Friday, 26 May 2017

The Lost Art Of Letter Writing Vol. III

Subject:  A thank you, for the beauty of sound and word, that you have given
Monday, 31 October, 2016 13:54
Dear Clayton,

I moved to the Scottish Borders with my pregnant wife at the end of 2014, Angus J---- W----- was born May 2015, and life has not been the same since. I gave up work at the end of last year to look after Angus. Mary out earns me, and I was looking to change careers, so it seemed a good time to walk a way from the horticultural coal face I had laboured at for the past thirty years. It has been, as all worth wile endeavours are, harder and more difficult than expected. It's not helped that I became a stay at home dad in the Borders, even though I have met some great people, there is a strong streak of red neck here.
One morning a week I sculpt, I put on Analog is better than digital, stick it on repeat and work on creating 28mm model soldiers, fantasy stuff, Lord of the rings kind of thing. Like many others my musical tastes were shaped by listening to John Peel shows, my cd collection has the Smiths to Beirut , Portishead to Nirvana , Cat Power , Tricky, Massive attack, Loudon wainwright the third.
And so on, and you, I have all three of you albums, I have played them more than any other cd I own, your songs mean as much to me as any of the tunes by any of the artists above.
I lived in Cambridgeshire before coming north, and made it to the folk festival, 2011 to 2014. Most of my time there was spent at the people's front room or the Hub. I chose to watch Bombs , Toyface and Clayton Blizzard over anything on any of the other stages.
It was money well spent ! Sadly I have missed the last two Cambridge folk festivals , I hope to catch you some day as I have missed hearing you live , I watch on you tube but it's not the same!
When you sold me your CDs , you handed them over saying this was your life's work, I blanked you and simply handed over my money, I had nether the wit or charm to speak, to say how very much I had enjoy your music. Shabby poor of me. Truly a charmless man . Your work is art. I thank you for the beauty of it.

Best wishes, and kind regards,
Love from David

Sent from my iPad
Subject: Typo!
Monday, 31 October, 2016 17:53
Your albums! Not you albums.
If anyone should have half way eloquent, and adoring listeners, its you!
My thanks to you again, and I hope life is being kind.

Sent from my iPad
Subject: Typo 2!
Monday, 31 October, 2016 20:05
Enjoyed !
I'm Dyslexic , the spell check catches spelling mistakes , however sometimes I miss spell a word, and correctly spell a word I did not mean to use , or read what I mean as I write it , and not what I have in fact penned. It's a fucker when I try to convey my thoughts in the written form, also I have an odd turn of tongue at times, which often makes my missives wonky to read.
I am not sure why I should worry that  you might think I am a plank , but clearly I do , which makes me think I may be , which is a worry!
On Mon, 7/11/16, Clayton Blizzard <> wrote:
Subject: Re: A thank you, for the beauty of sound and word, that you have given
To: "david w-----" <>
Date: Monday, 7 November, 2016, 12:48Dear David,
Thank you for your letter.
It’s difficult to say how much your message means to me.  But I fancy myself a writer, so I will accept the challenge:
E-girl cried when reading it.
Usually feedback is instantaneous for a performer – the relationship is live, in the moment.  I haven’t been playing live much recently, so to get this was as timely as it was heartening.  Especially as I feel like I’m at a crossroads with all this, unsure which way to turn; doubtful.  And also because I sometimes feel that the albums are not as good as the live experience.  (And several people have told me so.  I am fortunate to know many very honest people.)
Many people use their music to say things people love to hear: you’re beautiful, this is the best town in the country, the best country in the world, that kind of thing.  I prefer to tell people shit (I imagine) they might not want to hear….so it’s amazing to get messages like yours, to know it’s appreciated.
I’ve been writing a song about an argument with someone who questions my lyrics and motivations….your email will help the riposte.  Or just convince me to put that aside and be more positive. 
If you are interested, I post a blog every Friday, here:
It’s been 200-and-something weeks since I started it, and I haven’t missed a week yet, which is pleasantly surprising.  The quality does vary, however, as we might expect from something so regular and deadlined. 
I also made this recently, which is a (relatively) new song you might not have heard:
I also love The Smiths, Beirut, Portishead and Massive Attack.  In fact, you have probably listed my biggest influences right there, in order.  (I quite like Loudon Wainwright (saw him at Cambridge – although I know his son’s songs better than his) and Cat Power.  (To be honest, I’ve always felt Nirvana were/are over-rated.))
I would like to ask if I can use a version of this exchange for a future blog post (not unvarnished and unedited, of course – that would be to reveal more of myself than I am accustomed to/comfortable with, and be uncharacteristically concise and explicit.  Although, as the video may show, I have been moving in that direction lately.  There is, surely, a finite amount of ways to say “everything is bollocks and we can do much better”.  Also, it’s not good for the spirit to keep repeating that, I have found.  Others have a different experience, I know.)  If you’d rather I didn’t, for whatever reason, I won’t do so and it won’t be a problem.
Enjoy the Border walks – Scotland is God’s own Country, according to my (Scottish) Dad.  I’ve always liked it.
To sum up:
Thank you.  It means a lot.
A person writes for their self, first
And maybe hopes they are not alone in the universe.
It’s good to know I’m not alone.
You are not alone.
Love to you and Mary and Angus.
Clayton Blizzard
Tuesday, 8 November, 2016 0:22
Dear Clayton,

