He's been on the phone all day, everyone from The Guardian to the Manchester Evening News to the Basingstoke Echo has been speaking to him as his first tour since 2001 approaches. The 56-year-old musician tells it in his own way, how he 'copped a huge belt' off his guitar amplifier, thereby damaging a cyst at the back of his right knee. A serious infection subsequently set in. " My leg went -he gives a mock-dramatic shriek- "big and red and horrible." I said to the guy, 'listen, I think you'll have to amputate here.' He says, 'I think you might be right.'"
It is an irony that, in a month when Scottish singer John Martyn appeared to be climbing back onto an even keel, at least artistically, more problems should plague his private life. Martyn was involved in a car crash last week as he returned to Scotland from his home in Kilkenny, in an attempt to salvage his finances after one of his homes in Roberton, Lanarkshire, was repossessed by the bank and put up for sale. He escaped with a broken nose and whiplash after the car hit a stray bull, but his finances do not appear to have come off so lightly.
At the age of 20, John Martyn was struck by a bolt of karmic lightning. It's never left him.
'When you get loaded, this album opens your head up to a different thing. I've chosen it because it taught me the value of sustain. My parents were big classical music fans obsessed with that belcanto, operatic sustain, regardless of the cost to the lungs or the ears. With Sanders it was different; beautiful, long notes but with breath and gurgling in between. His tone blew my mind and he gave me a glimpse through a keyhole that I didn't even know existed.'
How often do you go out?
Very rarely. I go out to restaurants now and again, but I don't go clubbing at all. I get enough when I'm playing. If there's a good concert on, I'll definitely go.
In the latest of our 'Mavericks' series, Classic Rock meets up with famously 'unpredictable' singer, John Martyn. Better known for his drunken exploits than for his surprisingly sensitive songs, Andy Robson tracks the on-off career of a British folk-rock legend.
[So Sweet ends]
RE: I always look forward to any JM album and thankfully we have a long time to look forward to them for. This is a big sense of expectation that builds up over the years...
JM: How unkind...
He's been making music for 30 years. Now John Martyn is so madly in love again he's recorded a new album to prove it. But, says David Keenan, he's still as daft as ever.
No longer the drunken reveller, John Martyn is writing songs that equal the finest from his heyday, says MARK EDWARDS.
iCAST: What was your day to day life like as a child growing up in Scotland?
JM: I was brought up with my grandmother and my father, I thought it was wonderful, I had a great time. The school was in walking distance and my grandmother being the old school kind of Victorian, she just treated me wonderfully.
Intervista a John Martyn
Ci sono sognatori che per qualche accidente del destino diventano chitarristi e songwriter e poi scrivono canzoni che sembrano scendere direttamente dalla luna (rosa, possibilmente). Ovvio che sulla terra, e nel mondo del rock'n'roll, hanno una vita difficile, se non impossibile: per loro, abituati ai cicli delle stagioni, a respirare aria pura (solida, forse), a sognare il mare e a cantare canzoni di Skip James, la velocità e le assurdità del ventesimo secolo devono essere sembrate dei mostri, degli errori universali. Così, se ne sono andati: l'elenco è lungo e meritevole di altro spazio, ma parte da Nick Drake e arriva a Jeff Buckley: spiriti troppo pieni di poesia per un mondo di chiacchiere.