As the US economy heads over the cliff, and the Hegemony does its best to convince us to go to war against ISIS, Russia or Korea – in fact anywhere so long as its ailing Arms industry doesnt flatline……this series of songs came to me earlier today. All songs of leavetaking, most with the underlying theme of war and its dreadful consequences
1. Pleasant and Delightful – Shirley and Dolly Collins
Shirley and Dolly in all their glory singing the glorious Copper Family anthem. Taken from the magnificent ‘Anthems in Eden’ album
2. A Sailors Life – Fairport Convention
Fairport’s tour-de-force seminal folk-rock opus
3. The Banks of the Nile – Fotheringay
Sandy Denny’s second great folk-rock statement
4. Sloth – Fairport Convention
Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick’s magnificent collaboration and contribution to the anti-war ouvre
5. The Battle of Evermore – Led Zeppelin
Sandy Denny’s collaboration with Robert Plant and LZ. I found this lovely re-evocation of the track from a Page+Plant tour, featuring Najma Akhtar
6. The Band Played Waltzing Matilda – Eric Bogle and John Monroe
Eric’s fine tribute inspired by the Anzac Day Parade
7. A Reason for it all – Eric Bogle and John Monroe
Another fine song from Eric inspired by the discovery a woman in Sydney who had died 12 months before being found
8. River – Joni Mitchell
The standout track from another magnificent album
9. Farewell, Farewell – Fairport Convention
A new song by Richard Thompson written in the style of a trad folk song and set to the tune of the song Willie O’ Winsbury. Another evocative and beautiful vocal from Sandy Denny.
10. Meet on the Ledge – Richard Thompson
Richard Thompson’s classic anthem to absent friends
11. Walking on a Wire – Richard and Linda Thompson
12. Vincent Black Lightning 1952 – Richard Thompson
13. Vincent – Don McLean
14. Way Back in the 1960’s – Incredible String Band
15. Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan
16. The Same Old Rock – Roy Harper and Jimmy Page
17. Death Don’t Have No Mercy in this Land – Revd Gary Davis
and a final one suggested by my good friends Opher and Zouk, which really should be in the Top 10
18. When An Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease – Roy Harper
Another appalling but insightful blog from Disrupted Physician
Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good?
State-Based Programs Under Fire
August 19, 2015
There is growing scrutiny of US physician health programs (PHPs), which are state-based plans for doctors with substance abuse or other mental health problems.
Detractors of the PHP system claim physicians who voluntarily disclose they have mental health or drug problems can be forced into treatment without recourse, face expensive contracts, and are frequently sent out of their home state to receive the prescribed therapy. Some physicians allege that during their interaction with the treatment centers, large amounts of money were demanded up front before any assessment was even conducted.
In addition, critics assert that there is no real oversight and regulation of these programs.
Called by turns coercive, controlling, and secretive, with possible conflicts of interest, some say the PHP experience has led vulnerable physicians to contemplate suicide.
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My good friend Opher has recently been creating lists of ‘My best gigs’, ‘My Fantasy gig list’ and ‘The gigs that got away’. Here’s another in the same vein.
- Roy Harper. I’ve actually seen Roy countless times but since his enforced retirement due to a pending retrial, he’s top of my list as someone I’d like to see one last time (or more if he can manage it). He is and always has been (IMO) a superb singer/songwriter and musician, whose body of work has stood the test of time and many of his themes and concerns are even more relevant today than when he first wrote them.
- Bob Dylan. I was just too young to appreciate what a genius songwriter Dylan was and is, although I got to listen to all his early records at the time they were released. But his music never really grabbed me. It took me many years to realise how good he is.
- Dweezil Zappa. Frank Zappa’s son is by all accounts a very accomplished guitarist and interpreter of his father’s musical legacy. I used to like Frank’s early work with the Mother’s of Invention, but again was never a rabid fan and much of his later work is unknown to me. It was actually quite a shock to discover what a brilliant guitarist he was, and I’m really enjoying discovering his later output.
