Share a cuppa tea with…

Jul 2019 Share a cuppa tea with…

MATTHEW FISHER of Procol Harum as he talks about Helen Shapiro, secrets, and the light fandango.

By Jane Quinn

Matthew Charles Fisher is a classically- trained English musician, songwriter and producer.

He is best known for co-writing and playing the Hammond organ on the 1967 single “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum, Naturally, my first question for Matthew has to be about the name “Procol Harum” and just what it means. This was his reply:

“It has indeed often been said that Procol Harum is Latin for ‘beyond those things’. It has also been pointed out that this isn’t quite correct, although I have never read ‘the whole story’: if you translate ‘beyond those things’ into Latin, you would get ‘procul his’ (which may at least throw some light on the frequent occurrence of Procul in references to the band – as you will know, the word can even be found on some ‘Best of’ albums!).

“Procul, in the sense of ‘far away from’, is always followed by an ablative, in this case ‘his’, with ‘harum’ being the feminine genitive plural ‘of these things’ (the latter has also been mentioned by Keith Reid in an interview, although I do not remember exactly which one).”

Matthew learned to compose music by ear when he was in high school. He has chosen a path to compose by feeling and emotions rather than reading and writing notes on paper. The word “genius” comes to mind, but when we hear that word misused so often, I feel we need another/different word to describe this composer. Perhaps we can say he is remarkable, brilliant, dazzling, magical, phenomenal, and much more. Or maybe we can simply refer to him as a whiz kid.

And now, the whiz kid needs a nice hot cuppa tea, so let’s have a chat…

1. David Bowie or Screaming Lord Sutch?
They were both called David. Sutch was a great guy and a real character
but Bowie was a genius.

2. What is the light fandango?
That’s just Keith Reid playing with words. He’s doing a twist on “Trip the light fantastic”. I was never very keen on that particular line.

3. 1967 or 2019?
1967 was the most eventful year of my life, but I made a few bad mistakes. All the same, some of it was fun. 2019 is not a good year. The world is in a bad place and it looks like it’s going to get worse.

4. If you could have invited anyone, living or dead, to our wee tea party, who would it have been?
My first impulse was to nominate David Cameron, so I could give him a smack in the mouth for being such an idiot, but that would have spoiled the party. So, instead, I’m going to choose John Lennon (as long as he doesn’t bring Yoko).

5. Who was your celebrity childhood crush?
Helen Shapiro. I was 15 at the time. Does that count as “childhood”?

6. Have you ever had a broken heart?
Yes, twice. All part of ‘life’s rich pattern’, I guess.

7. Tell us a secret.
Well I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

8. If you could travel anywhere in time, where would you go?
I always felt I’d missed out on the golden age of British rock ‘n’ roll. If you’ve ever seen the film “Wish you were here”, it portrays exactly how dreadful Britain was before Bill Haley and Elvis came along.
I’d love to go back to Soho in the 1950s and see Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard & Co at the 2i’s coffee bar.

9. What was the first record you ever bought?
Rock Island Line by Lonnie Donegan.

10. What do you see when you look in the mirror?
I hate looking in the mirror. Only do it when I’m shaving.

11. Did your dreams come true?
Not all of them. Certainly not the big one.

12. What’s new?
Whenever I read the news these days, it’s only about three things: a) Brexit, b) Trump or c) the Royal Family. I suppose the last of these is the least depressing.

I am left curious about that famous hooded cloak that Matthew used to wear on stage. He says, “I haven’t seen that cloak since 1968 – I’ve no idea where it went.” That is too sad for these old hippie ears to hear so I changed the subject and asked Matthew if he liked The Rolling Stones.

He said he did which pleased me. The chat went on longer than the tea party. I suggest you tap into Matthew Fisher’s website and listen to some examples of his music.

You will be glad that you did.

©Jane Quinn