Roy Harper – McGoohan’s Blues – what it meant to me!
When I first heard this song I was eighteen and it hit me like a steam train. I was ripe for it. I was leaving home, leaving school and off to college in London for three years of freedom.
These are a few of the bits that hit home.
Nicky my child he stands there with the wind in his hair
Wondering whether the water the wind of the where
I fear that someday he might ask me if mine is the blame
And I’ve got no reply save to tell him it’s all just a game.
Well Nicky is the wondrous Nick Harper who is a musical genius in his own right. The whole charade of this greedy, violent, selfish human culture is the game we are born into. It is the rat race that stops us from being alive.
The fear of mankind’s untogetherness pounds in my heart
The deceit of my friends the betrayals of which I am part
And O how the sea she roars with laughter
And howls with the dancing wind
To see my two feet standing here questioning
It goes on all around us as we destroy the planet and each other in this endless game of division and vitriol. But when we are long gone the sea and the sky will still be there and it will be mocking our vanity and arrogance.
And I’m just a social experiment tailored to size
I’ve tried out the national machine and the welfare surprise
I’m the rich man the poor man the peace man the war man the beast
The festive consumer who ends up consumed in the feast
That is what I felt like at 18 and still do at 73 – a social experiment tailored to size.
It doesn’t matter who we are – we’re all caught up in this mad machine that is feasting on the planet and destroying it in the process. The greedy and selfish on their crazy spree of growth, possession and power will end up killing us all. We’re fed lies and propaganda. Everything is spin.
And my five-eyed promoter is clutching two birds in the bush
He’s a thief he’s as bad as the joker they’re both in the rush
He’s telling me Ghandi was handy and Jesus sold his ring
(Dunno who to, God maybe)
“And everyone knows dat dis dough’s gonna make me de king”
And the madmen, like Joe Lustig, Roy’s promoter, really believe that money is all that matters – with money you can do what you like, live like a king and rule the world. They believe that all the idealists and religious leaders are being used in the power game, exploited and trotted out when needed and that everyone sells out. Money is power. Money is all that matters.
Except that I, and Roy, knew that game was empty and hollow. There was much more to life than money and there were much better ways of living than a rat race to destroy the planet.
It was all heady stuff for an eighteen-year-old to take in and digest.
Roy Harper was saying things that lit me up. These were no vacuous pop songs or soppy love songs. These were barbed poems with social bite.