Looking at the list of contributors on the sleeve of that Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album I featured in the Sunday Morning Coming Down post from this morning, one name leapt out at me.
There, bottom left, is the name Norman Blake.
That Norman Blake is one of the leading figures in the American bluegrass movement. It’s not the same Norman Blake who is a mainstay of one of my favourite bands ever: Teenage Fanclub.
Any excuse will do:
“Did I Say” was specially recorded for the band’s 2003 Best of Album “Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds – A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub”. Ordinarily, I’d be quite scathing about any band who added new material to a Best Of album, viewing it as a cynical marketing move to get genuine long-standing fans to buy it, as well as any newcomers to their music.
But I’m going to let Teenage Fanclub off, for three reasons:
- I bloody love that song
- It’s Teenage Fanclub, they can do what they like
- I went to see them promote the album in question in Bristol, and they played “Did I Say”. I stood, as I often do now I’m too old for venturing down the front, towards the back, near the mixing desk, where you get the best sound and view (which is why the mixing and lighting desk is there, after all), happily singing along, when the chap stood next to me tapped me on the arm. I assumed he was going to ask me to stop singing, but no: “Okay,” he said, “I’m going to have to ask: I don’t know this song, what is it?” I filled him in on the details, he thanked me, I felt somewhat smug and superior.
The blogosphere is getting quite excited right now, as the first new Teenage Fanclub album in six years, “Here”, is imminent (September 9th in the UK), and we’ve recently got our first proper taste of what to expect:
No surprises, then. Which is exactly what we want from them.
Norman himself has been honoured in a song, albeit with his surname slightly, deliberately, mis-spelt:
How do I know it’s a homage to the Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub, and not the bluegrass Norman Blake?
Well, for a start, it sounds exactly like a Teenage Fanclub record, albeit with a female vocal.
And also, because of this: