Life Sentences, Day 125: Mac Attack

February 3rd, 2011

I’m going to run this into the ground.

Novelist Philip Coggan, who knows an interesting character when he sees one, has been keeping an eye peeled (sounds uncomfortable, doesn’t it?) for MacLemore “Mac” MacPherson’s re-emergence into public life.  As every young bagpipe player is told when he (they’re all he) runs out of breath, “There’s more where that came from, Laddie.”

Philip found the photo above in the Twickenham Times, a shopping paper aimed at a retired and rapidly dying community of former military officers.  According to Philip, it had this caption:  “Inspired by watching re-runs of Braveheart non-stop for 48 hours, Mac MacPherson and the East Grimely and Chocking Norton Pipes and Plumbers Association take to the streets to change public perceptions of bagpipes.”

See how fast they’re walking?  Even so, they made it only two and a half blocks before being dispersed by a shower of cobblestones thrown by onlookers.  As one of the ‘pipers said while his wounds were being, um, stanched, “It was bleedin’ Cairo out there, mate.”

Okay, this is a subterfuge.  What I wanted to do  was get to the only recording of the last 53 years in which “Mac” played no role whatsoever.  Here it is:

This is an obscure band called The Pleasure Fair.  I’m the sullen poseur at the far right.  Next to me, in the unfortunate dress made of refrigerator magnets, is Michele Cochrane, the real singer in the band.  (I was the singer manque, so to speak.)

Peering through the gloom at center left is the only guy in the band who actually experienced life as a rock star, Robb Royer.  At far left is Stephen Cohn, who is now among the very small number of people in America who earn a living composing serious (modern classical) music.

I have no idea where this was taken, but there are large swathes of this period in my life that apparently got lost on their way to the memory bank.

Anyway, Robb and I started out as songwriters and met Stephen and Michele in college.  The band began as folk-rock, moved into a sort of quasi-rock-folk, had the thrill of hearing one of our songs on the radio (“Morning Glory Days”), fell apart, came back together in a different configuration to record a single or two, and then David Gates, who had produced this record, recruited Robb and Jimmy Griffin and founded Bread.

It wasn’t much of a career.  We were no “Mac” MacPhersons. I don’t even have copies of the singles.

And, in fact, I didn’t have a copy of the LP until my nephew Ken gave me one.

Thanks to Stephen Cohn, who sent me a link to a site that had not only this album cover but also a track from the LP, our astonishingly lame cover of the Beatles’ “Things We Said Today.” Michele sounds good, though.

And if Robb and/or Stephen (or Michele, for that matter) would like to add to or correct this little history, this is their cue.

13 Responses to “Life Sentences, Day 125: Mac Attack”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    The mascot at Maya’s college, Macalester College, is a Scot. The nickname for Macalester College is, ahem, Mac. Yup, the mascot wears a kilt. Every important school assembly begins with the solemn march of a lone bagpiper in full Scottish regalia. Not a bad sound really. I think Maya would find this all very amusing. I know I have. From now on when I’m at her school and I see that Scotsman walking down the center aisle playing his pipe I will wonder if he is none other than MacLemore “Mac” MacPherson.

  2. Everett Kaser Says:

    🙂 Lovely, Tim, just lovely. Love the “dark and mysterious” look! 🙂

    You should have included the link to the song. For others, you can hear it at:

    The Things We Said Today

    And the album was released on CD in 1997 in Japan with TWO BONUS TRACKS, according to this web page:

    eil.com

    Another track is available on YouTUBE at:

    Morning Glory Days

    And this YouTUBE video shows the back cover of the LP:

    The Things We Said Today

    And apparently there’s one used copy available via Amazon for $89.99 + s&h, although it may be the Japanese CD, as it mentions “Japanese Import, complete with OBI Strip. Rare 1967 Lp. Includes Theme from the Motion Picture Barefoot In The Park.” in the description:

    Amazon CD

    And then [drum roll please…] the piece de resistance is… the complete album as MP3 files in a single ZIP at:

    MegaUpload

    It’s a 50 Mbyte file, and contains 15 tracks, so it’s undoubtedly ripped from the Japanese CD.

    A 46 Mbyte download (RAR file) is also available from:

    MediaFire

    One site claims that the group was also known as “The Rainy Day People” at:

    Bread – Related Groups

    It’s amazing the …er… stuff that’s on the web! The list of links for “Pleasure Fair” just goes on and on and on…

  3. Suzanna Says:

    Oh Everett, what would we do without you???

    Tim, I listened, I heard, and correct me if I’m wrong, but that was you singin’ back up on THE THINGS WE SAID TODAY. So perfect. Thanks, Everett.

  4. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    You are too modest. Michelle has a nice voice, and I enjoyed the both your songs. Thank you, Everett. Interesting life you’re having. Since you don’t remember all of it, I assume you were there. I, on the other hand, was a young, suburban housewife in a house on a hill-“California Dreamin” Seriously. Something tells me that you put your all into things. And I am intensely curious about Simeon and Madison.

  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Suzanna — if they’re not throwing things at him, it’s not Mac. He could alienate the God of Love. I have to admit that A bagpipe-playing mascot is not going to make me any more eager to attend a Macalester game.

