Jeb Loy Nichols dances to a new day, with a little help from Eddie Simpson.
What A Way To Start The New Year
I’m walking up the hill on New Year’s Day and it’s raining. Or misting. Somewhere in between. I stop when I see Edgar, my neighbour, coming across the field. He gives me a wave and I say, happy new year. He looks across the sodden fields, at the waterlogged gorse and hazel hedges and says, wet isn’t it? Then he says something that makes me smile, that transports me back to the previous New Year and to the New Year before that. He says: what a way to start a new year.
Edgar has, I’m sure, never heard of Eddie Simpson. He doesn’t know that I’ve played the same Eddie Simpson song on every New Year’s Day for the past twenty years. He doesn’t know that the name of the track I play is ‘What A Way To Start The New Year’.
I come in and pull out my Two Soul Chiefs LP. On one side Eddie Simpson and on the other side Marcel Strong. The rain has let up. The world is wetter, slower, greener, newer. The sun comes out. There are blackbirds in the sycamore. And something smaller, lighter, in the holly. A robin maybe, or a chaff finch. I put the record on, put the arm across and turn up the volume.
What A Way To Start The New Year is my way of starting the new year. A way of saying thank you to Eddie Simpson and all the other singers and musicians who have drifted into obscurity but, along the way, have brightened my world. I don’t know it it’s the best way to start a new year, but it’s my way. A believer in ritual, in order, in disorder and hope. I dance a little bit. A rocking, side to side, old man dance. A dance to a new day, a new beginning; a new way of doing the same old, wet, quiet, fool on a hill top thing.
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