the m john harrison blog

Tag: music

a very weird feeling

Nick Coleman name-checks “the SF awkward squad” of the 70s in his memoir of a life in music journalism: “Thompson was much cleverer than me, but neither of us seemed to mind. What seemed important was that we both liked Harlan Ellison, M John Harrison, Michael Moorcock, LeGuin and the rest of the SF awkward squad.” It is a weird feeling to be on a list like that. But it is less weird than Coleman’s experience. Music was his life: he woke up one morning deaf. How do you encompass that ? What do you do with yourself next ? In addition, The Train in the Night is full of acute observations like this: “‘Make new’ was not the same thing at all as ‘make novel’. Make new meant ‘make real again.'” Some of us should have that stamped on our bank books in case we forget it in the stumbling run to become popular.


hoban, solnit, meadows

DGMFS offers Very different approaches to solo accoustic guitar. Nina Allan mourns Russell Hoban. The usual thirteen year old boy is skateboarding in the middle of the street. He gives up after a while, perhaps bored with going “Shhhhhh-tok-CLACK” over & over again, & trucks off towards the river. Reading: A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit. Still reeling from: the final episode of This is England 88. & remember: “There’s still time to engrave an iPad for Christmas”. So get your chisel out now.

endless connect

So SC comes over from the States & after we’ve caught up a bit I say, I wonder if the Francis Baines you knew, & I never met, the baroque musician, composer, the man who used a glass door turned on its side to build the window at the end of the ground floor here, could have also been an occasional member of the Albion Dance Band, because here’s his name, I found it in Wikipedia’s list of musicians who played in that band from the start ? It seems unlikely to me, I go on, but surely stranger things have happened ? Then I Google that a Francis Baines is credited as playing the hurdy gurdy for ADB as late as 1984, & SC says with a matter of fact shrug, “Hurdy gurdy ? That’ll be Francis then. Completely.” So it’s him! & the two Francis Baineses are one & the same: the man who made the eccentric house I live in, & made so much music here, & caused even more music to be made here by SC & many others, also played in the Albion Dance Band & maybe knew Lal Waterson or Martin Carthy. I don’t know where to put myself for delight at this, & skip about a lot, & even though it doesn’t have Francis Baines on it, play SC a live version of “Merry Sherwood Rangers” (ignore the visual & give it a bit of time to warm up), because I don’t in fact own many ADB tracks at the moment & it’s all I can find. The hurdy gurdy is one of the incomparably weird instruments. It is at least as weird as the crumhorn or weirder. I can’t believe this house once echoed to that sound; or, in fact, I can. If Viriconium Fish Head Morris ever got danced, it would be danced to hurdy gurdy, two violins & tuba. Also an unnamed instrument drawn by Ian Miller.