Thursday, April 09, 2015

Trevor Lucas trivia

Continuing my Sandy Denny/Fotheringay festival, I finished reading the biography and listened to all the discs in the box set (and watched the video). As a result, this blog entry is going to be a motley mixture of trivia.

I probably read the biography too fast, especially the end. One nugget, however, stuck with me - a footnote to be found on page 236. Trevor Lucas wrote a number of songs with Peter Roche in 1970 and Roche has long been a subject of speculation among fans. Roche edited Corgi's best selling poetry anthology 'Love, Love, Love' in 1967.... Trevor confirmed his writing partner was the same Peter Roche in an interview ..  in 1985.

I bought 'Love, love, love' from a shop in the Clifton High Street, probably in the spring of 1973. I too noticed that Peter Roche wrote some lyrics for Trevor and wondered whether it was the same person; now I know. As it happens, probably my favourite poem in the book was written by Roche which is called Somewhere along the way. The opening stanza is

I wanted to say a lot of things:
I wanted to say how often lately
Your bright image has wandered through
The dusty old antique shop of my mind;
I wanted to say how good it is
To wake up in the morning
Knowing that the day contains 
Something that is you.

The final stanza is
I wanted to say a lot of things,
But they all seem to have lost themselves
Somewhere on the way; and now I'm here
There's nothing I can say except
Hello, and
Yes, I'd like some coffee, and
What shall we find to talk about
Before the night burns out?

Whilst the other three Roche poems in the book have a copyright dated 1967, 'Somewhere along the way' is not mentioned. Strange.

I remember reading a poem around that time (probably in the Penguin Modern Poets series) and thinking that the words were familiar. It turns out that the poem had been set to music by an unknown Welsh duo called 'The sun also rises', who released an album on the Bristol based Village Thing label. The song was called Fafnir and the Knights and was written by Stevie Smith. The song appeared on the label's sampler, "We".

I am still undecided about Trevor Lucas' guitar playing. The Fotheringay box set includes eight songs played live at the Rotterdam festival from the summer of 1970, one of which is 'Banks of the Nile'. As it's clear what Jerry Donahue's contribution was, it's also easy to discern what Trevor was playing - a simple picked figure. But he keeps the figure going throughout the song which is not bad. So maybe he did play better than I give him credit for. On the other hand, his playing on the four songs in the video is simply average: strumming.

To be fair, the balance on those videos is not too good. Whilst Sandy's vocal is mixed to the front along with Jerry's guitar, Pat (bass) and Trevor can barely be heard. Gerry Conway (drums) can be heard but I would have liked to hear more of him and slightly less Jerry. Sandy's piano playing on 'John the Gun' is sadly inaudible; it's not much louder on 'Nothing more', either. I would have preferred them to have played 'The way I feel' as Trevor's vocal spot, as opposed to 'Too much of nothing' ; the former has a 'real' arrangement with Sandy supplying harmony vocals, as opposed to 'Too much of nothing', which is simply bashed out. Trevor does get to play three guitars for four songs:  'Nothing more' - acoustic 12 string; 'Gypsy Davey' and 'John the Gun' - electric six string; 'Too much of nothing' - acoustic six string. Jerry gets so much more out of his Telecaster.

Rereading bits of the book again, Joe Boyd comes over as much more negative regarding Fotheringay than he has done previously. It's difficult to know now how things really were at the time, whether he was more circumspect in previous interviews or whether his opinions have hardened over the years. Some of the songs (but not all) are sublime which tends to make me believe that Boyd let his feelings overcome his judgement.

Also the book places a slightly different emphasis on the events leading up to Sandy's death. I found myself doubting slightly the story that Miranda Ward personally told me in 1998. Miranda (Sandy's best friend) posted a slightly incomprehensible letter to the Sandy mailing list a month ago - I am afraid I am disgusted that many lied to Mick Houghton, giving him the impression I was either not reachable for another book on Sandy or not interested!  Too many revisionists in that camp - I reckon TL knew that, which is why he dumped on me.  If his version was the truth then his sister would have been the obvious person - or one of the band crowd!

I'm not too sure what she means by that although by reading the credits, it can be seen that she was not interviewed for the book (presumably she feels that people lied about her level of interest to Houghton). But I can't understand the sentence about Trevor, who died in 1989 - how can he have 'dumped on her' now?

I spent most of my time at the Cropredy festival in 1998 with Miranda and again in 2000. I reveled in her stories, but now I wonder whether she too had a vested interest.

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