Category Archives: GUEST EDITOR

From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: The Ballet Rambert, Specifically Christopher Bruce’s “Cruel Garden,” “Ghost Dances,” “Sergeant Early’s Dream,” “Swansong,” “Moonshine” And “Rooster”

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

13Rambert

Duffy: Dame Marie Rambert started the Rambert Dance Company in 1919 in Notting Hill Gate. When I lived there in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I caught many buses from outside where all of those mighty dances went down and I wondered. In the ‘70s, along with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre, young working-class punks, as I was, could witness their greatness at the New Birmingham Repertory Theatre. An amazing building that delivered soul. I once saw Martin Carthy perform acoustically in front of the theatre building and later the all West Midlands line up of Fairport Convention play inside as loud as Slade! Such folk days we had then and much for free. In those years, I saw the Rambert perform Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, Nijinsky’s L’Apres-midi d’une faune, Cruel Garden (by Christopher Bruce with Lindsay Kemp) and The Tempest. Works by Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp and Siobhan Davies. Christopher Bruce had emerged from the Rambert company to be a choreographer, and I loved everything he did. Ghost Dances, Sergeant Early’s Dream, Swansong, Moonshiner and Rooster. Moonshiner, a dance to early Dylan taken from the first Bootleg Series discs, made me cry. Rooster was an opportunity to hear the early Stones played through a modern public address system in beautiful theatres. I thank you, Christopher Bruce, you hero.

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From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: Cornwall (We Took The Western Greyhound Down The Atlantic Highway)

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

12LilacTime

We took the Western Greyhound
Down the Atlantic Highway
And that’s when we found
Our way home
For on a clear day
You can make out something
We all believed in
Something good

Duffy: We accidentally moved to Cornwall. My brother meant to and we visited him and didn’t go back. He walked with us into town and we saw a house and bought it. We made our new album, No Sad Songs, in the basement. Artists haven’t gone back from here for centuries. The Newlyn School, Bernard Leach. Virginia Woolf. Barbara HepWorth. Ben Nicholson. Artists and hippies. Where else would the drummer of the International Submarine Band choose to live? Clive’s Original Band. That old hippy D.H.Lawrence got thrown out for being married to a German during the Second World War. Now we are so laid back now, we make Fleetwood Mac sound like the Dead Kennedys. In the past, I would’ve sped things up, but this time I recognised the slow groove and the softness was the thing. There was no point trying to pretend otherwise. Luckily, the Lilac Time has been granted cult status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of Cults. Coming from Birmingham—have I mentioned that?—our holiday time by the sea was brief. The West Midland being the most landlocked place you can find in the United Kingdom, although we had canals. Cornwall is the opposite the most coast of any county due to the lacks of land in-between its north and south coasts. The sea heals. The sea heals all wounds. I may have to light a blessed joss stick and listen as I sing:

Now in the dead of winter
Can we make a beach head
In the desert
Of our dreams
I saw a sign in heaven
Bohemia forever
Another dream of wonder
How wonderful to dream

Bohemia forever!

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From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: Poetry And The Acoustic Guitar

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

11LizBerry

Emily Berry
Liz Berry
Chuck Berry

Duffy: I love the poets. Fiction guys are making it up. Poets are living it. Cartoonists draw cartoons. Poetry is the best. There’s never been any money in it. The internet has probably increased its popularity, unlike everything else, like journalism and music that have been diminished and almost destroyed. Poetry seems to be thriving. Readings are hip again. It’s hard to imagine that we have lived through times when it seemed that poetry and the acoustic guitar would be left to atrophy in a museum cabinet. I heard Dylan Thomas when I was in a weird Victorian annexe of our modern inner-city comprehensive school. His voice boomed from a portable record player.

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light

You can’t beat that.

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From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: Flower Power

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

10flowerpower

Duffy: I still believe in flower power. It came, it went. It was a Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In thing, a Tiny Tim thing, but oh not for Tiny Tintin? Hell yes! If we had invested more in flower power back then, we wouldn’t be on the edge of the end of the world presently. Now who’s mocking flower power? Sleep well, my sweet. But before you sleep, remember to buy the new album by the Lilac Time. It’s called No Sad Songs. It may make up for all the bad karma you’ve been collecting since your birth. In fact, I guarantee it will.

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From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg And The Beats

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

9Kerouac

Duffy: I lived in a tent in my parents garden just off the Bromford Road in Birmingham after reading On The Road. I joined the David Bowie fan club when Ziggy Stardust came out, and they sent me some badly mimeographed bits of paper. In a chronology, it said that Dave had re-read On The Road. I was impressed that someone had read a book twice and asked my brother why was this book worth re-reading? Some time later we were in a bookshop in Lyme Regis. It was the Easter holiday, and it was snowing. My brother came over and gave me a book. “This is On The Road,” he said perspicuously. I bought it and The Rolling Stones Story by George Tremlett, which I obviously read first. I found On The Road a little harder, but at that time you persevered with things. How else would Trout Mask Replica become intelligible? We bought stuff and listened to it even if we didn’t get it instantly. Some records you only liked years later. With Jack, however, help was at hand when his wonderful biography written by Anne Charters was published in 1973. I remember realising towards the end that Kerouac was no longer a lonesome traveller and was in fact dead. By this point in my life only Auntie Ethel had died. But Charters opened up all of these other guys to me, Ginsberg and Burroughs and Corso. Burroughs was tough when you’d only just stopped reading The Swallows And The Amazons. But I persevered, like you did and like now no one does. And it all started to make sense. Planet News/Planet Waves, we were on our way to punk my friend. Patti Smith was just around the corner. As were the golden summers of ’75 and ’76 when I lived in a tent just off the Bromford Road in Birmingham, dreaming of Big Sur.

