Sunset over Greg Lake

by Paul Raworth Bennett

Every year, a few musical icons from our formative years will pass away.  This year, many rock music greats from the 70s and 80s (David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Keith Emerson, Leonard Cohen…) have left us to hold them in our memories and hearts.

For me, this year has brought an especially poignant loss.  Yesterday, death carried Greg Lake (the lead vocalist with the iconic progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer) across The Great Divide to join his band mate, Keith Emerson.  Two-thirds of ELP, gone in a single year (let’s wish many more years of health for Carl Palmer!)

emerson lake and palmer

There’s one ELP song whose every nuance I will forever carry in my mind.  Released as a single in 1970 and soon after incorporated into ELP’s debut album, “Lucky Man” is a signature Greg Lake composition – written at just 12 years of age, after his mother gifted him a guitar.  A masterful blending of delicate precision and raw musical power, its crystalline acoustics and Lake’s mellifluous vocals combine in a legendary ballad that wraps up in a soaring, Moog-synthesized finale.

The song tells the tale of a young man whose wealth and power were ultimately no match for the battlefield.

medieval_battle

Many of you already know the song.  If you don’t, I strongly encourage you to listen to it now (it’s only 4 1/2 minutes long).  You’ll find it here, with on-screen lyrics, on YouTube.

Lucky Man
by Greg Lake

He had white horses
And ladies by the score
All dressed in satin
And waiting by the door

Ooooh, what a lucky man he was
Ooooh, what a lucky man he was

White lace and feathers
They made up his bed
A gold covered mattress
On which he was led

Ooooh, what a lucky man he was
Ooooh, what a lucky man he was

He went to fight wars
For his country and his king
Of his honor and his glory
The people would sing

Ooooh, what a lucky man he was
Ooooh, what a lucky man he was

A bullet had found him
His blood ran as he cried
No money could save him
So he laid down and he died

Ooooh, what a lucky man he was
Ooooh, what a lucky man he was

In his memory, I felt moved to write an alternative set of lyrics, so … this is for you, Greg.  Thank you for colouring my youth with passion and joy!

Singing Man
by Paul Raworth Bennett

Smooth with great power
His euphonic sound
It filled up our hearts
And joy would abound

Ooooh, what a singing man he was
Ooooh, what a singing man he was

They came by the thousands
All queuing to see
His sonic alchemy
With the band, ELP

Ooooh, what a singing man he was
Ooooh, what a singing man he was

With dulcet tones soaring
And words spun from gold
He inspired the souls of
The young and the old

Ooooh, what a singing man he was
Ooooh, what a singing man he was

The cold lonely voice
Of cancer did call
And finally it stole him
Away from us all

Ooooh, what a singing man he was
Ooooh, what a singing man he was

If you enjoyed this song, you might also like “From the Beginning” or “Still, You Turn Me On“.

 

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