Wednesday, May 19, 2004

You know you are the only one. Yes, you are the only one.

I have seen the greatest singer in the world perform the greatest song in the world.

And this is my tribute.

I guess I better admit from the outset that I was somewhat under the influence but I hope that doesn't diminish my story.

It was witnessed by only a dozen or so people, in a mammoth coffee-shop tepee at Glastonbury. It was, at a guess, around 1am and the audience were lying on the tarpaulin floor sipping coffees and being generally mellow.

The coffee shop had a policy of free food and drink for musicians and a steady stream of troubadours came in through the tent flaps to entertain us. We sang along. We nodded our heads. We clapped when we could find the energy and we were all smiling like idiots.

Then HE came in. He was wild-haired and Celtic looking. I'm guessing he was Irish, he looked like he was no stranger to the craic and perhaps was one of those musicians that tour drinking holes to entertain Guinness swiggers.

He nodded to the crowd. Took a sip from his coffee and started to strum a battered acoustic guitar.

His voice, when he started singing, was howling. Deeply mournful at first and the small crowd caught each other's eyes and nodded and smiled in appreciation.

I had never heard the song before. I can't even remember how it went. All I can recall is that it soon started to pick up pace and it moved from melancholic to joyful as it progressed through the verses.

Our heads nodded more vigorously and our smiles grew wider as the song quickened. And, as it did so, it wasn't long before the strumming of his guitar became a blur.

By this time his howling voice was louder and clearer. He was holding notes for what seemed like forever. His eyes lighting up, watching us as we watched him in amazement.

Soon his right hand had become impossibly fast. You could no longer focus on it. The song was of the dueling banjos genre. He knew he could play faster and hold a note longer than anyone and he was enjoying watching our amazement.

It wasn't long before I realised I was in the presence of greatness. The song went on and on, faster and faster, all the time becoming louder and happier and the long notes, that should have turned him blue, seemed almost effortless.

I was nudging people and making amazed faces at them. Wasn't this the best singer and the best song they had ever heard? Were they as bowled over by it as I was?

I wanted to be Colonel Tom Parker or Brian Epstein. I wanted to go up to him and say "I'll make you a star". He was no pop puppet but he would have won Pop Idol or Fame Academy without even trying. He would have swept the board at the Brits and he would have had NME hacks gushing over him. Meanwhile, I would be there in the background, his greatest fan, puffing on a cigar and watching the world combust at the genius of my discovery.

Then, after reaching an impossible crescendo, the song stopped dead. There was a full five second of silence as we digested what we had just seen. Then the place went wild with whoops and clapping. If we had been capable of standing then the standing ovation would have gone on forever.

He smiled, bowed and left, walking off into the Glastonbury night.

I had wanted to at least know his name or how he had learnt to play like that. I consoled myself with the thought that this man would be a star. I would be able to buy his new CD on the day it was released and show off to friends that I had seen him play in front of a dozen people and that I had spotted his potential from the outset.

A year in and he hasn't topped the charts, or to my knowledge even been signed up or released a record.

But he will. His talent was surely too great to miss.

And as the people started to chat again after the post-performance hush I started to snap out of it. Someone passed me some Rizlas and I was back again in the now.

I wonder where he is now.

I wonder if he will be back this year.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.