As I’m going to be here in Penzance for a while, as I’ll be in the studio and in the archive, I guess I’ll be writing a lot about the records and the recordings we make. But out there in Penzance on the Cornish coast and in the surrounding area there’s a fascinating history that I hope to share with you first hand…if the rain stops. The history of this part of the world is really something. The Romans barely got here, possibly because it’s a long way to the South West, but also because it was probably full of marauding wild tribes that were impossible to defeat, namely the Dumnonii tribe or the Cornovii, inhabiting the Dumnonia region and becoming the prominent power here after the Romans left England, although later they were conquered by the Kingdom Of Wessex to the East. There’s evidence of ancient ritual here, stone circles and magical stories and a hike around the Cornish coastline is popular for tourists.
Then of course there’s the pirates and during the Elizabethan era the ‘wreckers’ preyed on ships sailing by the Cornish costline. Legend has it that ships were lured on to the rocks with false lights to have their cargo plundered and the crew were either drowned or murdered.
Then there’s the Tin Mines that were active in the middle ages and then later in the 19th century and as you wander or drive around Cornwall there’s significant evidence of a booming industry with half-ruined overgrown chimneys, mine shafts, old buildings and mining sites. Next to Penzance is Newlyn, a major fishing port that sits in Mounts Bay, that is also the site of St. Michaels Mount (a castle that has been in the St. Aubyn family since 1650). It is associated with Mont St. Michel in France and was a gift to the Benedictine Order from Edward The Confessor in the 11th century. That’s a little of the local history.
Back here in the archive we are a window to the world of music and today has taken a totally different turn as I’ve been listening to that wonderful debut album by Roberta Flack, First Take. I guess it’s soulful Jazz. Released in 1969 and including the Grammy-winning Ewan MacColl penned classic The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. She won the award in 1972 because the song was included in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut Play Misty For Me, released in 1971. He plays a DJ stalked by an obsessive fan. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face became a No.1 US hit because of the film. The album she had out at the time was Quiet Fire (1971), her third album. She also won that year with Where Is The Love, a duet with Donny Hathaway. In 1973 she won again with Killing Me Softly With His Song, a song I’m sure you all know was allegedly written about seeing Don McLean perform live. I also listened to her second album Chapter 2. She covers Dylan’s Just Like A Woman in her own warm calm and softly emotional way. I also listened to Quiet Fire. I suppose it might be classed as seventies middle of the road music, soft jazzy soul, but I find it rather soothing and comforting with warm production and heartfelt interpretations of some classic songs.
Am I getting a cough? Am I dying? I don’t think so, I don’t feel ill, I just have a tickle in the throat. Is every small symptom to be considered life-threatening and dangerous to society? I read today that 60 to 70% of people should expect to get the virus. I’m also confused as to why big events are being called off in some places, but not in others. Is England safer than France? Paris St German vs Dortmund was played with no crowd. How bizarre! (PSG won.) Liverpool vs Atlético was played with a huge crowd. (Liverpool lost.) I can’t imagine what it must be like to play these huge games that generally have tens of thousands of fans chanting and screaming and then suddenly there’s nobody there. Anyway, if I die, I’ll let you know.
I was using my record cleaning machine tonight. It’s every archive’s dream device. You put a record on the spindle, spread some fluid on the disc, 5-1 distilled water and isopropyl alcohol and you suck the dirt out of the grooves as it spins around. Mine is called a Moth but there are many different types that do a similar job. They are kinda pricey, but I recommend it for anyone out there that buys secondhand records.
I was up at the gym today, the pool had a swimming gala on and I do alternate a bit anyway. I had my iPod and I was listening to the second Only Ones album Even Serpents Shine (what a great album it is, too). Whilst I was there I was talking to Rich, one of the guys that looks after the gym when you are in there. We were talking about the Elton John film Rocket Man which we’d both seen and the Queen film that neither of us had seen. He then asked me if I had seen the documentary about that band that look like farmers? Ha ha! He meant ZZ Top! Classic description.