Cultural Baggage

Hedge Seel
The Daily Telegraph

Arts+Books section

John Martyn/ Guitarist and singer-songwriter

Favourite new film
Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I think Johnny Depp is particularly funny in it.

Favourite film ever
Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz in 1942. It's a very well-shot film and Ingrid Bergman is absolutely beautiful in it.

Favourite current listen
OutKast - they're so funny. They reminded me of my youth. There are elements of Sly and the Family Stone in their music and they remind me of Frank Zappa, because they don't take themselves too seriously.

Favourite album ever
Karma by saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. This album, recorded in 1969, completely opened my mind to jazz and inspired all sorts of experimentation ideas.

Current read
Beneath the Underdog, the memoirs of the jazz composer Charles Mingus, which don't reveal much about the man himself and mainly seem to consist of details of the women he picked up on tour. They're actually quite pornographic.

Favourite writer
Robert Burns. Being Scottish, I feel I am one of the few people who can actually understand him. My favourite poem of his is the very romantic To a Mountain Daisy. 1)

Favourite television show
The Simpsons, because it's such great satire.

Wish I'd seen...
Jimi Hendrix play live.

Favourite artist
Paul Cézanne for his use of colour.

Creative hero
God.

Favourite actor
I like Robert Mitchum because of his complete disdain for the media. Once, during an interview, he just turned round and walked away...

[Martyn hangs up]

A documentary, 'John Martyn: Johnny Too Bad', will be shown on BBC4 on May 28; his new album 'On The Cobbles' is out now on Independiente, £ 10.99.

Interview by Hedge Seel


1) sitenote:
Robert Burns, 1759-1796. "It is evident that Burns was a man of extremely passionate nature."

To A Mountain Daisy

Wee, modest crimson-tipped flow'r,
Thou's met me in an evil hour;
For I maun crush amang the stoure
Thy slender stem:
To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
Thou bonie gem.

Alas! it's no thy neibor sweet,
The bonie lark, companion meet,
Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet,
Wi' spreckl'd breast!
When upward-springing, blythe, to greet
The purpling east.

Cauld blew the bitter-biting north
Upon thy early, humble birth;
Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
Amid the storm,
Scarce rear'd above the parent-earth
Thy tender form.

The flaunting flow'rs our gardens yield,
High shelt'ring woods and wa's maun shield;
But thou, beneath the random bield
O' clod or stane,
Adorns the histie stibble field,
Unseen, alane.

There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
Thy snawie bosom sun-ward spread,
Thou lifts thy unassuming head
In humble guise;
But now the share uptears thy bed,
And low thou lies!

Such is the fate of artless maid,
Sweet flow'ret of the rural shade!
By love's simplicity betray'd,
And guileless trust;
Till she, like thee, all soil'd, is laid
Low i' the dust.

Such is the fate of simple bard,
On life's rough ocean luckless starr'd!
Unskilful he to note the card
Of prudent lore,
Till billows rage, and gales blow hard,
And whelm him o'er!

Such fate to suffering worth is giv'n,
Who long with wants and woes has striv'n,
By human pride or cunning driv'n
To mis'ry's brink;
Till wrench'd of ev'ry stay but Heav'n,
He, ruin'd, sink!

Ev'n thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate,
That fate is thine-no distant date;
Stern Ruin's plough-share drives elate,
Full on thy bloom,
Till crush'd beneath the furrow's weight,
Shall be thy doom!