Letter To Mark Bowden, NewsRevue, 22 January 1993

Here is a letter I wrote to director, Mark Bowden, just after the start of the first run of 1993.

He and his cast took a shine to my songs. Perhaps too much of a shine; the show was ram-packed with them.

Here’s a link to the submission I sent that crew on 4 January 1993 – click here.

The following letter was written the day after the opening night.  I’ll up the songs referred to therein as soon as I am able:

                                                                                                                               22 January 1993

 

Dear Mark

 

Congratulations on a grand opening night.  I enjoyed the show very much and get the feeling that the other writers felt the same.  Please pass on my felicitations to the team.

 

I promised you some comments (hopefully constructive ones) once I had sobered up so here they are.  These you may take or bin.

 

FEMIDOM

 

I think this song would go down better later in the show (once more people are more drunk).  Consider “Coal Digger” or “Prince Charlie” as the warm up number.  The metre baffled me.  For what it’s worth – here is the metre I intended and tested thoroughly (to rigorous BS5750 standards etc):

 

Loving you is so fantastic, inside a Femidom,

With your coat of thermoplastic, known as the Femidom;

This vaginal {this vaginal} polyvinyl {polyvinyl},

Is an artificial con,

Little darling let’s bonk and tonk, inside a Femidom {a Femidom}

We only bought the one, because the price is so steep,

By the time you got it on, I’d long since gone off to sleep; etc etc

 

WHITE HOUSE

 

Seemed a bit static – consider bringing the other rednecks on once they are mentioned – to create a bit more movement.  This is actually a very difficult song and you did it surprisingly well.

 

SLOBIDANS ARMY

 

Also a very difficult song – I thought the delivery was excellent.  I don’t really think the audience is supposed to laugh much until the last few lines – they should be half wanting to laugh and half thinking how awful it all is.  That balance came across very well I felt.  Consider substituting Sudan for Iran at the end as it has just hit the news this morning.

 

COAL DIGGER

 

Well done!  I’d like you to think about the metre on the following lines as the joke is lost unless it is right.

 

And the miners all – know they’ve been pissed on,

Cos the mining in-dustry’s gone.

 

MICHAEL JACKSON

 

Total triumph – very pleased with this one.  “There are people starving but I’m the last one laughing,” ended up negative somehow but otherwise I cannot imagine it being done better.

 

Hope all this helps – and its tough if it doesn’t help.

Well done once again to you all – look forward to seeing you soon.

So Long Ma’m, I’m Off To Bomb Saddam, NewsRevue, 18 January 1993

These lyrics are a parody of Tom Lehrer’s marvellous tragi-comic song, So Long Mom.

Click here or below for a link to a YouTube vid showing one of Tom Lehrer’s renditions of his own wonderful song…

…and here is a link to the lyrics and chords.

I wrote my version during the metaphorical-interregnum between George H Bush and Bill Clinton.

It returns to my mind at the time of writing this (November 2016) with some trepidation while we await Donald Trump’s succession from Barack Obama. Oh dear.

 

♬ SO LONG MA’M ♬

(To the Tune of “So Long Mom”)

CHORUS 1

So long Ma’m,

I’m off to bomb Saddam,

So don’t wait up for me;

And while he’ll swelter,

In his air raid shelter,

Baghdad will be,

A pile of debris.

 

Saddam’s aggressive malarkey,

Means we shall slaughter Iraqis,

We don’t mind killing poor darkies,

To get our point across;

He’s upset George Bush and Billy Clinton,

And he’s made them jointly very cross.

 

VERSE 

Bill Jefferson Clinton is the US Pressie,

And no frightened jessie is he;

He and Bush agreed to write a massive hit list,

Forget pacifist,

Tendencies;

Bill is creating his mark,

Annihilating Iraq.

 

CHORUS 2

So long Ma’m,

I’m off to bomb Saddam,

So don’t wait up for me.

Perhaps I shall choose,

Tornado or cruise,

In order to free,

A Kurd and Sunni.

 

Now Bill is smoking less pot,

He’d like to kill a despot,

We’ll blanket bomb the best spot,

Within our range and space;

Annul Saddam and come back once over,

When another loony takes his place.

