I have always loved the ordinary things, finding beauty in them, things like string. Here is an early attempt of one of my early poems …I had written song lyrics and then in the Early 1980s took courage and began to write..Until last year, it has remained a hidden thing… I have an extract below from The Singers Tale. Out now.
My Belt today. I still wear it, what a bargain!
A Track from my first stay in Crocket California
Extract From The Singers Tale
Leaving for Nashville USA in the middle of July, her first international flight across the Atlantic, flying to the land of the music she loved, the home of Blues and Jazz, Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Miles Davis. Oh my God, and she would be singing in this America. She passed through Customs, she had really learned her lesson and learned it well; she was not going for third time lucky. The memory of the grilling in the disinfectant smelling room in Carmarthen Police Station with twenty pounds worth of good quality Moroccan Hash in her knickers was there in her head on every journey, and the trip to Sweden, the Van in the Port, the search and the Hashish in the collar of the very same Velvet Coat that she still wore.
Her legs were shaking as she dragged her suitcase into the Ladies Restroom. Sitting on the white plastic lavatory seat, she dropped her head onto her hands, her elbows onto her knees. It felt as if Sam was a planet away; across the universe, down in that valley in the shadows of the Prescelli Mountains. What was he doing?
She found Domestic Flights and on boarding the Plane, she took the offer of a packet of dry peanuts and a can of Coca-Cola gratefully, she was tired and hungry and very thirsty, the Coke was probably the best she had ever drunk in her life. Maybe they made it differently here or maybe America was the simply the right place to drink it. The Plane landed and the hot summer air of the American south washed over her as she waited for Bob to collect her.
He was driving a low slung red car of some sort or another, she was never good at naming cars, she had never learned to drive. The car had no air-conditioning, and by the time they had driven out of the city of Nashville, she was sweating and in need of a ‘washing and a ‘sleeping. Bob lived in a Bungalow about twenty miles to so out of town. A front Porch with a swinging seat. America, just how she had imagined it to be. He shared with the Pianist Bob Wilson. ‘This,’ he said, ‘your room while you’re here, it’s got a Water Bed, you’ll love it.’ And then he said, ‘Me and Wilson and have a session tonight; sort yourself, kitchen, food in the fridge over there. Shower there, the TV works like this.’ He punched a few buttons and the screen flickered into life; American life. The huge Fridge was almost as big as her kitchen in All Saints Road, full to the brim; huge cartons of processed milk, blocks of Monterey Jack Cheese that really tasted of nothing and felt like wax, vast tubs of Ice Cream and jars of Peanut Butter. Frozen for a moment, her body still throbbing as if she was still in the air, that shower curtain scene in Psycho all those years ago, running down a country lane, with her feet on fire. Here she was in scary America, Chain Saw Massacre. They all had guns, didn’t they?
She sat on the bed for a while, a nap, she thought. She felt seasick as the motion of the water in the Rubber Mattress rolled underneath her, seasick and miles from the sea somewhere outside Nashville. She must have slept but in her dreams, a galloping cast gathered. The Lone Ranger, a stabbing knife, red blood, a drowning man, the Slug Man? She woke up suddenly, feeling utterly lost, as the bed undulated underneath her.
The plan was, a week’s rehearsal in the house, the front room converted into a rehearsal space, then to record the album in the following week, back to London for overdubs and the mixing. The next day she met the band, Kenny Buttrey who was in Neil Young’s Band and had played on all of the Nashville Bob Dylan sessions and Joan Baez, the names were a list of some of America and Canada’s finest. Mack Gayden, songwriter, and Guitarist with JJ Cale and Dylan, on and on it went; Tommy Cogbill, Christ, had recorded with Elvis and had arranged some tracks for Aretha Franklin and been on the road with Elvis.
Ron Cornelius and Bob Wilson had worked with Earl Scruggs and Slim Harpo, and here they were setting up in the room just outside her bedroom. The little bitty one skin American grass joints were being rolled, Coffee was on the hob, and in a moment, in a very small moment, she would have to open her mouth and sing in front of a man who had played the Bass for Elvis, should she run now? It was fine, all the Songs were good. Bob had chosen one of Dave Skinner’s songs, the rest were from the Nashville guys, including Bob Johnson and JJ Walker and one from Bill Withers.
First song up was, ‘The Taxes on the Farmer feeds us all’ a Traditional song.‘Well, the banker says he’s broke and the merchant stops and smokes.’ But they forget that it’s the farmer that feeds them all. It would put them to the test if the farmer took a rest.
Her child may as well be on Venus or Mars; he was so far away was Glandwr in the farming valleys of the Tywi, Cothi, Teifi, Wendraeth, and Taf in South West Wales; names from an ancient world, worlds away from a town of Neon lights and Diners with red banquets and silver chrome. She ate eggs, grits, biscuits and gravy, and pecan pie.
Crocket California. Down the Bank, over the tracks. A Shack in the River… Jon Sagin Karen Devoto and my little Sam