Saturday, February 21, 2009

Say goodbye to John Steinbeck

Say goodbye to John Steinbeck"An unfortunately timeless classic . . .
When a politician tried to ban a book in Alberta, Ken McGoogan wrote a protest song. It's a tune that still needs singing today"

That was the headline at the Globe and Mail Books website, where editor Peter Scowen posted and introduced Say Goodbye to John Steinbeck. He filled in a few blanks as follows . . . .

"What we have here is a YouTube video featuring Ken McGoogan, bestselling author of Race to the Polar Sea, back in his singer-songwriter days in Calgary.

McGoogan wrote this song in the 1990s "after a government MLA stood up in the legislature and brandished a petition calling for the banning of Of Mice and Men, the classic novel by John Steinbeck. I still remember reading about this in a newspaper for the first time, and the way the blood rushed to my head. I was writing and performing songs in those days, and the result was Say Goodbye to John Steinbeck."

McGoogan says others felt the same way and together they managed to stop the politician from banning the book.

McGoogan pulled the video from his archives in time for Freedom to Read week (Feb. 22-28). "Would-be censors, it turns out, are like the living dead in SF movies: you stop some of them, but others just keep coming in waves," he says. "The only good thing about them is that they keep this song timely and relevant."

As for the band, it performed in the mid to late 90s in and around Calgary, and was called Ken McGoogan and the Immoral Minority. Says McGoogan: "On keyboards, you see Frank 'Freeman' Huether, who had played mostly jazz around town; and on drums, 'The Monster' Fred Engel, who had worked professionally as a session man here in Toronto. I was writing a lot of songs in those days, and we did all original tunes. Say Goodbye to John Steinbeck was one of our 'greatest hits.'"

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