- The Magic Band. I always had a lot of time for Captain Beefheart, and his masterwork ‘Trout Mask Replica’ still gets played regularly. The Captain’s backing band were and are all brilliant musicians IMO, and they’ve played the UK a couple of times now. If they come back again, I really hope I can get to one or more of their gigs
- Neil Young. I have actually seen Neil once, back in the day when Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young headlined with Joni Mitchell at Wembley. I was actually quite disappointed on the day because the sound was abysmal from where we were sitting. I’d very much like to see him both as a solo artist and also with Crazy Horse, which is his full-on electric band
- Judy Dyble. Judy was Fairport Convention’s lead singer in the early days, who left before the band became popular. Although I’ve heard bits and pieces of hers over the years which I’ve liked very much, I only caught up with her music again very recently. Her latest album is wonderful, and if I’m very lucky I’ll have saved enough money to buy a ticket to see her shortly in Gloucester, before they all sell out.
- The Who. A favourite band from the early years, who I’ve never actually seen live. I thought their recent appearance at Glastonbury was astonishing, and I hope they play some more using that lineup
- Wilko Johnson. Another musician who I’ve admired and enjoyed ever since he burst forth as lead guitarist and songwriter for Doctor Feelgood. The recent record with Roger Daltrey, ‘Going back home’ is well worth a listen
- Guy Davis. Guy is a New York based blues musician who plays guitar, banjo and and is an awfully good harp player. He writes very good, modern bluesy songs. I chanced upon him doing a live session on Paul Jones Blues program on BBC radio last year. If you don’t know of him, go check him out, he’s really good
- Van Morrison. Another artist that i’ve loved from the early days. He still continues to make brilliant records, and I’m glad to see he’s still touring
- Joni Mitchell. As previously mentioned I did see Joni but was disappointed with the sound on the day. Her own health problems, and the fact that she had pretty much already retired from the music business, make this one a bit of a pipe-dream I suspect
- Kate Bush. I quite liked her early stuff, but it was really ‘The Sensual World’ that really knocked my socks off. I did try to get to see her in her recent run at the O2, but I’d evidently left it a minute too late because the whole series had sold out by the time I got through to the ticket website 😦
- Ziggy Marley. Bob’s eldest son (I think). Saw him many years ago fronting the Wailers. Would love to see him again
- Paolo Nuitini. A modern singer/songwriter with a great future ahead of him. Lovely voice and great songs
- Joan Armatrading. Joan actually played Stevenage just before I moved back to Colchester last year and I had intended to see her there. Chalk that miss down to a senior moment 😦
- Linda Thompson. Linda’s work with ex-husband Richard forms part of my permanent soundscape. She has suffered from dysphonia for many years, but with their son Teddy’s encouragement and assistance, she recorded a blinder of a new album last year ‘Dreams Fade Away’, and more recently took part in the Thompson family project, which I’ve yet to hear. I hope she may yet get to do some live gigs. Not only a beautiful interpretative singer, she’s also a hilariously funny lady, and her Facebook blog is a joy to read each day
- kd lang. Another wonderful interpretive singer whose early work I’m not that familiar with. She first really caught my attention with her masterclass cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and her ‘Songs from the 49th Parallel’ is another big favourite
- Leonard Cohen. I saw Leonard in London in the 70s and have been a big fan from his earliest days. The gig, as it happens, was on his 40th birthday, and he was mesmerising. I’d really like to see him again.
- Emmylou Harris. I’ve followed Emmylou from her earliest days with Gram Parsons and she just gets better and better. Another lovely singer and interpreter
- Peter Knight’s Gigspanner. Steeleye Span fiddle player has assembled an amazingly competent trio of musicians in Roger Flack on guitars and other stringed instruments and Vincent Salzfaas on congas and djembe. Their music defies description, but can be loosely described as World music with a traditional English folk bedrock. I was priveledged to see them a couple of years ago at Hitchin Folk club. I really hope its not the only time I’ll see them. Absolutely superb
- Shirley Collins, the acknowledged Queen of English folk-music was recently encouraged to sing again on her 80th birthday tribute/party. Like Linda Thompson, she suffers from dysphonia, so even that brief appearance, leading the assembled gathering with the Copper Family’s wonderful anthem ‘Thousands or More’ would have been lovely to see. I at least have fond memories of seeing her a couple of times when she was in her prime and accompanied by her elder sister Dolly. I look forward to hearing and seeing the wonderful tribute DVD to her that is in the making
- As with all these lists, there’s always a couple more that should be on this list and I can think of at least 6 more women that I’d very much like to see, either for the first time or once more with feeling (Cara Dillon, The Unthanks, Joan Baez, Kate Rusby, Kathryn Tickell) and several male musicians too (Paul Young, Dave Swarbrick, Vin Garbutt, Tom McConville, Richard Thompson, Chris Wood+Andy Cutting, Boo Hewerdine, Eric Bogle). But I’m not going to nominate any more living musicians.
