John Martyn redux

Watching the BBC4 documentary John Martyn: Johnny Too Bad, I wondered how on earth I’d ever lost track of John Martyn and his music. A little careful mental backtracking brought the realisation that when my last turntable died and didn’t get replaced, I simply stopped listening to vinyl. The programme was as entertaining as it was enlightening and was a very pleasurable way to spend an hour – rediscovering old tracks I half remembered and hearing earlier work I’d never heard. As someone who is usually labelled a folk artist, Martyn is ten times more rock and roll than any of the usual so-called hellraisers. Although being pissed, wrecked, argumentative half the time and in possession of a schoolboy’s sense of humour the other isn’t meant to be big or clever, there is a part of me that sneakingly admires him for this.

Wanting to fill in a few gaps after the programme, I Googled for his website which is, much to my delight, not some slick A&R person’s wet dream but a lovingly downbeat site tucked away on Freeserve. There, amongst the fan’s Top 40 tracks, quotes and the photomontage, you’ll find a great page called ‘Stories‘ where folks have submitted their JM-related tales. One you won’t find there concerns the time when Martyn verbally harangued and abused a bloke who was delivering beer to the Hammersmith pub whose bar he was barely standing at one fine evening back in the mid-eighties. Having given him a right earful, Martyn proceeded to ‘let’ the bloke buy him a drink in order to make up for what ever transgression he had unknowingly committed. Two pints were duly served and a barely coherent conversation ensued. I still have no idea what he said but he went for a piss and never came back so I never got a drink out of him.

As I still have no turntable on which to play vinyl, I purchased a few of my favourite JM albums, erm, CDs over the weekend to enjoy all over again. The only problem is that I am now wondering what other essential albums are buried in my vinyl collection that I have forgotten about. This could be expensive.

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