It’s the title of the John Martyn tribute album. This track has become my constant earworm over the last week or so.
It is simply superb.
The John Martyn song is one of the most covered on Youtube – mainly down to the intricate guitar work. This rather good version is from the Bombay Bicycle Club who deserve congrats if only for naming their band after their local Indian Carry Out.
“Are you into John Martyn?” asked my friend Stevie as we shared a couple of beers. It was 1992
Before I’d had the chance to reply “he’s ok, I can take or leave him”, a red and yellow coloured Memorex cassette (remember them?) was pressed into my hand. Stevie had taped his new album “Couldn’t Love You More” for me.
It turned out that John had recorded this album as a retrospective. It contained updated versions of his old songs and had the benefit of more modern production. Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour guested on guitar on a couple of tracks as did *coughs* Phil Collins on backing vocals.
I love this album. Although the feel is probably a bit cocktail jazz it is a superb album to put on late at night and just chill out to.
For years I couldn’t get a copy of the CD. Apparently John wasn’t happy with it and had first tried to prevent its release and then successfully managed to stop any further copies being released.
Not until 1997 in a second-hand record shop in a back street in Amsterdam (accompanied by my wife I hasten to add) did I finally get the prize of a CD copy of the album.
John’s reticence about selling the album had obviously changed in his final months because it was on sale at the November 08 gig we went to see. We even bought another copy because the first one was threatening to melt or end up as a pile of dust so often was it played.
Of course we have a fairly comprehensive collection of JM discs now and some of them (most of them) are undoubtedly better than Couldn’t Love You More but Couldn’t Love You More remains the most played and the one which sent both Mrs Bigrab and myself in JM’s direction.
I’m unable to upload audio tracks for the moment but I’ll upload something from the album hopefully tomorrow.
Edit: still having problems!
I remember one night going to a John Martyn gig at the Renfrew Ferry. Although the time on the ticket said 8:00 , by 9:45 there was no sign of him. We went outside to see if there was any sign of him arriving and sure enough there he was at the entrance in a considerably refreshed state. The venue manager was having kittens because the gig was supposed to be finished and everyone cleared by eleven.
As it turned out the bouncers were on overtime as John, clearly pissed and muttering crap jokes in between the songs, delivered a faultless set.
By the time we saw him in January 2007 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, John was confined to a wheelchair having had a leg amputated.
His weight had ballooned to over 23 stones.
Nonetheless I thought he delivered a pretty good show.
At one point in that gig John said “I’m fucked ladies and gentlemen. Sometimes at night I pray for death”
Despite this it was 22 months later when we saw John again at the same venue Click Here for my review of that gig just over a couple of months ago.
(quote from that review)
As he took a drink, one fan shouted ‘Is that water John?’ ‘Naw Bacardi!’ came the reply. John then went on to tell the tale of a (now departed) friend ‘He was drinking in a bar when his friend came in. ‘What’s this Ronnie? I though you were on the wagon’ he said. ‘It’s gin and tonic – great for helping you to mind your own business! Would you like some?’
‘Some people are crazy
Some people are just plain good
Some people talk wouldness and couldness
Some people don’t do as they should.’
Having seen John on his last tour, I was left concluding that it could well have been his last tour. However despite his continually deteriorating health, he’s back at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Monday and Mrs Bigrab and I are all set.
Click Here for a superb video of John and Eddi Reader singing ‘He got all the whisky’ (no embedding for this one)
With this one the viewer will be puzzled whether to laugh or cry. Phil Cunningham’s earnest style is really beyond parody. John has in various stages of his career spoken in broad Scots and almost received pronunciation. Here he does Russ Abbott ‘see you Jimmy’. All the stuff that Cunningham says is I suppose true from one side. However only by reading the John Martyn biog can one realise
what a bastard (and complete arse) the man can be that he has a more challenging side to his character (despite his obvious charm and warmth in a social idiom).
He sure makes sweet music though.
I’ve just started reading “Some People are Crazy” which is the authorised biography of John Martyn by John Neil Munro. He is a character who brings out strong reactions in people. He has undoubtedly treated many of his closest friends and family in a way they shouldn’t have been treated. He’s an alcoholic, a boor and wieghs over 20 stone. He lost a leg a few years ago due to drink related illness.
And yet he can write and perform a song all right, sometimes with a depth of sensitivity that can take your breath away. He was recently given a lifetime achievement award at the Radio 2 Music Awards. I saw him last year in Glasgow and despite his obesity and poor health he was still pretty damn good. Here he is from 1977 with the classic “I Couldn’t Love You More”