Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dispatch from the Ghost of William Shatner

Last night, I took part in a unique event, The Ghost of William Shatner, in which people performed the lyrics to pop tunes without singing and without music. Did the lyrics work without musical backing? Well yes, they did, because they were being performed. Few, probably none, would work well as poems on a page, but that wasn’t the object of the exercise. The variety was impressive – everything from straight performances of Radiohead, The Smiths and Bob Dylan to mock-heroic renditions of Barbie Girl, Rocket Man, and We Are the Champions. The result was thoroughly entertaining.

Through every performance, the spirit of William Shatner brooded over the stage in the form of a cardboard statue (as you can see from some of these photos by Chris Scott), later won in a raffle by the Scottish Poetry Library’s Peggy Hughes, who also contributed a memorable version of Barry Manilow’s 'Copacabana'. I imagine carrying the thing at that time of night through the Cowgate would have won her considerable attention. As MC Gavin Inglis said, “the person most likely to get mugged on the way home” (she has posted on Facebook this morning, so I’m glad to know she got back safely). The stand-out performance on the night was Stephen Barnaby’s hilarious ‘Rasputin’ (the Boney M song) in the style of a university lecture by Professor Bobby Farrell, complete with academic commentary on the lyrics – one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages.

My contribution to the evening was Jacques Brel’s ‘Jackie’ – the version in English, as sung by Scott Walker

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