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,
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.
SermonAll the old, grizzled men
sleeping it off in alleys.
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
the human heart, too
translated by David G. Lanoue