Oscar Wilde Made Me Do it
Number 8 in the Spotify chart of my most popular songs is Prince, Pope or the People? from the album It Just Is.
I’ve always taken pleasure in sharing a birthday with the playwright, poet and popular poseur Oscar Wilde. I was born a few years after him though, honest.
I like Wilde for other reasons too – his political stance for one, I found it interesting. In ‘The soul of man under Socialism’ he wrote that there are three kinds of despot: ‘There is the despot who tyrannises over the body. There is the despot who tyrannises over the soul. There is the despot who tyrannises over the soul and body alike. The first is called the Prince. The second is called the Pope. The third is called the People’. Wilde classed himself as a socialist, but it wasn’t the variant of more recent times, I don’t think.
This quote seemed to make sense to me. I’m easily confused by life and the messy, wilful nonsense we all indulge in, and over the years I’ve wondered why we are always looking for messiah’s, religious and secular. Bit of purple prose of my own going on here.
When we lived in Crosby, a nice guy, Paul, lived next door to us. He worked at a high security psychiatric prison hospital as an Art Therapist. He was an interesting and talented man – he made us some earthenware bowls as a wedding gift, we still use them. He was also a mate of Budgie, from the Banshees.
I’d just written Prince, Pope or the People? and he’d called round to ours where I played it to him. He liked it but said that the third verse was lazy. He was right, so I beavered away till I came up with something better.
It was recorded at Andy Wilson’s Hype Studio in Roscoe Street in Liverpool. Andy died from Covid over a year ago, bless him, and was a fixture of Liverpool’s music scene from the late 60’s/70’s.
I played the guitar and sang live and then we overdubbed trumpet, courtesy of Sister Stubbs, from Clint Boon’s then band and a guy from Chester, Dave Roberts on Saxophone. Dave got me quite emotional when he told me he’d recently lost his wife and that third verse, which Paul made me write, made great sense to him. Finally, Angie Pollock added her piano. It all sounded great, I was as pleased as punch.
So there you go, Prince, Pope or the People? It’s, quite the question. Thanks Oscar and Paul. If you’d like to listen to it, the streaming service of your choice is linked to below. It Just Is – still available on CD –