Sunday Morning Coming Down

It was my honorary Little Sister Hel’s birthday last week, and I couldn’t think of anything to post that was appropriate.

And then I remembered the last night when she and I shared a flat together.

When it became very clear that Hel and Neil were becoming a serious couple, I told Hel that she shouldn’t feel bad about moving out of the flat and leaving me behind, that she had to put her happiness first and foremost, that there would be no hard feeling from me when she did so.

You won’t be surprised to learn that we spent that final night getting horribly drunk together; still less surprised to find out that I had prepared a four hour long playlist to soundtrack the night; and probably even less surprised to learn that I ended the night passed out on the bathroom floor, having necked one (pint of) White Russian too many.

Anyway, this was the first song on the playlist, and as I recall as it began Hel turned to me and said: “Oh God, I’m going to cry all night,aren’t I?”

Yes probably, but don’t worry, I’ll be having a kip in the toilet, so no-one will know.

Kris Kristofferson – For The Good Times

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Regular readers may recall that my very lovely and generous group of friends gave me a whole hunka credits at Ticketmaster for my birthday, and I’m pleased to announce I’m slowly, steadily, chipping away at that monumental total.

So far, I’ve bought tickets for two gigs, and annoyingly missed out on one: The Pretenders are supporting Suede at a one-off gig at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in November, which is a dream line-up for me – but I wasn’t quick enough out of the blocks to get a ticket.

Instead, I have bought tickets for two gigs: one – and I know this will irk at least one of my blogging buddies – is for The Wonder Stuff, at the same venue, in December.

Now, I’ll be honest, under normal circumstances I would not consider going to see them, since they haven’t released anything of any worth since 1993, but they’re peforming both their debut album The Eight Legged Groove Machine (which I love and holds many happy memories for me) and the follow-up Hup (which I’m less fond of, but it’s not as bad as their next album, Never Loved Elvis, which I actively dislike and which thankfully is not getting an airing at said gig.) As long as they don’t start putting violins all over the performance of the first album, then I’m sure to have a great night.

But why am I wanging on about The Wonder Stuff here, where a Country record traditionally lives, I hear you yawn.

Well, because the other gig I’ve bought a ticket for is to go see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at the O2 next May, which I’m sure you’ll agree is much cooler.

So, to mark that, here’s one man in black – Johnny Cash – covering another – Nick Cave – on the third of his peerless American Recordings albums.

It was Llŷr who first played this to me, part of a DJ set by Erol Alkan – I think (I’m pretty sure, but I’ve never tracked a copy down, and when I asked Alkan via Twitter his response was an equally vague “I think I did….”). At the time I wasn’t familiar with the Cave version, and the lyrical content stunned and blew me away. It was my first step on the road to discovering the immense body of work that Nick Cave has created, some of which will be cropping up on these pages again pretty soon.

Johnny Cash – The Mercy Seat

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

This morning, one of the oddest, most wonderfully curious Country records ever made, which I can’t actually believe I haven’t posted before:

Bobbie Gentry – Ode to Billy Joe

Just brilliant, even if I have no idea what has actually happened in the storyline, other than somebody gets a frog put down their back, somebody else asks for some biscuits to be passed to him, and still somebody else either jumps or gets thrown into a river which I can’t spell.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down (Be Llŷrious edition)

Of course, there was one person who I would give anything to have been celebrating my birthday with me this weekend: my recently passed best friend, Llŷr.

And today he is especially prominent in my thoughts because it was exactly one year ago today that I last saw him.

Discharged from hospital for the final time, he was back at his parents’ home, under their care, with a district nurse or two popping in to help where they could. Palliative care, they call it.

Me and three of the chaps that I spent my birthday weekend with drove down to Wales to visit him. All laddish jokes and cameraderie on the way down, I’m not sure any one of us said a single word for a good hour in the car on the way home.

As we left, I hugged him, told him I’d be back soon. I don’t think any of us thought that would be the last time we would see him, least of all me: but finding myself hospitalised a few weeks later with my own health issues, that was the end of the line for me.

A few years earlier, after he’d been discharged from hospital for the second or third time, he told me he had bought me a present, as a thank you for ensuring he’d got to hospital at all. Of course, I told him he shouldn’t have. Of course, he told me to take it. Of course, I didn’t argue.

That present was the Johnny Cash boxset Unearthed, a collection of out-takes and highlights from the recording sessions which led to his phenomenal American Recordings series.

It’s one of my most cherished possessions. More so now than when he gave it to me.

Llŷr was a massive fan of Neil Young (Llŷr was a massive fan of a lot of things), so it seems appropriate that I post this track today.

In memory.

Johnny Cash – Heart of Gold

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Following on from last week’s Flying Burrito Brothers post, I fancied posting something by The Byrds this week.

One particular song, in fact.

But sadly, The Byrds original version isn’t a particularly Country version, and I know how it irks some folks if I dare to post a non-Country record here on a Sunday morning.

So instead, from his 1978 album Sleeper Wherever I Fall album, is a man with a name like a disgraced police officer:

Bobby Bare – I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better

It may not be as great as the original, but it is unquestionably a Country record. Look, he’s even wearing a cowboy hat on the sleeve.

Or, maybe Juice Newton (whose name sounds like an instruction to squeeze Isaac until his pips pop) who covered it on her 1985 album Old Flames tickles your fancy this morning:

Juice Newton – Feel a Whole Lot Better

Which means that I can also justifiably post this, for the sake of comparison:

The Byrds – I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better

I’ll save Dinosaur Jr.’s version for another day.

Right, now I can go back to bed, a slightly happier man.

More soon.