Friday, May 29, 2020


(I've Never Known) Peace on Earth

I'm struggling with this as a theme, not for want of material on the subject, there being as many songs about War and Peace, and everything in between, as there are pages in the book by Tolstoy. No, it is the timing, in this transposition of world order around the C-19. It isn't a war, this isn't a battle, we are not fighting: all the military cliches are boiling out of the thesaurus but it really isn't the right metaphor, even if there is a right metaphor. (If a metaphor is a means of comparison, I don't think we have had yet anything fully comparable within sufficient memory to pass reference: the plague and even spanish flu are too far distant, with SARS and Ebola captured and even HIV contained.) So, with, as ever, a lightness of touch and mood, who better to cheer us than the melancholic magnitude of Jackie Leven.

I have touched on Jackie before, and make no apology for doing so again. His loss remains huge in my musical portfolio, his celtic soul a heartbeat long before the term was invented, his humanity a force of relevance in the automated and automatic inhumanity all around. Nature, often in all her cruelty is a constant in his lyrical themes. Sir Vincent Lone? A pseudonym made necessary by his polfiicism, having already exhausted his allowed contractual offerings under his own name, but unmistakeably he. Indeed, it was never hidden, other than by his sometimes having Sir Vincent as support act before a Leven 2nd set.

As the song above shows, no huge variations in stylistic palette took place, but there were instances and opportunities where he used the disguise to try out some more adventurous directions. Or at least had his ear to the streets and cultures afar from his native land. The song below has been admirably described as a blend of Dick Gaughan and Portishead.

Moscow Train

There were three Lone releases between 2006 and 2008. The two songs above come from the first, Songs For Lonely Americans, with the follow-up, When the Bridegroom Comes (Songs for Women), being perhaps more experimental again. I am torn between liking it either more or less than the first.

Graveyard Marimba

Leven then decided to kill off his alter ego, with a gloriously uneven mix of an album, Troubadour Heart, which scattershots styles and references to all four winds. The claim was that this was released posthumously, and collected songs "Lone" had written as a penniless songwriter on a caffeine fix at the Troubadour coffeee house in London. And maybe he did, but Leven was still very much alive, releasing records for another three years, ahead of his actual death. The song below, the closer, effectively returns to the expected theme for this piece, the title summing up my views around the current ongoing "battle".

Wake Me Up When It's Over

Peace be to you.

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