Next on the pop shelf is Donald Fagan’s The Nightfly – this is a sublime, too short, solo effort by half of Steely Dan. It has the same jazzy, easy sultry sound & great songs. Adult pop of the highest degree.
Next is the amazing Marianne Faithfull. I remembered her mainly for the chocolate bar story from her days with the Rolling Stones. Pretty & with, then, a clear if emotionally empty, voice. She recorded a fair bit but everyone felt she as coat-tailing the Stones. I have a nice anthology of her Early material. As Tears Go By is tender. Lacking creative input she did tolerable cover material & some original stuff. Folksy safe. Then she disappeared for decades – wrote an amazing biography & resurface.
Her return was the full-throttle, gutsy, remorseless Broken English. It remains a masterpiece & touch stone for so many female singers who followed: Alanis Morissette, Courtney Love – none of whom match the power of this recording. The first shock is her voice – gone is the sweet soprano. Years of addiction, booze, sex resulted in a raspy assault that amazes with its emotional direct force. Lyrically fierce & scary – this is a work that if you haven’t heard it by now – find it.
She’s recorded extensively over the decades: I also have: Blazing Away a great live set from 1990 & she is mesmerizing. There is also a concert video of this performance worth searching out. 20th Century Blues: amazing live cabaret from 1997 with covers of Weill/Brecht; Strange Weather: almost as good as Broken English but a little more laid back. This is stunning music by a survivor.
Mike looked at Jack. The tiny table in the coffee shop became wide, wider and wider the longer they sat there.
‘Mike. We both knew this might happen.’
‘This distance thing was good but we both knew it wouldn’t last, couldn’t last forever. You know what I mean? I wanted someone nearer, close, someone I could see without having to book a flight, a hotel. You have to understand that. Don’t you?’
‘Yes.’ Mike wasn’t sure what to do. He knew had to resist the temptation to seize on any little opening to pull Jack back to him. Over had to be over. He knew that and hated it.
‘I’ll be here for the Film Festival. You have your gold pass?’
‘Yes. The press package you always arrange for me.’
‘No need to be bitter about things. At least I didn’t hide you away like some would have.’
‘I … I think I’ll go now. I have things to do.’
‘To do? Such as?’
‘Figure out what to do with the rest of my fucking life.’ Mike stood and left the cafe.
So this is how it ends. Not even decent background music.
His mind raced with what he wanted to say. Sure Jack easy for you to say get on with life when you have a life to get on with. You have looks. I’m always going to be one of those squat hairy little men that no one wants. One of the ones who become invisible in any crowd. The ones who never stand out and who only get to look worse as they get older. Ugly and … and what .. repulsive. Never the right look.
Even when I had youth I didn’t have that right look. No chicken hawks ever showed interest in me. Shit and now this. Sorry if I hurt your feelings but get the fuck put of my life you squat little troll. Why couldn’t you be honest Jack. You wanted a prettier boy to be seen with. Face it and get over it. I just wasn’t worth moving for, wasn’t worth inviting to live with. I would have. You knew that didn’t you. I would have happily picked up my life on the east coast and moved to be nearer to you, to be the one within reach, but no you felt the distance was a good thing. Yeah good thing that you didn’t get seen with me by your pretty friends in Toronto.