And there goes another one – dead at 60 seems way too early, I know he lived it up and I guess his body paid the price of too much booze and too many substances. But what a genius, the voice, the guitar… Solid Air has already gone down as one the great albums and despite its age (1973) it still bares up extremely well.
I know there are all the other albums but I am afraid it’s still this one that does it for me. The title track apparently written about that other musical genius, Nick Drake, who died even sooner, quite masterful. The whole album helped reposition the folk thing and helped it cross a number of borders.
I only saw him once at the tender age of about 18 when he still had echoes of the svelte and good looking man he had been. Somehow he came and played in the hall of my college in North London one night. There we were a clutch of unsuspecting spotty oiks sat on the wooden floor, on he strolled (well maybe staggered a little) guitar in hand and a large spliff stuck in the machine heads. After a couple of songs another chap slipped onto stage and sat behind a drum kit. Phil Collins was well known even then but hadn’t gone overblown pop diva mode, and I was still in awe of his drumming skills. The two of them played away, Martyn knocked back some drink, partook of another spliff and then was gone.
Listening back now, as I inevitably had to be, to Solid Air and the wonderful ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ in particular, I can’t help but hope that against the odds this isn’t the only life (although the Lad, with the brusque certainty of youth, is adamant that this is it) and that somewhere John Martyn will still be doing his thing