Nov 03 2009

South Side Story

Published by at 7:14 am under Crows & Ravens

American Crows (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

The crows are back in town, raucous as ever!  Thousands flew over my house this morning.

When I showed this photo to my husband we both started to laugh.  The crows look so much like a gang that my husband began to sing When You're A Jet from West Side Story.  (He knows all these songs by heart because his parents were really into Broadway musicals.)  Soon he was inventing crow lyrics.  Soon he had written a crow version of the song.  And so was born...

South Side Story

Coal: Hey, Biff, getta load on what them filthy pigeons are doin’…

Biff:  Them?  With their stupid green heads and silly pink galoshes?  We’ve already laughed ‘em off the street…

Coal:  Oh yeah? Well they’ve moved into the parking lot down at the Giant Eagle.

Midnight:  Yeah, they’re takin’ over OUR dumpsters.

Sulfur:  [chiming in timidly] One of ‘em swiped a cheeto I had my dibs on…

Biff:  Well, don’t worry, we’ll take care of them – because we’re CROWS!

When you’re a Crow
You’re as black as the night.
You’re as sleek as cold steel
and you’re ready for flight.

When you’re a Crow
You are sure of respect.
You’ve got boys in your roost.
You’ve got cards in your deck.

The Crows are in gear,
our cylinders are clickin’.
You Pigeons stay clear --
cause once you’re in the pot
you know you taste like chicken!

When you’re a Crow
well, you’ve been to Crow school.
You can poke open bags.
You can even make tools.

You can steal a gold ring.
You can gang up on cats.
You can count up to five.
You’re a bird and a half!

When you’re a Crow
You’re an Army of One
You make plans for the day
and your plans all get done.

Here come the Crows,
we are cruisin’ your way!
We are takin’ the mirror
from that new Chevrolet.
We are climbing the curbs
and we’re eating old meat.
We are chasing the rats.
We are claiming this street!

Once you’ve been marked
With a capital C
You’re the top-perching bird
any pole, any tree.

When you’re a Crow
You can chortle and caw
You don’t "sing," man, you SHOUT
And your word is the law.

You Pigeons watch out
Cause we’re namin’ your name.
We’re not takin’ crap,
you are outta this game.

You’ll be feeling our heat.
You’ll be tasting our juice.
So, get off of our wires…
.........The Roost!

-- light verse for crows by Richard St. John with a huge tip of the hat to Stephen Sondheim and West Side StoryHere are the original lyrics.  Photo by Marcy Cunkelman.

15 responses so far

15 Responses to “South Side Story”

  1. Dianeon 03 Nov 2009 at 8:11 am

    This is too funny! I will probably be humming it all day:)

  2. CHWon 03 Nov 2009 at 8:44 am

    Delightful! WSS is my all time made my day!

  3. Kathyon 03 Nov 2009 at 8:53 am


  4. Kathy McCharenon 03 Nov 2009 at 9:47 am


  5. Kittyon 03 Nov 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Laughing out loud…. 😀

  6. Marcy Con 03 Nov 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Funny when I took this picture Out MY Window, I was thinking “Crows In Black” walking up the driveway…they made me laugh too when I saw them walking up in a line…The crows KNOW me, no matter what I am wearing, when I put seed out…Instead of the FIVE Crows, there are now at least TEN. They fly thru the yard and some even sound like they are still begging…maybe they will bring in some FISH Crows which I have had fly over the yard in years past. Great poem, also….(A photo can be a thousand words.)

  7. Kate St. Johnon 03 Nov 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Yay, Marcy! Thanks for the picture. Without your gang of crows my husband would never have thought of the poem.

  8. Bonnie Jeanneon 04 Nov 2009 at 10:34 am

    Wonderful! Now… enter a female pigeon, preening her feathers and cooing about feeling pretty….

  9. Debon 05 Nov 2009 at 12:11 pm

    SO funny..that is exactly what I thought when I viewed the pic! I thought, oh that poor guy interested in something on the ground. Those thugs are going to get him while his bodyguard’s back is turned in the foreground! BUT, I could never make up a song–that was great!

  10. wendy joon 06 Nov 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Crows are amazing, I have a family of crows who come to my feeders every morning, Crows protect wildbirds from hawks, my conclusion about crows after watching them for almost 2 years, they have never killed wildbirds at my feeders, they do the opposite and protect them, give warning calls when cats are close 🙂

  11. David Son 08 Nov 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Glad to see that Rick is writing. Will this be in the next book?

  12. Kate St. Johnon 09 Nov 2009 at 7:05 am

    Rick laughs & says this is merely “light verse” which I take to mean it isn’t, in his view, book-quality poetry.

  13. Art McMorrison 09 Nov 2009 at 9:48 am


  14. David Brewtonon 01 Nov 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Fabulous! (He says in his most show-tuney lilt!).

    If you’re gonna step down to showtunes, only Sondheim and Bernstein rise to St. John’s standards!

    Loved this.

    Not so sure I love the crows though. They freak me out.

  15. John Thomsonon 03 Nov 2016 at 3:32 am

    Is that the same as “Benny and the Jets”?
    Has Richard done one to that tune?

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