Readers of this journal may be wondering why I haven’t posted an entry for quite some time. The last time I wrote was in June 2022 which, even for me, is a heck of a long time ago. The reason for the journal’s absence is rather complicated to explain. Obviously, much has happened that would now take several pages to recount, if I could even remember it all. But let me attempt to at least dance around my existentialist handbag, whilst avoiding emptying its messy contents all over the ballroom floor.
To be honest, I think I’ve been feeling rather low for some time. Depressed? Well, maybe, though I’ve always fought against that possibility. But several things have pushed me in that direction of late.
I caught some sort of prolonged cold/flu virus a few weeks ago which left me feeling weak. Still not fully recovered. Thought it might have been Covid at first but a test proved negative, so some other bug perhaps.
Another thing that I’ve found hard to deal with is the news of so many musician’s deaths these last few months: Jeff Beck, David Crosby, Terry Hall, Jet Black of The Stranglers, Angelo Badalamenti, Alan Rankine, Charlie Gracie, Yukihero Takahashi, and today the sad news of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s passing.
The last two names have a personal poignancy for me as I worked with both Yuki and Ryuichi in Yellow Magic Orchestra in the ‘80s and also with Yuki on his, (and my,) solo projects back then. Yuki was also my wife Emiko’s ex-husband.
Both Yuki and Ryuichi had valiantly battled with cancer for some time but, in the end, defeating it was no longer possible. We had been in touch with Ryuichi via email on occasion during his last few years so knew that things were deteriorating to some degree, but this morning’s sad news came as a real blow. Emiko had known Yuki and Ryuichi since they were students at University in Tokyo in the 1960s and she was witness to the formation of YMO after Yuki’s time as drummer for The Sadistic Mika Band in the ‘70s.
It’s fair to say that YMO were the biggest band in Japan back then, a remarkable three-piece who took the Kraftwerk template to another level entirely. Working with them was a wonderful experience for me, as was later touring Japan in Yuki’s band and having him play on my ‘Chimera’ album. The joint rhythm section of Yuki on drums and the late Mick Karn on Bass gave that album so much punch.
Sad too, the sudden passing of Jeff Beck. I attended his concert in York last summer as a VIP guest, (thanks to a generous gift of tickets from the Nelsonica Team.) Jeff was on good form and very loud. He played a great version of Link Wray’s ‘Rumble’ which took me back to my teenage years of listening to American guitar instrumental music. Jeff, like me, had a fondness for that stuff.
Coming away from that concert, I had no idea that in less than a year, Jeff would be gone. I first heard him in the ‘60s, when he was with The Yardbirds and first saw him with that group on the ’60s TV show ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ playing the song ‘Shapes Of Things.’ His Indian influenced solo on that performance made a great impression on me, akin to later seeing Jimi Hendrix’s first TV appearance, (also on ‘Ready, Steady, Go.’ ) Jeff always had his own unique tone and touch, especially with his sensitive use of the guitar’s vibrato arm. I’ve noted elsewhere in my journal entries how I met him briefly at a Classic Rock Magazine’s Awards Ceremony. It was good to shake his hand and thank him for his inspiration.
Another thing adding to my low mood of late has been the further deterioration of my eye sight. On top of my Diabetes related and age related macular degeneration, I now have been diagnosed with Glaucoma. My driving licence came up for renewal and I had to take a DVLA sight test to get the licence renewed.
Unfortunately, my eyesight was not up to scratch so I can no longer legally drive. I’ve been driving since I was old enough, way back in the ’60s so the loss of my licence has dealt me a really low blow. I’ve always enjoyed driving but have now lost the freedom and independence that owning a car allows. Now I have to rely on Emiko to take me anywhere, though I have to accept that sometimes she may not always be available to do so. Emi hates driving anyway, whilst I loved it. One of life’s ironies, I guess.
To try and keep my mind off darker thoughts, I continue to pursue my endless recording session. The list of completed tracks now far exceeds the list I posted in last year’s journal entry. I’ve been on a roll, recording both vocal and instrumental tracks. A huge amount of work done and I need to start selecting and assembling tracks into some sort of coherent album form. The newest album I’m working on will be titled ‘Guitars Of Tomorrow.’ The title speaks for itself.
But I also have tracks set aside for an album called ‘Starlight Stories’ and one titled ‘Fables Of The Future.’ However, the next release this year will be ‘All The Fun Of The Fair’ which I completed towards the end of last year. It awaits packaging artwork which I have been somewhat lax in preparing but plan to make a start on this very soon. But there are still a handful of albums from the last five or so years which have yet to see the light of day. Again, artwork has to be prepared for these before they can be scheduled for release. Lots to do.
Bought a new microphone a couple of months ago. It’s called ‘The Amethyst’ and is made by the JZ microphone company. It’s got a lovely warm vintage sound and I’m very impressed by it.
Have been reading, (with great difficulty due to my impaired eyesight, ) Bill Frisell’s biography ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ which I’ve enjoyed and found it resonating with my own life. I’ve also recently bought a biography of Merle Travis which I will attempt to read soon.
Now I must end here as typing is increasingly difficult, even using an enlarged font size. But, as always as the evening begins, I will be switching on my studio and engaging with my music. A life saver in many ways. Tonight I’m mixing a new track titled ‘Mr Wizard Takes A Trip.’ This one will be allocated to the ‘Guitars Of Tomorrow’ album. All for now. I’ll try not to leave it so long ’till next time.