This section of an interview with Richard Harris is the sole property of its author Joe Jackson. It must not be used in whole or in part, without the written permission of the author. Any infringement of copyright will lead to legal action on his behalf.
A Conversation with Richard Harris 1987
“If you get Richard Harris pinned down, Joe, you’ll capture the essence
of a whole generation of Irish men, at a very particular point in our
(Irish politician Brian Lenihan).
‘Here I am/ A Tramp shining/ A brand new clown’
(A Tramp Shining by Jim Webb).
Joe Jackson: Linking many of the poems on I, In The Membership is that the song, ‘The Old House’ with its lyric “lonely I wandered/Through scenes of my childhood/They call back to memory/Those happy days gone by”. Is loneliness or longing the predominant feeling evoked when you think of your childhood?
Richard Harris: No. Warmth. Yet, there is a tremendous psychological danger involved in being part of families that are absolutely united. It’s as dangerous to be closeted with too much love, as it is to be without it, the aim should be to strike an even balance. Therefore, I was lucky, being situated in the no man’s land in my family. As I wrote in another poem I had my brother’s hand‑me‑downs, I never remember getting a new suit, bike, or anything new, at all. But being in that no man’s land was good. The two sisters got much of the attention and Ivan was the favourite. So, I was lost in the middle of the Harris brigade. But this makes you fight for the affection of your parents, fight for attention. You don’t get it free. You got it from the age of one day to maybe two years but then you had to fight for it.
J: So, to paraphrase Dory Previn’s poem about her relationship with her family, and father in particular, you had to tap dance from an early age?
H: Exactly, yes. You had to put up the flag and say, ‘Hey, I’m here too, don’t miss me.” And you were missed. There’s no question, you were passed over.
J: But you had the essential security during the earliest formative years?
H: Yes. The over-arching feeling was one of warmth, of being part of a large family, but, on the other hand, I can’t remember the parental stroke. I can’t remember the touch from the mother or the affection from the father. And you’re right to class it as a tap dance for attention. I remember being very rebellious, running away from home, and such.
J: As in the poem where, after you return, you realise they hadn’t even noticed you’d gone?
H: Yes. ‘Father still practicing golf/Mother still knitting.’
J: In another poem you write of how you one day knelt beside the corpse of your father and said a final prayer for acceptance. Didn’t you ever feel you were singled out for the ultimate “stroke of affection” from your father?
H: I don’t think so. Even though as soon as I heard my mother was ill, I went back to Limerick and stayed with her for months before she died. Then when I was doing ‘Mutiny on the Bounty my father called and said, “When are you coming back to see me? Come on now, the next one might take me.” And I said to my brother, “what does that mean?” And he told me,” he’s had a couple of heart attacks since you left.” So, I planned with Elizabeth to go back, but then got the call to say he’d died. But though one tries to resist the sort of reply you are looking for, yes, I do think that answer is there in the poem ‘On the One Day Dead Face of My Father.’
J: As in where you say ‘Guide me/now/in your silence/ cough up one silent prayer/ and stare/at me again/ and see the woven fabric/of your doing/bend his knee/ and plea in the tired optic of your stare/a prayer/ of acceptance’?
H: Yes. And I think he probably died without that recognition.
J: Did that realisation cause grief?
H: There is another side to it. Dermot, my poor brother who’s also dead now, summed it up when he said, “It’s the greatest tragedy ever that they died before you were successful. I know it would have meant so much to you to
take care of them, get someone to look after them.” But that didn’t happen, I’m afraid.
J: Writing can be a way of distancing oneself from the real force of the pain at the loss of a loved one. Is that how you deal with something as cataclysmic as death?
H: There are many ways of dealing with death. Number one, there are those who would just use the occasion to write something dreadful or monumental, right? Number two, it can be a case of having to express yourself in some way, and number three, it is the closing of the door, saying goodbye, having one last enormous convulsive cry and saying, “I’ve done it, vomited it up, now I can move on to the next thing.” For me it is a blend of all three.
J: But for those who do write that way and are, in effect, erecting a form of tombstone on paper, shouldn’t the poem, novel, song, magazine article be more than mere vomit or relief for the self? Shouldn’t it become something transcendent, something to which others can relate, and through which, hopefully, they too will receive release, redemption, whatever?
H: I couldn’t agree with you more. I can’t add to that, except to say that is, and should be, the motivating force behind everything we do as artists.
J: On the other hand, can you sympathise with Seamus Heaney’s idea of the subject of the poem coming back to pillory the poet for daring to use his/her death as a platform for poetry? Might your sister feel that way, or do you think she would be pleased?
H: I think she would be pleased. But, my God, this is a highly relevant question and not one that many creative, and even non‑creative people, ever ask themselves. You now have me even questioning the memorial I’m doing for Dermot, the Dermot Harris Foundation, in Scranton University. I didn’t say to him before he died “would you like to be remembered forever?” He probably would have said “no”. But I think he should be, so one way of ensuring that is by creating a scholarship in his name. But maybe, in truth, we’re just doing something for ourselves rather than the person who died. Maybe the father of the sister weren’t important. Maybe it was just important for me that I wrote those poems, too.
J: But if the poem/memorial also was inspired by love, not just self-love, perhaps you can’t simply draw a line and say it was solely a selfish act, just ego gratification?
H: No you can’t. And I think we have to tap whatever talent we have. How am I distinct from Jack Donnelly downstairs? Distinct from– not you, you too are a writer. But how are we, as writers, different from those who don’t
have this forum, or outlet? We have the ability to translate pain into, hopefully, poetry. My feelings for the death of my sister may be no more profound than the taxi driver felt when he lost his sister but we can express it a little more eloquently, in poetry or in acting. Are we therefore using their deaths? Are we diminishing those people, diminishing those relationships? Am I, if 20 years later I recall the death of my sister so I can draw on that emotion in a movie? I don’t know. You tell me, Joe. You’ve thought about all this before, I haven’t. It is an extremely delicate subject.
J: I think it all depends, finally, on what one creates, leaves as that ‘tombstone’. If, in your poem you grieve more for your own loss than for the fact that life was snatched from the loved one, then maybe you deserve to be pilloried. But if your aim for Dermot, your father, sister, whoever, is to celebrate their lives, even deaths and thus put a tongue to someone else’s silence– to paraphrase Heany–then that is not questionable or morally suspect. Surely, as you say, that is what all artists are meant to do?
H: I understand. And although I may have said I never really questioned my motives, listening to you, I would have to say that if those are the criteria one should apply then my intentions always were honourable.
J: Nevertheless, there is yet another side to all this, as in the question of writing about people who still are alive. Paul Durcan’s book, The Berlin Wall Cafe is very similar to your album My Boy because both contain hymns to a broken marriage. Yet, his book raises the question of whether he has any right to present the pain of his wife, and family, in public. Is it enough to say ‘art will gain’ or that it will be of benefit to the greater good? Couldn’t one also say that Durcan is violating his wife’s privacy and, in a sense, the sanctity of their marriage? Doesn’t that make of him, and similar writers, a form of cannibal?
H: But we are cannibals. Someone once asked me, “to be a successful actor what do you have to be?” I replied “masochistic and sadistic” and, yes, cannibalistic. You have to be able to inflict pain on yourself, walk into a relationship, saying, ” I’m going to be hurt– I hope, I’m going to get something I can use.” And you have to be sadistic, step over the closest of people to get that.
J: You’ve also said that comfort or prolonged emotional involvement is anathema to the creative artist. Why would, say, a sustained marriage, chip away at the possibility of reaching similar artistic goals?
H: As an actor the range of experiences is bound to be limited for me if I stay, say, in one staid stable relationship all my life. And as the personal cry in my poetry is joyless, could best be described as a collection of sores, lasting companionship cancels out the poetry because it could bring joy. As I begin a love affair I begin looking to the end of it, the tragedy, the walking on the beach, lost, bleeding, writing poems, singing songs. I thrive on all that.
J: In ‘The Name of My Sorrow’ you sing a laundry list of all the women who have brought you sorrow. But do you think that many of your ex‑lovers would bless or curse the fact that they may have loved you?
H: I would have to think that there was something good in our relationships, don’t you think? That I gave something positive and constructive and rather beautiful, if only for a fleeting moment.
J: Have you done a MORI poll?
H: (Laughs) No. But I’m very friendly with Elizabeth, and my second wife, Ann still tries to get me back into her life. But it was to Elizabeth I once said ”what was I really like to be married to?” She said “It was absolute magic, a magic carpet ride, but then one day you’d get that look in your eyes, one drink too many, and in the end I couldn’t take it. The good moments weren’t balancing out the bad.”
J: Outside marriage, on a personal level, would you say you’ve brought more joy into people’s lives than sorrow?
