Correction

In my recent participation in the video portrait ‘The Magpie Index’, which was very well conceived and put together by Richard Grayson, I said something to the effect that Jason’s journey to capture ‘The Golden Fleece’ had come down to us from the other side of eight thousand years ago. This is probably untrue because the story has too many elements of the Bronze Age about it.

What I meant to say, but in the heat of the moment, only alluded to, is that ‘elements of Homeric stories probably date back to a time well before the Bronze Age’. (which probably began C. 5300 years ago). Gold itself was in use 6 thousand years ago, but it’s conceivable that some of the Homeric stories predate that.

I noticed this when I saw the video through for the first time at The Baltic in Newcastle, so I thought that I’d make a correction before someone else made comment. ;-)

Pathetic…?…!

I received this on March 17th 2010 from deepest bellsouth.net

Comment: I just wanted to say that I wouldn’t purchase anything from someone that hates his own race. Pathetic.

I felt that I should reply to the uninformed taunt that this represents, so I wrote the following:-

‘I Hate The White Man’ was written in response to the many injustices that the peoples/tribes of Europe had inflicted on greater Humanity in the modern age. Roughly over the period since the more precise mapping of the planet at the beginning of the age of discovery; which brought us into contact with peoples we considered, wrongly, to be inferior. Perhaps the crucible for this was the bloodbath of 14th Century Europe, second only to the 20th Century in terms of carnage, but that strays into opinion and theory.

Other races were successively subjected to racism, slavery, apartheid, torture and genocide by the elite classes of Europeans. Mass genocide in Africa, North America and Europe ensued, including the virtual extinction of a viable alternative way of life in North America.

Whether you believe this, or give recorded history the credit it deserves, or not, depends largely on the way you have been educated.

I was simply reminding the new generation about their responsibilities to history and to human culture at the time. It is now obvious that reminders of the dangers of allowing brutal social mechanisms to repeat savage histories will be necessary for every new generation of every race. Unfortunately, though our social mechanisms, eg., The United Nations, are very well intentioned, we have continued to set a very poor example to the rest of the world, eg., The Iraq War. So much so that we have now passed many of our bad habits on to the rest of humanity… and they have reciprocated in kind, eg., Al Qaeda, Robert Mugabe etc, etc.

I could never hate my own race without hating myself, and I don’t. The words to the song are a sentiment.. and intended as a shock tactic and wake-up call. In 1968, when it was written, the white man was the world bully. Perhaps we hadn’t yet entered into the general cynicism that has mainly pervaded since, but many of us could see and feel it coming. People like me, and there were many of us, were trying to hold it back. In the end, a forlorn task. We were trying to base our lives on different ethics. Many of us have refused to renege on these ideals. They are ideals that don’t involve rip-off, economizing with the facts, sharp practice, injustice, depravation, prejudice, humiliation or murder.

Whether you choose to live with that kind of a general ethic or not will largely depend on the way you have educated yourself, or been educated.

.

Some famous quotes..

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did.” Chief Red Cloud

“We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on.” Chief Seattle

“I’ve asked myself again and again whether it wouldn’t have been better if we hadn’t gone into hiding, if we were dead now and didn’t have to go through this misery, especially so that the others could be spared the burden. But we all shrink from this thought. We still love life, we haven’t yet forgotten the voice of nature, and we keep hoping, hoping for . . . everything.” Anne Frank (Hiding from the Gestapo, May 26, 1944)

Joanna Newsom and Roy Harper. An avant-garde acoustic evening.

I’d heard rumours, through Jim O’Rourke, a young friend and communicator of mine. I had young fans and friends over in the USA. There were strange little tidbits coming through to me. I thought that it was something nice happening somewhere, because sometimes, nice things happen anyway. Then, almost imperceptibly, things moved into a different gear. I’d obviously forgotten about what it was like to be young.. well.. I hadn’t, because no matter how old I get, I’ll still be young, but there are degrees, and when you’re young and really vibrant, things can happen really quickly. Suddenly I was reading a Grauniad article about Joanna Newsom, and I read it twice, because Jim had told me that she thought highly of my work.

I listened to her records. There was something sublimely attractive about them, and their aim was deep. Then there was a perceptible build up to an invite to play The Royal Albert Hall with her the following year. I accepted not knowing what to expect. I was curious more than anything else. When I got there, there was a big harp and a few chairs on the stage. I re-acquainted myself with the old building again.. wandered around, front and back. It doubles as the English Nation’s Village Hall, and I sat in the empty auditorium soaking in it for a while. I was thinking about where Rudyard Kipling might have sat when there was some movement stage right. This was joined after a few minutes by a delicate and beautiful young woman. She was instantly recognisable. After her first few verses of music, I realised that it was going to be hard to take my eyes off her. The sounds she was making belonged to another world. It was obviously her world, an exotic dreamscape with womanly edges. I was impressed.

