Sunday, 21 February 2016

John Martyn - Couldn't Love You More - BBC Songwriting Circle, 1999

I have been wanting to see this again for some time, from the BBC's Songwriting Circle, 1999. I don't think I saw it for the first and only time in 1999, but it was not long after. I recall so clearly my happy surprise that John was going to perform, and my shock at his opening guitar playing which was so indifferently poor. And then he starts to sing. It is of course one of his many beautiful songs, and one swelled with such emotion, and when he closes his eyes and sings at this live event that emotion is overwhelming, carried in the glorious vocal that had become his focus in later years - rather than the virtuoso guitar playing [and he could still play - it was a decision he had made].

Near the start, there is an example of John's classic self-effacement, the hand waft in mock dismissal of the crowd's applauding, loving accolade; at the end, having performed with such tender empathy a song about his heartache of a few years' earlier - lived again fully in this moment of performance - he turns away immediately, clearly affected, as we all are/should be having listened.

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