Sunday, February 1, 2009

Get out and get activist

John Martyn is dead at age 60. I heard the news from my friend mjp6 living in NYC. On a recent trip to Rasputin, in part to support the music store industry as well as feed my own habit, I picked up a used David Gray EPwith which was a mystery CD including a cover of Martyn’s, “Go Down Easy”. Cool.

At the moment, there is a flurry of activity on YouTube with people combing through decades of sometimes bizarre and sometimes stellar (always sweaty) performances. There is a lot of reminiscent posting pared with a justified expression that Martyn was underrated and, in any event, under acknowledged: “I’m sad to know I’m hearing him now for the first time.” That is paraphrased.

In listening to “Sweet Little Mystery,” the memory of seeing Martin Sexton in concert for the first time replayed in my head. It was a show at Off Broadway in St. Louis. Sexton was supported by a great percussionist with an excellent sort of beaded shaker thing that exactly recreated the sound of a drum machine effect… weird inversion. I had been turned on to Sexton by a friend of a friend, both of whom were there with me. Great show and a great place: we ordered a pizza from the place next door and had it delivered to us at the venue. The guy walked in midway through the show and brought it to where we were sitting. Ha! My thought was that in music as with so many things, it takes the active word of mouth and in this case, the lending of an ear (and a CD) to learn something new. That venue itself was another instance word-of-mouth: the theatre manager I worked for at the time told me over and over again to see something... anything... there.

The newest issue of Outside features an interesting interview with Lance Armstrong. In the piece, he talks of his motivations and goals for coming out of retirement to participate in the next Tour de France. Given reflection on his current physical condition as well as his hiatus, his primary goal is to spread the word (i.e., effect new political and economic paradigms regarding cancer eradication). Maybe this has always been his intent, but I am happy to be hearing this now for the first time. It is also exciting (and palpably reported) that he intends to win. That sneakish intent is something I love about both John Martyn and Martin Sexton: while they are in it to play, they are serious players.

Thanks to Thalerguy and shiveringgoat for their YouTube videos.

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