What Was It You Wanted?

by Jim Gillan


A month with lots of very good live music, always the best way to hear it. Two shows featuring  Kris Delmhorst, Jeffrey Foucault and Peter Mulvey, the three of them aided and abetted by David ‘Goody’ Goodrich. Individually, they are quite exceptional singer/songwriters and musicians, with Goody also being an ace producer (as anyone who heard the 2003 album of the year, Chris Smither’s Train Home) will know. Collectively, they were touring as Redbird, an occasional project which revolves around the four of them performing on acoustic instruments, using only a couple of microphones. Special effects are limited to their playing in permutations ranging from solo to ensemble. A raging good time had by all and at £6 a ticket, a bargain. 

Another rather splendid evening was spent in the company Po’ Girl, who are Diona Davies, Allison Russell and Trish Klein, who also holds down a job with Be Good Tanyas. Po’ Girl might have come about because the BGTs are on maternity leave, but I hope they don’t go away, as they have a real good sound, one that draws as much on jazz as it does from folk/blues/country traditions. And no, they’re not the BGTs by another name. Their eponymous CD is a cracker. 

On the domestic talent front there was Emily Druce and Steve Jones. Emily is a Holmfirth, West Yorkshire lass (and so practically my neighbour), but her music was entirely new to me. Holmfirth is a long way from the Mississippi delta, but the blues ain’t a slave to geography or topography. In addition to her own material, she and Steve have a wonderful version of ‘Burden Down’, complete with brass ban, on their new CD, Songs From The Silver Band Room. Which is another one I urge you to buy.  What do ya mean you’ve spent it all on Dylan DVDs and the Halloween concert? 

Last but not least, Tom Doughty. Tom’s a brilliant musician who lives in Cheshire, but who, like Emily, has an instinctive feel for the blues. He plays slide guitar lap style, using (amongst others) a 1935 National and a Yamaha 12-string he modified himself. He has adapted his technique to accommodate the fact that years ago a motor cycle accident did him a serious amount of damage, including ending his ability to play in a conventional style, one hand handling chord shapes, the other finger-picking. But when luminaries such as Bob Brozman, Woody Mann and Paul Jones say he’s worth listening to, then it’s pretty clear that allowances of any sort aren’t needed. 

I’m being pestered by phone calls from Mel Gibson*, whose recent opus hopeless has done for the Christian virtues what Hitler did for housepainters. Apologies to anyone of any sense, whatever belief framework (if any) you subscribe to. Charitably, maybe it’s a case of he know not what he do. But methinks he does – and so it would have been more appropriate for him to have directed it under his nom de dumb, Mad Max. Heigh ho, for anyone who subscribes to the here after, do you think you can suffer eternity with Max? 

And what about this! An email from the Spoke… 


From ER today:

Grace Nichols, president and chief executive officer of Victoria's Secret Stores since 1991, detailed the business of the famous lingerie retailer Wednesday as the keynote speaker for the school's Business Day… And Victoria's Secret plans another ad blitz beginning this month. The latest commercials will feature not only a song but a guest appearance by music legend Bob Dylan.

Well, are you psychic?

To which I replied… 

Am I psychic? Maybe Bob's reads Freewheelin'... 

Anyway, I guess we'll be better able to judge the extent of my mysterious powers once we see what he wears. It's not straightforward, as holy old why fronts aren't something that Victoria's Secret stocks, and, although it's tempting to think of Bob appearing in a variety of splendidly revealing corsets, six suspender waspies and lingerie for that special moment, it somehow doesn't quite fit. Nor indeed would much of the goodies that Victoria's Secret stocks. Though attempts to somehow wedge himself into an extravagantly laced and fully stiffened with whalebone creation, could explain his more contorted facial expressions. 

Actually, what might be most appropriate, (given his propensity to get lyrics, keys and arrangements wrong), would be an appearance in a tasteful pair of Bloomers. 

The day after, this arrived from a friend of mine, Helen. She came late to Bob, and only after I put ‘Series of Dreams’ on a compilation of singer/songwriters that I did for her. Now she’s hooked. 

ANYWAY, she read the piece about Bob’s choice of underwear being holy old why-fronts and came up with this equally compelling alternative… 

I always thought that Bob was something of a Thong and Danth Man (hence perhaps "I shall be released" and "Tight connection to my heart" - or tight connection to something...)

"Tangled up in blue" also creates an intriguing picture in this context...

Or perhaps Bob prefers to resurrect some old forgotten boxers that haven't seen the light of day for some time...

More suggestions welcome. I’m sure there are loads, as everyone** who is in any way associated with Freewheelin’ must of course be enormously creative and willing to rise to any challenge. I’ll happily incorporate ‘em all in my next piece and ask Mark to provide some appropriate cartoons. All of which means that I won’t have to write anything, and you can finally read a WWIYW that makes some sort of sense. This approach is one that has a Bob dimension, in that he seemingly used a broadly similar technique when writing the material for Love and Theft.  I’m not saying that your efforts will quite match L&T, but they must surely be considered to be in the same ballpark.  Or would they really be my efforts, even if I didn’t write a thing?

* I don’t think that it is Mel Gibson.  Who (based on his own inanities) I would have thought is more likely to ask the Wholly Ghost to intercede on his behalf.  Fine by me - the bath is certainly free from midnight to 7am.  That said, it might be cluttered up by St John the Divine, who another friend, Richard, suggested could make a good conversationalist.  Despite (or maybe because of) being a collapsed Catholic, SJtD is new to me, though is, I gather, associated with the Book of Revelations. Glad I am that I don’t need any of that stuff to enhance my listening, be it to Bob or to anyone else. 

** But not me.