Howie

Howard Morrison was more my parent’s sort of music than mine, but he still came over as a bit of a laugh.

The folks had a live record of the Howard Morrison Quartet dated about 1963 (yes, you young ‘uns, that is before I was born. Just. )

I can only remember a couple of the numbers: ‘Mori the Hori’, a local version of Ray Stevens’ ‘Ahab the Arab’ and a song you’d never get away with now.

‘Rioting in Wellington’, a topical number which had jokes about the current events of the time (politics and rugby, mostly. Not a lot has changed there, then).

And their version of ‘Grenada’, which was mentioned on the radio this morning as the number which always brought the house down. The report didn’t say why, it just played a burst of it.

The bit which seemed to bring the house down, from the recording I remember, had nothing to do with the singing, but a spoken bit in the middle which told a song about a Mexican farmer, Poncho, who raised bulls for bullfights. Very big bulls, very many bulls, which would then be shipped off to the cities. The punchline being, “I tell you, Senorita, this Poncho is the biggest bull shipper in all of Mexico…”

Which was quite daring, for the time. The audience reaction is so intense it literally distorts the recording.

The only other Howard Morrison related memory: working on a labouring gang at Port Waikato surf clubhouse, summer 1981-82, before going to Polytech. “How Great Thou Art” was a huge hit at the time.
There was a council work gang doing some work along the road, and the bulldozer was being driven by this huge Maori guy. He used to sing ‘How Great Thou Art’ when he was working the bulldozer. Top of his lungs. You could hear it above the noise of the machine.

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