The Marfa Jingles

by Nina Katchadourian

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The Marfa Jingles were commissioned by the contemporary art space Ballroom Marfa as part of an exhibition called The Marfa Sessions. The show featured sound projects embedded within the public spaces and private corners of the town of Marfa, Texas.

Marfa (pop. 2120) is three hours southeast of El Paso. It is remote and quiet, but full of life and visitors year round. Some come to see the works of Donald Judd, the Minimalist sculptor who came to Marfa in the early 70s and created several permanent works there. Others come to see the remarkable landscape of the area. Big Bend National Park, the McDonald observatory, and the mysterious optical phenomenon known as the Marfa Lights are a few of its best known natural attractions.

I came to Marfa as a complete outsider. I knew nothing about this part of the country, had no family connections or friends there, and I had never experienced the vast West Texas landscape. I conceived the Marfa Jingles as a way of getting to know the town, and as a vehicle for meeting and collaborating with the people who lived there.

I began by offering to write a free jingle for anyone who wanted one. I corresponded with my “customers,” we spoke on the phone, I asked what to emphasize, took into account musical preferences when I could. I made a point of writing some jingles for things that don’t usually get jingles, which meant departing the song form from its role as pure advertising. The songs impart real information, but I hope they have a life as songs, too. In July 2008 the bulk of the songs were recorded at the Marfa Recording Company with local musicians, and from September until February the jingles were aired on Marfa Public Radio (KRTS 93.5 FM). The project is a musical portrait by an outsider, but I hope perhaps these songs will reintroduce Marfa to itself as well.

-Nina Katchadourian


released September 22, 2008



all rights reserved


Nina Katchadourian New York

Visual artist and somewhat more closeted musician.

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Track Name: Big Bend and Texas Mountains Travel Guide
Big Bend and Texas Mountain Guide Jingle
(to the tune of “If I Needed You,” Townes Van Zandt)

There are mountains here
And they’re all so near
There are hills and springs right at your door
Has it been awhile
Since you’ve been outside
Since your heart has opened to the sky

If you read our guide
What you see inside
Will make you crave the open road
And when that road unfolds
And the hills turn gold
Then your heart can float in the Texas sky

And our guide is free
So take a look and see
All the treasures there are yours to find
Texas comes alive
And it’s all inside
The Big Bend and Texas Mountains Guide
Track Name: Food Shark
Food Shark

It’s a butter crust truck
Reborn as a shark
That’s one hell of a reincarnation
New specials each day
And a menu so good
That your tongue will think you’re on vacation
It’s the sharkiest truck
With the tastiest eats
Instead of swimming the ocean
It’s rolling the streets

The only shark full of food
The only shark that can park
The only shark that lives far from the sea
Parked down by the tracks
And when your hunger attacks
It’s open Tuesday to Thursday
Eleven-thirty ‘til three

The only shark in the state that the people run to
‘Cause it will make you a meal
Not make a meal out of you
Food Shark
Food Shark
Food Shark
Food Shark!
Track Name: Broom Shop
Broom Shop

When you’re feeling troubled
When your world is full of gloom
There’s no better antidote
Than picking up a broom

Because a broom will sweep the cobwebs
From under the bed
But meanwhile you’ll be sweeping out the cobwebs
From your metaphorical head

Tiny mites and lint
Dead skin and hair
Warn all the dust bunnies
It’s time to say a prayer

Collect the dirty matter
Into a little heap
Annihilate the grime
Destroy it as you sweep
Brush from your mind
All your anxiety

You know
No matter what the mess
Our brooms are best
No matter what the mess
Our brooms are the best

Voice over:
Our brooms are made on an authentic 1850s Shaker broom making machine and we can make all kinds. The one you hear sweeping right now is a Colonial Kitchen Broom, but we’ve got fireplace sweepers, utility brooms, cobwebbers and whisks, too. No matter what the mess, the Davis Mountain Broom shop has got the best broom for you.
Track Name: Farm Stand
Farm Stand

We might have grown it
We might have raised it
We might have foraged
We might have baked it
It grew on our land
We made it by hand
It's all at Marfa's own great Farm Stand

Burritos, purses and empanadas
Cheese boards and jewelry
Crochet and crewelry
There's fresh cut onions
Honey and tamales
Heirloom tomatoes, eggs, soap and pies

If you need a duckling
Or a daschund mailbox
A doggie cookie
Croissants or pet rocks
If you want a pumpkin
Or manure of llama
A fireplace, salt scrubs, seedlings, scarves

Come to Marfa's Farm Stand
And you'll be with your friends
Babies in strollers
Cowgirls and policemen
District attorneys
Ranchers and librarians
Hipsters and octogenarians

