Bert Jansch - The Bert Jansch Sampler
Like many, I'm genuinely saddened to hear of Bert Jansch's death yesterday, aged 67. I've seen him play once with John Renbourne - a local gig, supported to encourage artists to play in the wider, small-venue community - and have listened to and followed his career with enjoyment, though I couldn't claim to have been a massive and consistent fan. No reason for not being; just the amount of music out there. But his influence as guitarist and songwriter on the folk and wider music scene is enormous.
Being honest, I doubt I would have initially picked this album as a top fifty, but I have no problem doing so now having been prompted by this news. A top fifty was always going to be a movable feast anyway; never ever a finite thing. There is no question, however, that this album was hugely influential in my fledgling listening experience. As I have recounted before, the sampler albums of the late 60s/early 70s had a massive impact because of the quality of music presented but also, and obviously, their cost. As a teenager I didn't have much cash for records. Bert's sampler album came out in 1969.
Favourite tracks are Rabbit Run, Go Your Way My Love, Needle of Death [and what a powerful impression this made on a young mind yet to experience the drug culture], Blackwater Side, and David Graham's brilliant Angie made popular by Jansch [and which I heard last night played on Planet Rock and thought it odd for that station, not having heard then of his death]. Every single song resonates because being one of the few albums I had at the time it was one I always played. So each - in addition to the inherent excellence - conjures images and remembered feelings of growing up at that time, and this fuels the emotion I feel today in hearing he has gone.
Unlike some of my friends at the time who were more skilled and diligent as budding guitarists, I never learned to play Angie as well as I should. I can still turn out a near approximation, but it's pretty basic stuff. Bert Jansch will have encouraged so many young guitarists at the time to emulate his style and hone their skills. What a legacy that is in addition to the recorded music and live performances.
In reading other tributes today I came across this quote from Neil Young and it sums up with huge affection the high regard fellow artists had for Jansch: With deep regret Pegi and I acknowledge the passing of Bert Jansch. Pegi and I were lucky to play with him on all of our shows for the last couple of years. He is a hero of mine, one of my greatest influences. Bert was one of the all-time great acoustic guitarists and singer songwriters. Our sincerest sympathies to his soul mate Loren. We love you Bert.