I am ssooo looking forward to Friday. After having experienced a concert by one of the most talented songwriters in the world last week, this Friday means another night spent in the presence of one of the world’s best songwriters yet again! How spoiled am I?
Neil Finn – in my opinion – does not get anywhere NEAR the recognition he deserves for his songwriting. He’s fucking AMAZING! And he sounds exactly the same as he did 30 years ago.
I can’t believe it has taken me THIS LONG to go and see Crowded House. Rescheduled, and rescheduled again thanks to old ‘Rona – the day is almost upon us.
I hope – in the strictest of acoustic terms – they sound as good as SM sounded at the Hydro back in early April. I’m hoping the Hydro doesn’t let me down with this one…or CH’s sound engineer for that matter.
And I REALLY hope they play this on Friday night. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
It’s been my earworm on and off for the past two weeks.
I think I’m going to need to take a few tissues with me on Friday.
We’re having a bit of a train timetable crisis in Scotland at the moment with services running on sparse timetables. Around a week before this gig I looked at the train timetable to see when the last train from Waverley station back to Queen Street would be. The last service last night was at 10.15pm – too early for it to be practical for me to get, let alone even go to the gig at all, in all honesty. A stay overnight was out of the question. Too short notice which meant it would be too pricey and I really shouldn’t have to be spending the night in Edinburgh – not coming from Glasgow! (I’d travel a similar distance from Luton to see shows and gigs in London and NEVER stayed in London.)
I thought a coach too and back was going to incur a similar cost as the coach to Edinburgh airport, but of course the companies have to stick on a 60% markup on fares to take you to/from an airport – happens the world over. I was pleasantly surprised that a coach to Edinburgh was only £3.60 each way so I decided the coach would do it. There were coaches leaving every 30 minutes from around 9.30pm so I knew I wouldn’t get stranded.
I caught the coach at 4.15pm and arrived at Princes Street at around 5.30pm. It was a smooth journey. There was one rather worrying element early on. There was a stop just outside greater Glasgow where the M8 and M73 converge near Bargeddie and the driver seemed not to be able to take the coach out of the lower curb resting position – as if the hydraulics to lift the suspension back up had jammed. My heart began to sink. Although I had allowed for some time in case of jams or suchlike, I didn’t take into account time for a total coach breakdown! After a few minutes the hydraulics on the coach seemed to work again and we were off. Apart from that scare, the journey went without a hitch.
I had time to meander to the venue. I had 90 minutes to get there. I arrived there just after 6pm and just had a wander about the area. I had sod-all money and had hardly anything to eat, just enough to keep me going. I was quite thirsty but didn’t want to spend out on a drink so I bought myself an apple which was crisp and juicy enough to act as both thirst-quencher and stomach-filler. It had been in the chiller and was quite cold so it was very refreshing. I sat in a nearby park, enjoying the sun and watching the goings on around the park whilst eating the apple.
Doors opened to the venue at 7pm and I joined a small queue that was forming a few minutes before the hour. We were promptly let in. I spent a penny in the gender neutral(!) loos (which does feel a bit strange when you’re walking into the space and men are there washing their hands), then took my seat.
I was glad to have arrived as promptly as I had done as Webb’s support act, Ashley Campbell (Glen Campbell’s daughter, no less) started her support set right on 7.30pm. I really enjoyed her set a lot. I will freely admit my prejudice to country music but I was so moved by her performance. She has a very sweet voice and she’s a very natural and modest performer. Her accompaniment was a man named Thor Jensen who has his own album out. He had great harmonies with Ashley and they performed really well together. The lyrics to the songs she performed were just lovely and I cried several times, esp. at the end when she performed a song called Remembering about her dad and about how the Altheimers ravaged his ability to remember things. It was really poignant and beautiful. In the footage below, Ashley and Thor perform Tom Waits’ Long Way Home. I think I can say I had an epiphany and am now a fan of Ashley Campbell after last night.
