Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Beware The Bull - The Enigmatic Genius of Jake Thackray #1 Beware of the Bull


When I was growing up in the UK, there was a Television programme on the mid Evening BBC that was a fixture for most British family's standard routines, (including mine), called That's Life. It was essentially a consumer rights and investigative programme, but in between the serious stuff there was time for more standard family fun. Dogs that could do tricks, vegetables that resembled private bodily parts. A comic called Cyril Fletcher, who could go cross eyed at will and a Folk singer called Jake Thackray whose material was also essentially comic but clearly had a great deal that was evidently driven by much more serious concerns which were way beyond my ken. 

As the years have past I've become more and more fascinated by Thackray. A songwriter in the tradition of Brassens and Brel, his songs decried social hypocrisy and abuse of power. In many ways he's a much more politically driven musician than Britain characteristically produced at a time when musical hall tended towards less challenging entertainment. This biography by Paul Thompson and John Wattterson has pretty much everything a Thackray devotee could possibly want.

The early pages not unnaturally detail Thackray's childhood and upbringing. In a harsh and fairly unpleasant part of Leeds, raised by an incommunicative and drunken father and a mother who was a devoted Catholic mother who instilled much of the narrative skill that served Thackray so well.

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