Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections: Ian Preece

Ian Preece | 30th December 2017

As the year draws to a close, we ask our friends and collaborators to look back on the past twelve months and share their significant moments. From Ian Preece:

Living with two 18-year-olds – I’ve had calmer years. I keep telling my mum she had it so easy with me – I may not have been so hot using the washing machine, but I did all that growing up when I left home to go to polytechnic. This year, my mother’s decided she’s going to spend Christmas alone with her dog. Maybe it’s something to do with mourning the passing of Don Williams. I guess we’ll head up there on Boxing Day, probably not in time to catch Forest v Sheffield Wednesday. That’s the thing with Christmas: all the kerfuffle. I used to go nuts for it when I was young, and with twins being born on Christmas Eve it’s been insane over recent years too. But childhood – it’s gone. So too had our central heating. As my mum said, ‘Last thing you need before Christmas is a new boiler.’ Which doesn’t half sound like a great 7-inch single on Ron Johnson Records.

An old favourite aunty died this year. The last time we saw her she had an impressive stack of red wine boxes and cans of bitter on her sideboard – and a refreshing easy come, easy go take on life. At least she can play an eternal game of gin rummy and sevens with her husband now.

Brexit – I can’t read another article about that. It’s becoming a smokescreen to hide all the other ills Theresa May presides over. The Grenfell Tower – how can this government look themselves in the mirror? Hopefully next year a Jeremy Corbyn administration will put the brakes on rampant self-interest.

So, it’s been a year of seeking out the transcendent! I couldn’t stop playing John and Alice Coltrane’s Cosmic Music, reissued by Superior Viaduct from 1968, in the summer; Mary Jane Leach’s, Pipe Dreams; Arvo Part’s, Für Alina; Music for Nine Postcards by Hiroshi Yoshimura; Jon Gibson’s Two Solo Pieces; a Sahel Sounds compilation, Agrim Agadez: Musique Guitare de La Républic du Niger; and The Hired Hands: a Tribute to Bruce Langhorne. We communed with the redwood trees in northern California, swam in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, just before the fog swept in, loved Portland (Mississippi records; Shelley Short on Kelley Point Park beach) and San Francisco (Stranded, Dog Eared Books).

Los Angeles is perhaps not somewhere you love, but it’s fascinating: everyone should drive on the 405 listening to F.J. McMahon, Acetone or Jim Sullivan (sadly I forgot my cd of UFO). I was part on holiday, part interviewing record label folk for a book on independent labels, and I feel massively humbled by the time people freely gave. I read Sam Shepard’s Motel Chronicles in full; next year, the Denis Johnson titles I haven’t yet got round to. After Dirty Work, more of Larry Brown too. Robert Forster’s Grant & I is just brilliantly written (as Kevin Pearce noted in these pages: full of grace, and full of life). And I finally got round to David Cavanagh’s Good Night and Good Riddance, the best book there is on John Peel.

Thanks to everyone who came to my 50th in our back garden. As Julianne Moore says, ‘It’s a privilege to age. You could be dead. Live music seems more necessary than ever: Jon Gibson at Café Oto; Jeff Parker at Ronnie Scott’s; Jaimie Branch at the Total Refreshment Centre, Dalston; Dylan Golden Aycock and the House and Land, the Old Dentist’s, Homerton; the Tindersticks do Minute Bodies, the Intimate World of F. Percy Smith at the Barbican; Marisa Anderson, Heavenly Social; Roy Montgomery, Café Oto.

Films of the year: Fat City; Paris, Texas; Heartworn Highways.

Just this last week I’ve been re-digging Laurie Spiegel’s The Expanding Universe and Karen Dalton’s beautiful 1966, and this year I finally picked up Augustus Pablo, ‘Satan Side’ on (translucent green 7-inch) vinyl. Feeling festive, I’ve managed to find a cheap(er) copy of Tokyo Flashback. As Tracey Thorn sings on ‘Joy’, ‘The tinsel on the tree . . ./The candles in the room light the gloom/You loved it as a kid, and now you need it more than you ever did.’

Ambitions for 2018: sit more often in All You Read is Love bookshop and café in Leytonstone, east London. Peace.


Ian Preece on Caught by the River / on Seeks Music