Jimmy Webb arrived on the stage at 8.30pm to a very warm round of applause. It was a crowd of country music fans, as well as Jimmy Webb fans. A thoroughly appreciative crowd and Webb certainly did not disappoint, leading straight off with a rendition of Galveston.
It was quite a 50/50 split between music performance and conversation piece. Webb is quite the story-teller and has many tales to tell. He talked about his upbringing (some of which I captured on film) in Oklahoma (and like a few other people I know who grew up or lived in Oklahoma) which he compounded the general consensus about Oklahoma is the roads out of there! Lol. He talked about his early success, Grammy award nominations and wins, working with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and, of course, Glen Campbell. He had quite a few political views too, which he didn’t shy away from discussing. He talked about how Wichita Lineman came about, a spontaneous meeting with Louis Armstrong, Kenye West knicking a song of his to put down Taylor Swift (Jimmy was NOT happy about that!). He cracked a lot of jokes. There was quite a lot of humour and in between a fantastic repertoire of songs.
It’s quite the catalogue and he only performed a small selection of them. He’s an accomplished pianist. Is he a great singer? Well, no – by his own admission. He is a songwriter and he’s 75 (looking good for it though, it has to be said). It was a thoroughly entertaining evening.
About two thirds of the way through the show, during a quiet lull in the show, someone called out ‘P.F. Sloan, Jimmy!’ Webb’s retort, ‘Hang on a minute. I’m thinking.’ Then another person calls out. ‘Okay. I heard you the first time. Give me a minute. Let me figure something out here.’ After a few minutes talking about how the song came about, he then went into it as requested. Whoever that person was that called out the request, kudos to you because it became the highlight of the show for me.
I had to check the time now and then. As it drew closer to 10.30 I started to become mindful of how much time I’d need to get back to the Royal Mile and to the coach station for home. I had booked the 11.30pm coach back. Just after 10.40pm I decided to make my move. Webb just started with MacArthur Park and as reluctant as I was to leave before the end of the show, I knew I had to leave now. I spent another penny and off I went.
I had a mile long walk to go, alone, in a quieter area of Edinburgh and I was BRICKING IT! I contemplated grabbing a bus to get me back to Princes Street but I thought by the time I wanted for one to come by, etc, etc, I was best off just to keep pushing on. I get to Waverley station and have to go down that bloody staircase. Down, down, down. Then I cut through Waverley station itself and then get to the escalators taking you out the the other side to see that the ones higher up the staircase aren’t working. Oh, great! It’s 11.23 by the time I get to Princes Street and I still have about a quarter of a mile to go to get to the bus station. When I finally get to the bus station, my coach is right at the end of the bays! I can barely walk anymore. I get to the coaches’ step at 11.27! I’m then grappling with my phone to find my ticket to show to the driver. I take a seat at 11.29 – feeling as if I’ve just run a marathon – but I made it! Thirsty as hell and no drink at all but I made the coach and I was heading home. I had money left for a taxi back home from Buchanan bus station. It was all good.
“He don’t say much. He’s bored with the fans.“ – it’s how it feels anyway. And if I hear one more “he’s a busy man” excuse, I’ll scream! Because…HE IS ALWAYS BUSY! He is Jim fucking Kerr – apart from me using “fucking” just now – “busy” is his middle name – for want of him actually having one (a middle name, that is).
Even at his most busiest, back in time…back to those halcyon days I REALLY need to move on from that have well and truly died and aren’t coming back any time soon, it seems – he would reply to people. Not just me!
The slow death of the visitor wall just kills me. He actually used to seem to take a vested interest in what people were posting to the visitor wall. Like certain things and even respond to people there. If someone had a question about the music or lyrics and he felt keen enough to, he’d respond to people there.
I mean, heck…without his interest there, the whole “art” thing of mine would have NEVER happened. I almost feel like I want to bang his head against a wall just…so he can see how important this aspect of the fandom is to some fans. It goes beyond the music! You inspire so many of us, Jim! When you respond to people it…here’s a favourite word of yours – it TRANSCENDS mere “music and listener”, mere “songwriter and fan”, mere “singer and swooning ninny”. Lol
And I miss it. Not just for me, but for other fans too!
A case in point: last night on SMOG, a fan asked about Today I Died Again – whether it was about domestic violence – quite how they reached that theory I do not know entirely (I guess just from the interaction that happens between the lead couple within the song lyric?) but I shared what I felt was my interpretation of it, and linked to my post on “Why I love…” about it.
Another fan later replied with a quote from Dream Giver Redux with this excerpt: “This song’s reincarnation theme was inspired from Jim’s reading of the Bhagavad Gita.”
Really? Okay, well the only thing that actually alludes to reincarnation within the song IS the title itself and the singing of it – and maybe the line of “back to a year, back to a youth” – even then, that’s tenuous. Also, I am not sure about whether Jim would have read Bhagavad Gita at that point. I am sure he said he first read the book in 1982 in a recent post (recent being…within the past couple of years). I know it subsequently became a much favoured book of his. As a consequence I tried reading the book. I didn’t get very far with it to be honest. I basically read this whole preamble about the book’s translation which was quite a few pages long (about 40, if memory serves). It just felt too taxing in the end. The only thing that stuck was the gained knowledge of learning it was a source of inspiration for Gandhi, which I find beyond perplexing that one of the world’s great pacifists was inspired by a book about war. Well…at least had a scene of battle as its main focal point.
Today I Died Again is penned in 1980, obviously, so I would think that predates Jim reading Bhagavad Gita? Perhaps I have my info wrong and he did indeed read it back then? I still see little evidence of the influence of the book on the song. But perhaps that’s just my interpretation of it?
Anyway, (sorry, I went off researching, and now I feel as if I have worked on this post for much longer than I intended to)…back to the fan enquiry and pondering of the song.
There would be a time, not that long in the past, in which I would have said “you could ask Jim – he might give you a reply. Who better to ask?” And that’s where I return to the special! Being able to ask the man who wrote those amazing lyrics. Okay, he may not have always replied even when I came into the fandom, even to me, but there was a heck of a lot better chance of a response six years ago than there is now! And it really, REALLY saddens me.
I was about to go off on another angry rant but…I guess I just need to give up. “No one likes a quitter”. Well, great then. No one will ever like me. Stellar. I can live with it. When you feel you’ve done all you can and you’re getting nowhere, you have to “embrace the suck” and just…walk away, I guess? Am I right, Jim?
Perhaps it is better we all ponder it amongst ourselves? There was a time, pre-Internet, where we’d had little choice to do so. The fans wouldn’t be interacting with each other as we do now. There’s no way we could pose a question to you like that unless there was luck and/or special circumstances. We wrote to you (old fashioned “snail mail” style) and you took the time to reply. Or we’d have thought to ask you backstage, had we been lucky to see you after a gig. Back then I’d guess you’d have been very reluctant to share or offer up such tokens of openness anyway. “Interpret them as you see fit.”
Admittedly, that is the beauty of your songwriting – particularly back then. Just how much they could be open to interpretation. Your very own Burroughs technique. “I’ve always liked ambiguities and fragments and things with a bit more of a mystery to them”, you said in an interview for Dutch TV in 1983.
“Out of the mouth of babes“ – and what a babe! Lol. (Yep. I’ll never stop adoring you, you gorgeous man. Fuck, I’m a hopeless case!)
So…what exactly IS Today I Died Again about? You can search for my “Why I love” piece on it and see what you think. I may just read over it again myself and see of my idea about it has changed.
“She can’t remember before the heat” – bloody hot flushes, hey hen?! Lol
Billy Sloan when presenting his weekly Saturday night show for BBC Radio Scotland has a theme every week, as part of listener participation. This week it was who do you think is the greatest songwriter/lyricist and an example of two lines that you believe perfectly encapsulates their prowess.
Now, whenever I mention SM my things usually get overlooked, so I tend to choose other things. But this week I was ADAMANT that I was going to plumb for Jim. Other than Bowie, Jim is my absolute lyrical god! It is why I do the art that I do. It all started from wanting to show his lyrical talent. Yes, there are others I love too. And had I said Bryan Ferry or John Grant, I’m sure my nominations would have been read out…but because I chose Jim? Nada!
Well…you don’t get an Ivor Novello award for nowt!
And Jim sounds kind of dismissive of how Simple Minds used to write songs because “We didn’t know how to write songs. We didn’t know any songwriters.” Well, good! Because you were fabulous and unique and it made you stand out from the crowd!
I’m going to be a little disparaging now and say that *I*, personally, wish you hadn’t “found the formula” in some ways. Because now most SM songs are “verse – chorus – verse – chorus” and I miss things like Citizen and Careful In Career and Capital City….and other songs that don’t start with “C”. Lol. I miss that unorthodox structure.
Twist/Run/Repulsion – so good, you wrote bloody lyrics TWICE OVER for it! Lol. Who writes a song like Twist/Run/repulsion now? No one! Not even you yourself, Jim!
So, yeah…I’m sure I was laughed out of town by anyone else seeing my comment on the Billy Sloan Show FB page…but FUCK IT! You guys just don’t know fucking genius when you see it! I do!
Oh, and he still writes fab…don’t get me wrong! I just kinda wish it didn’t seem quite so…formulaic sometimes, that’s all. He can still surprise. A song like Utopia is a prime example. Silent Kiss too. The structure of those two, in particular, hark back to the former Kerr style of songwriting. As long as they are still there. As long as he can still surprise…while also being masterful at “the formula”, he’ll always have my vote.
Anyway, I don’t really know what this post is about other than me just doing a fist-shake at Billy for snubbing my suggestion of Jim.
Yes! He’s busy and can’t read everyone’s suggestions out! But one guy had suggestions read out FOUR TIMES last night!
I will ALWAYS fight your corner, Jim. I know you don’t need it…but I will fight it anyway. I don’t tell you much these days how fucking amazing you are as a songwriter…not in so many words…I always hope the art conveys that. I tell you enough I adore you and think you’re hot AF! Lol. But…getting down to brass tacks. The thing I admire you for, love you for the most is those words. The songwriting. The visual cinemascope you put into every Simple Minds song you add words to.
Just…wow! I could see it play out, just the way he described it. The street scene of him avoiding his grandfather and the notion of yet another dressing down.
I could see this little man, tough as nails looking…but also looking quite frail and vulnerable at the same time (well, Jim’s only clue on how his grandfather looked was to say he was short…my mind’s eye filled in the rest). Also on the road walking along from the opposite direction, a young punk – not the traditional sense of a punk. Just, a roguish teen. Seeing that boy spot the older man ahead, his face turning ashen with a mix of anguish and despondency. Quickly taking evasive action not to be seen – hastily crossing the road. The older man walks on, deep in his own thoughts, none the wiser the young man just avoided him.
The first tragedy.
The second being the return back to the young punk and the expression on his face now being one that is forlorn, regretful. Fleeting the expression is, though, for he then moves on.
Jim…you write so beautifully. Not just lyrics…but in every way you express yourself. If your grandfather can (as we all love to take solace in believing) see you from wherever his soul or spirit exists…he will definitely be proud of…not just the career you made for yourself, but of the beautiful person you are. No hyperbole.
The YouTube clip is for the Bowie song Win…which I have always taken to be a melancholic piece. Maybe it’s the sound of it…the way David sings it…in a remorseful, regretful voice…it’s not until towards the end of the track, with those emphatic “ALL YOU’VE GOT TO DO IS WIN…ALL YOU’VE GOT…IS ALL YOU’VE GOT!” And that final fading backing vocal sweep of “ain’t overrrrrrrr” where it finally becomes uplifting.
“Secret thinker sometimes listening aloud
Life lies dumb on its heroes
Wear your wound with honor, make someone proud”