June 18, 2008

Exhibit 22: “Viva Viagra!”




"Viva Viagra!" was a 2007 composition by Nashville songwriter Woodrow Shaft. The song enjoyed considerable popularity thanks to the success of an oft-televised music video, shown above. During the procurement of this exhibit, Shaft granted MOPA researchers a telephone interview, in which he extended the origins and writing process of the song.

MUSEUM OF POP ARCHAEOLOGY: Mr. Shaft --

WOODROW SHAFT: Please, call me Woody.

MOPA: Very well. Woody Shaft, tell me about the origins of this composition.

SHAFT: Well, I was always a bit of a mystic. I would get these visions. A lot of songwriters of my age get 'em. Some people might call 'em dreams, but I always call 'em visions, 'cause they always happen when I'm drivin'. Usually on the I-440.

So one day durin' rush hour I suddenly get this vision. I'm a weary traveler, limpin' down a crooked road. I been workin' this road for a long, long time. Just goin' up and down this road. I'm very tired. My body is wobbly, infirm, lacking all turgidity… I feel like a toad leg. Very flaccid.

MOPA: What are you wearing?

SHAFT: In the vision?

MOPA: Yes, what are you wearing right now, at this point in the vision?

SHAFT: Just a leathery jacket. A little wrinkled I guess. You want me to go on?

MOPA: Yes, yes, please keep going.

SHAFT: I'm walkin' down this road, exhausted as all get-out. Then I fall down on the ground. My body, I just can't get it up, so I just lay there on the ground for awhile, in a pile of dust.

MOPA: Are you feeling dirty?

SHAFT: I am feelin' dirty, yes. And I'm an old man, but I feel as helpless as a little baby boy, lyin' down there in the dirt.

MOPA: You're a dirty little boy.

SHAFT: Yes I am. Now, I'm exhausted, just like a lonesome toad. I go to sleep for about two hours. When I wake up I notice my head has landed in a very soft-feeling patch of grass. Or I think it's grass, I ain't so sure. So I start touchin' this spot to see if it's actually grass, or if it's somethin' else. This goes on for a few minutes.

MOPA: And you keep stroking it?

SHAFT: Yes. Then I realize it's grass after all. So I slowly get up on my feet – it's very difficult, because I'm so weak and unable to exert much effort.

MOPA: It's getting harder?

SHAFT: Incredibly difficult, yeah. But eventually I get up and stay there for awhile, until I notice a city-limits sign that reads, "Welcome to Viagra – Our Rubber Covers The World." Meanin' this town Viagra must've been a major industrial center for tires and whatnot. But once I see that sign, I realize I've finally stumbled across civilization! So I decide I'm just going to continue down this path until I see something that sticks out.

MOPA: Just keep going.

SHAFT: Right, stay on the path. After a few minutes I fish out these little – I dunno, they kinda look like blue vitamins, some sort of vittles or somethin'. And all of a sudden, I get this sudden surge of energy, and it takes me by surprise.

MOPA: So it feels good?

SHAFT: What's that? Sorry, I'm hard of hearing.

MOPA: I said, it feels good?

SHAFT: Oh, does it feel good?

MOPA: Yeah, does it feel good?

SHAFT: Yeah, I'm really relieved that I can spring back into action like that. So I keep walkin' for about fifteen minutes, up and down, up and down, up and down that road. Then off in the distance I notice this really big, tall lighthouse, with a couple of grain silos on either side of it. The lighthouse is standin' straight up and these two silos go up against its side about a quarter way. I feel this impulse to go towards the lighthouse, because I can sense some sort of closure on my day's journey, a sign that will really mean somethin' to me.

MOPA: You're coming to a climax.

SHAFT: Yeah. Well, not completely. I kind of want to wait a bit and hold back, in case I come too early to a hasty conclusion. I mean, I don't know what's happenin' here, I'm just goin' on instinct, you know?

MOPA: Yes, yes, yes. Oh, yes.

SHAFT: So I get up to the lighthouse, and I knock on the door. There's this supervisor there – I'm afraid of him at first, he looks kind of tough, but it turns out he's a very friendly guy. He says, "Hey, glad you could finally make it. Enter, please!"

MOPA: "Come, come."

SHAFT: Yeah, that's what he says. So I come in the lighthouse, and I notice on the floor there's this little circular launch pad. And it's kind of vibratin'. The supervisor tells me to stand directly on the launch pad. I ask 'im why and he says, "Well, let me tell ya – I'm a man of the cloth, and I'm here to help you get where you're goin'." I say to him, "So, what would I call you, a crusader? Travelin' preacher? Evangelist?" And he says, "I prefer missionary."

MOPA: Oh, yes.

SHAFT: And he goes on, "I'm seeking lost souls, and guidin' pilgrims on their journeys. You look like a pilgrim to me. You're on this pilgrimage, and that's why you wound up here. I'm here to help you. If you stand on this launch pad and just wait for a bit, I guarantee you, you're going to fly up into the face of the cosmos, and you're gonna see God."

MOPA: Oh, God.

SHAFT: Yes, God.

MOPA: God.

SHAFT: I know it sounds crazy, but it feels to me like the journey's coming to an end. That after all this hard work and effort, I'm just about ready to bring it to an end. And I have a feeling it's going to feel good and that whatever's up there is gonna take good care of me. Which is good, 'cause I ain't had tobacco in weeks, and I could sure use a cigarette at the end of all this. So I stand on the launch pad, and it starts shaking violently. All of a sudden the walls crack a little bit, and all this water from the ocean starts filling into the room. I get the sense it's about to happen.

MOPA: It's so close. It's so close.

SHAFT: It is, and I'm sure lookin' forward to that cigarette. The room fills with water, up to my knees, and all of a sudden I hear this horn sound in the chamber, it's makin' this sustained, long, round tone… I'm not quite sure how you'd describe it… it kind of sounds like… I dunno…

MOPA: "Aaaaaaaaaaaah"?

SHAFT: No, not quite that, it's rounder sounding than that…

MOPA: "Ooooooooooooh"?

SHAFT: Yeah, "Oh" is more like it. Finally after a few moments of hesitation, the launch pad pulls downward a little, and the water comes over it… and then, finally…. Whoooosh!

MOPA: Yes, yes!

SHAFT: The launch pad shoots me through a very little hole in the top of the lighthouse, and I come shootin' out into the sky, with all this water comin' out too! It's a powerful moment. It's amazing!

MOPA: Oh, wow. Wow.

SHAFT: You got it! I fly right into the damp atmosphere! And I very slowly start decompressing – I'm very relaxed, kind of flushed, just lyin' on my back, free of obligation. I mean, I don't have to call nobody in the morning, I'm free from all responsibility and commitment. I just stay there, on top of this column of water, floating in the middle of the sky with no cares whatsoever. It's a fantastic feeling. A giant release. An outpouring.

MOPA: Wow.

SHAFT: Pretty intense, ain't it?

MOPA: That was incredible.

SHAFT: Thank you. I appreciate it.

MOPA: That was the best ever.

SHAFT: Well, I've always been told I'm a good storyteller.

MOPA: Good? Only good? No way – you're the best ever! I mean it!

SHAFT: Thanks again. That means a lot to me.

MOPA: Whew!

SHAFT: Heh-heh.

MOPA: Wow.

SHAFT: Thank you.

MOPA: So what happens next?

SHAFT: I stay up there in the sky for more than four hours and I have to call my doctor to bring me down.

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