Monday, 21 December 2015

I’ve never really been one to mourn the loss of people I do not know so the public outpouring of grief when a celebrity dies be that a film star or musician has always left me feeling a bit bemused if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong it’s sad when someone dies but in truth the passing of say, Motorhead drummer Philthy Animal Taylor or say BB King felt no different than the list of death listed in my local paper on the same day these musical greats died popped her clogs.

So it feels a bit strange and hugely contradictory writing this post about a musician who died this year without a huge fanfare and I suspect unless you were a fan will have passed most people by without a murmur.

Gavin Clark died on the 16th February this year a month short of his 46th birthday. Who? I hear a lot of you say but read on as I suspect most of you may have heard his music maybe without actually knowing it was him.

I first discovered his music Gavin’s music when he was fronting Clayhill, I remember getting a free CD with a music magazine (I think it was Q) with the track One Nerve on it. I’m guessing this was around 2006 as that was when the album Mine At Last was realised. The lyrics to the track are quite brutal but Clark’s voice is so beautiful they don’t seem that be so vicious.

“I see what you're doing here
I'm sick of the shit from you and you're kind
Yeah I, I see what you're doing here
You're breaking me down one nerve at a time”

I immediately bought 3 Clayhill albums Cuban Green, Small Circle and the aforementioned Mine At Last and started to do a bit of digging about the band. Although Wikipedia says that the band released 5 albums I can only find 4 listed the one I don’t have is called Acoustic and currently retails at about £85 Amazon.

One Nerve was no fluke Clayhill’s music is simply wonderful and I have just listened to all three albums back to back recently, hence the reason I am writing this post as I felt a real sense of lost as I listened to them.

If you have every watched a Shane Meadows Film or drama (This Is England, Somer’s Town etc.) you WILL have heard Gavin Clark as Shane used his music in all of his work the most famous track is a cover of The Smiths – Please, Please Let Me Get what I Want which was used in the film This Is England. It takes a lot of guts to cover a Smiths song and even more to do it well and in my opinion this version is as good if not better than the original.

Clark has released music prior to Clayhill under the name Sunhouse an album that I know means a lot to some people I know. He has also released music under his own name, as the vocalist of UNKLE and a new collaboration (recorded prior to his death) under the name of Evangelist is just about to come out.

It was mentioned that Clark was to become a household name due to his work with UNKLE and whether than would have ever happened I’m not sure all I know is I have lost an artist whose work I held very close to my heart.

A few days after this death his family released this poem Clark which is pretty much his last piece of work.

I went to look at the sea
From a distance
If I get too close she always talks to me
Talks too much sometimes.

I sat on a wall and heard just a whisper
‘Come my young one’
Off the wall, down the path, down the steps, across the pebbles and onto the sand
I sat close leaving imprints of heels, leaving imprints of hands.

Why are you so brokenhearted she said?
It’s been so long since you’ve come, when you were young you’d laugh and sing, throw pebbles and swim
Now you’re fully grown you only come when it’s bitter and sad, silent, alone.
I took off my socks and wondered how she’d made an arch from a rock.

The sound of soft waves went from one ear to an ear, the hint of melody, of salt water tears.

I don’t know I said
Sometimes I’m happy sometimes I’m sad, sometimes I’m thoughtless and angry and glad to be bad…But you’re right I only come to you when the world has no sense or release and I don’t want philosophy. Doctrine, science or grief, to hear the wisdom of historical fools from men with no teeth and too many rules.

Silence she said and listen to me each one of these waves are kids of the sea
My children do you understand?
Sometimes they’re gentle, sometimes ferocious and wild and blind.
One of her children washed over my feet and I thought of the back lanes the lights in the street, the hunger for wealth.

She smiled for me too
I picked up my socks and I picked up my shoes
Headed back up the sand, the pebbles the steps, then she told me something I’ll never forget.
How she created the arch in the rock and the why
I blew her a kiss and waved her goodbye
I’ll see you tomorrow I said, I promise I’ll try
I’ll see you tomorrow I said
Then I cried.

Enough of the sentimentality I guess what I’m saying we lost some great artists this year Gavin Clark being one of them. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Songs That I love #81 Genesis - Follow You Follow Me

When I bought this single I was unaware of the history of Genesis (that Peter Gabriel had just left) and that it was uncool to like Genesis. I heard a song a liked and that was all that was important to me (and still is).

I subsequently bought the album (…and then there were three..) and still know every word of every song.

Stay with me,
My love I hope you'll always be
Right here by my side if ever I need you
Oh my love

In your arms,
I feel so safe and so secure
Everyday is such a perfect day to spend
Alone with you

I will follow you will you follow me
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you will you stay with me
Just one single tear in each passing year

With the dark,
Oh I see so very clearly now
All my fears are drifting by me so slowly now
Fading away

I can say
The night is long but you are here
Close at hand, oh I'm better for the smile you give
And while I live

I will follow you will you follow me
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you will you stay with me
Just one single tear in each passing year there will be

I will follow you will you follow me
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you will you stay with me
Just one single tear in each passing year...

