Moleskine Memories – I have been constantly travelling since 1996. An ever present companion has been my Moleskine notebook beautifully made and sturdy. I don’t write a diary as such – just catch thoughts and ideas and moments when I can. In some sense they form the raw material for my songs and other writing. I have got over 20 of these now which I have bequeathed to my daughter Lucy-Jane when I go. This entry is for a few years ago when I was working in Valencia with my good friend Marie and the writer Jason Webster.
Hanging in there in the Cabanyal.
Jason knows Valencia intimately . Until recently he lived here writing his fantastically insightful and resonant books on Spain such as Sacred Sierra, Andalus, and Guerra as well as the first novels of his ’Max Camara’ detective series which are set in this city.
His love for Spain and Valencia in particular is deep and passionate but it is not so idealised that he is afraid to be critical. He is enraged by the corruption and vanity of many its politicians.
Now living with his family in Bridport in south-west England, he seemed delighted to be back working here with us taking a chance to renew and reconcile his relationship with the place. One of things in Valencia he is most agitated about is the deliberate ruination, so it can be bulldozed for some ego project, of the Cabanyal - a district of once pretty fisherman's terraces that run along the edge of the coast. The local mayor, anxious to push some new grandiose scheme has encouraged itinerant families to move in deliberately turning a blind eye to the drug dens being established in houses they have made derelict. Some of the locals under this pressure moved out others defiantly hung in there including quixotically the Danish consulate!
Sleeve Notes and Footnotes is a little book of my lyrics available only from my website. It focuses on those lyrics up to 2013 of which I am most proud. For some of them I have written some sleeve notes, for me a much missed format that more or less disappeared with the demise of the LP. This is one of them introducing my song - now recorded on two albums: Sister of a Dirty Moon.
Sister of a dirty moon
A man waits for a woman.
In the places where the echoes of the Dar as-Salam linger, the silhouettes of proud-bowed boats lie at sunset and the footsteps of the traders, mystics, scholars, fierce-bearded pirates and possessed loiter in the dirt,
a man waits for a woman.
Where a hot Sirocco wind teases the shutters and dogs sleep in doorways with one eye open,
a man waits for a woman.
Through the scent of two-stroke motorcycles, orange trees, centuries of lofty washing lines and warm drains,
a man waits for a woman.
As the honking, rickety-racket, foot-dance day eases to a muttering susurrus and then ebbs to a sleepy doze,
so a man waits for a woman.
And as the everyday star emerges unexpectedly over jumbled roof tops and the wanton moon climbs into the purple sky,
still a man a waits for a woman.
What do you call real music, played on real instruments (perhaps for real people J ) With the failure to find a single word mostly it seems we resort to a list: acoustic; blues; folk; roots; world; Cajun; trad jazz; Americana, etc. Somehow instinctively people sense they are bound in someway. Well they are! They are all ‘artisan’ and as such they sing, sound and beat to what it is to be human.
Millennia ago, by the side of a now dried up lake in the middle of the Sahara desert a paleolithic man sat, making tiny arrowheads out of black flint, perhaps for spearing fish. The one being worked on somehow disappointed him despite being sharp, clean and fine. He dropped it at the water’s edge and picking up a big crude lump started chipping away to create another one.
I know this to be true because 10,000 years later I found it.
The impetus to take the Earth’s truculent materials and see in them something worthy and then to nurture the skills to release that is as old as we are. More than that - it is who we are!
This is the Artisan in us. Whoever said anything was 10 or even 1% inspiration and 90 or even 99 % perspiration was just plain wrong. Perspiration stinks of sweat and not much else. No the 90% is wisdom, dexterity, experience, intimacy, learning, awareness, touch, feel passion, excitement and connectedness. And often somewhere in there a soul, a spirit or a shaman is involved.
And in some sense it is always music.
It is essentially human and we recognise it and we cherish it. And interestingly as the world becomes more mass produced and 3-D printed increasingly we value that which is not. It probably started off with bread. Or round our way pies. It then spread to cheese, beer and furniture. Apparently all over the world there is a resurgence of the craftsman and woman, hand making, using hard won skills, things formed from stubbornly raw materials
And could Artisan also be about to follow as our need for things human becomes more acute? Artisan Music might be diverse but it would NEVER be virtually sampled, musician-less, over-processed modified stuff produced by musical conglomerates desperate to make some money somewhere.
Artisan Musicians of the world unite!