Caught by the River

Jeb’s Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 4th November 2020

Jeb Loy Nichols shares another 7″ from his stack.

Wess And The Airedales
There’s Gonna Be A Revolution

It’s raining, it’s cold, we’re under lockdown — all things that hamper our awful need of endeavour.  Perhaps, finally, we’ll all just give up, sit quietly and do nothing.  Or at least do less.  

I come in from the wet, poke at my fire, and sit down with a book.  The book is Maiden by Cynthia Buchanan.  I’m halfway through it and I keep thinking: who the hell was Cynthia Buchanan?  How did she come to write such a brilliant book and then be forgotten?  How does that happen?  I came across her name in a book of letters between James Salter and Robert Phelps.  The book is a book of ghosts; a forgotten time, a forgotten way of writing, a forgotten language, a forgotten way of being.  

After half an hour I get up and put a record on the turntable.  ‘There’s Gonna Be A Revolution’ by Wess And The Airedales.  A classic slice of melancholic optimism.  While it plays I’m thinking: who the hell was Wess?  Who were the Airedales?  What did they talk about, what did they eat for breakfast, who among them was the tallest, the meanest, the least damaged?  Where did they live?  How did they navigate their lives?  Did they ever read Maiden by Cynthia Buchanan?  And I’m thinking: how did all these people I’ve never met become such a big part of my life?

I let the record run out and sit listening to the wap, wap, scratch of the needle going around.  There’s rain the window too, and a leaking gutter, and I’m thinking that perhaps the most we can ask of life is to live in such a way that we’re forgotten when we leave.  It seems an honourable finish, to end as a ghost, unremembered.  

Perhaps I should let Wess and the Airedales and Cynthia Buchanan and Robert Phelps rest in peace; who am I to claim them as companions?  Who am I to seek them out, to drag them back amongst the living?  Who am I to involve them in my life?  But maybe the ghost world operates along different lines, is more forgiving, less concerned and impressed with endeavour, a place built on impermanence and chance.  

Perhaps a community of the forgotten isn’t the worst thing.


You can follow the Jeb’s Jukebox Spotify playlist here.