Tuesday, 8 March 2011
30 Day Song Challenge - Day Six ... Your favourite band
I am well behind now on this. But hey, no problem. I'll just do what I always do and plough on regardless. ;)
I'm not sure if my choice counts as a favourite band. "Band" implies "all parts equal" or at least "all parts necessary" to me. But quite honestly, the other musicians in the band with the man from which this band takes its name could have been replaced by any other competent musicians (sorry, guys) and it would not have matter one iota to me. I would have to settle for favourite artist instead.
I first heard of this artist when I was in my late teens. I saw him in a film that had been out a few years by then, had a bit of a "Hello NURSE !" moment, and at the time had no idea that he pretty much played himself in the movie - this was a time when the internet was not available to the likes of me so the only way of gaining information on artists or celebs was through tv or the newspapers, or writing away to a person's fan club. However a troll of the local HMV's cd section turned up his first album, and off we went down the road of fandom.
Apart from the fact that I have to admit to a large measure of lust at first sight (I like 'em blond and I like 'em blind, it seems, which wouldn't surprise anyone who knows my fiance ;) ) I was pretty blown away by the talent of the man. I have been accused of only liking this artist because he is blind and being visually impaired myself, it seems some sighted peeps assume we will all cling together (us blindos) in some sort of incestuous mass where we only appreciate other visually impaired people. Which is plainly bullshit. And I wasn't visually impaired when I first became a fan - that was a housebrick that the bicycle of my life would hit somewhat further down the road.
Anyway - big fandom here. I never did get to see him live (Darryl did, the lucky git). I'm mostly a fan of his blues rock stuff (though I have heard his jazz material, and like it), and when he died in March 2008 I was genuinely bereft. To be honest I am still. I recognise that unless you meet a person, you can never really know them (and even if you have met them and feel you know them, some people you can never really know at all.) But the musician - the good musician - bears their soul every time they play. Why do we make music in the first place ? To show the world what we are thinking and how we feel. Perhaps this is why I like the blues the most. If one genre can be said to be primarily about the state of your soul, it's the blues. These days blues is a broader genre than it was in years gone by, and often this artist sat on the edge of the genre with his feet sticking more into rock than blues (IMHO). He often said that he did not look kindly upon his earlier work (despite that being the more commercially successful) and that he preferred to be an interpreter of other people's songs than writing his own. I get that entirely. But whatever he did, it still speaks to me. And I am extremely sad that the man is no longer among us and that we will never hear anything new from him. All that talent, all that life, all that joy - all gone. From the tear inducing song ("Rachel's Song") about his daughter (even more heart wrenching now that he is no longer around) and the brave choice of Diane Warren's "I Tried" (string-y ballad which one might expect to find covered on The X Factor), to the utterly brilliant "See The Light" and the total ye-haw joy of his version of "Jambalaya", whatever the man did was fine by me. There is nothing I have heard from him that I didn't like. Not one thing. I never got to see him live but the footage of his concerts and interviews show not only his guitar genius, but his easy stage presence and his wry sense of humour too.
I could go on all day (really) but I should get around to picking my favourite tracks. I'll be here all week if I start to really think about it so I am going to pluck two off the top of my head and be done with it. The first is a live for tv version of the title track from the "See The Light" album. This shows the man at his best I think - utterly unencumbered as a stage performer by his blindness as people often blind from birth often are. Watching him play the guitar .... swoon. Had I ever got the chance in years gone by, I would have climbed all over him like a vine. Ahem...
The second is "Rachel's Song", from the album "Get Me Some". Ignore the addition of someone else's visuals - it's the only online version I could find of the song. Just turn your screen off and listen.
For the uninitiated, may I present to you the late and extremed lamented Jeff Healey.