H: Well, I have no friends, right? I used to have a friend in Wales, but he let me down badly, so he’s not a friend anymore. I’m talking about real friendships. My brother Dermot had legions of friends, legions turned up for his funeral. They came from London, Scotland, America, Spain and I watched and in a strange moment said “these are genuine people here, all weeping. But not when I’m gone. You won’t have that.” You may have one or two debt collectors, or ex‑wives, making sure I’m gone so the alimony will be paid’ (Laughs).
J Do you seriously believe that?
H: I do, yes. I never had the capacity for‑ Well, let’s say I have a great capacity for flashing into a room and being what many see as “friendly” and making you believe that eh, (Harris is suddenly self‑conscious, as if anticipating my response) eh, well, whatever.
J: Like you are doing right now?
H: Probably. Then, on the other hand, when the door closes, it’s gone. I’m off
somewhere else again. Probably doing the same thing. And being sincere each time. But picking up a bank of experiences not gathering a throng of friends. I do not function well with people on a permanent basis.
J: You see friends as excess baggage?
H: Probably. I live in the Bahamas by myself, function best by myself.
J: Who then is your ideal companion, apart from yourself?
H: There isn’t one, no. We can be loved without suffering the burden of friendship.
J: If everyone felt like that then all we’d have is a world of isolated, insulated, self‑obsessed creatures, dead to the soul?
H: Less pain, less pain. If that is what was accepted, if we don’t expect anything from anybody, then there would be less unhappiness. A lot of the pain we feel is caused not so much by what other people do as by our own expectations of them. Saying this, however, I don’t mean we should be self‑obsessed or not giving. People who know me, will tell you I’m a giving person. But in my own way. I’m not gregarious.
J: And you’re never besieged by hunger for companionship in the middle of any night in the Bahamas?
H: That doesn’t exist for me, no. But that is what it’s all about for many people. “I’m afraid to grow old by myself” they say. “I must get someone as I can’t bear to be, not just by, but with myself alone.” That’s treacherous, the wrong reason for having a relationship. Especially marriage. Marriage can exist for me only if I can say to my lady‑ I know that sounds feudal, but leave it for the moment– if I can say I’m ready for a week of fun, let’s break the boundaries.” Then after the week, we say “It’s time for you to go now, for a week, maybe months, whichever. Go do your own thing.” And she has to be happy with that and say, “thanks be to God, now I can be by myself.”
J: Can the “lady” impose that decision on her man.
H: Of course. You must agree beforehand.
J: So then if you say “I’m ready for a week of fun” and she says, “tough shit, I’d rather be by myself this week, my ‘lord'”, that’s okay?
H: Yes, once we both agree that those are the rules.
J: In a marriage situation, however, there also can be children involved. Your own song ‘Cries from Broken Children’ is a mercilessly accurate depiction of the effect a marriage break‑up can have on children. Would you agree that children can be similarly damaged, if not more so, when parents stay in a relationship which is loveless and thus poisonous?
H: Yes they can. And I based that song on my relationship with Elizabeth and Damian. And I do think it is healthier if a poisonous relationship ends and a healthier one is created through distance than have children subjected to two people eternally at war with one another. In fact, Elizabeth and I would have been divorced three or four years previous to the time we had been if I’d conceded to her demands for custody of the children I said “no, I want joint custody. I don’t want to have to ask you ‘can I see what is mine .’
J: You finally got joint custody.
H: Luckily for me Elizabeth wanted to marry Rex Harrison so she finally said “this is the only way I’ll get my divorce, so I’ll have to concede to that.” And she now says “thanks be to God you fought for it, because that’s what the children needed.’ You couldn’t get a stronger family than me and my divorced wife. We aren’t married, we didn’t live together but, by Christ, we are a family.
We’re unlike most divorced families in that we were never torn apart by the law. You’d think Elizabeth and I still were married. If she called me now and said “I’m…”, whatever, then I’d be on a plane. If she said “I need something” she’s got it. Someone upset her, death to them.
J: So was it fair, earlier, to say that your ex‑wives would be interested in just the alimony? Or say that at your graveside there’d be no friends?
H: No, sorry, they’d be there. I didn’t mean to exclude them. I meant outside the family circle. But, yes, I have great friends within my family, with my three children, we’re fantastically close. Another thing is that I am responsible for them and I can never relinquish that responsibility. I would never want to. I’m not responsible for my wife’s life, she came before me, but I am responsible to her.
