Poetry – Roy (a poem for Roy Harper)


Household dissenter,

Absconder and antagonist;

Army runaway

And asylum breakouter;

Prison inmate,

Jazz marathon poet

And convention flouter.

Travelling busker,


Dauber on the city walls.

Gig talker,


Singer with the biggest balls.

Awkward and acerbic,

Sweet and melodic,

Laughing madly in the gale.

A stormcock,

A harper,

Creator of the epic rail.

Opher 21.6.2016


I wrote this one for Roy Harper. It came out while I was sitting watching TV one evening. I had just written my book on Roy and my head was full of it. I imagined him as a kid daubing hammers and sickles and swastikas on the Town Hall, running away to join the army, feigning madness and suffering ECT, later being locked up in prison and heading off busking round Europe. There was a lot to fit in. He’s had quite a life.

Roy is his own man – a man who gets up there on stage and speaks his mind on every subject. He is passionate and has strong views. He isn’t afraid to say it as it is.

There are not many people around who are prepared to speak out against the environmental madness, the crazy controlling society, war, poverty and religion.

Heaven knows we need them. Roy’s epic songs have kept me sustained through decades.

Today’s Music to keep me SsSsSsaAAaAAnNNnNEeee in Isolation – Roy Harper – Folkjokeopus

It is snowing and I’m feeling a bit pissed off with the world at the moment! I felt an overpowering desire to play McGoohan’s Blues – It’s all just a game!

Oh how the sea she roars with laughter and howls with the dancing winds to see my two feet standing here questioning.

McGoohan’s Blues (Remastered) – YouTube

Today’s Music to keep me SsSsaaaannNNeeEEEe in Isolation – Roy Harper – Come Out Fighting Ghenghis Smith

This album was Roy’s second and is one that I keep going back to. I used to play this to death back in 1968 when it came out.

Me and my friends – tell you what we’re going to do – we’re going to make a better way of living.

Roy Harper- Come Out Fighting Genghis Smith – YouTube

Roy Harper – why have I written two books? The story.

Roy Harper – why have I written two books? The story.

In a fit of creativity and great burst of obsessive zeal four years ago I sat down at my computer and wrote a book on Roy Harper. It took me three weeks – an explosion of words in a stream of consciousness.

I suppose I was imagining myself as Jack Kerouac with his long scroll of paper hammering out On The Road in one relentless gush.

First thought –best thought.

It wasn’t so much a book about Roy, although Roy was the theme; so much as the story of a fifty year friendship and two lives that ran down different tracks, in parallel.

I didn’t plan it or research it, I just wrote and it flowed.

I was part telling a story about Roy from my perspective, part talking about the times we lived through and part contrasting that with my life. I thought it gave perspective.

In a blind subjective haze I sent the book to Roy. He hated the writing but said that there was a good book in there.

I found that weird – but when I reread it with more objectivity I could see that it was far too dense and badly written. I’d just gushed it forth.

So, with my good lady Liz doing some great editing, I rewrote the whole book into a completely different style.

I’d nearly completed the rewrite and, on the spur of the moment, checked out whether a publisher would be interested. To my surprise I received an instant response. They liked the writing. They wanted a book on Roy.

However, they first wanted a book that fitted into the series they were putting out – On Track – every album, every track. They sent me a contract. I signed and found myself writing a completely different book – a book about Roy’s songs, albums and poetry.

Thus I ended up with two books on Roy!

The Best Album Ever Recorded!

There is one album that stands head and shoulders above everything else.

A marrying of poetry to music.

The craftmanship of musicians and studio production is outstanding.

The poetic lyrics stuffed with meaning.

The atmosphere of the music absorbing and transcedental.

You’ve probably guessed what it is by now.

(1) Roy Harper, Stormcock (1971; Full album) – YouTube