"WILD ABOUT HARRY"


Written and Performed by Christopher Mason

at a surprise party for Harry Benson's 80th Birthday,

New York City, December 7, 2009.


“Wild About Harry” was reprised, in a shorter version, at the American Cancer Society’s 2010 Celebration of Life

Spring Gala at the St. Regis Hotel, New York,

on April 13, 2009.

















To listen to the shorter version, click here:

(Sound level a bit quirky!)


to the tune of  “Oh Johhny” 

Oh Harry! Go Harry! 

You’re such a star,

Your first-grade teacher, Miss McKinley, 

Always knew you’d go far!

You’ve captured everyone of note, 

Including Beatles, Churchill, Solzhenitsyn, 

Reagans waltzing, Schwartzkopf blitzing,

Oh Harry, oh Harry,

You’ve framed our world

In ways so sharp, so stark, so real,

We’re fans and that’s why we’re here, 

To toast your 80th year! 

Hip hooray, Harry, Harry eight-o! 


to “Loch Lomond” 

He’s wily! He’s disarming!

He’s devilishly charming,

With anecdotes to thrill us all, and then some,

Once a wild Scot on a spree,

Now he’s Benson C.B.E.,

And a dapper living legend, Harry Benson!


Those Glasgow streets were mean

When he left school at 13,

'Cause he’d miserably flunked his Greek and Latin;

Life seemed a trifle bleak,

But his talent was unique,

And he dreamed one day he’d wind up in Manhattan!

 

In the bracing cold and damp

Of a Butlins seaside camp,

He took photographs and barely earned a shilling;

Recording dimples, grins and curls

Was a great way to meet girls,

And suddenly photography seemed thrilling!


to “Mack the Knife” 

His connections were eclectic,

He’d met villains in some brawl,

When a murderer was apprehended,

Clever Harry knew whom to call.


Thus he landed his first exclusive:

A serial killer posed for Harry, tired and torn,

All of Fleet Street was wild for Harry,

Overnight, a star was born!


Thence to London with his zoom lens,

Flew to war zones to snap the troops,

And his new boss, Lord Beaverbrook, loved 

Printing Benson’s thrilling scoops. 


to “You Ought to Be in Pictures” 

He sure could take great pictures!

His photos broke the news,

He’d slow down all his rivals: 

While they would snooze, 

He’d hide their shoes!


He hid up in a palm tree

And nearly lost his grasp

Shot Liz Taylor’s Cleopatra

He saw her gasp,

And her asp!


So crafty and so stealthy!

No scoop seemed out of reach,

He snagged the only image

Of Garbo at the beach. 


to “With a Little Help From My Friends” by the Beatles

Harry was fearless, snapped felons and famines,

For he was a newsman, hard-core;

He was annoyed when his editor told him

To shoot some band known as Fab Four;

Gee, it seemed such a trivial chore.


   So he followed the Beatles to Paris,

   Not happy at all,

   Then he saw them performing,

   They were front-page news after all!


And when they learned they would fly to America,

Harry observed their delight;

As we all know, he recorded for history

Their jubilant, three-pillow fight,

Their fates changed, so did Harry’s, that night. 


to "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" by the Beatles

When the Beatles hit New York in ’64,

Harry was the fifth guy off the plane,

Fell in love with New York City, and dined out

At a new restaurant owned by someone named Elaine.


Harry was a footloose photojournalist,

Gigi was cute girl in a dress,

Prince Philip introduced them at a Texas dance,

He said to Gigi, “Here’s the man from The Express.”


   So they danced, and romanced, and advanced, oh,

   Sparks were flying, so entranced.

   Both aglow, head-to-toe, whaddaya know? Oh,

   Prince Philip unleashed Cupid’s bow!


They sprang from different cultures and seemed worlds apart,

Happily, the chemistry was great, 

Despite his Scottish accent and her Texas twang, it seems,

They found a way they could communicate! 

                                                                                

Forty-two years later, they’re together still

Tessa, Wendy, Michael they adore,

Dominic and Mimi are delectable,

Although perhaps he loves his doggies even more!


to “I’ll Take Manhattan” 

As a kid he’d glimpsed New York

And dreamed of dining at the Stork Club,

Dancing on air,

Like Fred Astaire,

All this sprung from films he’d seen

In Glasgow on the silver screen,

He’s thrilled to reside

On the Upper East Side!


Here in Manhattan,

The opportunities were rife:

For 30 years he shot for LIFE;

A hundred covers, and many others in between,

For People magazine, 

It made his rivals green,

Vent their spleen;

For Conde Nast, too,

He’s often asked to

Shoot some star,

Or someone chicly dressed

For Quest;

And when Paige Rense stops by just to see

If he’ll shoot Brad Pitt for A.D?

For Harry Benson,

New York’s an isle of joy. 


to “Zip”  from Pal Joey

Click! When John Lennon sang and young girls went wild,

Click! When a Klu Klux Klan mom suckled her child,

Click! When the dreaded Berlin Wall was deployed,

Click! When that Wall of Shame was finally destroyed. 


He’s recorded modern history, 

How he did it is a mystery

Click! Super-psychedelic

Every time the zeitgeist shifted, 

He was there with zoom lens lifted

Click! He’s a kind of Zelig!


Click! Dolly Parton’s amply curved silhouette!

Click! O.J. Simpson in the shower, naked, wet!

Click! Frank Sinatra, Mia Farrow et al,

Click! Wearing masks at Truman’s black-and-white ball.


Rogues and royals, jacks and aces,

Harry’s captured all their faces,

Click! He’s encyclopedic,

Now we have his 14th book

And naturally we long to look

And hell, we will even read it! 


Click! A new job, and on the next plane he’ll hop,

Click! And he doesn’t plan to stop! 


to “I’m Just Wild About Harry” 

We’re just wild about Harry,

Doctor Benson, C.B.E.,

Now he’s a doctor,

Friends will flock to

Him to get prescriptions free! 

He’s mighty nifty at eighty,

And quite delightful, through and through,

So Happy Birthday, dear Harry,

We’re just wild about, 

Quite beguiled about,

We’re just wild about you!