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.

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

 

 

 

Inside A Femidom, NewsRevue Lyric, 23 December 1992

This is not the most profound song I ever wrote. The electronic file is dated just before Christmas 1992. The song premiered in the first run of 1993, about one month later.

The femidom was, in the UK in 1992, a much-vaunted innovation in contraception. An article from 2005 – click here for link – suggests that its success was short-lived.

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Female_condom.jpg

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Female_condom.jpg

Anyway, this one proved very popular in early 1993 (the song I mean, not the contraceptive device), despite the rather crude, sophomoric style of the lyrics. Mark Bowden’s team used it as their opening number, despite my protests that it should perhaps be used later in the show – see letter – click here for link.

The original tune is Under The Moon of Love, originally by Curtis Lee but made famous in the UK by Showaddywaddy – see YouTube of them singing it by clicking here or below.

And a link to the original lyrics – click here.

As part of my research for the lyrics that follow, Janie and I did procure and attempt to use such a contraption on one occasion. How we laughed. The things we put ourselves through for my NewsRevue art.

♬ INSIDE A FEMIDOM ♬

(To the Tune of “Under the Moon of Love”)

 

VERSE 1

Lets go for a little shag, and use a Femidom,

Just me and you and a plastic bag, lets use a Femidom;

I wanna lover {wanna lover} with a cover {with a cover},

Like a great big Wellington,

Little darling, let’s poke and stoke, inside a Femidom {a Femidom}

 

VERSE 2

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}

 

MIDDLE BIT 1

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;

{I think I would rather use my hand}

 

VERSE 3

Bring the groceries from the shops, inside a Femidom,

A pork salami and sirloin chops, inside a Femidom;

It’s the fashion {it’s the fashion} to kill passion {to kill passion},

With a jumbo freezer bag,

Little darling, let’s hump and rump, inside a Femidom {a Femidom}

 

MIDDLE BIT 2

At enormous cost, a polyurethane thrill,

I hope that we’ve not lost, our coil and our cap and the pill;

{Why not use a method I can stand?}

 

VERSE 4

We’ll avoid a misconception, without a Femidom,

Let’s use other contraception, but not the Femidom,

Then we’ll feel {then we’ll feel} something real {something real},

And we won’t feel put upon,

Little darling let’s play and lay, without a Femidom {no Femidom}.

copyright © Ian Harris 1992

My Genitalia, NewsRevue Lyric, 12 December 1992

This lyric is shown on my January 1993 “Bowden submission sheet” – click here for link to that artefact.

It hadn’t been used in late 1992 (unsurprising, as the Christmas run tended to keep any December material out until January) so I resubmitted it in early 1993.

I don’t think the song was used, nor on re-reading it do I think it should have been. I cannot recall precisely why it seemed topical to write this song and/or to rhyme “Austin Metro” with “hetero” in Verse Three, but I think someone somewhere was caught doing something sexual with the exhaust of his car.

Click here or below for a link to My Generation by The Who, including their original lyrics for the tune.

♬ MY GENITALIA ♬

 (To the Tune of “My Generation”)

VERSE 1 – INTRODUCTION OF THE UNFORTUNATE CHARACTER

People try to put them down,

{talking ’bout my genitalia}

Just because they’re small and round;

{talking ’bout my genitalia}

The things I say are always crude,

{talking ’bout my genitalia}

Cos I can never get myself screwed.

{talking ’bout my genitalia}(My genitalia, my genitalia)

 

VERSE 2 – HE’S ON HIS OWN

Why don’t I just f-f-f-feel myself,

{talking ’bout my masturbation}

My DIY kit on the shelf;

{talking ’bout ejaculation}

The doctors call it sexual failure,

{talking ’bout my gamomania}

Just talking ’bout my genitalia.

{talking ’bout my genitalia}(My genitalia, my genitalia)

 

VERSE 3 – EXTRA VERSE WHILE THIS STORY IS STILL TOPICAL

People think that I’m not hetero,

{talking ’bout my genitalia}

Because I love my Austin Metro;

{talking ’bout my monomania}

I lust for its boot and regalia,

{talking ’bout my gamomania}

And that exhausts my genitalia.

{talking ’bout my genitalia}(My genitalia, my genitalia)

 

VERSE 4 – HE’S OFF

Women try to put me down,

{talking ’bout emasculation}

Cos I’m the biggest prick in town;

{talking ’bout exaggeration}

I’ll take a trip out to Australia,

{talking ’bout a grand vacation}

Where all men talk about genitalia.

{talking ’bout my genitalia}(My genitalia, my genitalia)

 

copyright © Ian Harris 1992

 

Fair Weather Friend, NewsRevue Lyric, 28 November 1992

In autumn 1992, I was still coming to terms with what worked and what didn’t work for NewsRevue. After all, I had only discovered the place that spring. It is part of the Bowden submission of January 1993 and I’m pretty sure it didn’t get used.

This lyric is not topical and really doesn’t belong in that show, although it might have done something in some other show – still might.

I quite like it, although on re-reading it all these years later (December 2016) I thought the lyric needed some work and that I might work up a variant for my baritone uke.

When I did so, with very minor changes (Spring 2017 – not reflected in the text below), Janie really liked it, finding it delightfully nasty.

“Were you really pissed off with someone or depressed when you wrote that?”, asked Janie.

“I don’t think so…I’d just started going out with you,” was my reply.