Songs That I Love #80 - 10CC - Feel The Benefit

This track is taken from the first live albums I ever bought, released in 1977 I'm guessing I bought it around 1978 or 1979.

10cc were famous for sharp pop songs with multi-layered harmonies which gave them hits with God Morning Judge, I'm Not In Love and I'm Mandy Fly Me which are are all on this album, but I was drawn then and now to this 14 minute which in some ways is more prog rock then pop music. I have never looked up the original version of this song I have ever wanted to I'm happy with this one bass solo and all.

You went out on the street without your shoes on
You didn't listen what your momma said
She said you won't feel the benefit, won't feel the benefit
And if we all went out without our shoes on
Tell me where would we be, where would we be 

If all the people in the world lost their reason
What would we see, where would we be
If all the entertainers in the world lost their music
What would they play, what could they say
To pacify the crowd, to justify themselves
Won't feel the benefit 

You're like a cloud behind the sun
Like the face behind the clown
You're moving like the wrinkles in a frown
And you can never look back
A leaf that's borne upon the wind
A cardboard suitcase in your hand
The wanderer soon returns
And finds the colour of the grass is just the same
On the other side of the tracks, oh no 

Ooh when you smile it's like a holiday
Ooh pack your bags and we can get away
We'll float on a Queen down to Rio
There's no need to shave
We'll be stinking like rum in a punch 

You can walk on the water
You can dabble in the mumbo jumbo
You can smoke a little ganja
Float like a cloud over Rio, Rio
You can ride with the Gauchos
Swinging your bolas in a red bandana
You can run with the devil
Takin' your chances with Senorita 

You can drink a lot of coffee in Brazil
But the bill is gonna make you ill 


So, you can go out on the street and take your chances
But if you do, you better do it right
Or you won't feel the benefit, won't feel the benefit
Spin the wheel and take your chances
And your number might come up
Though the odds may be in favor of the house 

If all the people in the world would say together
We're all black and white, we're all day and night
If all the people in the world could sing together
How would it sound, what would we feel 

We'd all feel the benefit

Monday, 18 August 2014

Songs That I Love #79 Tommy Bolin - Wild Dogs

Tommy Bolin joined Deep purple after Ritchie Blackmore left to start the band Rainbow. Unless you are a huge fan of the band ( I don't class myself as one) its was hard to keep up with the changes but Tommy Bolin (and this track) had a profound effect on me.

I didn't find out until later that this track was a Tommy Bolin solo track that he played whilst playing with Tommy Bolin. He was a mess with drugs apparently and misses his intro but at the time (30+ years ago) this tack blew me away.

I now have the original version which is below but thought I'd had to post the one that introduced me to  Tommy Bolin.

This baggage handcuffed to my wrists
I drag it everywhere I go
Sometimes I fight you with my fists
But if I knew which way was home
That's where I'd go, if I knew which way was home

Before the karma cut me free
I'm sick of my own company
Sometimes I miss the boat
Most times I miss my home
Thats where I'd go, if I knew which way was home

Run down ghost trail, no chance for love
No sign of life, just wild dogs howlin' in the night

Oh, that's what I like

Before the karma cut me loose
Would bring my whiskey and my water
Sometimes I get them blues
Though I know I shouldn't oughta
Thats where I'd go, if I knew which way was home

Run down ghost trail, no chance for love
No sign of life, just wild dogs howlin' in the night

Run down ghost trail, no chance for love
No sign of life, just wild dogs howlin' in the night

Run down ghost trail, no chance for love
No sign of life, just wild dogs howlin' in the night

Hear 'em howl.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Songs That I Song #78 Barbara Streisand - Evergreen

So last night as I sat with my Mum as she relayed the tales of the day and which nurses and doctors had been and what were the next steps she mentioned that she had fallen whilst getting out of bed in the morning.

When I asked what had happened she said my Dad was trying to help her and he lifted her, and as they both unsteady on their feet when my Dad had lifted my Mum to her feet they had stood grasped together for a moment try to steady themselves like some kind silent dance before my Mum fell backwards onto the bed and my Dad then fell down beside her. No one was really hurt but my Mum then said something that left me struggling with my emotions (again) the 5 words she said were "we have never danced together" 51 years married and I guess a few years before that courting and they have never had a dance. That might not seem like a big thing but it broke my heart.

So this blog post is for my Mum and Dad, they have never been huge music fans (but in some ways are responsible for my love of music) but as I grew up I remember this record being played a lot (soundtrack to A Star Is Born)  along with the Neil Diamonds Jazz Singer soundtrack.

I don't own either of these albums and would have said I know little about them but as I scanned youtube for an appropriate track it seems I know all of the tracks and an awful lot of words to most of the songs!

So call me sentimental (I am) but this song is for my Mum and Dad, I know you will now never have that dance but if I whenever I hear this song then at least you will be dancing in my imagination.

