The bottom line is love
Five posts in five days – I don’t normally manage five posts in five weeks. But tonight’s the night we welcome Martyn to BGBC, so I have been working against a deadline. But before I go onto today’s selection, just one quick story.
Late in 2015, I had tickets for my wife and I to see Martyn in one of his Cecil Sharp House gigs. Sadly, I was unable to attend and so my wife took our 8 year-old son. He was somewhat wriggly, so they sat on one of the wall seats right at the edge of the hall where he could wriggle around without disturbing anyone. At the start of the second half of the concert on his way onto the stage, Martyn saw our son and came over for a chat. Later in the gig, he kindly name-checked my son who still talks about it. For me, that says something about Martyn’s character. My son is somewhat disappointed that I didn’t choose I Searched For You in this collection of songs, but this is my choice.
Anyway, back to the music. Last year I was sixty. I must confess that I have found this transition more existentially demanding than I was expecting, but once again I am grateful that Martyn has gone ahead and provided me with a resource to aid me in the guise of his album 1960 released in 2021 (with the acoustic version following late last night).
Listening to the album again this morning, it feels like one of Martyn’s most personal albums (perhaps his most personal), where he is taking stock of where he has got to in life. As usual with Martyn it is multi-layered as you sense someone who is at ease with who he is, but who is also looking forward because he knows that he still hasn’t arrived. How long does it take for a man to know himself? he asks in the opening song, in my experience 60 years is not enough. Am I more alive now, than when I first began? he asks in the next song. Yet shining through these musings is love, not the ‘need you baby, want you baby, got to have you baby’ ‘love’ that Martyn used to rail against, but the love that makes a cup of tea. For me, the album’s theme is captured in that one line from the song Shadow Boxing, where he simply states:
The bottom line is love
So, one song to choose. I so nearly chose House where he is joined by Janis Ian, another one of my favourite singer-songwriters but in the end I’ve gone with Felt So Much, in which a memory of a childhood car journey becomes a meditation on life before ending where it began.
Love’s big wide universe
Felt like a heart could burst
Much more than I deserve
Draw closer my love
I have felt so much
Oh and if you are coming to BGBC tonight, keep an eye out for a 15 year-old boy who may well greet you at the gate. That would be my son.