“Whilst I was still at an age of single digits we used to gather at my Grandparents’ house on a Sunday for tea. There was no rich heritage of music in the family but my Grandfather had done some singing and entertaining in the war, had a mini grand piano and a small record collection. This was primarily choral and operatic works but along with that ‘stuff’ that I wasn’t drawn to, were some Tom Jones singles and an album called Live At Treorchy by Max Boyce. Max of course is known for his comedy songs based around the fervent culture of Welsh rugby and life, but he has also written some beautiful and poignant songs about Wales and the hardships of working underground at the coal seams. Check out Duw Its Hard and Rhondda Grey.
“I used to love to put that album on and hear the way Max could have people laughing one minute and then bring folk close to tears with another. Of course I was too young to understand the depth of what was being said and indeed the prophetic nature of music that was telling of tough times ahead. But there was something within that melancholy that seeped into my young soul and whispered that this was important. Max was my Woody Guthrie. My gatekeeper as it were.
“Otherwise it was Elvis, and there is a leap! But the same feeling of joy and great melancholy. That voice that still makes me so happy when I hear it now, but somehow containing the tragedy of it all. I was playing in the British Boys Golf Championships in Dundee the week he died in 1977. I had got to the last 16 but it all fell apart after the news came through. And at some point in the next few years I let go of the dream of being the next Jack Nicklaus and picked up the guitar with intent. Two artists with juxtapositions, but since then I have come to understand that some of the best songs come from being in the middle of a contradiction.”
Thanks to Martyn Joseph for the latest in our series of artist blogs. Martyn’s new album Songs For The Coming Home is out next week on Pipe Records and his UK tour (supported by Luke Jackson) starts 25th October 2012. Check gig dates HERE.