If, like me, you are a fan of the late Tim Buckley you will, no doubt, recognise the name of Larry Beckett. Larry is a Beat Poet who wrote the lyrics to many of Tim's best known songs including the wonderful [and much-covered] "Song To The Siren" and "Morning Glory". In fact, prior to Tim being signed by Elektra Records as a solo artist [and what an artist!], Tim and Larry were in a band together called "The Bohemians". Larry contributed lyrics to Tim's debut album, as well as the wonderful "Goodbye And Hello"and "Starsailor". Larry is still writing poetry and one of his current projects is his collaboration with English band "The Long Lost Band" who are based in Lancaster. Together, they have released an album "One More Mile" which features Larry's poetry set to music by the band.
Liverpool Acoustic pulled off a major coup when they secured one of only two performances by Larry with the band. That performance was tonight and it was absolutely superb.
As usual for Liverpool Acoustic Live, the venue was the beautiful View Two Gallery on the world-famous Mathew Street. Also, as is the norm, the evening was opened by a couple of local acts, the first being singer-songwriter David James Robertson, who entertained us with his excellent songs about the people and places in his life. Of particular note were "My Angel", which he wrote for his wife and "This Old Town", a love-letter to his home town [Liverpool, of course].
The second support act were all-female duo Geoghegan Jackson, who are Susan Geoghegan [guitar] and Helen Jackson [vocals]. This was their "comeback" gig after a break for Helen to "have a baby and eat cake". They state their influences to be Patti Smith and Nick Cave and proved the former to be true with a powerful version of Patti's "Dancing Barefoot" and the latter to be evident on their "Vegetarian Vampire song" which may titled "Dine On Flesh". Overall, it was a fine performance by Susan and Helen.
And so to the main event which began with Larry Beckett reading part of his recently published epic poem "Paul Bunyan". When I say epic, I mean epic, as in book form it runs to 91 pages. The poem tells of the outrageous and highly improbable adventures of the legendary giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his cronies Big Swede, Shot Gunderson [the rip-snorting snuff chewer] and Chris Crosshaul [a white water maniac].
After a couple of numbers by The Lost Band, "Starlight" and the woozy, intricate "Dreamboat", Larry joined them for a recitation of his poem "John Lennon" accompanied by Stuart Anthony on acoustic guitar. Larry was clearly moved to be reciting his ode to John just yards from the site of the Cavern Club. The band then performed the poem as a catchy rock song, which certainly had more than a touch of the former Beatle's music about it, with some fine lead guitar from Matt Appleton and some fluid bass lines from Oscar Armer.
The next three numbers all featured Larry with the band. The first was "On The Hook". Larry explained that in 1975, Tim Buckley asked him to write a song "about being high" which included the lyrics "walking on the clouds". Larry duly obliged and dictated the words to Tim over the 'phone but unfortunately Tim died before he could record the song. However, the song has now seen the light of day as it features on the album "One More Mile" and was performed live tonight by Larry [on piano] backed by the band.
The next number was rather special, as Larry and the band played "Song To The Siren", which was Tim and Larry's favourite of all the songs they wrote together. What was special about this version was that it included spoken-word passages by Larry in which he described how he came to write the words. He explained how, in 1967, he was in love with a girl and he wrote a poem for her using Homer's imagery, which he took to Tim Buckley, for Tim to write the melody. Larry described how Tim "started doodling and, like a miracle, hearing the dragging, grieving melody for the first time. He [Tim] and I always loved this song above all others".
The final collaboration was the mysterious "Babylon", a taut rocker over which Larry intoned "How Many Miles To Babylon?".
It's pretty remarkable that five decades on from his masterful work with Tim Buckley, Larry Beckett is still combining his poetry with rock music and all credit is due to The Long Lost Band for providing such a fitting musical landscape for his words. Their album together "One More Mile" certainly deserves to be widely heard.
Thanks to Graham and Stuart of Liverpool Acoustic Live for putting on such a memorable and innovative event.
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