Tuli Kupferberg, 1923-2010


Tuli Kupferberg
Cover of Tuli Kupferberg

Tuli Kupferberg died yesterday. While his contribution to the history of punk music, the antiwar movement, the American counterculture and Lower East Side scene of the 60’s is immeasurable, he’s played a special role in my life. In November 1994, a friend of mine liberated a few albums from the vault of a certain college radio station (which had gone mainstream and certainly wasn’t going to play them anymore) and shared them on the street with his artist friends. These albums included a live Randy Newman bootleg, a couple of Holy Modal Rounders discs, Wild Man Fischer – and a few by the Fugs. The first night I met Elif, it was love at first sight. She sung me some comic interpretations of Italian arias; I played her some of my own art songs and some records by the Fugs. I can’t imagine having spent the last 16 years without having the songs “Carpe Diem” or “Nothing Nothing” bouncing around in my cranium, and I can’t imagine regarding my wife without thinking of the lyrics to the Fugs’ song “Supergirl.”

Many of Tuli’s lyrics are nowhere on the Internet – so here are the “Supergirl” lyrics (as best as I can understand them).

I want a girl that can
fug like an angel,
cook like a devil
swing like a dancer
work like a pony
dream like a poet
flow like a mountain stream.

Super girl, my super girl

I want a girl that can
kiss like a cherry
squeeze like a berry
smell like an ocean
talk like a songbird
walk like a fountain
touch like a flower
sing like the Leaves of Grass

i want a girl that can
love like a monkey
hug like a castle
think like a darling
laugh like a lemon
eat like a monster
roar like a jug of wine

I want a girl that can
kiss like an eagle
bend like a sapling
bark like a beagle
bite like a bagel
fly like a butter
shake like a (mumbled…’hummer’? Human?)

(in the background during fadeout) ‘up up and away!’

Thanks to Eliot Duhan for help with the transcription – and Eliot adds a verse of his own:

I wanna girl who can
Sin like an angel
Twist like an angle
Preach like an engel(s)
Fight like a stengal…

R.I.P., Tuli.

3 Replies to “Tuli Kupferberg, 1923-2010”

  1. Hey, have always loved the Fugs. Good take on the words except for one mistake, and one possible other interpretation.
    Instead of “smell like an ocean” it is “smell like an orchard”.
    And I think that the last line may actually be:
    “shake like a hummer in a hmmmmm”.

    Ah they don’t make groups like they used to anymore. Vale Tuli.

  2. Thank you so much for the correction! Vale Tuli indeed. I’d bet that they do make groups like this anymore – it’s just harder to find them now that it’s easier to find everything!

  3. Minor update: in the booklet which comes with the original Broadside 304 release of “The Village Fugs Sing Ballads of Contemporary Protest, Point of Views, and General Dissatisfaction,” correct lyrics are:

    smell like an orchard
    lap like a lemon
    roll like a jug of wine

    The final lyric – shake like a… – is not printed.

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