The Scaffold – Lily The Pink

17th December 1968 · 1960s, 1968, Music

This rollicking tune by a Scouse comedy trio is the second single I ever bought. I’m pleased to say my musical taste has improved since then (I think).

I’m not sure I ever want to hear this song again – it seemed to soundtrack the entire Christmas holidays in 1968, when it topped the charts – but it represents one of the first stepos on my musical journey. And I’ve found out some interesting stuff about it.

I already knew that Mike McGear (né McCartney), the bloke on the left, had a more famous brother who played bass and sang in another band from Liverpool. The other two are the poet Roger McGough and John Gorman (the one with the Arthur Scargill combover).

I never knew that Jack Bruce played bass on this (perhaps Paul was unavailable) or that the backing vocalists included Elton John (also playing piano, according to Mat Snow), Tim Rice and Graham Nash of The Hollies and CSNY.

Nor did I know that it was based on an even bawdier old American folk song, The Ballad Of Lydia Pinkham, about a prominent female abolitionist and anti-segregationist who famously invented a herbal remedy to relieve period pains.

The Scaffold’s comedy version translates that into a “medicinal compound” whose efficacy is used to treat a weak appetite by inducing morbid obesity and, controversially (and unnoticed by me at the age of 10… or even 60), brings about a sex change as a cure for freckles.

I’ve often wondered whether there was a subliminal connection between the song that set me on the road to a lifetime of record collecting and my (our) decision to name our first child Lily. She was, and is, quite pink.