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From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: Blood Tests

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

8BloodTest

Duffy: I didn’t have one until I was 40, and I found I had suicidally high cholesterol. I apparently wouldn’t be typing this without that test. My psychotherapist (Jungian) suggested I had a fear of penetration. Later my doctor discovered I had almost no trace of vitamin D in my system and replenished me via injection. Is it a coincidence that I am now the owner of such a sunny disposition? I wonder what would have happened if Nick Drake had been given vitamin D: Would he have gone on to make terrible disco records with Colin Blunstone? We’ll never know, but get your blood tested for everything, everyone. (I also have a theory that all conservatives are constipated, but this is harder to prove).

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From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: Jimmy Mack And Birmingham And The Exodus From London

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

7JimmyMack

Duffy: I went to a Motown school. Tamla Motown. At every party or social event, you’d always hear “Jimmy Mack.” Now it makes me feel wistful because those dances and those people are in another century a long time ago. I’m still drawn to my memories of the streets of Birmingham and the time I spent growing up there. I know when you’re young you think amazing things are possible, and I’m sure this is still the case. I was hit hard by music and art and films. Without the internet, it’s difficult to remember how you found out about stuff. A lot of it was simply word of mouth. My cousin Karl took me to see the film Performance at the Birmingham Arts Lab cinema and the strobing cuts at the beginning sent me into a semi-psychedelic state. They have since had to re-edit for release on DVD because of the danger to those suffering from epilepsy. After the film, we went to an Indian restaurant with a huge plastic tree in the middle. When I was 17, we moved across town and I was close to the Cannon Hill Arts Centre, where they also showed art-house films and events. I could even walk home from the club Barbarellas, host to all the young punks, if I’d spent my bus fare on half a lager. There was a left-wing bookstore called the Peace Centre that I hung out in on my way back from school. I got my bus tickets to CND marches from there, and that’s one way I got to know the London I would soon call home, marching around it trying to ban the bomb. Now, in the exodus from London, artists, poets and multi-national companies are making the return journey to Birmingham. London is no longer owned by Londoners and, like New York, is visibly drying up, leaving dust where once a heartbeat. We once owned everything from the telephones to the steel mills, the water and the railways. We did, as they were all nationalised industries. Successive governments gave it all away and now we own nothing and we are paying for it. The fascists re-appear calling for the old Great Britain to magically resurrect itself. It’s all gone mate. Morecombe and Wise are dead.

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From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: Joss Sticks

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

6josssticks

Duffy: The big daddy Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa Agarbatti, manufactured by Shrinivas Sugandhalaya 8th Cross, Magadi Road, P.B. No.2318 Bengaluru, 560 023, INDIA. (No street view on Google maps.) They make other great incense, too: Sunrise, Midnight, Rain Forest, Celestial, Blessings, Fortune, Jasmine Blossom (I’m burning this right now), Sandalwood, Patchouli Forest and the frighteningly named Satya Super Hit. Jasmine and Sandalwood take me back to my bedroom in Birmingham, wondering whether I should invest in some of George Harrison’s latest works on Dark Horse. Back to the hours spent looking at the cover of the Incredible String Band’s Relics album. Joss Sticks poster-boy album. Back to the books and the quiet hours of page turning.

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From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: The Watersons, Specifically The Film “Travelling For A Living,” Equality And Socialism

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

5watersons

Duffy: The Watersons sang unaccompanied traditional folk songs. A lot of seafaring songs from the area where they were born and lived, in the North East of England. A brother, two sisters and their second cousin, who they treat as something of an outsider in the film. Although they made many later records, my favourites are the ones made with second cousin John Harrison. I don’t know if Travelling For A Living is available apart from in the Watersons box Mighty River Of Song. It was filmed for the BBC in the mid-’60s. It shows a world that has gone; can you see a theme in my guest editorship? Norma talks about John like he’d been born into wealth and privilege instead of somewhere else in Hull. “His mother would do anything for him,” Norma says as he is served a revolting but completely normal meal for the time. In many documentary films of this nature, someone will say how they didn’t know they were poor until … In Travelling For A Living, you see a “we didn’t know we were poor” world. Now kids know they are poor. We didn’t. Even with television showing the royal family and Brideshead Revisited, I didn’t really comprehend how much of nothing we had materially. So what we had became more important. The books and records, the jeans. When I left art school in ’79, just as Thatcher began dismantling the goodness, the gap between rich and poor was at its historical low. If people are happy as they are, happy in their community and their union, then the politics of greed cannot thrive. We were happy in our socialist, unionised world. But they couldn’t exploit us if we were happy.

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From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: Champagne And Other Beverages

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

4PolRoger

Ruinart blanc de blanc
Pol Roger (Hitler’s favourite)
Blonde on Blonde
Roget’s Thesaurus

Duffy: I really love to drink champagne. It cheers people up. When they wake in the middle of the night and start to worry, I wish I could be there with a very cold glass of champagne and a cheery grin. I hate the way the role of champagne fairy has been overlooked in civilization; it could solve everything. I also hate the way pubs are closing here. Not that proper boozers ever sold champagne. I went for a drink with Nick Rhodes in a pub once. I wish I could remember the name as it seems important. I want to say it was on Constitution Hill, but that seems unlikely. What I do know is it was 1978 and Rob Lloyd was there having a drink with Una Baines. We asked for pink gin not knowing that it was just gin with Angostura bitters. Teenagers in late-’70s Birmingham didn’t make a habit of drinking neat gin. Twenty-two years later, when we resumed our work together, Nick would make out he’d never been in a pub. I would never contradict a friend, but I remembered Una Baines and could never forget pink gin.

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