John Martyn

John Martyn

I’m feeling pretty upset. I’ve just learnt of John Martyn’s death. His key albums of the 1970s – Bless The Weather, Inside Out, Solid Air, One World, and Sunday’s Child are works of genius. I can’t and won’t speak for the later work as I don’t know it. I challenge anyone to listen to Solid Air’s untitled final track and Over The Hill, One World’s Dancing and Small Hours or his delightful version of Singin In The Rain on Bless The Weather and not be moved. There’s a generosity of spirit, openness to possibility and an astonishing ear for beauty there that’s very, very rare to behold. I’ve never tired of his music in the past twenty plus years. Oh Jesus here comes the title track – I’m playing One World now: “Just the name of the game, the way of the world”. Now it’s Smiling Stranger, monster bass. Thank you Sally Brown for introducing me to this music.

Last time I’d listened to him, according to iTunes, was exactly a month ago – I played Bless The Weather, Inside Out and Sunday’s Child in a row ending at midnight.  Strange coincidence: while playing my library station on Last.fm today, Just Now by Martyn came up. Hearing it prompted me to use Last.fm to  play some of my favourites and leave a comment on May You Never (“Thank you John. Thank you so much”). I didn’t know he’d died until seven hours later.

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Though it was a funny old experience – more like standing in a pub shouting to be heard than a concert – I’m proud to say that Is and I saw him a few years back at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

I just looked John Martyn up on Discogs – the search page says “John Martyn (Electronic, Jazz, Rock, Funk / Soul, Reggae, Pop, Hip Hop, Latin, Blues, Folk, World, & Country, Classical, Non-Music)” – says a lot. His hybrid, his one world music, never sounded forced or self-consciously experimental – it was completely convincing as well as thrilling, moving and memorably and deliciously melodic. Not doing a good job of holding back the tears to be honest.

If you’re reading this and you don’t know his music, you really do need to hear it. Check this Last.fm page to listen.

You didn’t seem to find a lot of peace in your life, if you want it now I hope you’re finding it. Thank you John.


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