Thursday, 15 August 2013

A love of Roy Orbison...and George Harrison...and Neil Diamond

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am fanatical about my music. Indeed, any regular reader of this blog will have struggled to have failed to notice the many blog posts dedicated to my musical loves.

But what I find amazing about my musical life odyssey is that every so often, I'm introduced to an old sound that suddenly grows on me. Often I have found myself listening to music that I had long derided for not being to my musical pallet to find all of a sudden, out of the blue...that actually, it's bloody brilliant!

It has happened before. There was a time when I actively detested the Bee Gees. In particular, their single 'You Win Again' deeply grated with me every time I heard it. What happened and when I can't recall but as time moved on and my musical tastes mellowed I suddenly found myself appreciating the Brothers Gibb and favourite Bee Gees song is 'You Win Again'. I couldn't make it up.

Arise Neil Diamond
In recent months, I have similarly found the revelatory road to Damascus with the music of Neil Diamond. Don't get me wrong, 'Sweet Caroline' is and always will be a dance-floor and karaoke hit but until recent months, I never gave him the light of day beyond that. But now I must admit to being a bona-fide fan and hear are a mere few samples of his musical genius...

From 1970...

From 1976...

Arise George Harrison
My love of Roy Orbison is already well documented. Indeed, he easily makes my highest list of pop artistes alongside Elvis, Freddie Mercury and Johnny Cash.

What I loved with 'The Big O' was that his talent clearly transcended down the generations and was appreciated by those who came after him. So clearly was this the case that in the late 1980s, the super-group 'The Travelling Wilburys' was formed by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty...oh and of course, Roy Orbison himself.

The great heartbreak to the story is that just weeks after their first album was released to popular acclaim on 18th October 1988, Roy died of a heart attack on December 6th. The band continued and released a second album in October 1990.

Amidst everything, the band put together some wonderful music and at the heart of it was George Harrison. I'll admit now to being one of those that has underestimated the '3rd Beatle' in his post-Beatles 1970+ solo career and yet I've always had a soft spot for a number of his solo efforts. But only in recent weeks and months has that become more than a fleeting appreciation.

What sealed it was when I came full circle and realised to my amazement that a song that I had heard on a handful of previous occasions but which had instantly resonated brought me back to the 'Travelling Wilburys'. I instantly recognised the lead vocal as being that of Harrison and when I investigated further, found that the single was not his but in fact, that of this super-group.

'End of the Line' is a gorgeous song but what grabbed me was the video when the haunting vocal of Roy Orbison came back from the grave mid-way through the song. As it did, the band filmed the video to show in tribute, a picture frame of the man himself and alongside them, a rocking chair rocking away with 'The Big O's' guitar sitting on it.

That got me and it simply moved George Harrison up into that select group of musicians that I love...which of course includes Roy Orbison himself (and also as it happens...Jeff Lynne!).