Fiona put me in my place about Mike Oldfield yesterday, so I shall have to be more charitable the next time the music wafts through from next door. Still, Mike does very nicely down in Ibiza, thank you very much, while I pass my days dodging knife fights in Mitcham, so he’s obviously done rather better than I have, even if I still blame him for all that Virgin Media stuff.
I felt rather foolish yesterday when I sat down to do some orchestrating, only to realise that I had given away the copy of the music from which I was meant to be working. I will not get it back until Wednesday, so I shall focus on technical work and the viola piece in the meantime. It will mean a tighter deadline on the orchestration than I would have liked, but it is self-inflicted, so I cannot really complain.
Rather reluctantly I have also opened a Twitter account, having been more or less convinced that it is useful for spreading the news about my compositions. It is at (or is that @?) ukcomposer, the same name as this blog, and I plan to update daily, but don’t bank on finding out what I had for breakfast.
I have been deeply saddened over the past few days by the news that the drummer in my favourite band suffered a heart attack over the weekend. Latest news is that he is in intensive care and on a ventilator, so the prognosis is not good for a return to full drumming health. With deep pain I have had to admit today that one of the most fulfilling and profound musical journeys of my life has probably come to an abrupt halt.
Back in the old days I was a drummer too, traversing the arc from Lothlorien to The Electric Druids via various other less fulfilling outfits, and my style and setup at the end of the journey was hugely influenced by this man, who became and remains my drumming icon. Contrary to the huge drumkits and double-pedalling of less refined rockers (I’m looking at you, Lars Ulrich), this man uses a minimal setup of drums, gaining his colours from the broadest and most solid of techniques and a wide choice of cymbals, proof that the more you know the less you need to show. Bless him, he even took the time once to reply to one of my fawning emails on his way home from a tour. It was short, but sweet, and more than most people would have done. His name is Jerry Gaskill and his band is King’s X.
I first saw King’s X early in 1989, fresh out of school, and it was a life changing experience, an embracing and uplifting never-to-be-forgotten blur of energy. They had just released their second album Gretchen Goes To Nebraska and were playing their own headline gig at the end of a support tour with Anthrax. The place they played is long since gone, but I have seen them several times since, most recently at the concert which went on to become their Live In London DVD and album. The moment when they turn the mikes around and accompany the audience in singing Goldilox was joyous (and you can see me shouting along), and I have always left their concerts feeling as if it has been some kind of communal party.
Granted, after a 15 album career not every song is going to be solid gold, and Gretchen and the hard-as-nails Dogman remain their finest efforts, but their music making has always been characterised by acute intelligence and honesty allied to disarming modesty. They also know what the struggle is – Pinnick, their extraordinary bassist/singer was already 38 when their first album was recorded. He should know better at his age, but, as he insists on explaining, he can’t live without music, and decided long ago that it would be his life.
I wish Jerry all the best for a speedy recovery, and am keeping my fingers crossed, but the reality is that he is a phenomenally energetic drummer and heart attacks rarely come as single spies. Their music has accompanied me through my adult life, and it is hard to accept that there will be no more, if such transpires to be the case. The rest is silence.