 

copyright © Ian Harris 1993

I wrote an update 11 October 1994:

SO LONG MA’AM – AUTUMN 1994 REMIX
(To the Tune of “So Long Mom”)

 

CHORUS 1

So long Ma’am,
I’m off to bomb Saddam,
So don’t wait up for me;
And while he’ll swelter,
In his air raid shelter,
Baghdad will be,
A pile of debris.

Saddam’s aggressive malarkey,
Means we shall slaughter Iraqis,
We don’t mind killing poor darkies,
To get our point across;
He’s upset Kuwait and massed his forces,
Which has made Bill Clinton very cross (yeh).

VERSE

Bill Jefferson Clinton is the US Pressie,
And no frightened Jesse is he;
He and pal Al Gore drew up a massive hit list,
Forget pacifist,
Tendencies;
Bill is now making his mark,
Annihilating Iraq.

CHORUS 2

So long Ma’am,
I’m off to bomb Saddam,
So don’t wait up for me.
Perhaps I shall use,
Tornado or cruise,
But don’t take offence,
This is self defence.

Now Bill is smoking less pot,
He’d like to kill a despot,
So blanket bomb the best spot,
Within our range and space;
Annul Saddam then come back once over,
When another loony takes his place.

 

Better Face, NewsRevue Lyric, 7 January 1993

This was probably my most successful NewsRevue song of all. It ran for months; perhaps even years and found its way into several “best of” runs, and some other shows. Ben Murphy recorded it and I seem to recall Jacqui Somerville taking it to German Radio.

But I never saw a penny for it myself, as I assigned the intellectual property rights to Save The Children as soon as I wrote it.

I remember writing it at Janie’s place over new year, while the family (Tony, Phillie and Charlie) were visiting; they were living in Germany at that time. Mark Bowden slotted the song into his January 1993 run – my comments from opening night are in the letter linked here.

Click here or below for a link to the Michael Jackson Heal the World, with lyrics.

Anyway, I am proud of my lyrics (below) and very pleased that they earned Save The Children more than a few quid.

♬ BETTER FACE ♬

(To the Tune of “Heal The World”)

 

VERSE 1

There’s a mug that you see on your TV frequently,

‘Though I look differently I’m Michael Jackson;

It may be a surprise ‘cos you may not recognise,

The new bits that my plastic surgeon tacks on.

I may have a face lift, a nose job or a skin shift,

To have a better face and a different race.

 

CHORUS 1

Every year, I’m gonna have a better face,

Both my eyes and my nose will be in a different place;

Now my cheeks need grouting,

And my lips have been fixed pouting,

It’s the strangest face that you’ve ever seen.

 

VERSE 2

The third world’s misery to the music industry,

Is the best chance we have to make a living;

War and famine is sad but it doesn’t seem as bad,

When you’re taking much more than you are giving.

There are people starving but I’m the last one laughing,

I’ll get a better place in the record race.

 

CHORUS 2

In the charts, I’m gonna get a better place,

Discs of gold and platinum are added to my case;

‘Though the poor are dying,

I’m not the one who’s crying,

It’s the best chart place that I’ve had for years.

 

CHORUS 3 – MUSIC SWELLS, ENTER CHORUS

Change the key, and sing at a better pace,

Bring in chorus of alto, contralto and a bass;

‘Though the songs a cliche,

You know that I’ll release a,

Song that demonstrates the space twixt my ears.

A song that demonstrates the space twixt my ears.

 

written by Ian Harris – copyright 1993 © Save The Children Fund

Designer, NewsRevue Lyric, 5 January 1993

This lyric was a late entry on the Bowden submission; so much so that the lyric is dated after the date on the submission note.

I don’t think he used this lyric. I’m not sure anyone used it.

Which is a shame, because I think it is rather good. Perhaps not for NewsRevue, though.

I’m pretty sure Janie liked my lyric, though. And Anthea.

 

♬ DESIGNER ♬

(To the Tune of “Delilah”)

 

VERSE 1

I turned away when I saw C&A on her label,

As I grew tenser skirts from Marks and Spencer were worn;

Shoes came from Dolcis,

Had she not been so alluring I’d have left in scorn.

 

CHORUS 1

I shall not deny her,

Fine garb I must buy her,

Sod the cost,

I’ll get her a shirt from Lacoste,

The garments I buy her will restore the love I have lost.

 

VERSE 2

I thought she’d swoon when we went to Monsoon the next morning,

She seemed perplexed when we filled Next The Gap in her range;

Mad Dash to Naff Naff,

She lost her Principles in The Warehouse and turned strange.

