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Thursday, 29 January 2009

John Martyn OBE dies aged 60 pt 2

Still reeling from this, unable to articulate my feelings so i am posting some pics and articles that i have managed to stumble across ..

Firstly from UNCUT magazine: an obit and final interview

It’s ironic that John Martyn’s final live shows, late last year, found him performing his classic 1980 album Grace & Danger in its entirety, as the singer-songwriter had constantly spoken of his reluctance to dwell on the past. He’d previously excused himself from any involvement in the obligatory deluxe edition reissue of the record in 2007, and had taken a similarly hands-off approach to last year’s career-spanning box set Ain’t No Saint.

“I tend to stay away from back catalogue stuff in general,” he said last summer. “I like to focus my energies on what I’m doing now and in the future.” He revealed that he’d amassed about two albums’ worth of new material, and still harboured a desire to collaborate with his “all-time favourite” musician, jazz saxophonist Pharoah Saunders. “We’d best get on with it before one of us dies, though,” he joked. “He’s 74 now, and I don’t feel too well myself!”

Some of those new recordings may appear soon, on an album tentatively entitled Willing To Work. But for now we’re left with a formidable body of music stretching back 40 years that frequently took sly pleasure in moving the goalposts of both folk and jazz. The first solo white act signed to Chris Blackwell’s fledgling Island Records (paving the way for fellow folkies Nick Drake and Richard & Linda Thompson), he was a bold musical adventurer who embraced technology, applying effects pedals and tape loops designed for electric instruments to his own acoustic guitar. But beyond the envelope-pushing of his melodies and chord structures, Martyn was a lyricist of rare honesty and insight. Of his 23 albums, the most celebrated were arguably 1973’s Solid Air – its title track a loose tribute to his friend Drake – and the aforementioned Grace & Danger, a devastatingly forthright account of the disintegration of his marriage to wife and former singing partner Beverley.

Never the household name he plainly should have been, Martyn arguably made as many headlines away from the music he created. Dogged by drink and drugs problems for a large part of career, he also once suffered a broken neck after his car collided with a cow, split his head open in a swimming accident, and had a leg amputated in 2003 following a bout of septicaemia.

An indication to his standing in the broader musical world came at last year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, where Martyn was presented with a lifetime achievement award by his friend and erstwhile producer Phil Collins, and performed a short set with a band that included Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. With his death coming so soon after that of Davy Graham, the folk world finds itself reeling from the loss of yet another true maverick and inspirational force.


Source HERE

FINAL CUT interview:

Echo-loving folk curmudgeon Originally printed in the OCTOBER 2008 issue of Uncut, Martyn talks about Ain't No Saint - a four-disc collection, released to coincide with his 60th birthday. For a review of the box set - click on the link in the side panel on the right.

UNCUT: What do you think of the anthology?

JOHN MARTYN: I haven’t heard it... I keep as far away from all that stuff, man. As soon as I’ve finished it, it’s gone. I love playing live, you know? It’s actually a stricter discipline than being in the studio, because you only get one shot at the gig, whereas in the studio you get loads of shots.

A lot of listeners are thrown by the way you can be quite flippant between songs and then plunge into a highly emotional rendition…

Oh yeah, I like that contrast. It’s not a conscious thing, but I get carried away during the actual performance, and then I try to talk to the audience on a lighter level, ’cos otherwise we’ll all go home fucking crying. Or laughing, depending on which way you take it. I once said to the people, ‘I’ve got to tell you I love you, but oh fuck it, I hate saying that shit.’ It’s embarrassing to watch, but it was really true. I have been known to burst into tears in the middle of a song – it happened quite recently on BBC2. I had to stop and say, ‘Sorry chaps, I can’t go on.’ And I had to go out and sit in the back yard for half an hour before I could come back and sing.

Do you remember the moment you decided to buy an echo machine?

Yeah, it was the day the WEM Copicat broke down. I was using it to try and extend the sound of the fuzztone on the guitar, so I could play the same note for half an hour if I felt like it and twitch it now and again. And I bought the Echoplex, and completely by chance I found out you could make rhythmic noises with it. I was actually looking for sustain. I wanted to sound like Pharoah Sanders, actually.

There’s a live version of “Solid Air” recorded shortly after Nick Drake’s death – was it difficult singing that song in the aftermath?

No, it was never difficult singing that – people shuffle off their mortal coil left, right and centre, don’t they? No one’s written a song about me yet [laughs]. That’s because I’m still here.

Are songs like “Dealer” and “Smiling Stranger” based on actual people?

Oh yes, definitely. I used to hang out with people of dubious legality. None of them nasty, but you know... “Smiling Stranger” was just a piece of advice to the public [laughs]. I’ve always distrusted a smiling stranger, I always have – regardless of colour, race or creed. I spent a long time being fascinated by gangsters and lowlives – just interested, what makes them tick and how they organise their lives, and there are some great things about them – I don’t mind villains at all, to be honest.

What’s the story behind “Big Muff”?

I was having breakfast with Chris Blackwell and Lee Perry, and we had this tea set and all the cups were little pigs and horses with legs. And Scratch is going, ‘Boy, look at the muff on that!’, looking at this horse. ‘Now put this with the pig, see? Now boy, this is one big muff!’ And he was going on about his big muff, and how it was going to get away with the powder puff and everything. That guy’s sense of humour is in the song.It’s silly, Jamaican silly.

How did you come to work with Phil Collins in the early ’80s?

I didn’t know who the fuck he was. I ran out of drummers, and someone said this guy from Genesis is really good. He’s a very lyrical drummer, he could actually play the song as if he was singing it.

Given that you’ve often criticised British folk, how did you feel to be awarded a Lifetime Achievement at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards?

[Cackles] I’ve never been critical of the British folk scene. I just don’t like when they put a 4/4 against a lovely traditional tune. Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, go away! It’s like a cross between a swan and a duck – the rhythm section being the duck. As soon as you put that bass and drums on it, it coarsens it and changes the nature of the music and makes it into something quite unacceptable to me. I love Martin Carthy and Dick Gaughan, I love proper folk music – Eliza Carthy, The Watersons and all that stuff, but as soon as they put a fucking 4/4 beat on the back of it, it’s no good at all. A purely commercial move.

On Ain’t No Saint, you announce one song as being about trying to remain a scholar and a gentleman in a world of backstabbers.

[Big laugh] Yes, sounds like me! I probably was a trifle the worse for wear, because I wouldn’t have the courage to say that most of the time. But I still feel that’s true now. The industry’s rife with backstabbers, and they always have their legal eagles working behind them. It’s just a really easy area to scam people in. And I don’t like that.

But you managed to come through with the scholar and gentleman intact?

I do believe I have, strangely enough, yeah – to the best of my ability. I’ve been fallible. But in general I think I’ve been a good example. A lot of people in the industry don’t like me because I’ve grassed them up for being charlatans and shysters, and bad players. I don’t in general like the industry, I never did. On a lot of levels it’s nasty. I’m far too old to even think about stuff now.

Source HERE

DAILY MIRROR INTERVIEW ( original source )