Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Does the world need another Peel sharing blog ? You bet your bum it does...
I'm going to be posting some Festive 50's here, of course, but first, Billy Bragg:

I first heard Billy on John's show, in a muddy field in Herefordshire, way back when. I was picking apples at the time. I can even remember the tune, it was A13, Gateway to the South, and I think it may well have been Billy's first session for Peel, which probably means his first radio appearence anywhere.
I can remember thinking, "Hmm, solo bloke playing an angry guitar & singing - excellent, but there can't be a lot of mileage in it". Of course I was completely wrong, and a couple of weeks ago, some twenty-something years after I first heard him, I found myself sitting in St. David's Hall, Cardiff, part of an adoring crowd watching Billy thrash his guitar in anger, and singing his heart out - and loving every minute of it.
But of course, that was the genius of Peel - he could spot something brilliant light years before the rest of us caught on. How I miss him...

Confession time (no1). I went to Peel's funeral.
I have never had any truck with the repulsive circus that is today's Cult of Celebrity (Big Brother lovers, leave NOW), and at the time of John's funeral, I was not a well man (OK, let's get this out of the way now - I have been suffering from ME/CFS for a little over four years; I'm a lot better now, but still not rudely healthy). So attending a funeral across the other side of the country (I live in S.Wales), was roughly the equivalent to a 'normal' person running a marathon up Everest, wearing wellies filled with cold treacle. I went with a friend who also has ME, and we queued for a couple of hours, and just as we got to the door of the cathedral, they stopped letting people in. I didn't care. They could have hung me from the rafters, I just had to be there.

There was a wonderful atmosphere, and an audience as eclectic as John's music itself, everyone swapping tales of what John had meant to them. I stood next to a guy who had raced in the TT, who found out during the course of the converstation with the complete stranger next to him, that he had raced with the guy's dad, (or somesthing like that). There was this incredible feeling of community there; folks who had no more in common than a love of Peel - and that's really all you needed. You know that feeling, like at the end of a rave, when everyone's all loved up and grinning like twats ? Like that but without the gurning and the cramps.

Confession 2: Billy Bragg makes me cry. Songs like Levi Stubbs Tears, World Turned Upside Down, Valentine's Day and Brickbat get me every time, I have to listen to them in private. Just listening to him talk (and God knows he loves to do that!) on a recording I have of a Joe Stummer tribute gig he did, has me reaching for the snot rag (you can get the recording at http://tinyurl.com/gmwpn ).
Anyway, a few weeks ago, I went to see Billy at St. David's Hall, Cardiff with a minidisc recorder tucked down my pants, and here's the result. I know BB has a 'open-source' policy about recording his gigs, but I was worried the goons at St. Davids might not be quite so enlightened and confiscate the MD recorder, which I'd borrowed from work. Apologies for the quality - cheesy little stereo mic, big hall acoustics etc. And like a pillock, I only took one disc with me, so I didn't get the encore, which was an absolute stormer, but hey, it's better than nowt.
And, Billy - gutted to hear about the BNP getting in down in your neck of the woods mate, but we'll see the bastards off again, eh ? Hope, not Hate.



Blogger domestic empire said...

There can NEVER too many sites dedicated our John :)

Welcome to the fold JollyRogered!

2:07 am  

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