    Everett, thanks for all the links. I had no idea any that stuff was kicking around, much less a free download of the entire album. I’d actually like to hear the single again — I barely remember it, but we had a black female singer who had been with The Exciters (“Tell Him” “Let Me In” — two great records). I remember liking it at the time.

    Zanna, it was. That was Michelle’s track but I’m back there somewhere, probably looking sullen.

    Hi, Lil — I’m told I was there, and lately a lot of people are either giving me or sending me photos to prove it, but my memories are undependable, to put it mildly. “California Dreaming,” as I recall, was the record that sort of set the standard for the Pleasure Fair — we loved the Mamas and the Papas.

  6. Robb Royer Says:

    Wow, Everett certainly is a master of web sleuthing. But I have to say just reading some of that stuff he found makes my head spin. I was a singer keyboardist during PF days? You were a bass player?? Steve Cohn was a drummer??? Leon recommended us for the Uni deal???? I could go on and on. There’s also a bunch of misinformation about the beginnings of Bread. Where do these pop music writers get this s**t? Lucky it’s not about anything important but it makes you wonder how much of what’s written about real life is true. Don’t want to sound like a grump here but I also didn’t want to endorse any misinfo with my silence.

  7. Robb Royer Says:

    On the other hand, also for the record, in case he seems swept up in, and besmirched by my rant, most of what John Lindquist (the Bread pages) says is accurate and mind bogglingly detailed. I have no idea how he found all this minutia.

  8. Laren Bright Says:

    Gee, why didn’t you call it Pleasure Faire. The extra E could have made all the difference.

  9. Glenn Says:

    Hello Timothy,

    Okay,so this is totally out of sequence but I felt compelled to share with you that my dear wife, Carla, while packing for yet another jaunt to some distant place to strut her stuff about oncology and hospice and palliative care, asked me to grab something from the shelf for her to read while in transit. I gave her QUEEN.

    Several days later as I wait and watch for her to appear from her flight anxiously awaiting for her and prepared for the passionate embrace after several days of separation, the very first words from her mouth were: “Oh my God, Tim’s book was the best yet…I couldn’t put it down!!”

    I kid you not.

    “Hi sweetie, it’s great to see you.”

    “The last chapter was amazing…it was a killer.”

    So I could learn to hate you Tim for robbing me of that exotic moment when husband meets wife after several days of separation and her enthusiasm for your book trumps my embrace.

    There it is. Carla was totally enthralled with your book and thinks the world would be totally up-side-down to not select it as the best among the Edgar nominations.

    In fact, I eventually did get my returning home hugs and kisses. All is well in our household but I did want you to know that QUEEN was a great hit with Carla and she’s sent it on to a few others who have yet to experience the Hallinan genius.

  10. Everett Kaser Says:

    Robb: Truth is what we experience in the moment. Everything else is fiction. That’s why one should always keep a VERY large jar of salt next to one’s computer. Everything on the internet is false until proven innocent. There were many links I didn’t include, which had the EXACT SAME TEXT describing PF, so obviously one person wrote it (getting much of it wrong), and a host of copycats propagated the fictions all over the place.

  11. Stephen Cohn Says:

    I agree with Robb. There is an appalling amount of just plain wrong information in the article about the Pleasure Fair. I guess the problem is as Everett says that one person writes and then it gets copied and pasted again and again. That’s an inherent problem with medium and the technology. I have to wonder how the first writer in the chain came up with all the wrong instruments assignments for Tim, Robb and Steve. Was that on the basis of our appearance without instruments in our hands or was it purely intuitive – like un-devine guidance?

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Robb and Robb — It’s amazing to me that the band is remembered at all, but what’s most amazing is that I’m credited with any instrument whatsoever. I’m a good rhythmic thigh-slapper, but that’s about it. I guess Malcolm’s book will set some of this straight, huh?

    And Robb’s right, everyone — John Lindquist’s site is amazing, in terms of breadth (no pun intended), depth, and overall accuracy.

    Laren, we argued over that “e” longer than we argued over some of our songs, which might have been part of the problem. I have to say, though, it was a lot of fun, most of the time. Sometime I’ll tell you some of the PF-on-the-road stories.

    Glenn, it’s great to learn that Carla has her priorities firmly in place. And please thank her for passing the book along — I can use all the readers I can get — and thank yourself for sharing this wonderful story with us.

    Stephen, congrats on the reviews for the new piece (see today’s blog). I kind of like that the Internet is unfiltered and full of BS — good critical thinking training.

  13. John Lindquist Says:

    Wow, I just discovered this page today. I remember – I was in Clear Lake, Iowa at the time, listening to three older men (including Dion DiMucci via a videotape) arguing over who flipped what coin at what part of the evening that eventually sent Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and Richie Valens (and pilot Roger Peterson) on the plane that immediately hit a snowy downdraft after takeoff and whisked them off to Rock ‘n Roll Heaven. That Buddy Holly tribute weekend occurs in Clear Lake every year (since 1979) and I haven’t missed one yet. The old record dealers displaying their wares always seem to have some old vinyl from Mr. Gates’ rockabilly days.

    Didn’t Ron Edgar play drums on the Pleasure Fair LP?

    Being buried in the early strata of 2011, I betcha you won’t find this comment any time soon, Tim. 🙂 THANK YOU and Robb for the nice comments. Really makes my day.

    Hope everyone downloads the PF LP. I just did and it sounds wonderful in stereo.

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