I’ve been dipping in and out of YouTube collections of John Martyn live concerts – a rich resource – and there’s no reason other than I will always be listening to his wonderful music, here and there and now and then because it is the very best, and my passion for this is reflected in a variety of reviews that can be found here.
One completely new source discovered today was the Danny Baker tribute made on his BBC London Daily Show on the very the day of Martyn’s death – 29th January, 2009. Danny, a long-time and deeply fond fan – had arrived to give his programme as planned to only then find out Martyn had passed. What followed is an entirely spontaneous two hours of devotion to John’s music through nostalgic remembrance and playing songs – that is, what can be acquired in that time. It is a ramshackle, often rambling, but always profoundly affectionate tribute, with Baker reminiscing in a loop of surprise, upset and praise. As he states, he never played Martyn on his radio programme because it is such a private love of the music and the man.
I understand and agree with every disjointed and incoherent words he speaks, especially at the beginning of the programme and as it becomes more cogent and sustained beyond broken sentences when more music has arrived [there must have been a flurry of attaining from anywhere].
Baker states there is little music available in the studio, claiming everything else has been looted, and quite rightly so, and he also makes an observation about his own John Martyn record collection of how this vinyl must always remain personal and private because of the too many rooms they’ve been in, and too many places with you.
Baker grows into more control as the programme progresses, and he obviously has to explain to listeners, especially those joining in after the start, what is happening in the singular focus, and he also feels a need to apologise at times, stating at around one hour and twenty minutes in [speaking collective of the programme makers but meaning himself] we are not show-boaters and stuff like that.
Baker’s control is just that, and perhaps typical of the incessant raconteur at his core, so when people email in comments or even ring through with these, Baker interrupts and overrides with his own. Well, he’s entitled. After all of these years I still miss John Martyn but have the personal collection to dip in to for remembering and thus fully empathise with Baker’s thoughts then and now. Indeed, I played two of Martyn’s albums today and have listened to the two hours of this radio programme.
It’s no great commitment to the latter if you are a fan, and if you aren’t [though I’m not sure anyone would be reading this if not] there is much to learn from it.