We’ve had the first glimpses of spring this week in London. The skies have been occasionally blue but without the wind chill. I even went to work today without a jacket. More fool me as I came to regret it when the skies greyed over and a cold wind blew through the city.
In May of this year, we’re off to see Bill Callahan. There are a few artists that I would automatically go and see or buy their latest album without waiting for reviews or soundings. Bowie was one of them, Wilco are obviously another and Bill Callahan falls into the same category. I’ve seen him as Smog and seen him in his solo guise. His baritone combined with his spare song craft makes for an intimate and compelling evening.
Summer in the city is one of my favourite times. People head out of town, leaving the metropolis to those hardy souls who are willing to sweat the public transport. It still feels slightly dangerous, like the murder rate may creep up. There’s generally some reggae involved too.
You get your respite where you can and in this wonderful NPR clip, Bill is singing “Small Plane” from his last LP “Dream River” in a small verdant garden. It is an electric guitar, a microphone, some terrapins and taxis and it is beautiful. I love watching Bill, the way his mouth bends and his face gently creases to emphasise his rather occasionally odd phrasing.
The clip is filmed at the 6th and B Community garden in New York in the East Village. One of the reasons I love both New York and London is the way that public green spaces get used constantly. I grew up in the Midlands where most people had their own gardens. The parks were used for hanging out it in but they were the domain of teenagers not all the family. London is different. Access to external spaces isn’t taken for granted – it is treasured.
“Small Plane” is one of Bill’s elliptical love songs. I love this intimate snippet:
Sometimes you sleep while I take us home
That’s when I know
We really have a home
Anyway fingers crossed, I’ll get to see Bill when he comes to London. I’ve got an operation to fit in along the way but hopefully the timings will work out. In the meantime, here’s hoping for a scorching summer.