After a mini song contest on Good Friday 2017, I decided to lay a track down using the slightly amended lyric and Benjy the Baritone Ukulele:

 

♬ FAIR WEATHER FRIEND ♬

(To the Tune of “You’ve Got a Friend”)

 

VERSE 1

When you’re low and worried,

And you need some tender care,

And nothing, nothing appears to fit;

Close your eyes, envisage me,

You know I won’t be there,

And say to yourself, “Christ, s/he’s a selfish git”.

 

CHORUS 1

You can call out my name,

And if nothing better crops up,

I might be there,

To drive you round the bend;

When you throw a party I’ll show,

Send me free tickets, I’ll go,

I’m a scrounger (yes I am),

A fair weather friend.

 

MIDDLE BIT

Now ain’t it good to have,

A fair weather friend,

Cos some people get too close;

They’ll smother,

Like your mother,

And make you feel real guilty,

When you’re out with others.

 

CHORUS 2

You just call out my name,

But you don’t suppose I’ll show up,

Unless you’ve something,

I want that you’ll lend;

If there’s something in it for me,

I may pop around briefly,

I’m a bastard (yes I am),

A fair weather friend.

 

Ain’t it good to have,{fair weather friends}

You can piss on them,{fair weather friends}

Or they’ll crap on you,{fair weather friends}

Oh yeh.{fair weather friends}

 

copyright © Ian Harris 1992

 

Click here or below for a link to Carole King singing You’ve Got A Friend, with original lyrics.

 

 

White House, NewsRevue Lyric, 20 November 1992

This lyric is dated as above, so I must have written it soon after Bill Clinton was confirmed as President, but it didn’t get used until Mark Bowden’s run in early 1993, which possibly makes sense as that was around about the time that the Clintons actually moved in to the White House.

I commented on Mark’s working of this song when I wrote to him the day after his run started – click here for that letter.

It seems just a little strange posting this lyric now, in 2016, just after Trump has beaten Hillary to the White House. I wasn’t all that sure about the Clintons the first time around, was I?

Janie really liked this one. Not least because it is based on Our House by Crosby Stills Nash and Young which she really likes – click here or below for YouTube with tune and original lyrics.

♬ WHITE HOUSE ♬

(A song for Bill and Hillary Clinton to the Tune of “Our House”)

VERSE 1

HILLARY:I’ll light the fire, you use the powers,

As the Governor of State;

BILL:Sittin’ by the fire, with Gennifer Flowers,

While the wife’s out working,

She’ll be earning,

Ten times more than me, ee, ee,

All legally, ee, ee.

 

VERSE 2

HILLARY:Deep in the South {BILL:Deep in the South}

With gravy, grits and gingham dresses,

God, Guns, Geeks and Goops;

BILL:Joint in my mouth,{HILLARY:Joint in his mouth}

I smoke my spliff without inhaling,

Voters bought it,

They must be e-ven more stoned than me, ee, ee,

Ill-legally, ee, ee;

 

CHORUS 1

BOTH:Our house, is a very very very fine house,

Electric chairs will shock,

In down town Little Rock,

We rednecks kicked the shit out of George Bush;

We say, (cocking a snook)

Na, na, nananana, nananana, nanana nanana, nanananananananana,

(OptionalNa, na, nananana, nananana, nanana nanana, nanananananananana);

 

CHORUS 2

BOTH:The White House, is a very very very fine house,

White marble on the floor,

This sure beats Arkansas,

Though everything is hicky since George Bush….

….moved out;

 

VERSE 3

HILLARY:I’ll light the fire,

BILL:While I wear the pointed hat,

And sheets that we bought to-day-ay-ay-ay-ay.

I GATT Round, NewsRevue Lyric, 27 October 1992

I don’t suppose the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was the funniest topical subject in late 1992, unless you happened to be an economist.

Seems a bit topical again now at the time of writing (December 2016) with protectionism hoving back into political view.

Evidence shows that this one wasn’t used before Christmas 1992 and I doubt if it was used afterwards either, although I can see I submitted it in the January 1993 Bowden submission and there is evidence that I tweaked the text in February 1993.

Click here or below for a link to the Beach Boys song, I Get Around, upon which the lyric is based.

Mine isn’t really a funny enough song, I’ll be frank. Although the following line made me smile:

“My buddies and me we’re not at all well known, But the IMF know us so they give us a loan.”

Here’s the whole lyric:

♬ I GATT ROUND ♬

(To the Tune of “I Get Around”)

 

INTRO

Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round.

 

We Gatt round,{Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

We have found,Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

That we are bound,Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

To make contentious sound.Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round.}

 

VERSE 1

We’re getting bugged trying to subsidise your oil seed crops,

We’re goanna stick a huge tariff on your goods in our shops.

 

My buddies and me we’re not at all well known,

But the IMF know us so they give us a loan.

 

CHORUS

We Gatt round,{Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

We’ll astound,Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

When we propound,Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

That quotas still abound.Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round.}

 

We Gatt round round round round round round round,

Wupwah-ooh, wupwah-ooh, wupwah-ooh-ooh.

 

VERSE 2

The West spends a fortune hoarding crops and meat,

While the Third World countries have got nothing to eat.

 

We’ve been talking for years but we can never agree,

So we’re goanna fuck up the world economy.

 

We loathe Leon Brittan and hate Jacques Delors,

So we’re goanna fall out and have a global trade war.

 

We Gatt round,{Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

It’s renowned,Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

That we shall impound,Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round,

Any goods we’ve found.Round, round, Gatt round, Uruguay round.}

 

We Gatt round, Gatt round round round round round.