didn’t manage to write this article for last month’s issue of
Freewheelin’. In my last article written back in November I told you
about not seeing Bob in Sheffield because my mum was poorly. At that
time although she was still in hospital she was getting better but it
turned out that it was only the secondary infections that could be
cured. The real problem was her liver, which was diseased and could not
be cured. We hoped we could bring her home for a few days at Christmas
but she was too poorly. She died peacefully in her sleep on January 4th.
The rest of this article is dedicated to her as she got real pleasure
hearing about what I was reading, watching, doing and listening to.
Having only read a few bits about it I’m really looking forward to
seeing “Masked and Anonymous” when it is released over here. I quite
enjoyed the soundtrack but feel it will make more sense when I’ve seen
the film. Not getting to see Dylan this year the undoubted highlight for
me has been John Cohen’s wonderful photo book “Young Bob”. There are a
bunch of black and white shots from 1962 including some where Dylan uses
his cigarette as a prop and another lot from 1970 with some lovely
colour shots out on the NYC streets. You owe it to yourself to get this
book. There are only 72 pages but each one will bring a smile of delight
to your face.
I wrote a little bit about my holiday in Ireland at the beginning of my
article in Freewheelin’ #219. It was a magical time. Beautiful
countryside, exciting wildlife, good food and drink and perfect company!
Sometimes I buy CDs or books and then put them away for a week or more
before I play or look at it. I’ve bought several of the new Dylan
reissues but have yet to play them. However I just love the look of
them, especially the ones with extra photos or a little booklet. I think
my favourite is appropriately “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” which is a
miniature work of art even before you hear the music. Well done CBS!
River of Song
Browsing in a remaindered book shop I came across a hardback coffee
table type book called “River of Song” and on the cover it said it was
‘a companion to The Mississippi: River of Song, a Smithsonian
Institution series for PBS’. It is a musical journey down the
Mississippi from Lake Itasca near the Canadian border down to New
Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The book is full of still photos from
the TV series and lots of quotes from the musicians we meet along the
way including Spider John Koerner, Fontella Bass, and Babes in Toyland,
Rufus Thomas, John Hartford and Levon Helm. It is a book you can read
right through or just dip into and as it was listed at 35 dollars and I
got it for £5 it was a real bargain. A few weeks later I was looking at
a CD market stall in Bingley when I spied “River of Song” the companion
double CD to the book on sale for just £4. Another bargain. Together
they make up my find of the year. Now I just hope that I get to see the
TV series on one of our channels.
The very best one had to be by my schools drumming group called “The Hit
Squad” who performed at The Lord Mayor’s Parade. The 17 strong group
walked two miles through Bradford City centre playing the whole time. A
great day. Other good shows were by Jackson Browne, Richard Thompson,
Roy Harper, Elvis Costello, Tom Paxton, The Handsome Family, Mary
Gauthier and Emmylou Harris.
John Green Day 3
A great day as I wrote back in Freewheelin’ #213. Friends old and new,
good music, talks and conversation and plenty to look at. Roll on the
Time Will Tell
The year after my dad died in 1976 my mum moved from Muswell Hill to
Highgate to share a house with her friend Yvonne Kapp. Yvonne was an
author who was probably best known for her marvellous two-volume
biography of Eleanor Marx. Eric Hobsbawm called it “one of the major
biographies of our generation” and Michael Foot said “it is a work of
scholarship but also a work of art”. Since Yvonne died in 1999 my mum
had been trying to get Yvonne’s memoirs published. Early last year she
was successful and Verso were not only going to publish the memoir “Time
Will Tell” but also the Eleanor Marx biography as a single volume. In
May to celebrate the book launch we had a little party at my mum’s
house. It turned out that this would be the last occasion when so many
of my mum’s friends and family would be gathered together. A good memory
for all of us.
This is a Japanese animated children’s film, which is simply magical.
Look out for it and if you manage to see it you won’t be disappointed.
It would lift anyone’s spirits.
All sorts this year. New ones by the Handsome Family, Eric Andersen, The
Thrills, Lucinda Williams, Kings of Leon, Tom Russell, Neil Young.
Special mentions to Richard Thompson’s “1000 Years of Popular Music” and
Joan Baez’s “Dark Chords on a Big Guitar” and Show of Hands “Country
Life” all of which I love. Some great reissues such as the first 3
Fairport albums, Gene Clark’s “No Other”, Byrds “Sweetheart of the
Rodeo” and Neil Young’s “On The Beach”. And then some old ones that were
new to me such as the Stones “Exile on Main Street”, Incredible String
Band “5000 Spirits”, Shirley Collins & Davey Graham “Folk Roots, New
Routes” and The Clash “London Calling”.
As well as the Dylan books there have been several other worthwhile
musical ones such as Ian MacDonald’s “The People’s Music” which opens
with a great article called “Wild Mercury: A Tale of Two Dylans”. Then
there was the second volume of Richie Unterberger's history of folk-rock
“Eight Miles High”. At the Virgin Mega store in London I saw an
interesting photographic exhibition of folk singers called “A Gathering
of Folk” and bought the accompanying book. It is by Mark Leightley and
there are good photos of just about everyone from Bob Copper to Julie
Felix and Richard Thompson to Tom Paxton. Worth a look. As is Barry
Miles’ latest work, “In The Sixties” which is a great reminder for those
of us who were there at the time and an eye opener if you weren’t.