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Sunday, 26 January 2014

ELDER MUSIC: Roger McGough

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


Roger McGough

ROGER MCGOUGH is an English poet who has in the past dabbled in music as well. He's one of those very rare beasts – someone who makes a living from writing and performing poetry.

He is from Liverpool and is a member of a group called The Liverpool Poets who were influenced by both the Beat poets and sixties' rock & roll.

A collection of their poems sold in numbers usually associated only with pop music singles. Indeed, Roger was in a pop group in the sixties that sold a bunch of records.

Besides poetry he also wrote the dialogue for the animated film, Yellow Submarine, for which he was paid but didn't receive screen credit.

Musically, Roger is most famous for being in the band THE SCAFFOLD, a trio whose other members were John Gorman and Mike McGear.

Scaffold

That last name was just a stage name for Michael McCartney who had an older, slightly more famous brother named Paul.

The Scaffold had a million selling record (and others that did pretty well too) in the sixties and played to sold-out audiences all over the place. They released four albums as well. Their biggest song was Lily the Pink.

♫ The Scaffold - Lily The Pink

In 1968, Roger and Mike recorded an album called McGough & McGear where they had the help of a number of musicians who may be familiar to you on that album – Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, John Mayall, Spencer Davis and others.

A song from that album is Yellow Book.

McGough & McGear

♫ McGough & McGear - Yellow Book

Here Roger reads his poem, A Fine Romance, which he wrote for the Alzheimer's Society. It seems to me to fit in well with TimeGoesBy. It explores the theme of dementia and its impact on relationships.

Roger McGough

♫ Roger McGough - A Fine Romance

The Scaffold's other big seller was Thank You Very Much.

Scaffold

The song was written by Mike and has a number of obscure references which he has assiduously refused to explain the meaning.

♫ The Scaffold - Thank You Very Much

The Scaffold weren't just about singing and playing; there was always some poetry, Roger's of course, as well as vaudeville elements.

Scaffold

One track where Roger contributes a little of his works is Buttons of Your Mind.

♫ The Scaffold - Buttons of Your Mind

Those with long musical memories might recall a song from the early fifties called The Deck of Cards. In north western Victoria where I lived as a whippersnapper, the local radio station would play Wink Martindale's version of this song.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, lived in south western Victoria and she said her station played Tex Ritter's. We discuss why there was a difference now and then when we'd run out of trivial things to talk about.

Anyway, The Scaffold recorded this song and I imagine that those who remember it are already thinking of skipping it and going on to the next one. I suggest you don't do that as they perform it the way it should have been done in the first place.

They call it The Pack of Cards for reasons that will become obvious.

Scaffold

♫ The Scaffold - Pack of Cards

Almost certainly, Roger's most famous poem is Summer with Monika.

RogerMcGough

I have that in an actual book and it's a beautiful, wry, poignant work. He has recorded it several times over the years, including a recent one with a symphony orchestra.

With that one, Roger performed the complete poem but at more than 32 minutes it's a bit much for this column. There's a shorter version Roger did back in the sixties on the McGough & McGear album that captures the essence of the poem and I'll share it with you.

Paul McCartney produced the album and you can hear him briefly at the beginning of this track. That's Andy Roberts playing guitar.

♫ McGough & McGear - Summer with Monika


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

This is fascinating. First off, how could I not know that Paul McCartney had a brother whose own band sold millions of records!!!!! I'm in shock.

Roger McGough also hosts a poetry request programme on BBC radio4 here in England. You can buy books and CDs from the usual online suppliers!

Peter, I compliment you.
I always enjoy your columns: some more than others. This is distinctly different.
The lyrics of Summer with Monika are very clever.
Keep on feeding us!

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