Love soft as an easy chair
Love fresh as the morning air
One love that is shared by two
I have found with you
Like a rose under the April snow
I was always certain love would grow
Love ageless and evergreen
Seldom seen by two
You and I will
make each night the first
Everyday a beginning
Spirits rise and their dance is unrehearsed
They warm and excite us
'Cause we have the brightest love
Two lights that shine as one Morning glory and midnight sun
Time... we've learned to sail above
Time... won't change the meaning of one love
Ageless and ever evergreen...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Songs That I Love #76 & #77 Tom McRae - Alphabet Of Hurricanes & Ship Of Green And Blue

I wanted to find a studio version of this song as it lasts 8 minutes and 18 seconds, I know this as that is how long it takes me to drive home from visiting my Mum in hospital. Don't ask me how I discovered this but I did and then it became the song I played every night as I headed home after visiting.

The journey home is always a blur piecing together the events of the days conversations with doctors and consultants and wondering what to do for the best it felt that it was An Alphabet Of Hurricanes that was blowing me home on a nightly basis.

Caught in a whirlwind of
Broken sticks and bones
An alphabet of hurricanes
Can't blow this drifter home

And the train kicks up snow across
This cold New Mexico
And as I cross the Rio Grande
I finally let you go

To fall into the icy stream
Of different lives and different dreams

And we go lightly on our way
Yes you go lightly on the same

Woke up in Kansas from a
Dream of burning ships
And I still taste the ocean, girl
And you on my lips

But I can't seem to change the way
This story wants to play
Life is in the living
Not the telling anyway

Press myself into the glass
Silver moon lights up my path

As I go lightly on my way
And you will go lightly on the same
Yes we go lightly on our way

Shaken by a broken rail in
Princeton, Illinois
With time to kill I drank my fill
And gave the jukebox all my coins

This one's for the friends I've lost
The one I've left behind
No, this one's not for you, I take it back
I've changed my mind

The music drifts into the night
Calls to me and says it's time

To go lightly on my way
And I will lightly on the same
Yes you go lightly on your way

Sunset on the Hudson turns this city into gold
This stolen El Dorado it ain't mine, it sure ain't yours
I've been here for every season
Somehow you forget
You claim this city for yourself
Well take it, it's my gift
There's nothing left to divide
You take the days, I'll take the nights

And I'll go lightly on my way
And you will go lightly on the same
Yes we go lightly on our way

Caught in a whirlwind of
Broken sticks and bones
An alphabet of hurricanes

Can't blow this drifter home
Can't blow this drifter home
Can't blow this drifter home
Can't blow this drifter home

As my Mum was transferred to a different hospital then Alphabet of Hurricanes didn't fill my journey home but Alphabet along with Ship of Green and Blue filled the journey perfectly.

The lyrics to this song break my heart every time I play it,  the line 'the colours in my memory are brighter than those I see' sums up how I feel about life at the moment. 

Slow comes the waking from black and fever dreams
We were drifting on the high seas on a ship of blue and green.
Sounds from the street rip me from my sleep,
I’m slow walking out, empty city streets,
Shake myself awake, and thinking still of you,
In a ship of green and blue.

Oh, through a slow day my mind falls with me
And colours in my memory are brighter than those I see.
But our heart still beats here, it’s just a splendid souvenir,
I’m slow walking out, famous city streets,
Streets you’ll never know, I’ll describe them all for you,
On a ship of green and blue.

Cold was the morning, the sky of bloody blues
We were talking about the old times and singing songs for you
You were dressed up for the ride, silver dollars on your eyes
I’m slow walking out, darkened city streets,
Feeling nothing now, just following my fear
‘till land gives way to sea.
I’ll tell you everything, brother, when we meet.
When we’re drifting on a sea on a ship of blue and green.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Songs That I Love #75 Sun Kil Moon - I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love

I bought this album (Benji) a couple of months ago and never got round to listening to it, I would always eject it halfway through the first song, not because I didn't like it, it just didn't seem the right time.

2 weeks ago whilst driving I decided to play it again, when this came on I had to pull over such was the impact of the lyrics. 

I can live with the sky falling out from above
I can live with your scorn, your sourness, your smug
I can live growing old alone if push comes to shove
But I can't live without my mother's love

I can live flying round at an impossible pace
I can live with the bad etiquette that's falling on this place
I can live with anything you've got to throw in my face
But I can't live without my mother's embrace

My mother is seventy five
She's the closest friend I have in my life
Take her from me, I'll break down and bawl
And wither away like old leaves in the fall

You can be cruel all you want, talk bad on my brothers
Shoot me full of holes and I won't by bothered
Judge me for my ways and my slew of ex-lovers
But don't ever dare say a bad word about my mother

When she's gone I'll miss our slow easy walks
Playing scrabble with the chimes of the grandfather clock
I'll even miss the times that we fought
But mostly I'll miss being able to call her and talk.

I can live without watching the classic old fights
I can live without a lover beside me at night
I can live without what you might call a charmed life
But I can't live without my mother providing her light

My mother is seventy five
One day she won't be here to hear me cry
When the day comes for her to let go
I'll die off like a lemon tree in the snow
When the day comes for her to leave
I won't have the courage to sort through her things
With my sisters and all our memories
I cannot bear all the pain it will bring