Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mercury Residues

I was watching a BBC documentary recently about the rivalry between Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, who took turns being Prime Minister around the time I started voting (and Wilson became PM in the first election I really remember noticing as a kid - maybe I paid more attention because my parents didn't like him).

Anyway, one of the talking heads filling us in on details about Wilson was Joe Haines, who was his Press Secretary for many years. And it struck me that the only reason I knew his name was because of a song by Lal Waterson entitled "A Reply To Joe Haines".

Nearly six years ago I wrote

I can never hear references to the Peabody Mining Corporation without thinking of the Prine song. Songs have to be one of the best ways of getting your retaliation in first with posterity. Who can hear the name William Zanzinger without “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” coming to mind? We remember the names of the “Mississippi Burning” murder victims because of Dylan’s “Oxford Town”. And so on. Mind you, Gore Vidal’s “Myron” technique runs a close second: censor all the rude words out of your story and replace them with the names of pro-censorship Supreme Court justices. Someone recalled it in The Guardian recently when Chief Justice Rehnquist -as in “Huge, throbbing Rehnquist” - died.

and this recollection would seem to confirm my comment then. Here's the song: it made it difficult for me to watch him on the TV without thinking of him as the man who wrote a really nasty homophobic piece when Freddie Mercury died.

And here is Freddie Bulsara aka Mercury, who will surely be remembered long after Haines, Waterson and all the rest of us have vanished into history's offline backups.