Friday, 5 September 2014


I seem to be on an autobiographical trajectory at the moment. This week's poem describes a conversation I had back in 1978.
You need a little background if you are not familiar with the work of John Martyn, a singer/songwriter who made his first album in 1968. He was a phenomenal guitarist and a big live draw, this popularity, though, was never translated into chart success. 
In 1970 he was hired to play on a proposed solo album by Beverly Kutner. They married and the album, Stormbringer! was credited to John and Beverley Martyn. It is an excellent record. After a nearly as good second album John returned to playing solo.
In 1977 Island Records released One World, an attempt to introduce John Martyn to a wider audience, though critically praised, it did not achieve the desired break through. By this point their marriage was also in difficulty. It was around that time that they separated. I my opinion One World was the last of the truly great records that he would release. 
I used to see him live every chance I got, catching him as many as four times on the same tour.

John Martyn's Blues

Your private life is tragic,
but you've only got yourself to blame,
the drink and the drugs don't help,
save to amplify every negative thought.
Anyway, here you are,
the latest stop on a perpetual tour,
to advertise a record which isn't doing very much.

Then I walk up and in my innocence tell you
that on the back cover of a seven year old lp,
you and your wife look blessed.

You say nothing, your eyes tell a story
I would decipher as I grew older.
What did I know,
or rather what would I discover later?
She's had enough of you, thrown you out,
in your head you are writing the break up album.

Here, in Liverpool, someone is envying your life.

That's it.
Here he is live from 1978. Enjoy

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