The daylight is so fleeting these days. Sometimes it feels as if I’ll miss the day entirely if I blink.
The sun rides low in the northern sky. The frosts turn the ground white and colour leeches out of everything.
But in those still moments when the light returns briefly, it touches everything so tenderly, so softly.
I started taking guitar lessons for the first time in 20 years.
It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but never came across the right teacher. Then Chris Forsyth, one of my favourite contemporary guitar players, mentioned on his mailing list he was offering online guitar lessons, and a little light in my unconscious switched on and I signed up.
It’s been really great to learn some new theory about the guitar and to open up my playing beyond the well-worn fretboard pathways I was stuck in.
Chris took lessons from Richard Lloyd of Television. I hadn’t delved into their work beyond Marquee Moon, so I’ve been listening to them a lot lately.
The interplay between the two guitarists in that band, Lloyd and Verlaine, is spectacular, and it’s what made them so special. This is evident from Verlaine’s solo efforts, which are great records, but they lack the dynamic contrast and push–pull between two genius guitar players.
There’s a live recording from June 1978 at The Old Waldorf in San Francisco, which must have been one of their last shows before they broke up. It just blisters. The two guitarists swap leads back and forth, Lloyd’s precise melodies interlacing with Verlaine’s nasally freeform Jazzmaster. I didn’t realise quite how much this band laid the foundation for a lot of the music that formed my own tastes.
And it’s funny how Verlaine, wild and unpredictable in his playing, is notoriously well-organised and sober in his personal life, while Lloyd, whose playing is meticulous and consistent, was heavily into drugs and prone to bi-polar mania.
Lloyd has written a rock’n’roll memoir called Everything is combustible (which is a great title). It’s entertaining, but probably not for everyone.