'The Singer-Songwriter’s Last Stand’ opens with a quote from Will Hodgkinson’s book ‘Songman’ (‘one man’s mission to write the perfect pop song’- published by Bloomsbury, 2007)
This is the tale of one of those singles – plus a load of other stuff. Oh, and 187 gold discs! I got the idea to write a novel with each chapter loosely based around a song many years ago but did little about it – partly because I was too busy working and making music but also because I just couldn’t figure out how to go about the task. Then, in the autumn of 2009, while strolling down a shopping precinct in Newcastle upon Tyne (my home town for the past fifteen years) I heard a ghost – a wailing busker I’d assumed long dead. Though he’d been an inspiration to me and many other musicians in the Sixties and Seventies, reports were he’d been killed in a drunken car crash years ago. But here he was blowing a rusty blues harmonica, stomping his feet in time and screaming out ‘Traitor!’ and ‘What about Geronimo?’ Arthur Grimsby, like Marley’s ghost, had returned. But what did he want? Revenge? Repentance? Or just some loose change?
If nothing else, I began to realise, here was my opportunity to get writing. The book delves into musical lives – mine and others – and goes on a rambling journey that ends in a big pot (well cardboard box) full of gold. Along the way are many song tales, including how I get to perform at the legendary Crystal Theatre, Oklahoma, on the same stage Woody Guthrie, inspiration for many modern sing-songwriters, also once played. All songs have stories and here are some from many artists including Keith Richards, Billy Bragg, Sam Baker, Buffy Sainte Marie, Paul Simon, Pete Seeger, Seasick Steve, Eric Clapton, Eddie Cochran, John Martyn and more.