Where But for Fate Would We . . .? My original thoughts
I got to thinking just the other day, as I’m wont to do, and it led me to Wondering Aloud. Or, to put it in plainly; talking to myself. This state of affairs prevailed for a while and then I got to wondering what it meant when I answered myself. Mmm, that’s something worth pondering. Especially in the light of the fact that I was answering in the voices of a whole cast of characters. Out loud! Little wonder, if you’ll excuse the pun, that the nice-looking woman outside the store was looking at me strangely. It’s just as well I’m weird otherwise I’d have felt quite self-conscious. Alluding to Jethro Tull, my mind blunted by the gigantic doses of Risperidone that I take to stave off psychosis. But, I’ve been taking it for so long it has the same effect on me as a single whisky has on Ben Trovato. Bless his pointed little head. Ah well, it’s Jefferson Airplane this time.
And then, as suddenly as it started, I was off, flitting off on yet another tangent. This time it was back to England and a little-known song from the sixties popped into my head. Quite uninvited, I might add, and proceeded to play with my senses. All of this Progressive Underground Hippy Flower Child Instrumental Interference was really quite strange. “Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal” is the title of the ditty that filled my head. Performed, oddly; there’s that pun again; enough by a British outfit called Doctor Strangely Strange. They were one of the earliest signings to the then fledgling Island Records of London. Chris Blackwell, if my memory serves me, was the driving force. I have an Island Records ‘sampler’ from 1969, or was it ’68? This various artistes offering was titled “Nice Enough to Eat”. This one is volume 1 in a slew of “Nice Enough to Eats” and was compiled of a track from some thirteen Island Records LP releases then current. As my vinyl collection is not presently to hand I’ll have to give you what I remember. Side one, track one kicks off with a lively little number off the “Unhalfbricking” album by Fairport Convention, titled “Cajun Woman”. Upbeat Louisiana Swamp Music Made in England by a group of English upper class ‘hippies’ with Sandy Denny on vocals. This tune then segues into something else and then into something else, etc.
There’s “Time Has Told Me” by Nick Drake off of the album “Five Leaves Left”. He’s dead too at age 27 or so. Nick was yet another addition to the seemingly endless roll of sorrow that is made up of great sixties and seventies musicians all of whom died too young. One blessing is we’ll never see him go to seed and wither with age and infirmity. But that’s a double-edged Katana if ever I saw one!
An alarming number of these prodigiously talented young musicians upped and died at age 27. The list includes the Bluesman who influenced Eric ‘Slowhand’ Clapton, Robert Johnson; “The Doors” frontman, Jim Morrison; the incomparable Janis ‘Little Girl Blue’ Joplin; the ‘Man-With-The-Guitar’ Jimi Hendrix; the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and ‘Pigpen’ of “The Grateful Dead”. Later additions to this bizarre ‘club’ have been Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame and more recently, that lady with the awesome voice, Amy Winehouse.
Where have all the flowers gone? So sang Peter Paul & Mary of a generation of American youth who perished or were maimed in that steamy South East Asian hellhole which was Vietnam. Well, none of the ’27 Club’ died in Vietnam. They didn’t even die of natural causes. Everyone succumbed to the excesses of drugs and booze which fuelled the creative spirit of the 1960s and 70s. Robert Johnson died much earlier, but also at age 27, a victim too, of excess. He was kind of a founding father of the ‘club’, so to speak.
There I go again. Off on a different tangent and I’m not even warmed up! If you’re confused and exhausted you should see the view from my perspective. Man, it’s an amazing sight, this Bizarre Bazaar that is in my head!
Manic depression is not just a condition, Jimi Hendrix wrote a song about it and all that I can add is; it’s A Helluva Drug! But you gotta hold on tight. To your dreams. And come what may!
Until next time, thanks for coming; it’s been a blast!
Peter Mark Wells-Garnett © 22 February 2017
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