Saturday, December 31, 1994

The Times They Are A-Changing

Chuck Bigelow's "who will write the most stupid thing on comp.fonts" contest inspired this, written in December 1994. Don Hosek published it in his typography magazine, Serif.

I don't actually agree with most of this, but it's difficult to write a song with the message "stick to established traditions" when parodying Dylan.

My copy of Simon and Garfunkel's Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. got a good workout while I was writing this. For some reason Simon and Garfunkel have been a channel for me: in high school I wrote "Roger Sage and the New York Times" to "Scarborough Fair". And, obviously, it was also related to "Times." This is either a weird coincidence or a profound insight into my innermost soul.


The Times they are a-changing

(Apologies to Mr. Zimmerman)

Come type-aholics wherever you roam
Look at old Times Roman sitting on its throne
And accept it that soon you'll be sick of the drone
Of old Stanley Morison's makings
Still, you can do better than ITC Stone
For the Times, they are a-changing

Come draftsmen and artists who calligraph with the pen
Break in your nibs now, the chance won't come again
The type balls and wheels are no longer in spin
Now lasers and inkjets are aiming
The Linotypes have ceased their hot noisy din
And the Times, they are a-changing

Come Berthold, Adobe, Hell-Linotype all:
Don't be too surprised if we break your cabal
The whole design world we've worked to enthrall
Your efforts we are upstaging
It may look to you like just chicken-scratch scrawl
But the Times, they are a-changing

Come old-fashioned designers all over the land
And don't rasterize what you can't understand
Carson and Deck are beyond your command
Hermann Zapf is rapidly aging
We're progressing beyond Carolingian hand
And the Times, they are a-changing

The line it is drawn, the metal is cast
Yet laser and film are proved to be fast
Though old-timers often have been struck aghast
At the poor amateurs masquerading
We've all broken through the typographer's caste
For the Times, they are a-changing

For the Times, they are a-changing


The penultimate paragraph used to begin as follows:

Come old-fashioned designers all over the land
And don't criticize what you can't understand
Segura and Carson are beyond your command

I think it's better this way, and not inconsistent with what it might have been like in 1994 had I thought of it. (No change in preference is intended by referring to Mr. Deck instead of Mr. Segura -- the change merely improves the meter.)

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