H: Surely it could be said that you relinquished that responsibility to Elizabeth’s pain, and perspective, when you recorded the My Boy marriage break‑up album. The wife’s pain is the one dimension which is missing. You focus on just your pain and the pain of the children.
H: (Pauses). You’re right. I never thought of that.
J: Could you really have written a song in which you go over to the woman’s side, empathise fully with her pain and capture her disillusionment at the end of the marriage?
H: Yes, I could have.
J: Why didn’t you?
H You are right. It was wrong not to.
J: You spoke earlier of the “war between the sexes” and a fundamental incompatibility between men and women. Indeed, you referred to the “cesspool” inside us burning with hate and revenge. How do you feel when that war manifests itself physically, within a loving situation. Wife‑beating and husband‑beating is on the increase.
H: As I said, I am a great romantic, the flowers, the tragedy the songs etc. And I would love to fall in love again but the realities of love now are almost prohibitive. They almost force oneself to deny one the ultimate pleasure which is the giving over of oneself to somebody else. What has love become? As you say, violence in love, and in marriage, is or the increase. Is this an accident, part of the game or is it what love expects and calls forth from the two participants? You must have read Freud, think of the chapters on the different forms of expression: excretion, urination, anal sex. Yet this, we are told in Judeo‑Christian society is total debasement. While, on the other hand some
brilliant theorists and sexologists suggest that we become more secure when we can really draw out of each other all that we are capable of sharing.
J: So are you saying love be all‑embracing? Even to the extent of giving vent to the darkness through physical violence, saying, “it’s okay to talk with our fists when our tongues, hearts or brains are tangled.” That this, ultimately, is the human-bestial condition?
H: Isn’t it horrendous? But so often the case. Yet, I also know women who want to be beaten, women who want to beat. Men who want to humiliate or be humiliated. All in the guise of love. Supposing, to satisfy our partners, at their request we share what we call an “acceptable” level of bashing of each other, is that okay? I know people like that. And if we do, should we then say to the law, “It’s none of your business, this is an expression of love?”
J: It’s love‑making?
H: Or love‑making. And hate‑making, both the same thing, as you suggested earlier. But is an acceptable level of bashing each other okay, whereas the bruised eye or broken jaw is not? Where do you draw the line?
J: Where did you draw the line in your marriage to Elizabeth, for example. When you were drinking heavily, was violence part of that scenario?
H: Elizabeth writes about it in her book. I think she says I beat her once or twice. I probably fucking did give her a smack across the face. I remember once I did. But that had nothing to do with love. This was unjustified. It was horrendous.
J: You said earlier that if someone upset Elizabeth ‘death to them.’ Could you kill for what you care about most deeply?
H: Yes. Anyone who damaged my children or Elizabeth, because she too is family, the mother of my children. I’d be capable of killing.
J: ‘One has not lived till one conceives of life as a tragedy’ said, I think, Joyce, would you agree
H: Yes, I’m afraid so. But also, I got the cover of Life magazine once and the opening line of the article was something like ‘he lived with a smile on his face and a sense that the world was mad’. I do absolutely believe that the world is mad. And when you quote Joyce’s wonderful line, I have to see things that way. I believe that from the moment of conception to the moment we die life is riddled with, and cloaked in, tragedy. Earlier I fought against your application of psycho‑analysis, probably because I don’t really want to know why I am as I am. I am as I am and that’s that. That’s what I usually say. But deep down behind it all I have a very strong conviction of the madness of life, that it should never have happened, it was all a great mistake. And that the miracle of life is absolutely (voice lowered conspiratorially, as if Harris himself doesn’t want to hear what he has to say)– I hate admitting it, but it all is kind rubbish, a miracle, but a disastrous miracle. And I think the O’ Toole’s and The Harris’s of this world were very aware of this. That’s part of the ‘craziness’ we project.
J: Theatre of the Absurd?
H: Exactly. But theatre of the absurd which we have to deal with in a nihilistic way. Or rather, vice versa. I am very conscious of the vast stupidity of it all and I, for one have no desire to, no intention, of walking around in sackcloth and ashes. So I choose to go the other route, to present it all in a vaudevillian way, almost like those two wonderful tramps in Beckett.
J: As in tramps “shining”?
H. (Laughs) Yes. But don’t you agree we must present life as vaudeville? It is a fucking joke, it’s a juggling of hats, a pulling of a rabbit out of a hat then losing it in your pocket. All the hundreds of thousands of years of Christianity and preaching the gospels and spreading of the ‘word of God’ in all this talk of humanity and kindness and yet, and the end of the day, there now are more people than ever before disillusioned and lost in the world . It is a farce, a black comedy.