But in the event of Time Travel being discovered within the rest of my lifetime, I would dearly like to go back to late August 1970, Afton Farm on the Isle of Wight to witness the amazing force of nature that was Jimi Hendrix. And if I were to push my luck, I would have also liked to have seen The Doors and Tim Buckley.
Jethro Tull – Too Old to Rock n Roll, but too young to die
I think this is a very good blog about suicide and depression, particularly referencing Robin Williams sad demise. Its a subject that needs to be talked about more openly and honestly, IMO
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A splendid piece of satire which my lovely friend Katy Anchant reposted on her blog. Its such biting stuff that I thought that Katy herself had written it. I find her writing hysterically funny, and her once daily ‘Letters to David’ are well worth a read. Sadly, her letters are few and far between these days.
Katy’s blog is here:
This piece by Mark Fiddaman is brilliant. Enjoy!!!
I’m a nut. Ask anyone who knows me well and I’m sure they would agree. My close family despair of me, I’m sure.
‘Head in the clouds, and doesnt know his arse from his elbow, most of the time’ might be the assessment from my very smart and capable, feet firmly on the ground brother-in-law. And I’d agree, up to a point. I personally havent shat from my elbow, nor attempted to give anyone a forearm-jab using my bottom, so I’d disagree with the arse and elbow statement. But I AM a Nut, and I actively seek to keep my head in the clouds at all times.
I fit one of the agreed profiles for nut-jobs.
It all started when I was 9 years old, walking to school on a particularly unpleasantly dark and misty morning. My younger brother was with me. There is a main arterial road which runs from Stevenage town centre out to various housing estates, and it separated the housing estate we lived on from the school. We were obliged to wait for a retired pensioner, wearing a fluorescent yellow coat and wielding his characteristic round warning sign on a pole, to guide us safely across the road.
Our well-loved ‘Lollipop man’ must have been in his late 70’s, and had thick pebble lens glasses and was also somewhat deaf, and wore a large hearing aid. Eventually, with no sign of traffic, he stepped into the road and beckoned us across. My brother Malcolm, as usual, was one of the first to cross. He was a fairly hyper-active kid who seemed to get into all sorts of scrapes very easily. Little did he know that he was about to get into his very last scrape.
Without any warning, it suddenly became apparent that there WAS a car heading up the road from the Town Centre, and on hindsight I believe that he was travelling at some speed. All we knew of it was a sudden screeching of brakes, a couple of sickening thuds, and then a sudden eruption of screaming and general hysteria. I watched it all happen in horrified slow-mo.
And when I got shepherded across the road, it was my turn to join in the hysterical screaming, as I couldn’t see or find my brother. I did however spot a broken looking doll underneath the back of the car, and it seemed to be wearing my brother’s raincoat.
And that’s pretty much all I remember of that day. I apparently become uncontrollably hysterical for most of the day, and was confined to the school’s medical room and looked after by the school nurse all day. When my parents eventually came to pick me up, they looked pretty broken too. When we got home, they told me the bad news. My younger brother had gone to hospital in an ambulance, but had fallen asleep before they had got there. And he wasnt going to be coming home. In later years, I was to discover that he had sustained a fractured skull and a ruptured liver and spleen. It also transpired that at the inquest, the Lollipop man had accepted full responsibility for the accident, and died shortly after, a broken man. I have no idea what became of the car-driver, but if he’s still alive, i imagine he’s had just as hellish a life as I’ve had since that day. He’s probably just as nutty as me.
