Thursday, January 02, 2020

Thalia And Euterpe

Okay: If I were to say "Neil Innes" to you, would you shrug?
If shrugging off Neil Innes is your thing, than you can feel free to come back tomorrow, because today I'm going to tell you that I am going to memorialize him here.
Still with me? Good. Even if you don't know who Neil was, you really owe it to yourself to find out more. Let's start with his song, "How Sweet To Be An Idiot." Neil Innes wrote funny songs. Many of the songs associated with Monty Python were penned by him. And the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, with tunes like "Tubas In The Moonlight" and "Canyons Of Your Mind." Silliness. Erupting out of roughly the same time and space as the Pythons, Neil found his songwriting abilities put to good use. He was Sir Robin's singnig minstrel, and the page crushed by the giant wooden rabbit.
As if that weren't enough, he was also integral to the creation of The Rutles, a Beatles parody that went deeper and more profoundly into the fab four's career than anything before or since. Neil played Ron Nasty, the John Lennon sort in the group. Along with Eric Idle, they took a kernel of an idea from a short film which blossomed into the mockumenteary "All You Need Is Cash." This effort was funded, in part by George Harrison. For someone who loved the Beatles and Monty Python, this was pop culture heaven.
Now Neil Innes has gone to join the choir invisible. The man who was often referred to as "The Seventh Python" has played his last set here on earth. While he was here, he gave an emphatic answer to Frank Zappa's question, "Does humor belong in music?"
That answer was "Yes," by the way.
As a teenage boy, I gobbled up and memorized all things Python, and was happy to have Neil's "Protest Song" in my repertoire. A very pointed jab in the direction of protest singers of all stripes, I was especially fond of his introduction: "Ladies and gentlemen, I've suffered for my music. Now it's your turn."
If you held on long enough, maybe even clicking on some of those links, you may have a sense of exactly how Neil stomped on the Terra. He will be missed.

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