From The Desk Of Nick Garrie: Influences

In 1969 Nick Garrie recorded The Nightmare Of J.B. Stanisla, a lush folk/pop album. When collectors discovered it in the ’80s, it began fetching astronomical sums, and it was eventually reissued on CD in 2005. Garrie’s life in obscurity has too many twists to recount, but includes two albums as Nick Hamilton and an opening spot on a Leonard Cohen tour in 1984. The Moon And The Village (Tapete), Garrie’s first release in 23 years, is another subtle charmer. His mellow vocals are supported by arrangements that let his stories glow with a warm inner light. Garrie will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

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Garrie: I was brought up in Paris until I was six. Around the dinner table, we would start sentences in French and finish them in English. I was listening to all the great French singers—Brel, Brassens, Moustaki, Reggiani—before I hit the English and American trail. I taught myself guitar strumming along to “Blowin’ In The Wind.” I never had a lesson, but Dylan was a good start, and I wrote my first songs after that. The Beatles were a massive influence, but what I learnt from the French singers was that every syllable must count, and there was no room for any superfluous baggage. If you listen to Brel almost spit out “Ne me quitte pas” and compare it to ” If you go away on a summer’s day,” you’ll know what I mean.

Every song has its place on earth. I know that from playing in the care homes, but for me, it was taking the best of both languages. I had a young friend at school when we were both discovering poetry. In his best Norfolk accent, “You see, Nick, a poem’s like a stone: You keep it in your pocket, and you know it’s there.” Well in my back pocket I’ve got a film, and it’s been there since Jacques Tati leaned out of his rickety car to stroke a dog lying in his way. The film, you say? Les Vacances De Monsieur Hulot.

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