Psychological counselling was not around in those days. It was decided that I would be better off not attending the funeral. A session with the School’s educational psychologist was considered, but not taken up. I was left to ‘come to terms with it in my own time’. I became almost catatonic in my withdrawal, and remained a very quiet, socially awkward fucked-up person throughout my teenage years, and finally started to come out of myself when I went off to University.
However, by that point I had learned the value of drinking to excess, and had also discovered the value of smoking a lot of cannabis resin as a sleep-aid. So when I got to UEA, I continued with my heavy drinking and pot-smoking, and not surprisingly missed out on a lot of classwork and associated marks towards my degree course. And so I got kicked out of the University at the end of my first year.
But that was OK. By then, I knew that I was a hopeless basket-case , living in a more and more surreal world where lying to my parents about most aspects of my life had become the norm.
The way I felt back then, I would have been happy to have got smashed one night and never woken up again. And yet here I am, some 40 years and 2 nervous breakdowns later.
I’m still a nut of course. After my first nervous breakdown, I had a brief course of counselling and was encouraged to grieve for my dead brother. I tried hard, but the feelings were buried too deeply and although there were some tears as I asked my parents all sorts of questions, trying to reconnect with them, my brother and indeed my own humanity, ultimately my deep-seated PTSD would not start to be excised until I had just turned 50, when I had my second nervous breakdown as my 2nd marriage fell apart. I then lucked out with a private psychotherapist, who over the course of 8 weekly 2 hour sessions managed to carefully and skilfully guide me into revealing my many onion layers and the full truth of my situation finally became apparent.
And so on the 7th session, she said ‘I think you may be suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD’ and when I did some research about the subject, I realised she probably was right, the usual symptoms of the condition fitted me to a tee.
Sadly, my therapist was due to leave the practise and move across country. She arranged for one of her colleagues to take over. On our last session together, my therapist told me that her expertise was in Jungian psychology, and that she believed that Jung’s ideas may be helpful to me.
Oddly enough, her replacement came into our first session, declaring that she was NOT a Jungian and had no intention of going into Jungian methods. And so I gave her my 20 quid and told her where to stick it and walked out.
And that’s when my path to relative sanity began. I read lots of Jung’s books and did indeed find them very helpful.
When I had started my course with my Jungian therapist, I was regularly smoking some severely strong weed which on hindsight contributed to the final breakup of the marriage. But the damage was already done, and the feelings of paranoia and rage that was I going through just accelerated the process. In my wacked-out state, I had come to the conclusion that I was possibly the reborn Jesus Christ, and she hadn’t pooh-poohed the idea.
So you see, I at that point could easily have become a Certified nut. But the research did pay off, and I came to realise what a nutty notion that was. About this this time, I also started reading HH the Dalai Lama’s books. And came to realise that everyone is Jesus Christ reborn. It just depends on you working at being the best human you can be, to become more like Jesus.
Roy Harper has a great line in one of his songs, ‘Twelve hours of sunset’ which has always stayed with me:
I used to think I wasn’t mad
But now I know its all I had
Can hope be lost? Or only seeming
These daze, I am content to be a crazy nut. Its the source of a lot of my creativity. Some of my ideas are well and truly out there. Others seem to be feasible and worth pursuing. My life’s work these days is to try and figure out which ideas are actually quite wacky and which are not.
And then there are those ideas which come to me, which are nuttier than a nut-loaf with an extra helping of nuts, but which my inner voice tells me are pure gold.
Such as this one, which bubbled up out of nowhere fairly recently.
We are beginning to see an increase in people with enhanced mental abilities, such as telepathy, psychokinesis, far-viewing, astral travelling and the like.
We are also aware that various nuts resemble parts of the human body, especially various organs. And the alternative-health folks would have you believe that these nuts are somehow beneficial to those organs.
So my question is: If a walnut looks like a brain, should I eat lots of them to increase my brain-power?
And if my brain-power IS increased, does that not mean that my brain IS ITSELF a nut as well.
Cos if so, I can foresee a day when we’ll need to crack our heads open and let our nuts grow out in the wild.