Letter To Ben Murphy, 7 October 1996

Ben Murphy and I were getting towards the end of our road together by the autumn of 1996. I sense I am only half expecting to get paid again.

The album I refer to in this letter can only be “How Bonkers Is That”, which contains much of the material he and I debated in correspondence the previous year.


Ben Murphy                     7 October 1996

(Alton address redacted)

Dear Ben


I haven’t sent you any new material for ages – so here’s some. Let me know what you think. The album is great. I don’t know why you agonise so much about them, they always come out fine.

Ian Harris (Z/Ian)


Letter To Dr Demento, 7 October 1996

Self explanatory letter to Dr Demento. Unsurprisingly, there was no reply. I tried.

Submission For Broadcast          7 October 1996
Dr. Demento
P.O. Box 884
Culver City, CA 90232
Dear Dr D


I enclose a tape of songs recorded by Ben Murphy, who performs and records dementia here in Blighty. I write many of the songs, he writes many too and some are “classic dementia”.

Some of the material will not cross the pond too well, but some surely will. I have cued the Tarantino Man song (last track, Side A) for your initiation. The Brit Pop subject matter might please you (I’m Not Young, Britpop, Uncommon People) or you might even enjoy some truly British dementia for a change (Songbooks, Euroscepticals, BSE).

Please enjoy and broadcast if you will. I can be contacted as above. I shall be in New York 1 November to 8 November if that helps at all.

Yours sincerely

Ian Harris


Letter To Ben Murphy, 17 June 1996

Not sure what I sent Ben at that time, but once I get round to upping the stuff I was writing around about that time…it will have been much of that stuff.

Ben Murphy                                                 17 June 1996
(Newquay address redacted)
Dear Ben


Good to speak with you yesterday. I feel very remiss having not sent you any gear for quite a while. I enclose the ones you asked for plus some stuff that is currently in News Revue or has been in very recently (I realise that I’ve actually had quite a lot in the show lately).

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need anything else.


Yours sincerely

Ian Harris (Z/Ian)

I Am Old, NewsRevue Lyric & Ben Murphy Inspiration, 16 April 1996

The only version I have electronically is the one below, dated April 1996, but I must have sent Ben Murphy an early version in 1995 which he heavily adapted and recorded.

I prefer my lyric, but what do I know?

(To the Tune of “All Right”)

I am old, I’m obscene,
Keep my beard nice and clean;
Sleep alone every night,
Feel all right.

I wake up, scratch my arse,
Take my teeth from the glass,
Talk a whole load of shite,
But I’m all right.


Am I senile?
I can’t recall,
And I can’t learn me lines,
So me songs don’t all rhyme.


Cos I am old, I am daft,
Cannot quite raise me shaft,
So I smoke and get tight,
But I’m all right.

Then I wank, have a shit,
A cantankerous old git,
In the pub, when I fight,
But I’m all right, I’m all right.


And if you want to know what Alright by Supergrass sounds and reads like:

Letter To Ben Murphy, 29 January 1996

Goodness knows what I sent Ben in this batch, but he would have been planning the album “How Bonkers Is That” at that time.

Ben Murphy                                29 January 1996

(Wells address redacted)

Dear Ben


I have been remiss and have not sent you any gear for ages. I actually haven’t been writing much but had a brainstorm this weekend, so here’s the stuff.
Give us a bell to let me know what you think. Look forward to hearing from you soon.


Yours sincerely

Ian Harris (Z/Ian)


Letter To Ben Murphy, Explaining The Internet 1995 Style, 28 September 1995

The Internet was a relatively new and/or mysterious thing to most people in 1995; heck I was still quite new to it.

Trying to explain it to Ben Murphy…

…I think “Tony Parse of the New Musical Netspress” must have been one of my noms de plume – if so, that piece should turn up on Ogblog soon enough.

Ben Murphy 28 September 1995

(Wells address redacted)
Dear Ben


Thanks for the dosh. I can start eating again so long as the distended stomach and rickets don’t prevent me from taking down the food.

I’m surprised to learn that you are feeling dry on parodies – try these for size. Hope you like them. You were going to send me an educational tape to bring my music knowledge up to date. Is that still a happening possibility?

I enclose the Info Highway Roadkill tape which I think is pretty good considering. I also include a rave review of the tape by Tony Parse of the New Musical Netspress. He is obviously one of our biggest fans and this review is whizzing all over the world electronically (via Usenet, part of the Internet) as we speak. It will soon also be on the World-Wide-Web (another part of the Internet).

Look forward to hearing from you soon.


Yours sincerely

Ian Harris (Z/Ian)


Information Superfreebie, Promotional Material For Freebie Tape, 26 September 1995

Yes, the mysterious net journalist “Tony Parse” mentioned in one of my letters to Ben Murphy – click here – was of course one of my pseudonyms.

This is what he wrote, folks.

