Mudcat Café message #1728363 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #8816   Message #1728363
Posted By: Ragman
26-Apr-06 - 07:46 PM
Thread Name: Incredible String Band: An Appreciation.
Subject: RE: Incredible String Band: An Appreciation.
Can't believe that after all this time, no one has mentioned "The First Girl I Loved", and only one comment about "Good As Gone".

Good as Gone to me sums up the way Robin was in the early 60s. In the album notes, Mike talks about how Robin sometimes just seemed to need to "get on the road" and get away from everything for a while.


Good As Gone - Robin Williamson

A strange thought just crossed my mind
Paid the rains back in kind
Was the thought of sweet May coming on...
The days are running so slow
My heart is aching to go
And my feet surely itch for the road...

Oh now, the long, hot summer
Mm mm mm, the summer long

I have been tied to this land
Since the days I was planned
By the need to feed my body and my soul...
Look you can work to your grave
Waste your whole life away
What security then do you find...

Oh now, the long, hot summer
Mm mm mm, the summer long

I don't have no one to beat
Don't have no one to cheat
No I just need some room to uncurl...
I don't have no aim in view
Just some things to pursue
As I wallow around in the world...


Things I must do...
Places to see...
Things I must do
Now there's nothing left
To hold me here...
And I'll take the Southward road...


The first time I heard The First Girl I Loved was in the Folk Centre in a folk club in the upstairs flat of a condemned tenement building in Montrose Street in Glasgow, probably in late 1966, or early 1977. Robin started to play, and all the guitarists, or those who thought themselves to be so (including me), leaned forward to try to see what on earth he was doing. Robin turned sideways whenever he began those fantastic riffs in open G. We argued about how to play this for years after. The song was so powerful, and the guitar accompaniment was so different, and delivered with such authority, that like one of the previous writers, I still have goosebumps thinking about the event.

I was 18 at the time. I desperately wanted to sing that song in public, but never found the courage until 2002, because I was terrified to make a mess of it, so powerful and beautiful I felt it was.

Strangely, in more than 30 years this song seems to have been seldom sung and recorded by others, possibly because like me, it simply blows away the listener, and poses a real challenge for the imitator.

I play it in open G. (I still have arguments with my brother-in-law about how it is played, but I think I have just about got it now!)


The First Girk I Loved - Robin Williamson

The first girl I loved
Time has come I will sing you this sad goodbye song
When I was seventeen
I used to know you
I haven't seen you now since many short years
And the last time I'd seen you you'd joined the Church Of Jesus
But me, I remember your long red hair
Falling in our faces as I kissed you.

Well I want you to know, we just had to grow
I want you to know, I just had to go.

And you're probably married now
House and car and all
And you'll have turned into
A grown up female stranger
If I was lying near you now
I wouldn't be here at all.

Well we parted so hard
Me rushing round Britain with a guitar
Making love to people
That I didn't even like to see
Well I would think of you
Yes I mean in the sick sad mornings
And in the lonely midnights
Try to hold your face before me.

Well I want you to know, we just had to grow
I want you to know, I just had to go.

And you're probably married now
Kids and all
And you'll have turned into
A grown up female stranger
And If I was lying near you now
I'd just have to fall.

Well I never slept with you
Though we must have made love a thousand times
We were just young
Didn't have no place to go
But in the wide hill
And beside many a long water
You have gathered flowers
And they do not smell for me.

Well I want you to know, we just had to grow
I want you to know, I just had to go.

So it's goodbye, first love
And I hope you're fine
Well I have this sweet woman
Maybe someday to have babies by me
She is pretty
And a true friend of mine.

To finish this note off I must point out that I haven't forgotten Mike Heron either. I still sing his "Can't Keep Me Here". It simply hasn't dated. I loved Mike's quirky guitar playing and gentle lyrics.

I think the ISB were at their best from 1965 until about 1971. Their style was different, their early songs seemed to me to make very meaningful observations, and many still do even 40 years on. I don't think they were the same after Woodstock, where they simply weren't understood, and the setting wasn't right for their songs. It seemed to me that almost as a reaction to Woodstock, they became more and more mystical and strange, and I personally didn't understand them anymore. Maybe I was changing too, thinking about marriage and settling down etc. I just moved away from that scene. Throughout the years however I have come across many people who remember ISB when they first appeared on the scene. Many a long conversation followed...

"But hey, you young people,
I just do not know
I can't even understand you
When you try to talk slow....

That was way, way, back before World War Three
When England went missing,
And we moved to Paruguay-e-e-e-e"

From "Back in the 1960s" - ISB first album 1965

Keep this thread going, please...