J: You write in one lyric ‘there’s a time in your life/when the growing ceases/when thoughts of the end/ night and day increases/’ Is part of having to accept the inevitability of tragedy this conscious, unending awareness of impending death?
H: It is. And yet, as always, there is another side to it. I think death will be a great relief. I don’t want it to happen yet. But I’m not scared of it at all.
J: But many people believe that a constant awareness of death which makes for a more voluptuous form of living. And that the immersion into sex, drugs etc., which we spoke about earlier, could also be read as a spitting out in the face of death, like saying ‘ fuck it, till then ‘living well is my best revenge’, to quote the line you use to close your song ‘This Is My Life’ which, itself, closes My Boy.
H: There is an absolute element of truth in what you say. But, again , there is another layer to it. When I got into drugs, it had nothing to do with rebellion, nothing to do with escapism. I won’t even concede that my drinking had
anything to with escapism, never have.
J: Even if you take the word ‘escapism’ beyond it’s usual context, in which it is often applied to an inability to cope with everyday problems, and see it instead as a manifestation of an inner voice saying “okay, if it’s a duel for my soul then until I lose it I’ll live” ?
H: Okay, I agree with that. I accept that. And ‘Living Well Is My Best Revenge’ was the quote we used to end the My Boy album. Okay, if that, to you, is connoted by the word ‘escapism’ I accept that. Though, to me, it always had connotations of ‘inability’ and ‘defeatism’. But, perhaps I should look at it that way too. But this is not to say I advocate the use of drugs. Look at the young generation and drugs. My generation, we can’t understand them at all . They are more pained than we have ever been. I’m in my mid fifties, right. I’ve anaesthetised myself. I live by my behaviour patterns against what you identified as my sense of impending doom. But take my children’s generation. To understand them we’ve got to get in there and look out through their eyes. They see nothing. Gloom, no future, no hope. They don’t get out of bed in the morning full of hope, as I did in the forties. Though I had tuberculoses there was hope because there was a chance for me out there. I could dream. I could work to secure that dream. But there is no chance for this generation, for young people of 18-19. And the more sensitive you are, the worse it is. If you can, at 19, wear a suit of armour and say ” fuck it anyway” okay, but they can’t. That is the real tragedy these days.
J: To quote the final song on your poetry album there is “no solution” and “no absolution”?
H: There isn’t. I still believe that. There is no solution because no one is trying to solve anything. Some are, but not enough. And no absolution because there is no one to receive it from. They don’t believe in the God-figure or the Church. The whole concept has been atomised in the second half of this century.
J: Do you believe?
H: I’m clinging to the last hope, a final hope that there might be. I had a friend who lived in the bowels of the Welsh Church and he always says, “there is something out there alright”. I argue that if there is, he’s made a great mistake. And he replies “It is we who made the mistake.”‘
J: Beckett is out there, he’s not really alive and well and living in Paris!
H: Yes (laughs) Beckett out there? Wonderful idea That he is, okay!
J: And he has a weird, wicked and very Irish sense of humour!
H: Definitely. Or as with Beckett he wonders is there any sense to it at all. Or he knows there isn’t. That is the problem. Pain is caused by trying to make sense of it all. You, with all these wonderful questions are probably are in for a life of supreme misery! But what we all must do is face it, but then get away from it all. Laugh, dance, sing. But don’t hurt anybody in your mad dance. Those who want to come with you, say to them “dance with me”, to those who don’t, say “fair enough.”
J: Has your dance left you satisfied?
H: Very much so.
J: Cynics might scoff, “it’s easy to be satisfied with life when you own Camelot, a show which grossed 92 million dollars.
H: That was the gross, but there is a world of difference between that and what I personally earned! Though yes, it t was a good oul penny alright! But that hasn’t helped as much as people assume it will, It hasn’t changed that much
J: From living cramped with your family in a small flat in London, to now living in Paradise Island in the Bahamas? Are you kidding, or what?
H: But I don’t indulge at all. I have got a house in the Bahamas, which is quite nice, I suppose. I live in a hotel here and in London. But I don’t have a jet! It hasn’t spoiled my tastes, look at the clothes, I have here, mostly rugby shirts.
J: So you’re just another rich Irish peasant.
H: (laughs) In a strange way, yes.
