It may be oblique, but I can’t hear the song 'My Sweet Lord' without thinking of Paul Daniels.
This bizarre mental association came about as a result of a conversation I had with him when he played Mostly Comedy last year. We were walking from our then-venue the Market Theatre to our new venue, The Sun Hotel, to record our podcast, when I brought up the subject of George Harrison. I try to find common ground whenever someone new plays our club, particularly when we're interviewing them for our podcast. Invariably for me, this tends to involve The Beatles when it can (e.g. when interviewing Kevin Eldon – who had their music as his Mastermind specialist subject – and Phill Jupitus – who’s friends with Neil Innes of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, who were in the film 'Magical Mystery Tour'); it’s often tenuous, but it works.
I was aware that Harrison used to live in the same town as Daniels – Henley-on-Thames – and asked Paul if he’d ever bumped into him. Surprisingly, this caused him to launch an ad hoc debate about a very specific litigious case.
"I don't know how he thought he'd get away with ripping off that song, whatever it was," he said, " when they both had the same tune".
Thankfully, when it comes to Fab Four trivia, I'm shit-hot. It's a skill that seldom comes into its own: I may be able to identify any Beatles record within milliseconds, tell you whixh album it came from, the year it was released, and accompany this with a fair-sized handful of related facts, but this knowledge doesn't put food on the table; though it does prove useful when chatting with Britain's biggest conjurer.
The song Daniels was referring to was 'My Sweet Lord', which was the focus of a long-running legal battle in the early Seventies, due to its apparent similarity to the Chiffons' song 'He's So Fine'; look it up.
We talked about this briefly, while I did my best to pretend I wasn't intimidated by chatting with my childhood hero, who I'd only met a moment ago, and consequently had had little time to adjust to speaking to yet; thank God we were discussing a topic I knew something about.
By the time we got to The (Here Comes the) Sun Hotel, had a cup of tea and settled down to record the podcast, this intimidation passed. We had a great chat with Paul and Debbie that took in a whole variety of subjects, though sadly, nothing else about suing a Beatle. Still: at least all that genning up on the band as a kid paid off. I discussed copyright infringement with one of the world's most famous magicians, and not a lot of people can say that.