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On the Second-Touch Discussion List, Ian McIver, theatre organist now resident of Brisbane and compiler of the Southern Cross Web Site dealing with theatre organs in the southern hemisphere, asked if there were any verses dealing with the theatre organ. He printed a whimsical poem written in his schooldays dealing with the fictional career of "English" theatre organist, David Morgan who supposedly ended up accompanying angels with their harps. The following, recently written by a sometime schoolboy now in adult clothing, is offered as a light-hearted sequel with an Aussie slant.
A Whimsical Sequel:
David Morgan Plays On?
Dedicated to Ian McIver, KCSOB
There's a twist to the tale of Morgan
Who supposedly rose with his organ
Past St. Peter himself, on high to toot
Among that hallowed gang so cute.
David, not saint but "Fingers Morgan,"
May yet be living with his organ,
Having not met such splendid demise
On a console lift that forgot its size.
So here's another folk version
Which carries its own assertion.
This truth, as told, reached me but lately
On Scottish breath of a man, McMatey;
And his yarn of where Morgan ended
We'll rehearse in this verse appended.
Dismiss the claims of lifts unbridled
As if to heaven Morgan sidled.
In atmospheric house well lit,
Where gorgeous sounds from chambers split
Filled every niche and distant cranny
-T'was designed by "Art Deco" Crombie-
There was an errant organ lift,
Which did the deed on its last shift!
So "'Organ" lost his musical way
While concluding "A Perfect Day."
When Morgan ceased his interlude
E'en though the playing was not crude
The console sank and kept descending
From Regal's mauve and baizéd aisle
Morgan sank, but sank in style.
The house and all its plush receded
As instrument on its way proceeded,
Dragging pipes with wondrous pouring
Into a tunnel by magic boring.
His music followed all the while
Till diaphones were not as deep,
Nor could he then his tibias keep
From clutching him from clasping sleep.
Descending faster than old Nick
His fall Miltonic was ironic.
Had his MD disliked his suavity?
Had there been whispers of depravity?
Perhaps the Fates had packed a wallop,
For had he not played "The Devil's Galop"?
Yet patrons noticed nothing spoiled;
With spotlight off, the film uncoiled.
Compton had gone where all Comptons must
To sleep for hours amid the dust.
Or so they thought, and little guessed
Where Morgan went, the button pressed.
He kept his fingers playing much
He loved the effect of Second Touch.
He also thought of his Headmaster
Who'd warned him of career disaster.
But after many days and nights
Hitting sforzando in his frights,
Drawing cymbals and the drums,
Forswearing sins from rums to nuns,
Dai pressed a novel combination
Which brought new ranks into relation,
And reached, at last, his destination,
This one, a newer Nation.
Dai' surfaced, of course, displaying pluck
And enjoying one large chunk of luck.
Henceforth on quite a new footing
Miles from the Granada, Tooting,
He'd arrived-you may well wonder!-
In a city far Down Under.
No warning given of his arrival,
Dai was chuffed at his survival.
As to venue he had no clue
When first he came to this new view.
His instinct honed-it never fails!-
Hinted he'd hit on New South Wales;
So, told by his guru, Saint Kilda,
He segued into "Waltzing Matilda".
In truth he'd struck into a theatre
Called The Roxy, in Parramatta.
By deception beyond comprehension
The console revolved in suspension,
So it rose from that new-dug pit
In a glamorous house matching it.
Now tousled Morgan was unshaven
But dressed quite well for his new haven.
He wowed the crowds from stalls to circle
With interludes in spot-light purple.
And continued thus for many years
Entertaining the old dears
Who'd heard his broadcasts overseas
And recognised his favourite keys,
But knew not of his emigration,
That Valkyrian Ride with much vexation,
That brought him far in good condition
To take up (oddly) a new position.
Whatever hap'd to David Morgan
Wondrous migrant with his organ?
Famed Roxy now lies cold and empty
That opened back in Nineteen Twenty.
Dai has gone we know not where:
Perhaps he's followed the 10" air,
Lost his pressure or moved to the bush?
Tangled with Song-lines? been given a push?
Had he been on a Gilbertian list
That fingered one "cinema organist"?
Had he caused affront and found "The Lost Chord"?
Or, like a tall poppy, been cut by the horde?
His musical talent so plain to behold
Would not be stifled by growing old.
But jealousies during a stint at The State
May have surfaced in many a mate.
Had a life con brio reached diminuendo
With cadenced Morgan lacking da capo?
Had all been done because of a mock?
Could man of renown while at the Troc'
Have pressed his last piston inside a croc?
E p i l o g u e
All such are idle speculations
And, happily, exaggerations!
I've told you a story that never can fold:
One theatre organist who never grew old.
Gone are his broadcasts and signature tunes,
Like a taste for the music of Charlie Kunz.
That crinkled sheet music which once cued his spell
Can seldom be found in the world of quick-sell.
His superior version of "On the Old Back Porch"
Had drawn comparisons with Sidney Torch.
Those theatres he graced have fallen too
Most wonderful buildings razed before cue.
Where now the Regal, the Ritz, and the Regent?
Gone with the Capitols, Majestic, & Gaumont,
Rialto, Rex, The Palace & Paramount.
And yet on an evening when wind's in the pipes
And your mood is conducive to whims of such types,
You may catch a faint echo of posthorns and strings,
Of voxes and tibias, and traps and such things,
The rasps of a Krumet or even Kinura,
Giving a hint of ageless bravura.
This should remind you of once-on-a-time
When David Morgan, on cloud nine,
Was playing his music quite sublime.
©jsbatts/St. David's Day, 2002 (rev.).
My sincere thanks to John, whose first step on his illustrious career was teaching English at my old Alma Mater when I was a grubby thirteen-year-old student, and who, like me, attempted to make music on that establishment's two-manual reed organ. I met him again at Easter 2001, after an interval of nearly forty years. Neither of us has aged a second... His contribution to the cultural side of cinema organs, I am afraid, puts my humble effort in the shade, and I am most grateful to him for allowing me the pleasure of presenting his epic to the world. Ian McIver /St Morgan's Day 2002
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