Here comes everything.
During the summer, or those months that once were summer, there’s an exhausting daily parade of newness. Leaves, shoots, fledglings, lambs. The shrubs, once again, just like last year, are unspoiled. The bracken, the brambles, the primroses; the creeping buttercup; it never stops. The onward push of All.
It was this time of year, a couple years ago, that I met Andrew Hawkey. He approached me after a local gig and announced, we have things to talk about.
He was right. We did and we still do.
It was Andrew who first played me John Stuckey.
John Stuckey is perfect July music; a record that, like summer growth, is both new and the same. We’ve heard it all before and yet it’s brand new; the piano intro, the acoustic guitar, the organ, the flute, the regret, the endless stream of days. A new leaf on an old tree. As Larry Jon Wilson once told me: Nothing I can tell you that you don’t already know.
Early in the morning when the sunshine comes rolling in my window, and I’m alone – I lift my bones and fix a pot of coffee, and have a cup…
A couple months after hearing this song for the first time, I got an email (about John Stuckey) from Andrew: You’ll recall that on the album cover he’s very ornately tattooed: that’s the line of business he was (and may well still be) in. He has quite a reputation in Houston as a tattooist. And there’s a Frank Zappa CD called EIHN (short for Everything Is Healing Nicely), which was posthumously released in 1999 – the final track, no. 13, is called ‘Wonderful Tattoo’, and the song’s lyrics, written in the character of a man who has had his penis tattooed in Houston by John Stuckey (he’s clearly named!), explain that he’s planning to return to have it (the tattoo) extended to even more intimate areas of his lower region.
So give John Stuckey a listen. He’ll tell you what you need to know. He’ll creep right up beside you and whisper: here we are – doing the same old things in new ways.
Jeb will be among the guests appearing on our stage at the Open East Festival taking place in London on Saturday 27 July.