If I am going to be totally shallow, as if there is an “if” there. I have always had a massive crush on Anne Briggs since I was a mere teen and being all pretentious with records under my arm walking through school as if I was in on some secret others only guessed at. The whole image of the hard drinking, hard living young woman in her slouched sweater sitting on the floor smoking and keeping pace with those aging folkies as they were put to shame by her pure voice is captivating.
Anne Briggs is something of an enigma, she burned bright and then essentially disappeared, dissatisfied with her own recorded singing. She still lives in obscurity refusing to record and she is represented by approximately 30 songs she recorded in her short career. There is always the what ifs out there, but the records are maybe enough.
She managed to influence almost every folk-rock, folk band and singer, her recordings have continued to influence musicians to this day. The Decemberists released an entire album named after her first e.p., Richard Thompson based the song Beeswing on what he knew of her character, which was mainly through Sandy Denny’s friendship and his ex-wife Linda, her version of Blackwaterside was influential to Bert Jansch who had the melody stolen by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page for Black Mountainside, go figure.
So this has 12 songs, almost half of her catalogue, I suppose now I should just buy them all as that is all there will ever be.
Browsing the records at the library I think I chose the most innocuous and boring album cover I could find, that homely brown color with the guys on the front that look like they were extras from The Good The Bad and the Ugly, maybe the band playing in the corner of the saloon.
Riding home on the bus I had no idea my musical palette was bout to be changed
“Bring your children down to the river side…’
I remember sitting in my bedroom in the early 80’s and trying to understand what I was listening to, I had been on a strict diet of Beatles, Quo, Hawkwind, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep, and any number of 80’s metal bands.
“I ask about your turtle…”
What the fuck is this about, sounds like a cowboy movie with some wacked out psychedelic lyrics, what’s going on my minds is confused. Honky Tonk piano, fiddles what is happening.
“It’s dog eat dog and cat eat mouse…”
This is not The Beatles man.
“In the winter of 65, we were hungry just barely alive..”
Now it’s freaking Gone with the Wind. Only this is dirty and “frankly my dear I don’t give a damn” may be the most polite thing said in this version of the uncivil war.
“Nah nah nah nah etc…”
“sat upon my grandpa’s knee…”
These are values that the sixties did away with, respecting our elders and listening, damn what’s going on here? Thats some old time tradition going on, where did this come from?
“when you wake you will remember everything…”
“I got a date with the captains daughter…” now we are talking man.
Now there’s funk shit going on, with some strange funky keyboards.
“when I get off this mountain…”
Oh the joys of co-dependancy , gambling drinking, and rowdiness, thats more like it man.
“if I spring a leak she mends me…”
This is something I can get behind. And now we yodel, yes, let’s go crazy.
Time to settle down it seems.
“thats just enough to get inside…”
Wow that vocal will tear you up, what the hell is going on. Where are the guitar solo’s?
“wishing for the rains…”
Flip that shot over.
Now we rock.
“I lock the door grab my shirt…”
Let’s go out and get crazy and dirty apparently, there’s the guitar and horns and a real strut, Jagger wishes he could sound this bad man.
“now there’s only one place that was meant for me…”
Time to relax, retire and remember the good old days.
“there’ll be thunder in the hill”
Now we have storms and threatening weather, guitars and pianos and a bit of a stomp along.
“three times loser you’ll never learn…”
Some preacher man singing going on, then we stagger around again with the bump and grind going on.
“we won’t be complaining..”
Kind of like coming down, that’ll mess with your mind after all the roustabout stuff.
“I work for the union, cos she’s so good to me…”
I think this covers just about every sound the early 70’s had to offer in sensitive songwriting.
“The smell of the leaves from the magnolia trees in the meadow King Harvest has surely come…”
Every so often you have to play Zeppelin if you are of a certain age.
It’s just a matter of which iteration of Zeppelin you want to go with. This evening there was a journey to Zeppelin and it all makes sense.
A little more Godspeed You! Black Emperor with Luciferian Heights, I think this is in preparation for the new album that should be traveling my way now.
The consternation this album caused in the brain caused me to reach for Topic Records excellent collection of an Introduction to Shirley Collins. Shirley Collins is not that far from Godspeed You! Black Emperor if you are in a certain frame of mind.
The drones and discord of these two albums naturally to my mind led to Led Zeppelin 3 with its mixture of folk, blues and some drones of it’s own. It’s also the only Zeppelin album my wife is able to sit through all of the way which is an added bonus.
It also kicks off with the Viking wails of the anguished on the way to Valhalla.
There is the also the joy of playing with the little wheel in the front cover to see which little picture will poke through the hole this time.
It alI seems a little less focussed and more honest than later releases, a bit messier and less calculated and there is also something that sounds like a banjo in there somewhere.