It has, here in Wales, for the past three weeks, rained. A steady plop-plop on the ash tree outside my window. The stream is up. The birds are suffering; it’s been the wettest summer on record. The berries and grains that make up their diet haven’t had sufficient sun to come good. The trees and hedgerows are bare.
I fill my feeders daily. Sometimes twice.
My friend calls from Missouri and tells me: the drought here is relentless. Never seen anything like it. No rain for months, nothing, not a drop. No relief in sight.
I tell him what my neighbour told me: they’ve buggered the jet stream.
They, being, according to my neighbour, in descending order of responsibility:
1. The English.
3. The youth.
5. That lot in Westminster.
I have, so far, escaped his wrath.
I also ask him this: do you remember that thrift store that used to be in the basement of the First Calvary Blood Of Christ Tabernacle?
Sure, he says. Everything you could fit into a bag for two dollars. Open Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.
That’s the place, I say.
Ten years ago I bought three records there. Life Lines by Wayne Carson, Home by Delaney and Bonnie, and this single by Ace Spectrum. I loved their track Don’t Send Nobody Else and hoped that this would be a similar up-tempo dancer.
I was, not for the first time, wrong.
This was something different. This was a meditation of grace and patience, a song that seemed to inhabit the same space as medieval plainsong or Gregorian chant. A song that said life is to be admired for it’s fragility and brittleness rather than it’s strength and power. That mobility is preferable to solidity.
I once asked a 75 year old musician how he managed to keep himself sane and healthy. He thought for a minute and said: every morning I just keep getting up.
I waited for more and he said, that’s it. That’s all there is. Just keep on getting up.
This song seems to say the same thing. I remember listening to it for the first time that afternoon. I put it on, listened, and played it again.
I played it all afternoon.
I still, when I need reminding, play it.
There are time when the world seems low
And there’s no where else you can go..
Moving on, moving on…
Jeb will be bringing his guitar and his songbook to our stage at Festival Number 6 on 15 September. You can also catch him at the next Caught by the River Social Club event, which is taking place in London on 8 October. Tickets for that one are on sale now.