Then we met, and things changed. Immediately. I recognised what a potent mix she is as a human being, and I was enchanted. On the night, I played my favourite record for her, and she was truly delighted. So was I. I came over from Ireland again when she played a beautiful concert at Somerset House, and we spent an hour exchanging worlds with each other. I left with my faith in humans elevated, and feeling grateful for her friendship. In the meantime, I’d visited Tokyo, where Jim O’Rourke had mixed a concert of mine at my request, and we’d spoken enthusiastically about her.

I hadn’t thought about much of this for a year, except that Joanna is one of the few things I listen to when I visit the computer. Then I received an email from her record company in January asking me whether I wanted to do a tour with her. I’d kind of retired. I’d thought that I’d come to the end of the road gigging. I was being more inspired by nature than by song-writing, and I hadn’t really thought about playing to people again. Ever.

I thought about it for a while. Did I really want to gig again? I seemed to be letting it slip.. 10 days passed. Then I got a bit depressed thinking that if I didn’t do it I’d be letting both of us down. I got in touch again to see if it was still on, and received a really lovely note back from Joanna saying that she’d be honoured to have me on board. I was happy again.

This is something I really want to do. She inspires me, and I think it must be mutual. The fact that she’s un-retired me, and makes me smile, is something I’m only just beginning to think about. What next!?

(please see the webite for show details… London, Bruxelles, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Paris)

The Flowers

My partner takes a yearly holiday visiting her beloved Appalachian Mountains for a month in the Autumn, or as she refers to it, ‘The Fall’. This is the time of year of course when everything that has been on the trees for the year falls off them, in varying shades of scarlet, vermilion, peach, orange, lemon and even ginger. When we first met, I was in mid-stream, so I took myself off to deepest India for a new mind and she went off to walk the Appalachian Trail, alone, which is a hike in the eastern US of about 2170 miles from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to Mt Katahdin in central Maine. The highest point she went over was Mt Washington at over 6,000ft. A long way for a lone woman.

This month of solitude every now and then gives me a chance to wind down, or wind up, as the case may be. For the last few years it’s involved me scouring tree nurseries to further enhance my patch of wilderness. The routine of being alone is different. A host of bachelor stuff starts to happen again. Things get left where they’re handy, and more to the point, where I can find them. Sometimes I think that I’m only using one plate, one set of cutlery and a mug. Not true perhaps, but close. There’s plenty of entertainment.. huge amounts of it.. too much in fact, and late at night, the baseball season is fast coming to its usual lofty finale.

I’m vaguely aware of when she’s coming back. At first it’s a long way off, but then it all seems to cascade in as fast as I can count to ten. This year was no different. I thought about buying flowers a few days beforehand, but then I thought that I’d better save that till the last day, not wanting them to be looking tired on her return. Just before she left, one of the toilets sprang a leak, and I’d rubbed the bottle of my local plumbing genie to come and fix it. He was really busy but promised that he’d do it within a week or two. When I rang him again a couple of weeks later, he’d done his back in, but promised me he’d be there. Eventually, through no real fault of his own, we got down to it the day before her return.

Obviously, fixing the loo was the priority, and neither of us thought that it would take that long… but if I’d thought about it, this has been the loo which has given me the most problems in my life. I bought the house when I was finally exiled from England. A long story for another day. The house was a virtual shell, so at least 2 toilets were needed. I bought these in a little designer bathroom shop in the middle of Nottingham. One of them is a replica Victorian willow pattern loo, and is still in its box in the attic. The other was put into the house straight away… by a cowboy. It’s a very finicky little Italian job with different plumbing than a normal loo, which means that normal pipes and fittings have to be botched onto it. Ideal stuff for a cowboy.

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An Introduction To The New Stormcock (Part 3)

The Code In The Artwork

The following is the code in the artwork to my 1971 album ‘Stormcock’. Some of you may find that this is too long, in which case, you shouldn’t trouble yourselves with it. Just let it pass. For the rest, I would like to welcome you here to hopefully enjoy one of my interpretations of the past-future that’s been with me for some considerable time now. In my own opinion, the album has lost none of its original potency, but I must leave that to be judged by yourselves and others. This is the definitive statement on it. There will not be another.

I doubt I will ever return to any of the matters treated below in the same way, by way of song. There won’t be any need to. The rest of my song-writing life will likely be spent in more poetic reflection. In some ways, this album, together with much of my recorded self, has dominated my life to an extent that has been, ok, natural, because of the way I’m built and have built myself, and the way that it’s therefore become natural for me to view the world, but that particular stylus perhaps needs to be traded for a new lamp. My response to the world isn’t going to change, but my representation of it is likely to require slightly different expressions and intentions to surface. Good luck everyone.

Hors D’Oeuvres

By the time I was 4 I’d become a judge. My general behaviour was loose and wild, mainly because I was learning to test all the limits. I’d started to write when I was 3. The reason I remember this is that on my first day in kindergarten, our teacher was trying to get the kids to write ABC with chalk on our little slates. I already knew ABC, so I decided that I’d be different and roll up some plasticine and stick it onto the slate in the shape of the letters. All that got me was a smack. So the history of roy begins with a smack on his first day at school. He was consequently forced into making a premature judgement.

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