“Do the Funky Sidewalk (Snow Dragon)”

What becomes a growing legend most? How about…his own 70’s soul theme song?


Video:@BTVSnowDragon. Song composition, performance, and production: Nate Orshan (AKA Nato)

Snow Who?

@BTVSnowDragon is a made-up character who’s supposed to be one of (or all of?) the many sidewalk plows that are used to keep Burlington (Vermont) safer in winter for pedestrians. Whoever created and keeps this fun and funky character alive is still a mystery.*

The song was actually inspired by another fellow Vermonter, stalwart Twitter user @MeowVT (AKA Kitty), who posted this last summer:

It took me about a nanosecond to reply with something like, “A SONG? Did somebody say, ‘SONG’?!?”. I volunteered, and I encouraged @MeowVT to send lyrics…which, unfortunately, I then ended up not using.**

OK, and you did this…why?

You really have to follow @BTVSnowDragon to get a sense of his fun personality. The person behind Snow Dragon has done a bang-up job bringing this heretofore nonexistent character to life, and I’m sure it’s no easy feat to keep a fictional, online persona going all the time with style and consistency.

Unlike some other famous and mythical Vermont creatures, Snow Dragon is actually a very recent creation. The story is that it all started with Seven Days Digital Media Manager Tyler Machado, who wrote the following in January of 2012 in the midst of covering an interminable mayoral debate on Burlington transportation:

The next day came an unexpected yet fateful answer, a short sentence sure to join the ranks of immortal lines such as, “Watson, come here, I need you”, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”, and “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ means”:

All right, so, truth be told, that was actually Snow Dragon’s second post, as he had written his first tweet the previous day:

But apocryphal or not, Snow Dragon’s birth has been linked to Machado’s tweet, so much so that for most of last year I would have bet money on them being one and the same. I’m fairly confident that’s not the case, but the uncertainty highlights what makes Snow Dragon all the more intriguing: Nobody knows who the heck he is!***

OK, but…a soul song?

The truth is I have a sincere and abiding love of R&B from the 70s, and I’ve wanted to try creating a retro-soul song for a long time.

When I started thinking about a theme for Snow Dragon, I was quickly inspired by Isaac Hayes’ one-of-a-kind “Theme from Shaft”, and that song became a touchstone throughout the writing and production process.**** Among other things, the song gave me the opportunity to try out my best, soulful chest voice.

And what’s “The Funky Sidewalk”?

Essentially, it’s just a play on what some people would say after hearing Snow Dragon visit.

“Why’s the dog barking?”
“Oh, the plow just came by and did the sidewalk.”

But where most of the song might be an Isaac Hayes homage, the “Funky Sidewalk” bridge is a straight-up ripoff tribute to The Godfather of Soul…you know, that part of the song where he’d exhort the crowd to “Do the Mashed Potatoes”, “Do the Popcorn”, “Do the James Brown”, etc.

And here’s your chance to get in on the fun:

Send @BTVSnowDragon a video of you doing “The Funky Sidewalk”!

Snow Dragon wants to do a follow-up video showing people doing their own version of “The Funky Sidewalk”. What would that look like? Here’s a little inspiration thanks to Vermonters @RowGirl2012 and @n8zog:

I was also delighted recently to see WPTZ’s Bridget Shanahan and Tom Messner getting into the spirit of things, asking their viewers to send Snow Dragon their own “Funky Sidewalk” videos. Will they contribute a dancing video of their own?

WPTZ's Bridget Shanahan and Tom Messner talk about 'Do The Funky Sidewalk (Snow Dragon)'

So, hey, funky people near and far: Film yourself doing “The Funky Sidewalk”, then write to SNOWDRAGON {at} GMAIL.COM.

In the end, if “Do the Funky Sidewalk (Snow Dragon)” helps cement Snow Dragon’s fame as an (unofficial) mascot for our Department of Public Works or a quirky (unofficial) representative for Burlington, Vermont, then I can say we did a good job by doin’ the Funky Sidewalk.

Do the Funky Sidewalk (Snow Dragon)

   Snow Dragon!
   Go Dragon!
   Go, go, Snow Dragon!

