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GUEST,Philip Andrews, aka ((:o)x Bert Jansch - UK TV (BBC4) tonight (64* d) RE: Bert Jansch - UK TV (BBC4) tonight 03 Apr 14

Greetings from Shetland!

At the danger of being very boring, I'll include excerpts for general consideration, from a couple of recent email exchanges with a good friend of mine in Notts:

"    I got the Beeb 4 'Genius of Bert Jansch' recording on the second try - truly one of the greats. Hats off IMHO to all who contributed to making it such a sympathetic and revealing exposition of Jansch's life - and if it has the effect of drawing attention to the whole of Bert's incredible musical back catalogue, it'll do a considerable service to future generations of thinking and contemplative folk musicians."


"> I thought simpson had significantly changed the melody.

    I wondered about that during the first verse - and then realised that, just like all of the skilled Kottke copyists, he couldn't very well just crank out a standard version of Jansch's own arrangement (both guitar and vocal) and expect to get away with it. Apart from anything else, Simpson's own style on guitar would have got in the way. It would be like coming up here as a known incomer, and trying to talk to the locals in a Shetland accent - it would be viewed as bogus and suspect at best, and insulting and duplicitous otherwise. In the same way, I think that all of the players on that tribute show were stuck with the same problem - because, even if they'd been able to reproduce Bert's arrangements and twiddly bits for all the rest of the tunes, where would be the point? (I did that for years, as an amateur folk-club floor-spottist - but my 'excuse' was that I didn't view myyself as being a guitar player at all: I was a would-be singer, who wanted to sing the songs with their original accompaniments; and that applied to material by Jansch, Donovan, James Taylor and a great many others besides ... I just loved singing the songs, and for me, that was where it began and ended - until my stupid smoking habit finally caught up with me in 1993, and brought any ideas of singing to a very sudden end. All I get now when I try it is choking fits - and since there's insufficient emotional content involved in simply playing the guitar, there went the motivation to do either. The Kottke thing that came later was genuine - but it still turned out to contain too little of what I needed without the vocals to be worth continuing with, which is why, for now, it's in abeyance.) If the screening of that show revives specific interest in Jansch among the latest generation of folkies and would-be folkies, and increases general younger-generation interest in the folk scene, that would be a substantial legacy for Bert Jansch to have left behind him - and more power to his friends for doing the show for him so well and respectfully.

> Anyway, why no renbourn for gods sake? Did they fall out?

    I wouldn't have thought so - it's far more likely that Jansch fell out with playing the guitar for a living (consider how rough his playing became in his last few years, and how he couldn't remember the old arrangements to tunes such as 'Strolling Down The Highway' etc, possibly due to how heavily he used to drink); and in the process of effectively stopping doing it, he'd have lost any common ground he might have had with Renbourn. These things happen, unfortunately, and they don't always take a falling-out to cause them."

I missed Jansch's early musical adventures by about ten years, apart from seeing Pentangle at Bradford Uni in 1969. The age difference between us (ten years), plus the lack of resources on my part, prevented me from wandering around the country at will, soaking up his music 'live', as I did for decades with later players. One of Bert's tunes, 'Alice's Wonderland', has kept my interest in (and curiosity with) the guitar alive for nearly fifty years - and it still intrigues me in all of its neatness. One of my brightest musical memories is that of playing 'Running From Home' on two guitars with another good friend - George Baker - at the Ducklington Folk Club in 1981. (I did the easy bit - George was the better player of the two of us, and followed the guitar arrangement one bar behind. We didn't get thrown out for doing it - possibly because the club organiser was a very civilised person, and quite probably still is.) All I can say is a heartfelt 'thanks' to the likes of people such as Bert Jansch, for creating the small musical wonders that lit up my enthusiasm for so many decades, and which still do whenever I return to them (which is more often these days).

More than you all wanted to read, I bet :o)

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