Porter, Irene Ryan as a politically correct Esmeralda, and Max Baer Jr. as Tarzan himself.

Raymond Bailey (the banker in Hillbillies) might have played Tarzan's London financial manager and Nancy Kulp could have been Lady D'Arnot.

Would we have hated it or loved it?

In any case, if the same song-writing team had been hired, we might have lyrics like this running through our heads, to the tune of "The Beverly Hillbillies" theme song:


Come listen to a story 'bout a man named Tarz,

Livin' in the jungle where they weren't a' driving cars

And then one day he was minding his own biz,

When up to his cabin came a pretty young mizz...


(A girl, that is. Blonde hair. Blue eyes.)


Well the first thing you know, Tarz calls 'er "My dear,"

And the young gal says, "Tarz, move away from here."

She said "An English castle is the place to have some fun,

"So grab some gold from Opar and we'll go to London."


{Pea soup city that is. The Big Smoke. Cockaigne)


And the show-closing stanza.....


Now it's time to say goodbye to Tarzan's jungle kin,

The Mangani are wavin' bye as tears flow down their chin;

They hope that Tarz will tire soon of Britain and its queen,

And come on back to Dum Dum land to star for Normal Bean.


(Ape style, that is. Scratch your back. Eat a bug. You chaps come back now, righto!)


Disneyland never got around to doing more than converting the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse to a Tarzan Treehouse, but if they'd gone further, they might have altered the nearby Pirates of the Caribbean ride to a trip down a river in Tarzan's jungle, complete with Mangani dancing the Dum-Dum.

And, of course, those Mangani would be singing the Dum-Dum song, just as the pirates there now sing the Yo-Ho song.

Here's them pirates singing it. Give a listen mateys and then sing the Dum-Dum version below.


Dum-Dum, Dum-Dum, we dance the dance of death!


We're beetle-browed simians, big hulking shapes,

Dum-Dum, Mangani, Dum-Dum,

We're the Mangani, the African apes,

DumDum, Mangani, Dum-Dum!

Dum-Dum, Dum-Dum, we dance the dance of death.


We're big and we're brutal and hairy and scary,

Dum-Dum, Mangani, Dum-Dum,

Sometimes we're friendly and sometimes contrary,

Dum-Dum, Mangani, Dum-Dum!

Dum-Dum, Dum-Dum, we dance the dance of death!


We rhumba and samba, we twist and we shout,

Dum-Dum, Mangani, Dum-Dum,

And nobody ever sits any dance out,

Dum-Dum, Mangani, Dum-Dum!

Dum-Dum, Dum-Dum, we dance the dance of death.


We lumber and swagger, we jump and we spin,

Dum-Dum, Mangani, Dum-Dum,

The Jungle resounds to the deafening din,

Dum-Dum, Mangani, Dum-Dum!

Dum-Dum, Dum-Dum, we dance the dance of death (...to fadeout).

A Boy Named Boy

Well I left home when I was grown

And set out to wander on my own

And find me some lost land people I could annoy

Tarzan and Jane said "Good luck, kid,"

But the worst thing that they ever did,

Was when I was young they went and named me "Boy."


Well it got lots of laughs from lots of chimps,

Cause the name of "Boy" is just for wimps,

So sometimes the folks eased off and called me "Jack."

But I went out killed me a lion or two

A panther, a croc and a fat gnu

And earned me the great ape moniker of "Korak."


One day I rescued this young gal

From a mean slave trader, who wanted to sell

Her to a Kur businessman from the planet Gor,

And after we hung out for awhile

I noticed she had such a pretty smile

That I asked her to be my love forevermore.


So we settled down and then one day,

We went back to Mom & Dad's to stay,

And the first thing I heard was Tarzan callin' me "Boy,"

Well, Meriem laughed and I got red

And felt like I'd rather just drop dead

And felt like runnin' away to Illinois!


So now I prowl the jungle alone

While Meriem and Mom and Dad stay home,

And don't even come to rescue me when I slip up,

But I made one vow to Goro and friends

That if Meriem and I ever make amends

And have a kid, I'm going to name him...

...Wait a minute... What makes me think it'll be a "him"?


Disney missed a good bet by not recycling some of their old movie songs for the 1999 "Tarzan."

This is to the tune of the "Snow White and Seven Dwarfs" song, "Dig! Dig! Dig!," to be sung as the apes are grooming each other and consuming the products of grooming).

And here's the Tarzan version:


(Ape Chorus)

We pick pick pick pick pick pick pick,

We pick the whole day through,

We pick pick pick pick pick pick pick,

That's what we like to do!


(Ape Solo)

We pick the fleas and worms and mites,

From each ape's hard-to-reach-to sites,

Then we eat, all we find,

And we don't really mind

As some ape picks at our behind!


(Ape Chorus)

We pick pick pick pick pick pick pick pick

And sing our picking song,

We pick pick pick pick pick pick pick

We pick the whole day long.


(Ape Solo)

We pick up rocks and logs and sticks,

To search for grubs and snails and ticks


(Ape Trio)

What a way, for a day,

To be happ'ly whiled away!


(Ape Chorus)

We pick pick pick...etc. repeat to fadeout).

