If I remember correctly it was the summer of 1988. We had been recording over in the west coast of the USA for the first time and returned to the more prosaic duties of playing gigs and festivals up and down the land. I realised I never liked festivals. I still don’t really – though I had one of these strange moments at one this summer which made me realise why people occasionally love them; more on that later. On this particular Saturday our band played an afternoon slot at the Reading Festival. One of our guys pointed to the stage and said, “It’s a bit of a ritual here, but the first 5 minutes of any set the lads throw all their plastic beer bottles on stage. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone.” It happened to us, but as the urine filled bottle hit Graeme’s guitar for the nth time a strange clarity broke over the proceedings for me and I led our troupe offstage.
At the time it seemed as if we were the ones breaking social convention. However I realised that whatever I hoped the live experience might be it was never going to blossom in the mud/bear/beer pit of Reading Festival. In the middle of all this mayhem was an adjoining portacabin which was the makeshift dressing room to the turn on the next stage about to endure the same bottle dodging maelstrom. The turn in question was John Hiatt.He had made a favourite album of mine at the time, ‘Bring The Family.’ It was recorded in a few short days with a supergroup of Ry Cooder on guitar, Jim Keltner on Drums and Nick Lowe on bass. The bass player was sitting in the portacabin hanging with John.
I can’t remember much of the chat with John but I remember Nick vividly. He was charming, welcoming and friendly. I enjoyed John Hiatt’s set from the same vantage point as Nick and took comfort that he received as many missiles as we had. The next time I met Nick it was at a gathering to decide who should be worthy of a Q award ( I know!). After lunch he said to me, “I’ll give you my number – I think you should have it.” I was more than pleased to have Nick Lowe’s number in my diary even though I would never use it. It would be twenty two more years and some wonderful Nick Lowe albums later that I would have the joy of meeting Nick again.
To my delight he was the act on before us at the Glastonbury Festival 2011. It was ironic that it would be at a festival – perhaps the twenty three years had help me forget. To my joy and surprise the festival audience had grown up and changed into quite the most lovely audience in the world. As Nick and I met again in the gloomy backstage marquee that passes as a green room I was curious to find out whether Nick had a new album coming out and was delighted to hear about ‘The Old Magic’ and immediately booked him for Another Country. The plan was for me to go to London to meet him but I couldn’t make the trip so we chatted down the line, and what an enjoyable chat it turned out to be. Nick talked about these wonderful songs on his great new album, about his old friend Elvis Costello (who he’s covered brilliantly on the new record) and about life round the Carter-Cash dinner table. It will all be on the AC this Friday. By a nice coincidence we’ll be playing new songs from Ry Cooder and John Hiatt too.
What else? The Avett Brothers and Ron Sexsmith on their favourite Bob Dylan album, ‘New Morning.’ Yes it’s 1970 in Bob Backwards.
Also wonderful new music from Lindi Ortega, Lindsey Buckingham, Devon Sproule, Ryan Adams and yes……Dirty Beggars. We’ll also mine the catalogues of Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash and Elvis Costello.
It all starts at 8 o’clock on Friday Evening on BBC Radio Scotland.
Sunday Morning With……
On Sunday I will be chatting to Mary Contini whose memoir ‘Dear Olivia’ is essential reading for anyone wanting to know about the Scots Italians.
Mary’s family story is a great century-long adventure and it never moves too far away from the kitchen – which suits me perfectly. It’s only a shame the radio cannot give you the aromas which must have filled Mary’s childhood.
Aric Sigman is going to join us to talk about this book…
And we’ll hear from parents here in Scotland about how they go about letting their children learn about alcohol and its effects. We’ll also try to discover the best ways to allow teenagers to discover alcohol and see if anyone thinks we can do it better that we have up till now.For those of you wanting a more musical instruction on the perils of the demon drink feel free to learn the words of this Two Ronnies song.
His book on the loss of his own brother and sister-in-law in the Asian Tsunami makes powerful reading.
It’s 50 years since the founding of Amnesty. We hear some of the reasons why we need to keep listening to what they are saying.
Great music from Stevie Wonder, Diana Krall, Ennio Morricone, The Impressions and Michael Kiwanuka. All from seven on Sunday morning. Join me if you can.