It grew on our land
We made it by hand
You can only find it
At Marfa's Farm Stand
And every Saturday
We're at South Highland
Come by the farm stand
Food and friends
Track Name: Get Go
Get Go

The Get Go isn’t just a store, it’s like ten stores in one
And it’s been nearly just a year since the Get Go was begun
“I can’t believe you have that!”
Yeah we hear that every day
Fresh and healthy things to eat
Come shop the Get Go way

And if we really like something then we give it a star
We have stuff that’s really local
And exotic, from afar
And if we haven’t got it then we ask you not to fret
‘Cause it’s not that we don’t have it we just do not have it yet
But we can
Get it
Get it
Get it
Get it
Get it
Get it

We’re open Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
And Sunday too, every day from 9 ot 8
“9 to 8? Wow that’s great! Makes me wanna celebrate!”
There ain’t nothing that we carry that you wish you hadn’t ate
Diapers, soda, RC Cola, artisinal cheese and chili pods
Benadryl and Tylenol, grass-fed beef, ends and odds
When they ask you where you got it you can tell ‘em you can get it at the Get Go
Track Name: Marfa Public Library
Marfa Public Library Jingle

Books can take your mind to places
That you’d rather be
But books can cost a lot of money
And libraries are free

The library is cool when summer’s sun has burned your skin
The library is warm when winter blows an icy wind
Quiet, calm and organized
Yes, we’re open, come right in

We’re on par with libraries
In larger towns than here
Marfa’s little library
Circulates thirty four thousand nine hundred ninety three
Items per year
Plus you can Xerox fax, or laminate
Borrow videos, DVDs

Open every business day
And even Saturday
If you cannot find a book
Ask us anyway
Don’t lose courage, there may be a way to borrow
Track Name: Ballroom Marfa
Ballroom Marfa

2003 (that was the start)
We started a space (to show some art)
The Ballroom was born (co-founded by)
Virginia Leberman (and Fairfax Dorn)
We have quite a crew (Ali, JK, Jonathan, Vicente, Vance)
We host music too (heavy metal from Japan, classical and trance)
There’s nothing that Ballroom won’t do
To put on great shows for you

Painting,drawing and photography
Sculpture, film and installation
Theater, video, choreography
Give your mind exercise and stimulation

This fall we hit the ground
With a show that features sound
The Marfa Sessions are all throughout town
To visit the show just take a walk around

So walk out your door (go right outside)
And start to explore (we’ve got a guide)
The Marfa you know (and love so dear)
Will soon start to grow (just fill your ears)
‘Cause what art can do
Is alter your view
And things you always ignore
Can become things you adore
Track Name: Big Bend Sentinel
Big Bend Sentinel

The Express and the Guardian
The Globe, The Daily News
The Chronicle, The Beacon
The Sun and The Review

The Times, The Wall Street Journal
The Tribune and The Post
They always miss the kind of news that Marfa needs the most

The Bulletin, Enquirer
The Telegraph, The Register
The Standard, The Examiner
The Mercury, The Courier

The Gazette, The Phoenix
The Herald and The Bee
But when a story breaks in Marfa they are never on the scene.

But the Big Bend Sentinel is on the lookout for the leads
We write the kind of story every Marfan wants to read
And if you lived in a Metropolis as many people do
You could achieve the greatest things and never make the news
But in Marfa there’s a decent chance you’ll make the headlines too
‘Cause the Big Bend Sentinel is always watching out for you
Track Name: Rotary Club
Rotary Club

What drives a Marfan’s need for engagement with the Rotary?
It’s not government, religion, or ideology
"Service above self" we say, our most important creed
And what goes around will come around
It’s true in name and deed

The powerless, the poor, the sick
We lend a hand to all
And just last year a scholarship
Brought a Swedish student here for fall.

Work together, build goodwill, be generous and candid
Offer help when trouble calls, don’t leave your neighbor stranded
Highways, gardens, literacy, and projects internationally
Rotarians play a major role in eradicating polio

Help those who have less than you
Be fair and even-handed
We’re Marfa’s leading service club
Since the Lion’s Club disbanded

A million members round the globe
And twelve meet here in Marfa
5:30 Wednesday afternoons, tipi-kiva at Adobe Moon
Care for your community
Build a kind society
The rewards are rich, the fun is free
So come and join the Rotary
Track Name: Jingle for the Marfa Lights
Jingle for the Marfa Lights

No one writes jingles for us
And most people doubt that we’re real
When your very existence makes people laugh
Now how do you think that makes you feel?

In your oversized visitor’s center
We can see you as you watch us from afar
And we’ll still do our best to twinkle so beautifully
Even though you say we’re just the headlights of a car

And we’ll keep shining through
Degrade us if you must
‘Cause we’ll believe in you
Even if you don’t believe in us.

[Voice over: The Marfa Lights. Have a little faith.]