Your Dad is not wrong, Scotland is God’s own country, and I have also found there is more than one Scotland, and that it’s beating heart is Glasgow and not Edinburgh! Less get off my land, than in the sunny south, People less cowed. I blame the Norman conquest, for English meekness.

Anyway, Please feel free to use my email to you in anyway you see fit. I am more than happy for you to do so.

I know what you mean about Nirvana, I bought Nevermind not once but twice and both times played it once, then took it to Oxfam. It was only after an old girl friend did me a mix tape, with Nirvana unplugged in New York on the B side that I got to like them. Their last album was recorded by Steve Albini, and though I do not love it, anything worked on by this man is worth a listen. The mix tape was a dear john, and looking back it was a kind way to let someone go.

Mary introduced me to Rufus Wainwright’s music, and I played her Loudon wainwright the third. I got the better end of that exchange, but if you do not know it, listen to ‘History’ and if you like that try the BBC sessions.

Have you ever thought about a Clayton Blizzard song book? With a vinyl album to go with it. A good idea, I think.

You are a writer, and the song of you voice shines in the word that you have penned.

Thank you for the links, and your kind reply.
Your time will come, and that time is now!

With love from the

David, Mary and Angus Complex
On Fri, 11/11/16, Clayton Blizzard <> wrote:
Subject: Re: A thank you, for the beauty of sound and word, that you have given
To: "david w-----" <>
Date: Friday, 11 November, 2016, 16:14
Dear David,
My (Glaswegian) family would agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the Glasgow/Edinburgh divide.  As Billy Connolly once said, “there’s more fun at a Glasgow funeral than at an Edinburgh wedding”.
Thanks for letting me use your correspondence.  I expect this exchange will go under the recurring theme of The Lost Art Of Letter-writing, which I have visited in several previous blogs.  As I say, though, it may well be heavily edited and redacted to allow for my usual control-freaking/artistic license…(my mails, I mean – I won’t edit your words).  Recent events have made the need to talk seem more urgent, somehow.
Many a mix tape has ended and begun a relationship – it’s a good start and a good ending, I think.  (When I was seventeen, I bought the first Radiohead album for a girlfriend and then we split up, so I kept it.  And mix tapes were often a way to get the attention of girls at school…as well as a way of making friends.  It used to be a labour of love, before the ease of the playlist superseded cassette technology.  I’m not yearning for those halcyon days (yet – although I am sure to fall prey to this part of the aging process at some point), but the effort was a sign of care, of respect.) 
My third meeting with E-girl was at a gig I played; risky, innit?  But it all worked out well, I am very glad to say.  The first time we met, I was singing.  I am still singing. 
Music is so very important.
I saw Loudon Wainwright at Cambridge a few years back (maybe you were there, too), it was good.  But Rufus remains my favourite Wainwright.  (Although Alfred Wainwright was cool.)
I have made a songbook – as a Christmas present for a dear person, a few years back.  It had a selection of my songs in it, all with guitar chords and a few lead parts tabbed.  I may even make it make it available to a cold, indifferent world one day, just for the sake of it.
That project most certainly was a labour of love, it took a while – and I hope (I know, really) it was appreciated by the recipient who is dearer to me maybe than they could know/I could say.  (And that’s the point of making things (music, art), isn’t it – to some extent, at least?  To express the inexpressible, or the expressible-but-painfully-heartfelt-for-those-of-us-who-don’t-like-to-express-those-types-of-feeling-directly-and-in-person…?  It is to me, anyway.)
Thanks for the correspondence, and all your kind words.  I’m really glad you enjoyed the albums; it’s messages like yours that mean I can use phrases like “cold, indifferent world” ironically, without feeling that they are too close for comfort to say out loud.
As they say in Ireland: Tiocfaidh Ar La!  (You can’t say that in some parts of Scotland, mind – in England, no one knows what it means or where it comes from, so we can get away with it, down by.)
Peace Be

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