John Carter and the landed gentry

"John! John! Sleepyhead. Supper's waiting for you!"

John Carter opened one eye and looked up at the blonde beauty leaning over him.

For just a moment, he had to reorient himself. He was married to this woman, and he loved her. But for what seemed like forever, he had been pursuing a raven-haired beauty on another planet.

Good night! It had all been a dream: Six-limbed green men, giant apes, strange flying contraptions and two moons illuminating the evening sky.

He couldn't have been asleep more than 20 minutes, when he had dropped on the couch for a quick nap after working in the family fields plowing all day and supervising his daughter as she chopped cotton. But, my, how that 20 minutes had been filled with the wildest stuff.

But here was his wife, Sarah Jo, gazing down at him with that big smile. For a second he was tempted to reach up and grab her and pull her down for a big kiss. But his daughter, Billie Jo, was in the room and would be embarrassed if he did that. Besides, he could see that Sarah Jo had just applied a fresh layer of lipstick and, though she loved him unconditionally, she'd probably be just a little chagrined if he did anything to change the carefully sculpted look she had achieved to present to him across a centerpiece of southern fried chicken.

He shook his head to try to clear the remaining images from his dream, and swung his legs to the floor and then, stepping over the sleeping Woola, launched himself at the table. Billie Jo was already there with that big, broad smile beneath the blonde hair that matched her mother's.

"Boy that smells good," said John Carter, looking over the spread of chicken, vegetables, and hot, fluffy biscuits,. "Mmmmmmm," he said. "Pass the biscuits...PLEASE!"

Next, he reached for the chicken platter and began selecting pieces for his plate. He looked at his daughter and asked, "What you been doin' today, sweetie pie!"

"Pickin' flowers," she smiled.

"You spend a lot of time pickin' flowers up on that ridge," grinned her dad. He looked at the bouquet of daisies in the jar on the table. "Very pretty," he said.

Sarah Jo raised an eyebrow: "Did you remember to wipe your feet before you came in the house?"

"Yes, Momma," she grinned.

John smiled at Sarah Jo. "So what's new on this fine June day in 1866," he asked her.

"Well," she said, "Dahjeelah and Thad Sabin are coming over tomorrow, the third."

"Ah, the cream of the local landed gentry," said John Carter. "What do they see in the family of an ex-Confederate soldier and cotton farmer?"

"They're just very nice people," said Sarah Jo. "And your friend Tarl Tarkenton is coming over later tonight with that wagon load of wood you traded him for those bales of hay."

"Yeah, I saw him at the sawmill yesterday," said John Carter. "Now how 'bout passin' around those black-eyed peas?"

"I know they're your favorite," said Sarah Jo, handing him the big bowl.

"You know, I think I smell something really good," said John Carter.

"Eat your dinner first," Sarah Jo chided. "Then you can have a slice of that pie."

"And after I eat that, I might have another piece of apple pie," John Carter said.

"You deserve it dear," said Sarah Jo. "You work so hard."

"Yeah," said John Carter. "And tomorrow, there's five more acres in the lower forty I've got to plow."

Carson of Venus

Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Cars,

Built a rocket ship to carry him to Mars,

But the Man in the Moon said that where you oughta be,

Is a place called Venus in a tall, tall tree.


Lofty pines, that is. Giant spiders. Bird people.


Well the first thing you know ol' Carson's made it there,

Jumpin' from his ship while it's still up in the air.

Lands in Vepaja where they open up their arms,

As long as he shakes off Duare's charms.


Janjong, that is. Don't touch. Don't look.


Well now it's time for Cars and Du to say a quick goodbye;

They can't go back to Kooaad or they're surely gonna die.

They're flying' in the anotar but every time they land,

They run into an enemy and get their rear-ends tanned.


Fish men. Zombies then...


Ya'll come to Amtor now, ya hear?


Famed country artist Dolly Parton has written over 3,000 songs, starting in childhood. One of them was called "Jolene", as the female singer pleaded with the vamp, Jolene, not to steal her lovin' man from her.

"Jolene" fits the meter of "Tarzan," so I envisioned a song, to the tune of "Jolene," in which Jane is the singer and is pleading with La to stay away from her man, Tarzan.

Dolly would be well suited to play Jane in a Tarzan movie. Both Jane and Dolly were from the south and ERB's Jane probably had a southern accent.

So here's Dolly, playing Jane, and singing to the ape man about La:


Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan...

I'm begging you to stay away from La;

Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan...

That city known as Opar ain't no spa


Her beauty is beyond compare

With golden bangles in her hair

With sacrificial dagger in her hand


She looks at you with sultry eyes

And when you leave her side she cries,

She wants to be your lover, my Tarzan.


She's decided you're her man

She'll have you any way she can

Even if it's on a slab, Tarzan


We do not need that Opar gold

So Tarzan please don't be so bold

And leap into the fire from the pan


Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan...

I'm begging you to stay away from La;

Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan...

That city known as Opar ain't no spa


Even though your mind is set

Please don't do something you'll regret,

Please don't go near that woman, my Tarzan...


I had to have this talk with you

Before another day is through

Before you leave to get more gold, Tarzan,


Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan...

I'm begging you to stay away from La;

Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan...

That city known as Opar ain't no spa


Tarzan, Tarzan...