I remember reading CS Lewis’s autobiography over 40 years ago across a cold Easter holiday when my parents were away and I crouched against the radiator and for the first time, read a book continuously from cover to cover. Much of it was an introduction to the delights he’d found in his own youth, the ‘northernness’ he discovered in the Norse sagas, Robert Browning and well…I don’t think I remember much else in truth.
His own story, as I’m sure you know, was titled after a line from William Wordsworth: ‘Surprised by Joy; impatient as the wind.’ Much of that surprise came from his own conversion to Christianity which was the hook that pulled me in when I still sought the satisfaction of fundamental certainty later life seems to deem superfluous.
If certainty is too much to hope for it seems to me that the deep search for ‘joy’ is a life long quest which brings new twists and turns at every point in the journey. Sometimes it’s a literal path too. It was only recently we found ourselves on a week’s holiday walking a little cliff route I’d forgotten about and it was, for my wife, all new. On a sunlit early June afternoon it was joy unconstrained. I remember too the sheer exhilaration two years ago as we made our way along the north coast of Scotland and realised what beauty we’d been missing for fifty odd years. As the impressionists might have said, and Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: ‘The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.’
So it comes to the half-way point of another year and I look back and discover that again I’ve been bowled away by so many fine things I could easily throw away the past and rejoice in the new which this year has brought. Nothing is still quite as thrilling as finding a piece of music you want to play again and again. How much your heart leaps when you hear something and think…well that’s made my day. As I write I’m listening to Mattiel’s second album on vinyl and it’s so full of life I really don’t want to take the needle off…ever. It’s one of many records to have come out which, shortly on the AC, we’ll be celebrating as the cream of 2019’s crop of new releases.
On this week’s AC you’ll hear something wondrous from that Mattiel album as well as new tracks from Marren Morris, Hiss Golden Messenger and Midland in a two hour blitz of great new records you need to know over the summer. You’ll hear old favourites from Ry Cooder, Rosanne Cash and…Wings! You’ll also catch up on the latest news from our man on Music City’s streets, our Nashville Correspondent, Bill DeMain who has reports of the recent southern storms in the city as well as a night at The Ryman which all of us would love to have witnessed.
We do all of this in two hours and you can hear the programme on BBC Radio Scotland from five past nine this Tuesday evening. Join me if you can.