Godfather

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(Little Richard Penniman, 5.12.1932 - 9.5.2020)

I grew up with music on the radio
’cos my dad liked musicals an’ stuff,
but then I heard rock ’n roll and knew
that, for me, would be enough.

Mum took me to the pictures
to see Bill Hayley on the screen.
I thought he seemed too old
and the band’s suits were just so clean.

Then this little black man appeared,
stood at the piano, turned to me
and yelled the most famous intro
in the whole of music’s history.

A-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-
a-lop-bam-boom! *
to my astonished ears
rang out across that darkened room.

I sat amazed that so much power
could be contained in his small frame
and besides, to cap it all,
we even shared the same first name!

Thus I was reborn into rock
and never have I moved away
but remain an ancient rocker.
I will be to my dying day.

Brought by the enslaved from Africa,
rhythms, mixed with white folks’ tunes,
to give us a new kind of gospel
to reduce the old world to ruins.

I’ve had more than sixty years since then
to hear sounds from around the world -
so much joy and celebration
since that banner was unfurled.

rs 25.4.19

[* Which begins ‘Tutti Frutti’]

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