“SONG FOR EWE”
with DAREN GARRATT of
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Lately it’s been a bit of a Fall theme on Velvet Sheep’s “song for ewe” but hey it’s my fanzine (“I’m a printhead!”) and I’m a massive Fall fan so whatevs. It started last week when Gary Walker of Wiiija Records chose a song by founder Fall member (and Blue Orchid) Martin Bramah from “Live At The Witch Trials” & “Extricate” so Martin paid it forward by choosing blue collar classic “I’ve Got A Dollar” by Jimmy Dell.
Not that long ago recent Fall regular Tim Presley (White Fence) (“Reformation TLC”) was a popular contributor on these here pages. Tim’s also played on “Re-mit” and most recently sung vocals on “Black Roof” on this year’s “Sub-Lingual Tablet”, which for my money is joint album with the year with The Nightingales’ “Mind Over Matter”.
Someone who connects both The Nightingales & “Sub-Lingual Tablet” is former Nightingales drummer and current second drummer for The Fall. Also a member of cult Too Pure band Pram: he thumps the skins, he sings BVs on stand out “Sub-Lingual” wig out “Auto-Chip 2014-2016”, and he tells a great story, it’s Mr. Daren Garratt with his “song for ewe”!
Famously there have been 66 members of The Fall, but recently the line up has enjoyed an unseasonably long stint (longest serving ever) and joining this tight unit as a regular Daren first played second drums for the band on a one-off performance of “Pat Trip Dispenser” (from “The Wonderful & Frightening World of The Fall”) in Leeds 2009. He must have done something right as he was drafted into play on last year’s “Remainderer” EP, played as a single drummer (a drum fill if you will) while Keiron Melling was on paternity leave and rolled on (more drum analogies) into this year’s epic “Sub-Lingual Tablet”.
I must have a thing about second drummers since I first became friends with Bob Nastanovich, the second drummer of Pavement, a band themselves very indebted to “Dragnet” era Fall.
I’ve been in touch with Daren through Facebook, and he’s a charming man, full of the character and sense of humour you imagine is a necessity to deal first with the quick witted Robert Lloyd of the Nightingales and then of course that other sharp tongued band leader, Mark E Smith. A UK post punk and indie stalwart Daren is a latter day Velvet Sheep legend, so I was keen to find out his “song for ewe” and he didn’t disappoint with a corking story to fire the heart and warm the cockles. It’s no surprise since his metronomic thump is the beating second ventricle of the oft defribrilated but full blooded Fall…
“Now, this may not be a particularly obscure choice for the enlightened readership of Velvet Sheep, but…
Once upon a beautiful moment in time, the encroaching throes of my gnarly, cantankerous and cynical middle age were undone by a life-affirming epiphany of purity, innocence and truth.
It was December 3rd 2014 and Gaynor and I had been an item for 7 months. We’d been best friends as teenagers but barely saw each for the next 25 years, despite never being far from each other’s hearts and minds. We met up unexpectedly at a friend’s funeral one Friday, went for drinks the following Sunday and began co-habiting the Sunday after that, after I returned from the initial recording sessions for Sub-lingual Tablet. Life had suddenly become everything we’d both long yearned for, so what better way to celebrate her 43rd birthday than by nipping from Dudley to Los Angeles to see Jonathan Richman for the first time?
The stage set-up was Jonathan, Tommy Larkin and a single spotlight. The gig itself was the most engaging, joyous and uplifting exchange of warmth and affection I’ve ever experienced in 30-odd years of gig going. It all ended too soon of course, but no one was going anywhere, and 200+ voices, hands and feet hollered, clapped and stomped for more. The performers may have vacated the stage but the single spotlight remained, so expectations were high for their return and seemingly vindicated when Jonathan emerged, stage left. However, he reappeared only to apologise for not telling the lighting man to turn the single spot off at the end of the set and for giving us false hope of an encore. As he paused to consider his next word I seized my opportunity; “Angels Watching Over Me”, I shouted. Now, not only is this my Gaynor’s absolute favourite song (and my daughter Ivy’s too, but that’s a different story), it is also 1 minute 50 seconds of unaccompanied A cappella and therefore ‘doable’, I reckoned.
Jonathan eventually finished apologising and then…. “Angels…I hear angels….”
For the next minute or so, he proceeded to deliver a spontaneous, improvised, heart-stopping rendition that held an entire hall in silent, rapt awe as its inhabitants became undone by a life-affirming epiphany of purity, innocence and truth.
We met Jonathan after the show. He thanked us for making our journey, sang “Happy Birthday” to Gaynor and, when I told him it was me who shouted for “Angels”, he said he hadn’t thought about that song for years, it was a brilliant way to close the show and he was considering finishing every show with it from now on. And then he looked me in the eye, slowly raised his index finger and in the quietest, gentlest, most soothing voice imaginable said, “And that’s all because of you….”
True story, that one.”
THANKS A TONNE TO DAREN, YOU’RE A LEGEND.