Hi there, thanks for dropping in. I've been recording as usual, the new one is Doctor Doctor, which will be on the second Village Green Machine album. It is influenced by stuff like The Ballad Of Tom Joad, and signed DC by Arthur Lee. A pretty moody piece about, stuff I'd rather not think about now. I was saying to my manager, it is always a silver lining situation when you are a songwriter, and some lousy piece of crap happens in life, and you can turn it into a piece of art - a song.
This one was written and recorded in a week, and produced. If you haven't downloaded any Village Green Machine stuff, please have a listen, and if you like it either buy the CD or download some stuff from any one of the major download sites. We were discussing how, people may think we have money, when in fact, we do not. We spend more than we earn, and this has been the case for a while now. I take what I do (Village Green Machine) very seriously. I have sacrificed everything and continue to do so, to do this music thing in a very serious and focused way, and this is how I will always continue. But yes, I'm paying the price- I think illegal downloading knocks us for six. If we sold all the music which people are listening to, I think we'd be doing ok. but apparently 19 out of 20 songs these days are not paid for. In the old days, I used to copy an album for free, I did it myself. But I also paid for lots. Now, how can musicians in my position earn a living?
Phew....this week I have been reading Ronnie Wood's extraordinary biography. I will tell more soon, but briefly, Ronnie was the first land living offspring of water gypsies. Now there's a good band name. Its mine, you can't have it! I have seen RW interviewed a few times, and generally warm to him, he seems a sincere and genuine man. But, any suspicions we might have about him and the boys living an outrageous, decadent life is completely founded. I will read again before telling one hilarious tale, see next week for the Stones smalltown drug bust- for now I will tell you about what happened to Ronnie with freebase cocaine. Once turned on to it, he spent 5 years in its spell. He lived in his bathroom with Bobbie Womack. Got hooked. Keith said enough was enough, went to see Ronnie in his hotel room and told him to cool it. To get away from Keith, Ronnie moved rooms, but Keith caught wind of it, and made for Ronnie's room with a bunch of cronies, on the war path. Keith picked up the freebase bowl and smashed it, going for Ronnie. Ronnie punched him in the stomach and kicked him in the balls, then staggered to Mick's room covered in blood, where Mick and charlie asked him to help out with a song they were working on. Ronnie went back to his room, where Keith got a blade out and held it at Ronnie's throat. They stared each other out, finally Keith said, "I'd kill you, but your girlfriend wouldn't like the mess". So, it was business more or less as usual in the Rolling Stones camp. I read a review of ronnie's book in I think Mojo, where the reviewer complained the autobiography doesn't pinpoint what makes Ron Wood tick, but I think this is an irrelevant point to have made. MUSIC makes Ron Wood tick for goodness sake. And how much does Mr Mojo get paid to pontificate?
Now, I've got to watch it here, because coming up is my interview with a man who is among the most distinguished music journalists in Britain, who works for Mojo magazine. Sid and I have been chatting for a couple of years or more - Sid Griffin. I am hoping Sid will write something (nice) about my Village Green Machine work; however it is nice to chat with Sid irrespective of any such requirements, and I talk to Sid cos I like to. Sid Griffin was in 80s heroes The Long Ryders, he wrote for them, sung lead vocals and played a mean guitar. Live they were more of a rock & roll band whereas the records had more 12 string Rickenbacker on them. Loosely linked with the US phenomenon popular among we UK music fans starved of a decent soundtrack to grow up to, known as The Paisley Underground, Sid was one of the cool dudes and leading lights here in the UK. Indeed, Long Ryders packed the clubs and hit the singles charts with songs like Looking For Lewis and Clarke, a really rocking 45 which helped shake the rafters which were clogged with vampire bats like Duran Duran, Wham!, and other hideous vulgarities, Sid, thanks for helping save the day. I remember jumping around when the LRs played, it was exciting and real rock & roll, a rare phenomenon in those days of sterile sounds. Sid has recently written a book about Rolling thunder era Bob Dylan, having already written a successful book about The Man. Sid's band have a new LP out, which he considers alternative bluegrass. I asked Sid about this, about Long Ryders and about Dylan.
SG I don't play a music anywhere near what the Long Ryders played now. The Long Ryders played 4/4 rock and roll, like the Kings Of Leon today, and that was fun then but now I play acoustic music. No more amps, no more electric guitars, no more drums...we are a quieter band who rely on musicianship and dynamics to get our point across, not volume or a big Nazi beat off the snare drum. In the 1980s I never dreamed I would play this kind of music but here we are! The Coal Porters now turn down work and gig only when the fee is at a certain level. A few years ago when I was still playing electric gigs we'd drive about anywhere in the UK for a gig playing £300 and those days are over, thank God. I don't expect to be rich but I don't want to lose money doing this either. Plus I am now playing a kind of music which is less reliant on fashion and trends, I am playing a music you can grow old performing. No one wants to see a grey-haired Long Ryder attempt to "rock out". Johnny Ramone said no one should be playing rock and roll past age 45 and he is dead right. As opposed to just dead.
ML Tell us about the most famous people you have met, known and interviewed as a music journalist, please do describe some of the meetings and how it went, and any little things which stick in your mind. Plenty of scope here I'm sure!
SG The first famous person I met was Dizzy Gillespie in 1975 when he brought his jazz group to my university in South Carolina. I was extremely nervous. There are too many names to mention but I have interviewed all the original Byrds and that is always a thrill for me to think about as they are my favourite band of all time. Keith Richards asked me if the interview was over, I said yeah, and he leapt up outta his chair and left the room before I could shake his hand goodbye much less get my photo taken with him! Brian Wilson and I were on a TV show together twenty years ago, he was really nervous and shy. Joe Strummer was an acquaintance, one of the best guys you could ever sell a guitar to and I sold him two about eight years apart. A sweet, warm hearted man.
SG My new book is out in April and is called Shelter From The Storm and is about Dylan's Rolling Thunder/Renaldo & Clara era. Again it is about 92,000 words and I have interviewed all sortsa people for the book but, alas, not Dylan. But he knows of me and I dig that alot. It sounds awful and very fan-ish but Dylan has said my name and that makes me smile.