This very early attempt at e-commerce did generate a bit of “business” – I recall. Tom Rockwell shipped me a sort-of master tape, I would occasionally get an order and I’d fulfil it by spooling off a copy and posting it.

I did digitise that master tape, so in the fulness of time I’ll up the tracks. In the meantime, if anything plugged below really appeals to you, dear reader, comment or e-mail me a request and I’ll upload that particular track pronto.


(Info Highway Roadkill – Unsigned bands from the rec.music.dementia newsgroup)

The Net is rarely a good source of new material. Most recordings of the “it’s free!! Just send a tape and the postage and it’s yours” variety are not worth the postage, let alone the tape, the snail mail and the hassle. And that’s if the recording shows up. So this freebie tape makes a refreshing change – a fun packed hour of comedy music and skits. Even more rarely, the tape even contains material from here in Blighty, but more of that later.

The album is the brainchild of a demented rapper, Tom Rockwell aka Devo Spice aka Sudden Death. Tom gathered his miscellany of mad music makers through the Usenet newsgroup rec.music.dementia which is the Dr Demento Show newsgroup and thus the Mecca for novelty and comedy recording fanatics.

All the least pleasant aspects of the human condition are here. Sudden Death’s own recordings are named “Masturbate”, “Everybody Dies” and “Do You Piss In The Shower?” respectively. The latter is the most satisfying, an astonishingly well rhymed and rhythmed rap. Their material is not for the faint hearted. Both of Li’l Hank’s pieces, “I Met Santa On The Internet” and “Freeloading” are outstanding. The “Santa” number is truly a Christmas number for the nineties. Santa makes the twelve year old singer/surfer’s wishes come true, but only for the one Christmas, as the kid feels obliged to shop Santa to the FBI once Santa propositions him. Cyberpop meets cyberporn. “Freeloading” is about someone we all know and wish we didn’t; the friend [sic] who comes to stay and turns into the sponger from hell.

Some items relate to American television and will be somewhat mysterious to the British audience, such as None Of The Above’s “Barney’s On Fire” and “Dr Grumpus”. However, “Little Bits O’ Blue” by the same band is an incitement to hatred and violence against Smurfs; this should ensure a solid and loyal following in Britain from now on. The minimalist acts, Headhunter Country (“I Really Like Potatoes”, “Crash Airlines”, “Grants Rant”) and Mr Zipp (“McDiver”, “Quantum Steep”, “McDiver Background Sound Effects”) also require some perseverance from the uninitiated, but that persistence is rewarded. In particular, “I Really Like Potatoes” by Headhunter Country and “McDiver” by Mr Zipp make you snigger second and third time round, such that you look forward to hearing them again. Only high grade comedy has that effect.

All three Neverley Brothers works are superb, entertaining folk/rock pastiche and parody, especially “Reactor” and “Stealin’ Dylan’s Door”. Do not play “Talkin’ Little Debbie Pie Blues” to your grandparents, and I mean it. “Born To Shop” by Guns ‘N’ Charoses is a well- crafted Springsteen parody; Allan Sherman meets Weird Al Yankovic in the shopping mall.

Which leaves our very own Ben Murphy. Ben’s performances and the work of arch-parodist Ian Harris need no introduction here in the UK, but are probably new to American audiences. This tape contains two of their classics; the venomous Michael Jackson send-up, “Better Face” and the widely performed generic romantic parody “The Ultimate Love Song”. These recordings alone must be worth the price of a tape and postage. E-mail tjr0868@rit.edu for further details and enjoy the most entertaining freebie of the year.

Tony Parse The New Musical Netspress, London, England.

Fax To Ben Murphy Including Jumping Mick Jagger Lyric, 10 July 1995

Crumbs – Ben Murphy got a fax machine – I forgot all about this.

And indeed the Jagger lyric – I wonder whether Ben ever used it? I rather like it – and it is as topical today as it was in 1995 – perhaps even has improved with age.


Ben Murphy                     10 July 1995

(Wells address redacted)

Dear Ben


Yes, I mean 19th century: Empire, Queen Victoria, Elgar, rickets, starvation and antique second hand fax machines. I attach that Jagger song; I never got round to sending it snail mail but here it is faxwise. The paragraph below is the submission I have made through the Internet as sleeve notes for “Better Face” and “The Ultimate Love Song” which are appearing on a US student’s promo tape. No fee, but no charge to us either and he will be punting it to radio stations plus the nerd fraternity so who knows!!!

