Sunday, October 4, 2009

Paperback Writer: Issa's Sunday Service, #23

This week folks everywhere will remember John Lennon on his birthday, October 9th. For this edition of Issa's Sunday Service, The Beatles' song "Paperback Writer" is featured.

Why "Paperback Writer" you might ask? Isn't that a Macca tune? Indeed, it is. However, as the story goes, John helped him finish it up and there are a couple of touches, which seem at once distinctly John and definitely litrock material. Here is, for the time, the brilliant first verse:

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It's based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

If Lennon only contributed one word to the song, chances are that word was "Lear," after one of his famed influences in all-things verse, Edward Lear. John's propensity for punning and word play, which we already saw in a previous ISS selection, find a direct antecedent in Lear and making him the author of "a dirty story by a dirty man" was certainly right up John's street. In addition the background vocal by John and George singing the children's tune
"Frere Jacques" is more than likely a John touch and perhaps one of the most brilliant throwaway bits ever. I probably heard this song 100's of times before I realized what was going on about 20 years ago and now I can barely hear anything else when I listen to it.

John, of course, was the literary one, the Beatle who published a book under his own name, In His Own Write, which was heavily influenced by Lear, Lewis Carroll, James Joyce, and Bob Dylan. I always thought the song was, on some level, a little tweak of John by Paul, but the written record says otherwise, so I'll stand down on that one. In any case, the irony swings both ways, so to speak.


This week's poem is aptly titled "Sermon" from Lilliput Review #34, June 1992, and is followed by a poem of Master Issa, from a few years before that. The Lillie poem is a "Brobdingnag Feature Poem" (an occasional poem over 10 lines that finds its way into the mag) by another master, Albert Huffstickler. Enjoy.

All the old, grizzled men
sleeping it off in alleys.
Cold. Cold.
There should be a way
for ancient wine-soaked joints
not to be cold.
There should be a warm room
where they can sit together
immersed in their communal stink.
nodding away the hours

This is our disgrace
(and I don't ever forget it):
that there is no room
in the richest nation in history
for our fractured ancients to sit
nodding away the hours
warming their wine-soaked joints
immersed in their communal stink.
Albert Huffstickler

traveling geese--
the human heart, too
translated by David G. Lanoue



Ed Baker said...

John A took things to an "other" bardo! John and Yoko togethre took things even higher!

23 years ago today

I got this neat piece (a book) by John:

Skywriting By Word of Mouth...

it opens with

The Ballad of John and Yoko

all the sketches in the book by John

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Yes, I remember that one ... have it around the house here somewhere.

Just ordered Yoko's new Plastic Ono Band album from the local shop. Looking forward to it.

Ed Baker said...

here's what I have:

ONO Walking On Thin Ice

ONO Yes, I'm A Woman

John & Yoko
Some Time in New York City

Double Fantasy

Unfinished Music No.2: Life With The Lions

hey check this 'run' out:

"run run run run"

Ed Baker said...

which new album?

this one 'blew my mind' what was left of it

Yoko (and John) also 'taught' John Cage a thing-or-six...

( cld tell you of a brief encounter... 107 Bank Street 1971 or so..

Ed Baker said...


this one:

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

That's the one, Ed. Ever here "Yes, I'm a Witch." She rerecorded some of her top shelf stuff with different groups backing her. Was listening to it last week and it's interesting to compare it to Walking on Thin Ice.


Ed Baker said...

just now spinning

I'm a Witch!


Kiss kiss kiss

maybe (but i doubt it) just a coinseedance!

two versions of Walking on Thin Ice on this that I was thinking of by YO
when I did this:
(kiss kisss kisss kisss kissss)
it's a j-peg don't know how to insert it hear will email it to u

now just done with me:

Sisters O Sisters..


Death of Samantha

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Been following Laurie around the house singing kiss kiss kiss kiss me love ...

Charles Gramlich said...

I love that song, probably only because of the writerly connection.

Charlotte D. said...

I love that poem:

traveling geese--
the human heart, too

I love the way you used the words "traveling geese" as the kigo. It fits so well with the technique of association in that you can interpret geese as being either fall or spring. I really enjoyed it! :)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks, Charles, catchy little tune, eh.

Charlotte, great point about the way David Lanoue has translated Issa's poem, being either spring or fall. Thanks.