After the intensity of snow, gales and rain, and of Christmas and the New Year……….. this was a mellow winter evening. We had a nicely rounded number of twelve spots and we began, as usual, with the host opening the evening. I started the session with a Joni Mitchell song ‘Urge for Going’, an atmospheric early song about winter from 1966, then in a very different style, a traditional Irish song that just rolls along: P Stands for Paddy.
Jane followed playing lap-slide and singing Santiago Blues, which is more of a walking song, relating, as it does, to those on the pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela. Her second song by ‘The Master’ (as she called him) was a Leonard Cohen song: Dance me to the End of Love.
Chris Martin followed and introduced us to his battered panda friend Panyan, with whom he shares a big birthday later in the year. Life’s a Race, his self-penned song about cycling ‘Life’s a race and the miles roll by …..’ was his first song, performing solo with guitar accompaniment. Keith Willson joined him with spoken words from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Nice words, very reflective: ‘The flower that has blown forever dies’.
Taking the stage alone, Keith went on to sing his song about Jesus, ‘Who’s that hippy in the picture’. He says he meant no disrespect, but he had Jesus buying a gun. Not the usual kind of song that gets sung about Jesus: ‘What happened to Jesus? …. Jesus just grew up’. He followed this cynical song with a love song called ‘The worst thing’ totally changing the mood.
Keith was still in demand (he’s a very versatile musician) and provided an improvised piano accompaniment to Simon on guitar singing ‘After you’ve gone’, first sung by Marion Harris in 1918. Simon gave Keith the chords, and with no previous rehearsal, they conjured up a nice jazzy version of the song. Music to smile to. Simon followed this with ‘Caledonia’, a Dougie MacLean song.
Kevin Jones, a newcomer and another songwriter chose not to sing his own material tonight, but sang ‘You’ve got a Friend’ written by Carole King and released on her first album Tapestry. James Taylor also released the song (which became a hit) as a single in 1971 and the song may well be more strongly associated with him than Carole. It suited Kevin’s voice as did ‘It Doesn’t Matter’, a Buddy Holly classic.
Jayne Ingles made one of her very welcome appearances this evening, singing Paul Simon's "Kathy's Song" ‘I hear the drizzle of the Rain’ … 'like a memory, a memory it falls'. She then gave her version of the classic ‘Summertime’.
Singing two of his own songs, Manus was next and gave us some technical background about 5-7s, a pattern of syllables. ‘Lightening in the Grease’ or the ‘devil on two sticks’, related to the Diabolo, a juggling device with a double-ended spinner operated with two sticks joined by a length of string. It is thought to have originated from an ancient Chinese yo yo and was first mentioned in the West in 1792. His second song ‘The Air Gap’ was all about painting ourselves into corners.
It was lovely to see Summer here for the first time. Accompanying herself on guitar and getting over some initial nervousness, her voice came through clear and strong as she sang the Dolly Parton song made famous by Whitney Houston ‘I will always love you’. She went on to sing one of her own compositions ‘Modern Day Prince Charming’ about her own aspirations for just the right man to arrive in her life: ‘When you took my hand, and we started to dance, I thought you were so cool ….’ I hope she joins us again soon.
Sylvie followed Summer and after an attempt to use the microphone, decided to abandon it, singing a personally significant song that compares the elation experienced at the first fall of snow with falling in love. Two romantic songs in succession in totally different styles from very different generations, but both so poignant.
George and Mary changed the mood again and sang ‘Little Old Drinker Me’ with lyrics that mused fondly over grapes growing in the California sun from the distant city of Chicago. They then sang the second Leonard Cohen song of the evening: ‘Tonight will be fine’, which reflects on a very intimate moment.
Clive brought the evening to a well-rounded close, singing only one song, for which Jane, Chris and myself were collected up and handed words for the chorus of ‘Goodbye Stranger’ by Supertramp. Released on their sixth album ‘Breakfast in America’ this was a far greater success for them in the USA than back here in the UK.
And so it was, we arrived at the end of another very enjoyable evening of varied material, including several musicians performing their own songs.
With endless gratitude for Simon setting up, Chris running the sound desk with Clive’s assistance and everyone who helped put the equipment away at the end of the evening.
See you next time.
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