J: And you would argue against those that say great wealth corrupts?
H: I do, and will argue against that.
J: But £50,000 on a lilly pond, Richard?
H: That’s not true.
H: I don’t have a fucking lilly pond! What I was going to do was have a pond in front of my house in the Bahamas designed like the map of Ireland until I discovered, unfortunately, that it attracted mosquitoes.
J: Why? Because it was in the shape of Ireland? Were they British mosquitoes, on the attack?
H: (Laughs) No! Just because it was still water! So it wouldn’t have worked unless I had a waterfall, so I abandoned that idea. I didn’t spend that money at all, though it was reported in the papers at the time.
J: Does this all tie in, philosophically, with your idea that ‘living well is my best revenge’? Doesn’t it depend on how you define ‘well’?
H: That’s exactly it. I don’t think that living well only means living in fucking luxury, though many define it along those lines. It’s got nothing to do with that, saying ‘I’ve got fifty fur coats, three rolls Royce’s and a private jet’. Fuck that. ‘Living well’ is being free, being able to laugh, do the things I believe in, even though, for example, they’re not going to be able to pay me for a movie they want me to do here in Ireland. Money gives me the freedom to do that, or to focus on the memorial for Dermot.
J: The money you made from This Sporting Life‘ you gave to your father so
he wouldn’t die feeling he’d been a failure.
H: That’s right. It’s very ironic. This Sporting Life was made by J. Arthur Rank and it was Ranks Flour in Ireland that had bankrupt my father. So the money I made from that movie my father used to keep Ranks from closing him down.
J: Is there anything similar your sons could do, were you in danger of feeling you’d died a failure?
H: This is an awful thing for me to say, but I must say it. It isn’t possible for me to die a failure. Success or failure has nothing to do with what you make in terms of commercial success or having your name above the title, or your longevity as a movie star. Steve McQueen always believed he was a total failure no matter how successful his films were. Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, continually in conflict between them, though they are the best of friends. It’s always “What has he got? How much did you get for that movie?” Stallone too because he feels he hasn’t got enough. I haven’t got ten per cent of what Sylvester Stallone has, but I’m one hundred per cent happier. It is attitude that is successful.
J: Some gauge ‘success’ by , not the amount of money you make, but the quality of the love you inspire, especially within a family.
H: I agree. That probably is one of the reason I feel I have been so successful.
J: Would you also find it inspiring to know that many romantic idealists, and otherwise, probably held onto their own particular visions a little tighter after listening to either the middle section of ‘Macarthur Park’ or the final verse of ‘Camelot’? Is passing on a vision of a better world as important to Richard
Harris as it was to the mythical King Arthur? Or do you see a contradiction between this and your own nihilism?
H: I think that is extremely important, despite how paradoxical this may seem in the light of all I’ve said to you today. I’d love to be able to get up and say “okay, out there it is dark, it’s black, and that is, as you so wonderfully said, Samuel Beckett up there laughing at us. But let’s laugh with him. It is a vicious joke that went astray somewhere. Yet maybe we did misinterpret what it was supposed to be and we began to take it all too seriously. But if we fall into that trap it must strike us as a sick joke, as you also said, as “theatre of the absurd”. That is what it is but in the end people must get on with it, try not to take it that seriously.
J : King Arthur took it all seriously.
H: That’s why there was such a sadness to his dream. His message was endless peace and harmony, but it can’t be achieved. His was– as written by Alan Jay Lerner– a wonderful forlorn voice suggesting that the round table was the United Nations. But the United Nations has been proved to be a total fucking flop. The E.E.C. hasn’t been marvelously successful, has it? It is isolationist, isn’t it? Although we’ve united many countries, it’s all against the rest! Nothing is all embracing. So the myths and dreams he had, though wonderful, were totally impractical. It won’t ever be. Though, yes, the paradox is that we must dream
J: But is it not more a question of how we, as individuals, interpret that dream? Many people who saw any of your one thousand performances of Camelot , or the movie, may have taken that concept of a better world and time and reapplied it to their own lives, used it to solidify some form of vision. President John F. Kennedy, it is said, often listened to the title song from Camelot before he went to bed.
H: Well yes, it probably does, did, give many people similar hope, a similar belief in a vision. There was a sense that maybe it all could work. ‘For one brief shining moment’, it could work.
J: Before the bullet inevitably hits your head?
H: Exactly. For one brief shining moment before that happens something as perfect as Camelot can be created. We all can touch it for one moment. That is what I believe.