It’s 1994. In the spring months I have gone through losing my father, watching Dundee United win the Scottish Cup for the first time having been (with my Dad) to 6 losing finals and…..done, what I thought, would be the last Deacon Blue gig ever. On top of all that we decided to move house…..
In late June we go on holiday to a remote village house half way up a mountain in the Alpes Maritime. It’s a lovely spot and for company we take a few key CDs. One of these is ‘My Life’ by Iris Dement. Was it just the times I was going through or did it really seem that God had delivered that album just when I needed it most. Songs of loss, struggle and ultimately redemption seemed the perfect soundtrack to my life….I’ll include my wife here too as she also loved that record. My mother came out to join us and she too loved the sound of Iris. Later on we were joined by my sister and her family and she too fell for the charms of that brilliant album. Iris came to Glasgow. We enjoyed her but there were some odd moments of personal reflection that didn’t quite sit as easily as the songs. However there was no doubt that Iris was a major talent and she would leave a stamp on me that few others have succeeded in doing.
So it’s with this background that I leapt with joy when I read about a new Iris album coming along in Uncut this month. Sure as shooting it was waiting for me when I got back from my month on the road. That’s a welcome home. So this Friday I’ll give you a flavour of what to expect from Iris on her first studio record of new songs for 15 years. Crazy huh? (I’ll tell you now you won’t be disappointed)
We will also have some great things from old friends The Jim Jones Revue, Grizzly Bear, Kris Kristofferson and Wanda Jackson. There will be no guests this Friday. There will be no exteneded chats and no deviations. We will simply play you some of the best new records you need to hear and remind you that there is so much already available you can still enjoy.
Now I’ve enjoyed playing live recently. It has been wonderful to get out and see songs come alive but there’s a big bit of me that has missed my Friday nights in on the radio. So why not stay in yourself or take a long drive and together we’ll spend a couple of great hours in Another Country.
It all starts at Five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.
It’s great to have you back on the air, Ricky! Will be wonderful to hear some new material from Iris Dement… I have a feeling I’ve waxed lyrical about her here before, but I first heard her music as “Our Town” played out over the final scenes of the TV gold that was Northern Exposure. I think I purchased “My Life” after hearing songs from the album on The AC, and it is “Easy’s Gettin’ Harder Every Day” that I find myself returning to over and over again. Iris’s voice has a timeless quality that perfectly suits the melancholic.
I’ve also enjoyed your live shows, so thanks for coming out and playing! The Roundhouse was an amazing evening, and I was glad to have a friend with me who’d not seen you live in twenty years but said it was the best gig he’d been to in a long time. For my part, as an AC aficionado, the highlight of a fantastic set in which songs from “The Hipsters” gelled so well alongside the old was “Loaded”. I should have expected some Woody Guthrie to find its way into the set given the centenary, and “I Ain’t Got No Home” was a perfect marriage. Invariably it’s those covers nestled inside your own songs that form highlights for me when you play live, but this was one of the very finest such melds to date!
I was actually a little spaced out in Camden that night as I’d only returned, a matter of mere hours previously, from a weekend (!) in Austin, Texas. I was actually in town for the film festival (long story, but it included a surprise catch-up with friend Lance Henriksen, and very little sleep!) but found myself on East 6th Street on the Saturday night. A beautiful cacophony of live music from bars all along the street, signs outside them such as “Soup of the Day: Whiskey!” and the occasional classically-garbed cowboy on street corners made for a wonderful atmosphere. By a scheduling coincidence, I was actually then in the front row to see Austinite Shawn Colvin share a stage with Mary Chapin Carpenter at the Corn Exchange on Tuesday as well (having missed them in London on the Monday due to some other band playing in Camden that took priority!) for a sublime evening. It’s been a surreal few days, that’s for sure. I’m back home for at least a few weeks now, though, so the AC will doubtless conjure up remembrances of such good times tomorrow night. Can’t wait.
Iris has been sorely missed. I first became aware of her when she toured with nanci Griffith (I hope I am not wrong!) Both My Life and The Way I Should are exceptional records. I have been lucky enough to see her live a couple of times, at the Ferry and at GRCH. At the GRCH she really struggled with tuning and it I felt really sorry for her! No matter a great songwriter.
For fun play David Byrne and nanci Griffith – Let the Mystery Be!