Max Fishel


Max Fishel

Originally from Liverpool but has lived in London for over 40 years. Performs own material, which alternates between deep, silly, and poignant.

Worked in NHS for 5 years, state education for 40. Now “retired”.

Lifelong player of Irish music, plays at a weekly session in south London. Involved in education, equality and disability issues.

A dad,

a grandad,

a partner,

a human!


I was never beaten as a child

I was never beaten as a child

maybe that was because my father

wasn’t there most of the time

away four nights, in for three

just my mum and me

not speaking much at all

passing each other in the kitchen

or the hall

the front room lined with books

about the holocaust

and concentration camps of course

naked skeletons in a pit

were the companions I grew up with


she told me to be careful

every time I left the house

the Nazis were out there,

in Liverpool 17,

Smithdown Road leading to the gas chambers

at the Pier Head

the number 5 bus my own kindertransport

to hell

in her mind


the man and woman I called my parents

fed and clothed me well enough


made the money


cleaned the house


did my homework


said I was a Jew,

assumed I was a Jew

as far as they knew                                                                                        Max Fishel 2019


Only Music Can Do This 


NB This piece is meant to be performed, in a self-referential manner according to the verse content and rhythm


A little six eight,

a lot of four four,

we love it all don’t we 

and we shout for more


If it’s rock and roll or reggae,

bhangra jazz or jive,

it doesn’t really matter (cos)

it makes us feel alive


We’re black, white or brown you know, 

we don’t give a damn,

all we want’s a decent tune

Bach or The Jam


We love it in the kitchen                                        (this verse references the lyrics of certain 

we love it in the hall                                               traditional English and Irish folk songs)

we love it on the street you know we

fuckin love it all


On the beat or                                                        (this line, each word equal strong beat)

syn-copated,                                                          (“syn-copated” spoken as syn/(pause)/cuhpated)

it’s not like religion,

nothing is hated


No borders, no passports, we’re                            (beats on italicised syllables)

routinely optimistic,

everybody’s welcome, no

migration statistics


But then the beat chan/ges,                                            (beats on italicised syllables)

♪      ♪. ♪    ♪ ♪. ♪  

you su/ddenly feel it,

♪      ♪. ♪   ♪ ♪. ♪  

takes you a few mo/ments

  ♪      ♪. ♪   ♪ ♪.     ♪  

be/fore your brain clears it

 ♪  ♪.     ♪ ♪      ♪. ♪  


And then there’s contemporary avant-garde,      (this verse is performed in a randomly rhythmical,

Lots of weird sounds all over the place,       ,        up and down pitch, totally bonkers manner)

Concerto for electric shaver and fallopian tubes –

what’s all that about? I don’t know 


So –

a little six eight

a lot of four four

we love it all don’t we 

and we shout 

for more

                                                                                                                  Max Fishel