|20||July||1972||Van der Graaf Generator||Pawn hearts|
Considering how influential this record has been on my life, it's possibly surprising that I don't remember very much about its purchase. On the other hand, the summer of 1972 was full of emotional moments (see here), so may it's not so surprising.
I know that I spent about a week in London prior to going to Israel for the first time around the 27th of July and I had the record there, hence I must have bought it in London. I have no recollection of purchasing it but a little voice is whispering that I might have bought it in central London.
The record was not new to me: my friend Robert had bought it in January 1972 and it didn't take long before I was bashing out a truncated version of 'Man Erg' (verses only) on our piano. Robert's record was supposed to have come with a lyric sheet, but there wasn't one enclosed so I wrote to Charisma, at the same time expressing callow feelings about 'Refugees'. To our extreme surprise, Peter Hammill himself wrote back, sending the lyric sheet and also the lyrics to 'Easy to slip away'. As was said in 'Casablanca', this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
From later on in the year, I have a very strong memory of sitting by the gas fire in my bedroom, listening to this record and reading Hermann Hesse's "The prodigy". Every time I hear the saxophone solo, I think of this. "The prodigy" also had a profound influence upon me, but fortunately I did not follow in the footsteps of the titular boy.
Whilst listening to a new disc for the first time the other day, I was suddenly assailed by a memory of listening to PH for the first time. Trepidation mixed with curiosity at what VdGG would serve us for us after their first two albums; Peter's steely voice intoning ' I stood alone upon the highest cliff-top, looked down, around, and all that I could see were those that I would dearly love to share with crashing on quite blindly to the sea....'. A few years later, I began to understand those lyrics properly: I included the final verse of 'Lemmings' in that year's mock-Haggada. They seemed to refer as much to the plight of Soviet Jewry as they did anything else. Peter himself referred to this as a very political lyric.