David Bowie – Conversation Piece box set artworkWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: early 1968
Released: 15 November 2019

Available on:
Conversation Piece

Personnel

David Bowie: vocals, guitar, bass guitar, percussion

‘The Reverend Raymond Brown (Attends The Garden Fete On Thatchwick Green)’ was a song written by David Bowie for his planned second Deram album.

We were still working on the assumption that all our problems at Decca would be solved and that David would continue to have his recordings released on the Deram label. Hugh Mendl had agreed that we should now be thinking about the second album and so David and I sat down one night and compiled a list of possible titles. In addition to the songs already recorded and rejected as singles we listed a number of old songs and some new ones that he had been writing at the flat, such as ‘C’est la Vie’, ‘Silver Tree Top School for Boys’, ‘When I’m Five’, ‘Everything is You’, ‘Tiny Tim’, ‘The Reverend Raymond Brown’, ‘Angel Angel Grubby Face’ and ‘Threepenny Joe’. That album was never made and I suppose that David has forgotten that he ever wrote some of those songs, but they live on in my box files where I keep his original manuscripts, either typewritten by himself or written in his own hand.
Kenneth Pitt
The Pitt Report

The Kinks were yet to release The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, but they and Bowie were clearly thinking along similar lines – Bowie’s pen portrait of characters attending a village fête was pure Ray Davies, with touches of McCartney and Syd Barrett thrown into the mix.

‘The Reverend Raymond Brown (Attends The Garden Fete On Thatchwick Green)’ only exists as a demo most likely recorded at the flat owned by Bowie’s manager Kenneth Pitt at 39 Manchester Street, London, with Bowie playing all instruments. It was first released in the 2019 box set Conversation Piece.

Lyrics

Milkman has thrown his bottles away
His work is all over for the rest of the day
Mrs McGoony throws her darning aside
Puts on her coat that smells of mothballs and age

The Reverend Raymond Brown deserts his holy ground
’Cause he’s leading the band

Magistrates serving cups of tea from the stall
Everyone buys yellow scarves made of wool
Mrs Grass makes a fortune reading tea leaves and palms
While naughty Fitzwilliam helps to lighten the till

The Reverend Raymond Brown puts his pencil on the ground
For he’s melting down sin

Mrs Pringle organises games for all the kids to play
Women’s Guild compare their hats and chatter hard about this and that
And isn’t it a shame that little Sally’s in the family way?

And mothers warn their daughters not to talk to any dirty old man

Flags and confetti, a girl very pretty
With dresses and gold hair that blow in the wind
The beauty of Thatchwick turns heads by the hundred
She gazes on to the musical priest

The Reverend Raymond Brown turns his red face to the ground
And he mumbles out a prayer
’Cause he fancies her like mad
And the Reverend Raymond Brown turns and walks away