First issues first: Right here is the newest model of “The Basic Authorities Track.”
And now, the story.
Late within the fall of 1995, I used to be again at BYU after my missionary service (I’d been in Philadelphia) and was making an attempt to think about humorous religious-themed issues I might write for the Garrens Comedy Troupe. Mormon, Utah, and BYU tradition (that are deeply intertwined) had all the time been targets for us — we have been all Latter-day Saints who carried out at BYU in Provo for a largely LDS viewers — but it surely was particularly on my thoughts now as a result of I had simply spent two years considering of little else.
First I tinkered with a tune about LDS scholar Hugh Nibley, figuring out it was too area of interest however amusing myself with rhymes like “his intelligence is simply colossal / I don’t know why he’s not an apostle.” This led me to think about a tune concerning the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that leads the LDS Church. “Neal A. Maxwell / is aware of his details effectively” immediately sprang to thoughts.
Then I believed concerning the a number of songs that LDS kids sing in Main which might be meant as mnemonic units: the books of the New Testomony so as, the latter-day prophets so as, and so forth, set to music. A tune naming the present First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve (a complete of 15 males) could be helpful — helpful, however not humorous.
However what if the tune included ALL of what we name the “common authorities” — these 15 males, plus the members of (on the time) the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric — a complete of about 90 names?
Even with none jokes, it will be humorous if I discovered the names that rhymed with one another and sang them rapidly beneath the absurd premise that this tune ought to be memorized and sung by kids. (To be clear: No person would truly count on even essentially the most religious Latter-day Saint to know all these names.) I used to be intimately aware of Professor Tom Lehrer’s “The Parts,” to not point out the Animaniacs’ varied listing songs, so the idea wasn’t daunting.
I got here up with a really fundamental however jaunty piano riff that I might simply repeat and alter keys with, started working with a listing of the final authorities’ names, and debuted “The Basic Authorities Track” on the Feb. 6, 1996, Garrens Comedy Troupe efficiency.* For max showmanship, I truly memorized it and used no cheat sheets. It received a standing ovation — so far as I recall, the one time that ever occurred in the course of a present. (In fact, perhaps I wouldn’t keep in mind it if it occurred to another person.)
It grew to become my signature tune, I suppose. I up to date it as essential; these prime 15 leaders are lifetime positions, however the remaining could serve for as little as just a few years. I might hear very rigorously throughout these bulletins on the church’s semiannual common convention. When somebody whose identify supplied rhyme was launched (or died), I used to be crushed. Like this one:
“Then there’s Dennis B. Neuenschwander
No matter your identify is, his is longer”
Neuenschwander! That was a load-bearing rhyme! The tune nearly collapsed with out it.
The tune received longer through the years as the dimensions of the church’s management grew. The unique model had 90 names in 15 stanzas. As we speak there are 117 names, requiring 19 stanzas. The workplace of a “Seventy,” as soon as pretty literal (there have been not more than three rating and ten of them), grew to become figurative; for the time being, there are 98 Seventies.
Someday within the early 2000s I made the left-hand half extra attention-grabbing, however in any other case the music has stayed primarily the identical. Generally on the finish I added the primary 9 notes of the LDS hymn “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” however I feel I’ve determined I don’t like that anymore.
Two different modifications for different causes: I used to say “nosotros amigo Francisco Viñas” till somebody identified that I used to be an fool and it ought to be “nuestro amigo Francisco Viñas.” (After which I feel I stated “nuestros” for some time.) I took three years of Spanish in highschool and three semesters in school. You see how a lot good it did me.
I additionally had this couplet:
L. Tom Perry’s happy to fulfill ya”
Till I realized that his identify isn’t pronounced “Ya-ma-SHI-ta,” it’s extra like “Ya-MOSH-‘ta” — nearer in rhyme to “Costa” than “meet ya.” Administration regrets the error.
I initially omitted center (or first) initials for comfort’ sake, but it surely felt bizarre, particularly for the very prime leaders of the church who ALWAYS used these initials. He was Gordon B. Hinckley, not simply “Gordon Hinckley.” As somebody who’s explicitly Eric D. Snider and never simply “Eric Snider,” I ought to have been extra attuned to this than I used to be — actually, omitting the initials is what made it appear probably disrespectful. If somebody had stated, “It’s disrespectful to simply name him ‘Gordon Hinckley,’ I wouldn’t have been capable of argue. Anyway, someplace alongside the road I began placing the initials again in wherever it was humanly potential.
