People I Actually Know – John Wesley Harding and the New Deal

Okay, as much as I wanted to do a Week of The Who… I was not feeling it today… and you know I like to try be truly spontaneous.  Other listens just popped into my brain.  Although, that created a whole other theme for the rest of the week, as you will soon see.

I will most certainly get back to The Who as I have not yet discussed Tommy or Who’s Next or Live at Leeds, or… Wow… Now I am second guessing myself.  Nope!  It’s all good… stay tuned for more of The Who later on down the line.

Also, Songs For The Morning After bonus post is delayed because no one is suggesting songs and I am clearly going to have to create that on my own.  Sheesh!

The rest of this week’s theme will be simple… I am writing about people I actually know.  Not in passing, but folks I have actually spent time with.  Sadly, I do not see any of these folks very often anymore… some not at all… but I guess that is just the way life goes.

I will always have my memories, and thanks to the technology of recording, I will always have their music.

John Wesley Harding – John Wesley Harding’s New Deal

This was tough… I mean picking ONE album.  I also adore Why We Fight and The Name Above The Title and Awake… and Wes has a new record out called The Sound Of My Own Voice, which is quite enjoyable and so fricking witty, but I wanted to discuss my personal favorite.  I have almost all of his CDs… and I genuinely love his music.  That is always nice when someone is a friend of yours.  I can’t imagine it would be fun being a buddy and NOT liking someone’s music… It would be like disliking someone’s kid!  Although… come on Wes… it looks like there is a new version of New Deal with some awesome bonus tracks!!!  I guess I will be repurchasing that one!!!

Wes and I met in 1987 in Edinburgh, Scotland at the Fringe Festival.  He was in and had directed (and I think written) a play called Someone’s Been Telling Lies About Franz Kafka.  We met somewhere on the mound as we were both hawking our shows… I was in a sketch/improv comedy show called The Mee Ow Show.

That is what you would do… spend the day busking for change or hawking your show that was later on in the evening.  I will never forget hearing him and his very specific way of saying “Someone’s been telling LIES about Franz Kafka.”

We bonded and hung out almost the whole time.  In fact, Wes bought me my first harmonicas, got me to smoke something naughty and served me my first blood sausage and blood pudding.

Later on we would meet up again outside a John Prine/Bonnie Raitt concert at the then Universal Amphitheatre.  We caught up and when he told me he was recording and had some records out I was impressed… I felt odd when I realized I actually owned a few and did not know it was him… He was recording under the name John Wesley Harding.  We kept in touch and I would try to see him when he came to town.

In fact, once he played McCabe’s and told me Bruce might show up… I asked him which show I should come to, the 8 or 10 p.m.  He said the later show was probably the one.  Doh.  Bruce did show up and played the early show.  Wes felt awful… though probably not as bad as I did.  This still HAUNTS me!  My friend Toni who was there, said Wes announced from the stage, “Will you please help me welcome my friend Mr. Bruce Springsteen” or something along those lines… and the crowd laughed, thinking it was a joke… until the fricking Boss walked down the stairs and onto the tiny stage.  AAGGHH!!  She said it was amazing.

Wes’ music is smart and beautiful and funny and sarcastic and everything I love about music.  His style can range from folk to pop to rock and his songs stay with you.  He is a true craftsman and a gifted writer and although it has been a long while since we have hung out, I still say a friend… a friend I am proud of and proud to know.

He will be back at McCabe’s on Sunday, November 6th with the amazing The Minus 5… I am so looking forward to this show!!!

The first six songs in a row on this one are some of my favorites: “To Whom It May Concern”, “Other People’s Failure”, “The Secret Angel”, “Heart Without a Home”, “Kiss Me Miss Liberty” and “God Live Upstairs”.  That is a pretty damn nice run!!!

But seriously, and I am not saying this because I know Wes… the whole album, as are all of his records, is so worth sitting with from start to finish!  As I probably said to him in my naive and very mildly youthful and short-lived period of experimentation… “this is some good shit!”


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Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

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