by Jude Rogers April 2005, my first time in New York. Three months earlier, they were here, trying to make stitch and mend. Now I am here, after the knots of their marriage unraveled; trying not to think about what we are patching together back home; trying to find my own place in the city. On Broadway, Alex and Welsh Dan are arguing in a clothes shop, and I know I have to get out. I need some time alone. I leave, turn off the busy, bustling sidewalk, wriggle through yellow cabs, pretzel vendors and soapy launderette vents, and weave past NYU. And then, quite by chance, I find the record shop I’ve been looking for the past four days. The orange ‘Other Music’ sign smiles at me from West 4th Street, and its dusty door welcomes me in like an old friend.
Spotify list to accompany this article.
If we take a few first tentative steps into the whirling, fast moving stream of music of the last hundred years, perhaps the first rock of certainty that we tread upon, is that music, and especially lyrics, mirror the pace of life, even define, the era in which they are created.
The extremes take us from Ivor Novello’s word-heavy paean, in 1915, “Although your heart is breaking, make it sing this cheery song” to those left behind to stir the coals and keep the home fires burning – to Lady Gaga’s texted in, contemporary, lyrics “Eh, eh, Oh yeah, All I can say is eh”
by Terence Dackombe 1974. The Bonzos had split up four years earlier and Viv Stanshall was not only at a bit of a loose end, he was broke. One day, the agency for whom I worked, in that less than rock and roll environment of a mews in Paddington, found its rooms enveloped by a tall, eccentric looking, but immaculately dressed Stanshall. He wanted to go back on the road as a solo artist, but had neither a manager, nor any vague idea of what he would do if he found himself on stage. We took him on immediately.
Now I say he wanted to perform, but I was later to learn that it was, in fact, the very last thing on earth he wished to do.
How fine it would be if this part of the story (or any part of this story) had a happy ending. It doesn’t.
BEST ALBUM Rumer – Seasons Of My Soul
BEST SONG Rumer – Aretha
BEST LIVE ACT YOU SAW Wutars
BEST VINTAGE ALBUM YOU HEARD Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill