The Surprising Rock Music Moment That Featured an 82-Year-Old Poet
The story of Edwin Morgan and Idlewild
Just when you thought you’d heard everything in the world of music, something comes out of nowhere that completely explodes your assumptions and expectations.
A musical moment that suddenly expands the boundaries of what you thought a mere song could do.
This is a post about one of those rare moments. And I think you’ll agree with me on this next point:
Regardless of how broad your musical tastes are, or how eclectic your sonic preferences might be — you just don’t expect an 82-year-old poet to start reciting spoken-word verses in the middle of an anthemic power-pop alternative rock song.
Especially when the core audience for most radio-friendly pop-rock skews to the much-vaunted 18–34-year-old demographic.
That’s why what happened in 2002 continues to be so surprising.
That was the year that Idlewild — among the most highly-touted alt-rock bands of the early 2000s — released their most commercially successful album, The Remote Part, selling more than 100,000 copies in the first week alone.
So what does an octogenarian poet have to do with any of this?
Well, you’ll have to listen to the 11th track on The Remote Part to find out. That’s where Edwin Morgan, an elderly poet who died eight years after his brief cameo with Idlewild, delivered his unforgettable series of poetic verses.
This is an absolute must-listen for all those who love music and poetry.
I’ve queued the video to the 1:53 mark, just as Morgan steps into the limelight:
Strangely — almost incredibly — the hook-laden, jangly power-pop guitar line serves as the perfect accompaniment as the aging Morgan delivers his haunting lines in measured cadence.
“It isn’t in the mirror, it isn’t on the page, it’s a red-hearted vibration, pushing through the walls of dark imagination, finding no equation…Do you think your security can keep you in purity? You will not shake us off, above or below”
Feel free to rewind the song to triple zeroes to get the full effect.
It’s the kind of magic that happens only on the rarest of occasions. A little-known, 80-something poet joining forces with a band of 20-something musicians, forging an unforgettable moment in music history.
For a good overview of Edwin Morgan’s other poetry, check out the edition of his Selected Poems published by Carcanet Press in 1986.