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I just listened again to Roy Wood's 1973 album (recorded 1969-71) Boulders which at the time reached critical acclaim for among other things its creativity, uniqueness and that:

A reviewer for Stereo Review considered (it) likely be the first "one-man show" rock album "that really succeeds"

The lyrics to "Miss Clarke and the Computer"

I see why my, engineer came today
Remove my screws, taken my heart away
Why don't you touch me, press me,
please, Miss Clarke

I fail to solve problems efficiently
Surely I know, you won't dismantle me
Now press my switch, I'll play for you
Please, Miss Clarke

Can't she hear me, how can I ever say
Please explain why, they programmed me this way
I love you dearly, read me, please, Miss Clarke

Systems failing, signal to you again (sung more slowly)
I can't seem to function my inner brain
Screwdrivers so sharp, now I'm scared, Miss Clarke

Miss Clarke, Miss Clarke, don't take my heart awaaaayyyyy... (played back at lower and lower speed à la Kubrick)

I think that there are several artistic references to the iconic scene in Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey where the HAL9001 computer is being shut down, saying "I can feel it, Dave" and then begins to sing Daisy Bell.

But the difference between that and

Screwdrivers so sharp, now I'm scared

is that this is a new song, sung from the point of view of the computer being shut down, where it explains how this feels in the song's lyrics.

note: A warning for sentimental folks like me, the song is sad.

Question: Is "Miss Clarke and the Computer" (1973) the first published song written from an intelligent machine's point of view?


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  • 2
    And take a listen at the wonderful Saviour Machine by David Bowie from his album The Man Who Sold the World from 1971: "please don't believe in me, please disagree with me"..
    – Joachim
    May 13, 2023 at 9:22
  • 1
    Just in case you were feeling too sad by the end, he does follow it, in true 'from the sublime to the ridiculous' manner by "When Grandma Plays the Banjo" ;)
    – Tetsujin
    May 13, 2023 at 10:15
  • 1
    It's intelligent within the song's internal logic. Not only intelligent but in love.
    – Tetsujin
    May 13, 2023 at 13:48
  • 2
    By "protagonist" do you mean the the song is about an intelligent machine, or sung from an intelligent machine's point-of-view?
    – fez
    May 13, 2023 at 15:30
  • 1
    @fez ah, an intelligent machine's point-of-view. I've updated the title, how does that look?
    – uhoh
    May 14, 2023 at 14:09

2 Answers 2

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Earlier came OZ and its strange inhabitants:

From the musical “The Tik-Tok Man of Oz”, 1913. Words by L. Frank Baum. Music by Louis F. Gottschalk.

Original musical poster.

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC BY-SA)

Link to YouTube of full song.

As to intelligence, he claims to "Show genius". You be the judge.

I’m a man of many parts and complicated Clock work makes me go, Tik Tok
I can run because I’m finely regulated Never fast or slow, Tik Tok
Right on time you’re always sure to find me
If my works run down you musn’t mind me
Take the key and then proceed to wind me
And my genius I will show, Tik Tok

From Sheetmusicsinger.com.

From the book, Tick-Tok of OZ. Portrayed in the Disney film Return to OZ:

Image of man in suite, then still from film

All rights Disney Pictures, fair use.

In-suit performance by Michael Sundin.

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    Big props to Michael Sundin, that suit looks incredibly uncomfortable!
    – fez
    May 13, 2023 at 15:26
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Les contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffman), Jaques Offenbach, 1881.

In Act I, the poet Hoffman has fallen in love with the mechanical doll "Olympia" who sings one of the most famous coloratura arias in the repertoire before self-destructing.

The aria is: "Les oiseaux dans la charmille" (The birds in the bower, often called "The Doll Song"). In it, she sings about how the beauty of nature fills her "heart" with thoughts of love.

Les oiseaux dans la charmille
Dans les cieux l'astre du jour,
Tout parle à la jeune fille d'amour!
Ah! Voilà la chanson gentille
La chanson d'Olympia! Ah!

Tout ce qui chante et résonne
Et soupire, tour à tour,
Emeut son coeur qui frissonne d'amour!
Ah! Voilà la chanson mignonne
La chanson d'Olympia! Ah!

English translation:

The birds in the bower,
The day star in the heavens,
All speaks of love to the young girl!
Ah! This is the pleasant song,
The song of Olympia! Ah!

All that sings and resonates
And sighs, in turn
Moves her heart which quivers with love!
Ah! This is the lovely song,
The song of Olympia! Ah!

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