Be Llyrious

One of the first posts I wrote in memory of my recently deceased best buddy Llŷr was one recalling the time in 2015 when we went to Glastonbury together, and sat getting drenched watching Mary J Blige on the Pyramid Stage.

Truth be told, I have at least a hundred memories of Glastonbury and Llŷr. I simply cannot think of the greatest festival in the world without thinking of him, the two are utterly inseperable.

So this weekend has been tough for me, and doubtless for everyone else who knew the boy wonder.

That’s one of the reasons I’m not there this year. See, every year that I went to Glastonbury, it was with Llŷr – and often his sister Hel – at my side, and I wasn’t sure I would be ready to attend again without him, so soon after he passed. Not that I think that will get any easier as the years pass; when I next lug my festival paraphanalia through the gates, collect my wrist-band and Grauniad-sponsored weekend guide, I know I’ll be looking round for him.

The other reason, of course, is that I didn’t get a ticket.

At the reception after his memorial service (note: not a wake), Hel and I were waiting to be served at a fairly packed bar. In front of us was a bunch of Llŷr’s work colleagues, Cardiff girls doing what Cardiff girls do really well: getting some shots in. Suddenly – mostly because they recognised Hel as being Llŷr’s sister, but partly, I think, because we happened to be in their vicinity – a shot of I know-not-what was thrust into each of our hands. We of course dutifully necked them, it would have been rude not to do so.

One of the girls in the group, Hannah, asked what our names were, and after I’d told her mine she stared, open-mouthed.

“Oh my God,” she said, “You’re Jez! He fucking loved you! He was always talking about you!”

Not for the first nor for the last time that day, I forced a smile and held back a tear.

“You’re a lot older than I thought you were,” she continued. “He never told me you were old.”

Holding back the tears suddenly became a lot easier, as my shoulders shuddered in laughter.

Anyway, Hannah had been to Glastonbury with Llŷr on at least one of the occasions when I hadn’t managed to get a ticket; neither of us were going this year, so we made a pledge that we’d do our darndest to go in 2020, and if we managed to get tickets, we would make it Llŷr’s Farewell Tour.

Where am I going with this? Oh yes….

In 2003, Llŷr and I and a whole bunch of friends – there was around ten of us, I think – went to our first Glastonbury. The headliners on the Pyramid Stage that year were R.E.M. on the Friday night, Radiohead on the Saturday, and Moby on the Sunday.

None of us watched Moby (Doves were playing on The Other Stage, so of course that’s where most of us were), the group was split between R.E.M. on the Pyramid or Primal Scream on The Other Stage (you can probably guess where my affiliations lay), but – and if memory serves me correctly, it was the only time this happened over the whole weekend – we all saw Radiohead together.

A couple of weeks later, back at home in at the flat of filth in Cardiff, Llŷr burst into the living room, triumphantly brandishing a CD he had just burnt off.

And on it, scrawled in marker pen, were the words: Radiohead Glasto 03.

“Here you go, dude,” he said as he thrust it into my hands.

And here you go, dudes:

Radiohead – Glasto 03

More soon.

How (Not?) To Do A Cover Version

I’m a little torn about whether this is a good or a bad cover version.

The problem is that both versions are by the same person.

In 1986, Billy Bragg released this as the second single from his “difficult” (but brilliant) third album, Talking with the Taxman about Poetry:

Billy Bragg – Greetings to the New Brunette

But then later – and I must confess, I’ve been trying to establish where this version first appeared, with no success (it probably tells me on the album on which it appears that I own a copy of, but as all my CDs are currently boxed away I can’t be arsed with digging it out) – he re-recorded it with a full band, and whilst he was at it, he re-titled it too:

Billy Bragg – Shirley

See, it’s not a terrible version, and in many ways I think it benefits from the full band treatment.

But here’s two reasons why the original is better:

  1. It has Johnny Marr playing guitar on it, and
  2. It has Kirsty MacColl doing backing vocals on it.

I rest my case.

More soon.

50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #13

I have nothing to say about this record other than this: it’s brilliant.

Oh and this: it’s the sort of record that, when it was released in 1983, it would doubtless have attracted many outraged exclamations of “Is that a boy or a girl?” from parents watching Top of the Pops.

Which makes it even more fabulous, of course:

Marilyn – Calling Your Name

Welcome to the weekend.

More soon.