Sunday, 1 January 2012

exit wound

there are things that I don't want to talk about
things I don't want to say

It is with great sadness that I report the death of Jackie Leven. What was really shocking is that I only found out yesterday in the February 2012 issue of Uncut.  The self-confessed extremely violent man passed away on November 14th 2011 from cancer.  Ian Rankin was quoted in the article as being shocked that Leven had only been given 24 hours to live.  Rankin had Rebus listen to Leven in one of the novels.  He had also made an album and toured with Leven a year or so back.  The album was called Jackie Leven Said which is a pun on a Van Morrison track.  Leven was often compared to Morrison mostly for metaphysical lyrics or somesuch. He was a large man - one of those "larger than life" types.  Read the obituaries in the quality press, but read the Uncut piece by Graham Thompson for a more enlightened view.

I said in my post on Single Father that I haven't really listened to him that much over recent years.  That isn't quite true, songs from the two or three album I have by him regularly come up on my iPod. Ironically enough, I Think I'll Move to Paris, a duet with David Thomas has just come on as I type.

I learned of the writing of the American poet Robert Bly from Leven.  This led me to reading Bly's Iron John which was essentially about trying to re-masculinise American men (or something).  A few years back a student wanted to study Fight Club which I have always found to be a difficult film text to work with.  He was a bright student and after having read the original novel he wanted to discuss the film in detail.  I pointed him in the direction of Bly's book, which to his credit, he read.  I am reminded here of my own attempts to educate myself whilst at school.  Fearing I was basically hopeless at Maths but not a totally hopeless case, my teacher Doug Ross, leant me a copy of Titus Groan.  I gained far more from that than I ever did from attempting to study Maths.  Hopefully my student will one day be able to show that some wider reading has helped him have a deeper understanding of a film than just some ridiculous postmodernist veneer that the film seems covered in. Evidently the rise in Men's Clubs in America were a direct response to Bly's book - or both were part of a general zeitgeist, perhaps.

Anyway, in a roundabout way, Jackie Leven helped me help a student by passing on something that I had learned.

I don't really believe in life after death - we live on in other's thoughts and memories.  So I don't really envisage Jackie Leven joining some "choir invisible".  So I'll just raise a glass of whatever I'm drinking (Adnam's Gunhill at this point in time I'll perhaps raise a glass of Jura tonight.  Much more in keeping) and just say cheers.  Thanks for some excellent music and some poignant songs. Your life seemed to be a restless one. Rest in peace, finally.

it says your journey's over
it's time to sail away

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