   Snow Dragon!
   Go Dragon!
   Go, go, Snow Dragon!

Now the blizzard’s on and freezin’ winds blow
(Snow Dragon!)
Comes a mighty sound outside your window
(Snow Dragon!)

When the flakes begins to fly
Snow Dragon’s on your side
Don’t you wanna take a ride?

   Snow Dragon!
   Go Dragon!
   Go, go, Snow Dragon!

   Snow Dragon!
   Go Dragon!
   Go, go, Snow Dragon!

In the Queen City’s cold and stormy hour
(Snow Dragon!)
He pushes through for me and you with power
(Snow Dragon!)

Beams high, blades down low
Goin’ where angels fear to go
Nothin’ more he loves than snow

   Snow Dragon!
   Go Dragon!
   Go, go, Snow Dragon!

   Snow Dragon!
   Go Dragon!
   Go, go, Snow Dragon!

Everybody!…

   Do the Sidewalk
   Do the Sidewalk
   Do the Funky, Funky Sidewalk…

Clearin’ sidewalks like no one else can do now
(Snow Dragon!)
Makin’ sure you can get to work and school now
(Snow Dragon!)

With his blade so well-endowed
The Queen City’s safe for now
So give a wave to our favorite plow

   Snow Dragon!
   Go Dragon!
   Go, go, Snow Dragon!

   Snow Dragon!
   Go Dragon!
   Go, go, Snow Dragon!

…Get your plow on, Snow Dragon…

…”Beep, Beep!” means I love you in Snow Plow…*****

© Copyright 2013 Nate Orshan

* And, no, I’m not Snow Dragon. As of this posting, I still don’t know who their true identity. I think it’s someone who identifies as male…but maybe that’s just more subterfuge to throw me off the trail…

** By the time I sat down to work on the song writing, I had a pretty definite idea of the song’s melody and structure, and, try as I did, I just couldn’t fit Kitty’s lyrics into the form and meter. I did make an attempt to write a different soul tune with them, and, although her lyrics were great, the music itself just didn’t have the same oomph as the current tune. It calls into question whether I’m actually any good at adapting someone else’s lyrics, a hypothesis I should test again…

*** For the record: I’ve never met Snow Dragon and have only communicated with…him?…via email. I’m not Snow Dragon, nor do I play him on TV.

**** What? You’ve never heard it? Who’s the cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about?

***** “Get your plow on” and “Beep means ‘I love you’ in snow plow” are both real Snow Dragonisms, just like his snowplow smiley, “:]”.

Please share:

Comments

“Do the Funky Sidewalk (Snow Dragon)” — 13 Comments

  1. This is a truly inspired work, and your background stories are always fascinating to read. All those months of labor have payed off big time. It’s fantastic!

  2. Nato – Yet again the proof surfaces that you are, in fact, no mere mortal, but rather the second coming of something quite warped and witty. I applaud your ridiculous feats of musical mayhem and foolishness. Get my plow on, indeed! Ho there, Nato 🙂

    • Foolishness? But-but-but-but…I was being totally *serious*! 😉

      Thanks so much Dave! And if I may address for a moment You, Dear Reader: I want you to know that Dave Keller is one of most genuinely soulful singers and musicians I’ve ever met. The Muse stopped by for a quick visit, and she hasn’t been able to keep her hands off of Dave ever since. His love for music is that searingly deep and sincere. And you don’t need to take my word for it: Check him out at http://www.DaveKeller.com.

  3. That is Awesomesauce! Man, now I wish I had my own 70s themed theme song. I would carry a boom box and play it loudly whenever I was walking anywhere. That would be so cool 🙂

    • It’s Troublesome Tots!
      We’ve got a sleep guide
      To help you help your babies when they’re cryyyy(ing)
      It’s Troublesome Tots!
      You don’t need a sweet ride
      As long as you can see your babies smiiiiile!
      – To the tune of The Jeffersons’ theme, “Movin’ On Up”
      (Don’t remember it? Try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjVtKsSZwE4)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *