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solo

 

On the topic of guitar solos, I missed out on all that guitar-hero nonsense of the 60s and 70s. I’ve never been too impressed with masturbatory fret-fiddling of the kind practiced by a lot of guitarists. I do like Bluesbreaker-era Clapton, and Experience-era Hendrix, but beyond that, I think, well that was sixty years ago, can we have something different now?

I don’t think we can – Rock Guitar has become a heritage industry. If I do have guitar heroes, it’s Neil Young for this, and Robert Fripp for this. But both these tracks are 30-40 years old.

To be fair, I do like a bit of Johnny Greenwood, though he’s not so much a guitar-hero as a composer, but even this track is from 15 years ago.

 

lineman

 

Some things are just true.

For example: Wichita Lineman is the greatest love song of the 20th century.

It combines some of my favourite things (apart from being a great love song), that is, it’s about an ordinary working man with extraordinary feelings for the woman he loves, and the song itself is flawed, being incomplete when it was recorded by Glen Campbell.

Jimmy Webb had sent the song to Campbell for him to try it out, but he hadn’t finished the third verse, so the version Campbell got only contained two verses. Apparently Jimmy Webb called Campbell to ask what he thought, and when Campbell told him he liked it so much he’d already recorded it, Webb spluttered, ‘I haven’t finished it yet. There’s no third verse!’

It doesn’t matter. No one misses what was never there. It is simply the greatest love song of the 20th century. Oh, and it has the greatest, simplest guitar solo of all time.

The Campbell version aside, I love this live version from Elbow too. Guy Garvey always sings in his own accent, of which I totally approve.

 

dirt bike

 

Took Angus to Herra Park, which is an old colliery that has been landscaped with paths and greenery and children’s playing areas. It has ponds, ducks, geese, swans. Very nice. As we walked along a kid of about sixteen on a dirt bike approached the gate we’d just stepped through. I held it open for him.

‘Been running?’ he asked, spotting my shoes, shorts and t-shirt.

‘Can’t run nowadays,’ I said. ‘Not since I injured my knee. Where you off?’

‘Going up to the skate park to give the kids something to aspire to.’

‘Show me a wheelie,’ I said, and he did, squirting his little two-stroke motor and pulling the front wheel off the ground as he sped across the grass.

His bike was a wreck, and his helmet looked ancient. He wore no protective gear, just sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt. I thought he was great. Some of the mums tutted as he passed them on the road, smoke and noise billowing from the engine, but I knew, I just knew, that if one of their kids went into a pond, that sixteen year-old kid would be the first one in to save it.

There’s a charming, beautiful, recklessness about working class lads. The same lads who might cause a riot at three in the morning would leap into action to save a dog trapped in a car in a heatwave, would jump into the sea to save a kiddie from drowning, would protect even a strange woman from some weirdo’s unwanted attentions. They’re the same lads who volunteered for the Great War at sixteen, who gave the French the finger back in 1415, and who stay up all night drinking cheap lager and playing loud music on council estates all across the country, keeping the neighbourhood awake.

I love them.

 

 

 

terms

 

“The idea is for the author to write on his or her own terms. That’s my idea of how an author should write. And I do it myself, with passion, on my own terms.”

Nassim Taleb.

 

revise

 

Working with Lucas to revise this website.

We’re going to make it more phone-friendly. This means a complete format change, which probably includes losing this blog. I got my first publishing contract from a blog, the same year as Apple produced the first iPhone. They’re now onto the iPhone 13, and no doubt working on 14 & 15 as we speak.

Time for a revamp.

 

swing bridge

 

Spent the morning on the Quayside with Lishman.

The Sage was closed, the Baltic cafe is pleasant but can only manage instant coffee, so we crossed the footbridge over to Newcastle and found a takeaway cafe, sat beneath and to one side of the Swing Bridge, right on top of the riverside footpath, and discussed life, and how to be in this strange world.

If we ever find an answer, I’ll pass it on.

 

heatwave

 

Looks like the heatwave has almost passed. But it gives me yet another excuse to play this:

(and yes, it is.)

 

mood swing

 

It seems to me that our current immersion in technology is analogous to the gin craze of the 18th century. Whether grain-based alcohol or the iPhone, we hairless apes just like to step outside of ourselves.

 

 

shorts

 

I was flicking through my short stories and realised there are a lot still not on the site. It’s a while since I wrote any shorts, so they kind of dropped off the radar. The other thing I need to do is look again at the covers/blurbs etc. of the books I have for sale.

I’m working on something right now, but then I have a gap before I start on the next project, so I might address all the admin issues in between.