I can’t abide a W. although. Ain’t no person received time for a three-syllable preliminary. Sorry, Elder Gong and Bishop Waddell.
The tune consists of solely common authorities. The presidencies of the Sunday College, younger ladies, younger males, and Reduction Society (the ladies’s group) are common officers. And space authorities solely have authority of their areas, not typically. (Space authorities have been initially launched as third, fourth, and fifth Quorums of the Seventy, with a number of dozen new names. My abdomen fell as I thought of how unwieldy the tune could be. I used to be relieved when President Hinckley made explicitly clear that these have been NOT “common authorities.” It was nearly like he was talking on to me.)
• • •
When you’ve been to BYU or are aware of BYU attitudes (maybe due to how a lot I’ve made enjoyable of them), you may be questioning: Did anybody discover this tune offensive? These males are revered and revered, proper? Have been folks offended by listening to their names sung so casually in a comedy setting?
The reply is sure, after all — every part at BYU is offensive to somebody — however not many. Or at the least not many who I heard about. I all the time launched it with the premise of it being a mnemonic system like these kids’s songs, to make it clear that I used to be approaching it as a good friend, not an antagonizer. I additionally prevented saying something about any of the boys within the tune past their names and a few principally relevant issues like “has the Spirit” or “we should always take heed to what they inform us.”
The one actual exception to this was “Boyd Ok. Packer don’t inform no jokes,” which was largely true and which I feel Elder Packer would have been sport about. (He had a humorousness; he simply didn’t use it usually in his talks.)
Which leads us to a different query: Did anybody talked about within the tune ever hear the tune? Many common authorities had kids or grandchildren at BYU, so we knew some GA offspring should have heard it, but it surely wasn’t till 2021 that I received affirmation of a direct hear: The son of somebody talked about within the very first model of the tune, who remains to be within the present model (that ought to slender it down), advised me on Twitter that he and his sister had heard it at BYU and later performed a recording for his or her dad and mom, who thought it was humorous. Whew.**
• • •
The Garrens and I all the time joked about “The Basic Authorities Track” being the opening theme music for the church’s semiannual common conferences, ideally with the final authorities coming into and taking their seats as their names are known as. Visually, it will look one thing just like the opening of “The Muppet Present.” This form of discuss most likely is disrespectful, so overlook I discussed it.
The Garrens Comedy Troupe led to 2001. I did a handful of solo reveals, simply me and the piano, between 2003 and 2006. After that, with no place to carry out it, I had no purpose to maintain updating the tune. Nonetheless, I persevered, primarily for the advantage of household and buddies who requested it (notably the Ken & Katie Craig household, my greatest cheerleaders not associated to me). A number of of these variations have been by no means carried out extra “publicly” than someone’s home.
• • •
That is the twentieth model of the tune. Listed here are the iterations which have been preserved for posterity (I appear to have misplaced two of the three variations between 6 and 10). Dates are the primary public efficiency or the date as of which the tune was correct.
Authentic model (2/6/1996): Textual content
2nd model (10/4/1996, the night time earlier than common convention): Textual content
third model (10/11/1996, incorporating the modifications made at common convention six days earlier): Textual content
4th model (7/11/1997): Textual content
sixth model (10/1999, I feel): Audio
? model (9/2003): Audio
eleventh model (11/2007): Textual content
twelfth model (5/2009): Textual content
14th model (11/2012): Textual content
fifteenth model (5/2014): Textual content
seventeenth model (11/2017): Textual content
18th model (5/2018): Textual content
*On this present I additionally starred in a sketch that was one of many worst issues I ever wrote or carried out. It was a rubbery, high-energy Jim Carrey sort of character that I simply wasn’t good at.
**A journal entry, Feb. 22, 1996: “Jeffrey R. Holland’s son, Dave, is in my writing class. So yesterday, I gave him a tape of ‘The Basic Authorities Track’ to provide to his dad. I actually hope he responds.” I’ve no reminiscence of this in any respect — should you’d requested me if I’d ever met any of Jeffrey R. Holland’s kids I’d have stated no — so I assume I didn’t hear again.