My wife made soup today; two types to be exact: watercress (西洋菜汤) and white fungus (雪耳润肺汤). As it was simmering on the kitchen stove, one pot beside the other, I was opening the lids occasionally to check the water level. Took some pics too and posted them on Facebook:

And then it started, a WittyCulus moment! It never occurred to me that I’d write a “soup” song, but the ideas just kept coming, fast and furious. It took all but 5 minutes to come up with the main idea for the chorus — those first 5 words in the third line of the original song were great inspiration!


I have to jump the gun here and talk about how I was inspired, first.

Original: Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don’t we?

Mine: Side by side on my kitchen stove top — so hot — on low heat

Look at how my lyrics match in cadence, syllable count and even rhyme. “Kitchen stove top” for “piano keyboard” and “oh Lord” becomes “so hot”. While “hot” rhymes with “top” (musically, when you sing it) just as “Lord” rhymes with “keyboard”. Plus “on low heat” suggests simmering. Wow, so neat; and I was able to play with words too. This level of creativity gives me highs!!!


After some tweaking (and a few more checks on the soup ;-)), I posted my first three lines on Facebook as a teaser. I wanted to see who knows the song I parodied. And my friend, Ally the super bass player, was spot on with his answer: Ebony and Ivory! Ok lah, I did give a very strong hint, but I know for sure Ally knows his songs even without any nudging 🙂

Well, here it is: my soupy lyrics. Actually, not quite so, as you’d see later on…

Watercress and fungus soups
Nutrition and goodness that can’t be beat
Side by side on my kitchen stove top — so hot — on low heat

We should know the body needs a balance of yin and yang
There is good and bad in what we eat
We learn to live, there is junk food all around us
What we need to survive is doctor’s advice

Eat your veg, don’t skip the fruits
Too much carbo and red meat ain’t good for you
Get enough of them fibre — smoothness; detox — feel all new

(Instrumental break)

Yin and yang, get the hang of it and live on healthily
We all can, you and me…

We all know habits are hard to change but still we must try
There is good and bad, it’s up to us
We learn to live and what we choose may not be right
What we need to survive is balance in life

Exercise and indulgence
Get together, enjoy great company
Side by side — keeping pace and sweating all out, you and me
Side by side — drinks and chatter, hear our laughter, why don’t we?

(Instrumental break)

Yin and yang, get the hang of it and live on healthily
Balanced life, no compromise — do it for you and family

Repeat till fade:
Family, ee; yin and yang
You and me, ee; old and young


Ebony and Ivory was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 7 weeks in 1982, from the weeks of May 15th through June 26th. Its 31st anniversary is fast approaching — what a timely moment to celebrate this great song.

According to wikipedia, the song scored some firsts for both Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, the artistes who recorded this duet:

  • The longest-running chart topper of any of Paul’s post-Beatles works.
  • The longest-running chart topper for Stevie.
  • Separately, it was the first time that any single released by any Beatles member hit the Billboard R&B chart.

I’m not a Beatles fan, though I know Paul is a prolific song writer and a talented musician. The hit duet “The Girl Is Mine”, recorded with the late Michael Jackson, comes to mind. And the Stars on 45 medleys did make The Beatles accessible — “Listen, do you want to know a secret” … “I want to hold your hand” … “It’s been a hard day’s night and I’ve been working like a dog” are all familiar refrains.

For me, The Bee Gees remain my number one for their unmistakable and trademark 3-part harmony and those unforgettable (and hard to imitate) falsettos. Not forgetting the late Andy Gibb too, who is regarded in the family as the fourth Bee Gee and a superb singer and songwriter himself.

I digress (again), with pleasure though. Here’s a live recording of Ebony and Ivory, performed by the two masters themselves at The White House in 2010. Enjoy!

Note: The last part of the song is a little different from the album version, which makes it hard to sing along to. Did I mention this was a live performance? Well, no surprises the artistes were in full form…

Song Details

Title: Ebony and Ivory

Written by: Paul McCartney

Recorded by: Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

Released on: Parlophone/EMI (in UK) / Columbia (in US), 1982

Produced by: George Martin

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