The Truth About Ninjas
Words & Music by S. J. Tucker
Guitars, vocals: S. J. Tucker
Tracked & mixed by Kristoph Klover, Flowinglass Music Oakland CA
Once upon a time in early 2008, I was asked by good friends and fans to perform at a house party in Dayton, Ohio. Said friends let it slip that they'd attempted to sell the party honoree on me by telling him about my pirate songs, to which he said "well, does she have a ninja song? What if I want a ninja song?" Thus, the ninjas vs. pirates debate came to my door to throw down the gauntlet, for the very first time.
I did not think quickly enough at the time to come back with "but honey, all of my songs have ninjas in them. Couldn't you tell?"
I toyed with the idea of writing a ninja song before I got to Dayton. It happened while we'd stopped to rest at Sterling's house on the way to Ohio. The words just started tumbling out. I wrote them down as fast as I could while sitting in Sterling's living room, mystifying her cats in my concentration. The sneaky plucked guitar line tiptoed right behind, on cat feet. I remember giggling evilly at the time. I also remember that my fit of songwriting kept us from getting back on the road at our appointed hour, not for the first time and likely not for the last time.
Since its debut at that Dayton house party, "The Truth About Ninjas" has been busting guts at every performance. It's a particular favorite at cons, but I get requests for it just about everywhere I go.
About the recording:
This was the first track that Kristoph and I worked on together. I'd hoped to break the ice with it, to show 'Stoph my chops and a bit of my sense of humor at the same time. It worked. We stopped being both overly polite and nervous. Kristoph has a great laugh and an even greater ability to stifle said laugh while tracking is going on. :D
I toyed with the idea of putting a live version of "Ninjas" on the album instead of a studio version, just because the laughter is so wonderfully
contagious when I play the song at shows. I don't know which I love more: playing it for a crowd who've never heard it before, or playing it for a crowd who've heard it many times. I also toyed with the idea of letting it be a hidden track on the album, or even waiting to release it as a hidden track on the album of pirate songs I'm working on next.
I have the advantage of being relatively well known for singing good songs about pirates. I'm not sure whether "Ninjas" would be quite as big of a crowd favorite without my pirate songs already being on my audiences' radar. Therefore, I feel that in this case, both sides are winners in the ninjas vs. pirates debate.
The video I'm including here is from this past weekend--this was definitely the most fun I've had yet, performing this song and the back story that goes with it. It takes a great deal to make me break character and crack up like this during a show. I've kept a straight face through spontaneous alligator-costumed tango, unplanned sword fights, and even my boyfriend lighting his face on fire (partly on purpose, but without warning me first). Ninja burlesque, it seems, is my breaking point--at least it was this time. Sterling got me good.
Obviously, there are some lyrics lost here, as I'm cackling.
I'll post those below so that you have some idea what's missing.
Special thanks to Stoph, and to the Dayton crew, who I hold entirely responsible.
Thanks also to Marcia for the video
THE TRUTH ABOUT NINJAS
copyright S. J. Tucker 2008
Paragon of dignity
untouchable and lethal
but there's more to life than shuriken.
sudden death comes easy
when you practice every day
you'll think you're ten feet tall and bulletproof
until you pass my way
and you will never see it coming
no one's sad to see you go
within my eyes you'll glimpse a wisdom
you were not prepared to know
In fearing what you cannot see
you fall beneath my hand
this is a ninja thing you wouldn't understand
you will never know I'm here
until it's far too late
it is a ninja's way to pass unseen
and not to storm the gate
Moving quieter than kitten
tiptoeing merciless as nightfall
until I pounce and disappear again
you'll never hear a thing
the soul has always been corrupted
but the heart and hands are clean
Sworn enemies fall lifeless
though they never see my face
the game is glory but I take my joy
in leaving not a trace
My actions quick as lightning
unintended to hurt you I'm only
doing what a ninja's gotta do
Following the way
creeping night and day
I won't say life is hard
but I must restrain my urges to run naked through my yard
No ninja goes out streaking
it just simply isn't done
my career would shrivel up and die
but damn would it be fun!
To see the neighbors eyes
as big as saucers peeking from their doors
I'd pirouette beneath the moonlight
days of skulking, hiding, sneaking,
and assassinating enemies no more!!
Just one streak of brightness
in a world of black and blue
I'd just be doing what a ninja's gotta do
go skinny-dipping like a ninja's gotta do!