I blogged recently on having seen Roy Harper at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester in October, and having been very disappointed in his well below par, distracted, forgetful performance. In compensation I’ve been listening to his back catalogue almost constantly since, including his epic (one of his many epics) Lord’s Prayer, a complex 20 minute poem / modal song in seven parts variously voiced over atmospheric background music and sung to melody and accompanying musical arrangement (*). It’s one amongst the immense back catalogue I’ve been revisiting since the summer when looking forward to the autumn concert – where I discovered total recall of every word, note and nuanced sound, despite previously not listening to regularly for 35 years or more.
Tragic to hear last week that the reason for his distraction was the fact that the week before the concert he’d been formally charged on child sexual abuse (9 counts, 1 12 year old girl) in 1975/78. I’m still struggling to imagine how his lifestyle at the time could have led to such a situation, but as someone else commented, he has never been the kind of public celebrity likely to attract false attention-seeking accusations.
I’ve been listening to his back catalogue again with even greater intensity. I came across this recent (9/11 2012) posting on his blog on the demise of James Edgar (James Irish Jimi Edgar Schwartz-Schmaltz, Jimmy The Ghost, artist-shaman, 1939-2012) and the story of how he and his hand-tinted encyclopedia photo of Geronimo were the original inspiration for Lord’s Prayer. The Lifemask cover described is illustrated on-line here. Although the “aboriginal” imagery of the piece always reminded me of the American Indian vs White Man angle also used by Robert Pirsig, and let’s face it “I Hate The White Man” is a recurring theme, I had completely forgotten the visual imagery and explicit Geronimo references in the original album artwork. One thing you lose in these times of disembodied electronic media.
Sense amid the none sense.
[(*) – I can’t think of a track less like “driving music” than Lord’s Prayer, unlike the more promising Highway Blues, but it’s a track I find myself constantly listening to in the car.]