 

CHORUS 2

She does look diviner,

Now that I refine her,

Clothes from Elle,

Scent from YSL or Chanel,

But the Geiger counter would take all Armani to hell.

 

VERSE 3

She changed her ways came home with some Hermes and I worried,

Soon only Gucci, Escada and Pucci she’d wield;

I wore Browns trousers,

She simply bought clothes from Zandra Rhodes or Bruce Oldfield.

 

CHORUS 3

Why why why designer?

Why not made in China?

Haute couture,

From Jean Muir or Christian Dior,

With all this designer I just can’t afford any more,

With all this designer I just can’t afford any more.

 

copyright © Ian Harris 1993

Click here or below for a link to Delilah as sung by Tom Jones with the original lyrics on the screen.

 

A Submission Sheet Titled “Bowden”, NewsRevue, 4 January 1993

The following list is titled “Bowden”. Based on subsequent correspondence and what is left of my memory, I think this went to a director named Mark Bowden, who took a particular shine to my songs.

Perhaps too much of a shine; I seem to recall that the first run of 1993 was ram-packed with my songs. Indeed, I wrote to Mark soon after the run started with some notes – here’s a link to that letter.

I shall upload the lyrics referred to in the list below and the letter as soon as I am able.

 

                  LIST OF SONGS SUBMITTED AND TAPE TRACK LISTING

                                              JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1993 RUN

 

          Song Title Original Title/

Artist on Tape

Aprox. No. of Performances
       7 4-6   1-3 New/Nil
Inside A Femidom Under The Moon Of Love/Curtis Lee       Y
Slobidan’s Army Oliver’s Army/Elvis Costello       Y
White House Our House/Crosby Stills Nash & Young       Y
My Genitalia My Generation/The Who       Y
I Gatt Round I Get Around/Beach Boys       Y
Nude For Thought Food For Thought/UB40       Y
Fair Weather Friend You’ve Got A Friend/Carole King       Y
Midnight Plane to Jordan Midnight Train to Georgia/Gladys Knight & Pips       Y
Coal Diggers Goldfinger/Shirley Bassey   Y    
Closed to You Close to You/Carpenters   Y    
Snatchbroker Snatchbroker Matchmaker Matchmaker/Fiddler on the Roof Cast     Y  
Trucker Strikes Summer Loving/Grease Cast     Y  
Designer* Delilah/Tom Jones       Y*

* (so new I have had to tack it on to the end of the tape) 

4 January 1993

 

Slobidan’s Army, NewsRevue Lyric, 4 January 1993

Seemingly my first scribbling of 1993, it is dated the same say as the listing I sent to new director Mark Bowden – see link to listing here.

Mark liked it and used it, although it is hardly a laugh out loud song. I think he used it as a tone down.watershed song. It ran for a while I recall, despite my profound inability to spell Nagorno-Karabakh back then. I might be the only NewsRevue lyricist to have used that place name and attempted to rhyme with it more than once.

The tune is Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello – click here or below to see YouTube/Vevo.

Original lyrics of Oliver’s Army can be found if you click here.

♬ SLOBIDAN’S ARMY ♬

(To the Tune of “Oliver’s Army”)

 

VERSE 1

Don’t stop those peace talks,

They may last all night;

The Serbs are cruel war hawks,

Who try to get their own way through might.

Call in the United Nations,

Have you got a peaceful army? – cos

 

CHORUS 1

Slobidan’s Army’s from Serbia,

Slobidan’s Army has gone too far,

And I would rather be anywhere else than Bosnia.

 

MIDDLE BIT

Radovan Karadzic,

Hates Izetbegovic;

He may flatten Kosovo,

After he’s laid out Sarajevo,

With the Serbs from the mountains and Montenegro.

 

VERSE 2

The blood is flowin’,

Every time those Serbs advance;

In spite of David Owen,

And his old has been side kick named Cyrus Vance.

If you think the Slavs are out of luck,

You should see Nagorno-Karaback.

 

CHORUS 2

Slobidan’s army has gone too far,

Slobidan’s death toll is costlier,

And I would rather be anywhere else than Bosnia.

(Except Somalia, Cuba or Iran,

Or in Cambodia, Chad or Kurdistan.)

copyright © Ian Harris 1993