“Ben Murphy is an outstanding Irish comedy musician. Although he
lives and works mainly in Great Britain’s West Country (Somerset,
Devon, Cornwall), I first encountered Ben at a risky venue in
South-East London named “Up The Creek”. When acts die at Up The
Creek, the performers have actualy risked life and limb. Needless to
say, Ben not only survived but succeeded and a fine collaboration
was born. That was about three years ago. Since that time Ben has
produced three albums, “Cover of the Rolling Stone”, “I Want To Be
What I Was” and “Surfin’ In The UK”, all of which are laiden with
my material, some of Ben’s own work plus the work of many others.
This tape contains two products of our collaboration which have
been well received here in the UK, so we hope you like them. Ben is
a technophobe, but I am a gadget and net nut, so you can contact us
by telephone (44-171-243-0725), fax (44-171-229-2967), or e-mail
(zyenilh@zyenharri.win-uk.net). Enjoy.
Ian Harris”

If you want to change it, let me know and I’ll re-e-mail the guy. OK? Cool. (I’ve got to stop using these damned gadgets – the English goes to pot!!)

Ian Harris (Z/Ian)


(To the Tune of “Jumping Jack Flash”)

(Much opportunity for posturing & prancing in a zimmer frame environment)


I was born in a cross-fire hurricane,
Now I’m bald and I use a zimmer frame.


Cos we’re all old now,
We’re well past our best,
Yes we’re all old,
And jumping Mick Jaggers days have past-past-past.


I was born back in 1943,
I still tour, but my nurse travels round with me.


Cos we’re all worn out,
We’re old as the hills,
Yes we’re old now,
And jumping Mick Jagger pops Sanatogen pills.


Been around, had my pick of the chicks with ease (yeh yeh yeh),
Scores abound, with those bimbos on my knees (yeh yeh yeh),
Can’t recall all their names when ‘ere I please (no no no),
Can’t recall….must have Altzheimers disease (yeh yeh yeh)


Cos we’re all old now,
We’re ancient as hell,
Yes we’re all old,
And jumping Mick Jagger doesn’t look very well.


Jumping Mick Jagger, staggers off, Jumping Mick Jagger, staggers off
(they all stagger off)


For those who want/need the sound and lyric of Jumping Jack Flash to enhance their enjoyment – here it is:


Letter To Ben Murphy Including Free Nelson Mandela Lyric, 14 May 1995

I don’t think Ben recorded either of my suggestions from this letter; he might have used one or both live.

I might try “Hanging Around” on the baritone ukulele; I still love that song.

Ben Murphy                                                        14 May 1995
(Wells address redacted)
Dear Ben


I enclose a tape with the Free Nelson Mandela song on it for your greatest hits. I still think it should be short and sharp:

Thirty one years in captivity,
In most unholy matrimony,
Are you so blind that you cannot see,
That she’s so fat she can hardly breathe;
Free Nelson Mandela (from Winnie, from Winnie,
Free Nelson Mandela (from Winnie, from Winnie).

I have also taped Hanging Around by Lou Reed which I think you could do really well “straight” – see what you think.

Those back catalogue tapes arrived towards the end of last week; ten of each, many thanks. I can now fulfil the transatlantic sample orders – don’t hold your breath. There were no inlay cards with the tapes, which is a bit of a shame. Is that because there are none left or just an oversight? If you have any left, please send them to me ASAP as I do think presentation helps, especially with our US friends.

Look forward to hearing from you soon.


Yours sincerely

Ian Harris (Z/Ian)

If you have an urge to hear and see the lyrics to Free Nelson Mandela:

…and if you cannot resist the urge to hear Hanging Around by Lou Reed:


Wheel Vera Lynn, NewsRevue Lyric And Beyond, 24 April 1995

The following quickie formed part of a medley – well in the end several different medleys, but initially a VE Day Labour medley – click here.

But I’m writing this up today, 20 March 2017, on Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday.

It is strange re-reading this quickie today.

At the time, 1995, when Vera Lynn was a sprightly 78 year old, I think it was funny and it certainly went down very well. It was used/reused many times in NewsRevue – the VE Day and general 50th anniversary of the war ending stories ran and ran in the news and this was ideal material for that.

But now that Vera Lynn is 100, the song no longer has the same humour to it. Usually the passage of time makes material easier to laugh about, but in this case, the passage of time has the opposite effect.

Still, imagine the 50th anniversary of VE day; imagine wall-to-wall Vera Lynn on the radio and TV and you should still get the jokes.

Wheel Vera Lynn, out again, what a din,

Yes they’ll wheel out Vera Lynn despite her years;

Keeps crooning through, although she’s ninety two,

But they wheel out Vera Lynn to raise the tears.


That Vera still bangs the drum, for a six figure sum,

She will sing you a song;

You’ll be moved and be charmed, even ‘tho’ she’s embalmed

And her talent’s all gone.


Wheel Vera Lynn, out again, what a din,

And they’ll wheel out Vera Lynn each fifty years.

Ben Murphy used it on one of his albums – a wonderful rendition at the end of a medley, which included my VE Day Labour Medley – click here – and some of his own material.


Click here or below for a lyric-strewn YouTube of the original song, We’ll Meet Again, sung by Vera Lynn.