I’ve never really been one to mourn the loss of people I do not know so the public outpouring of grief when a celebrity dies be that a film star or musician has always left me feeling a bit bemused if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong it’s sad when someone dies but in truth the passing of say, Motorhead drummer Philthy Animal Taylor or say BB King felt no different than the list of death listed in my local paper on the same day these musical greats died popped her clogs.
So it feels a bit strange and hugely contradictory writing this post about a musician who died this year without a huge fanfare and I suspect unless you were a fan will have passed most people by without a murmur.
Gavin Clark died on the 16th February this year a month short of his 46th birthday. Who? I hear a lot of you say but read on as I suspect most of you may have heard his music maybe without actually knowing it was him.
I first discovered his music Gavin’s music when he was fronting Clayhill, I remember getting a free CD with a music magazine (I think it was Q) with the track One Nerve on it. I’m guessing this was around 2006 as that was when the album Mine At Last was realised. The lyrics to the track are quite brutal but Clark’s voice is so beautiful they don’t seem that be so vicious.
“I see what you're doing here
I'm sick of the shit from you and you're kind
Yeah I, I see what you're doing here
You're breaking me down one nerve at a time”
I immediately bought 3 Clayhill albums Cuban Green, Small Circle and the aforementioned Mine At Last and started to do a bit of digging about the band. Although Wikipedia says that the band released 5 albums I can only find 4 listed the one I don’t have is called Acoustic and currently retails at about £85 Amazon.
One Nerve was no fluke Clayhill’s music is simply wonderful and I have just listened to all three albums back to back recently, hence the reason I am writing this post as I felt a real sense of lost as I listened to them.
If you have every watched a Shane Meadows Film or drama (This Is England, Somer’s Town etc.) you WILL have heard Gavin Clark as Shane used his music in all of his work the most famous track is a cover of The Smiths – Please, Please Let Me Get what I Want which was used in the film This Is England. It takes a lot of guts to cover a Smiths song and even more to do it well and in my opinion this version is as good if not better than the original.
Clark has released music prior to Clayhill under the name Sunhouse an album that I know means a lot to some people I know. He has also released music under his own name, as the vocalist of UNKLE and a new collaboration (recorded prior to his death) under the name of Evangelist is just about to come out.
It was mentioned that Clark was to become a household name due to his work with UNKLE and whether than would have ever happened I’m not sure all I know is I have lost an artist whose work I held very close to my heart.
A few days after this death his family released this poem Clark which is pretty much his last piece of work.
I went to look at the sea
From a distance
If I get too close she always talks to me
Talks too much sometimes.
I sat on a wall and heard just a whisper
‘Come my young one’
Off the wall, down the path, down the steps, across the pebbles and onto the sand
I sat close leaving imprints of heels, leaving imprints of hands.
Why are you so brokenhearted she said?
It’s been so long since you’ve come, when you were young you’d laugh and sing, throw pebbles and swim
Now you’re fully grown you only come when it’s bitter and sad, silent, alone.
I took off my socks and wondered how she’d made an arch from a rock.
The sound of soft waves went from one ear to an ear, the hint of melody, of salt water tears.
I don’t know I said
Sometimes I’m happy sometimes I’m sad, sometimes I’m thoughtless and angry and glad to be bad…But you’re right I only come to you when the world has no sense or release and I don’t want philosophy. Doctrine, science or grief, to hear the wisdom of historical fools from men with no teeth and too many rules.
Silence she said and listen to me each one of these waves are kids of the sea
My children do you understand?
Sometimes they’re gentle, sometimes ferocious and wild and blind.
One of her children washed over my feet and I thought of the back lanes the lights in the street, the hunger for wealth.
She smiled for me too
I picked up my socks and I picked up my shoes
Headed back up the sand, the pebbles the steps, then she told me something I’ll never forget.
How she created the arch in the rock and the why
I blew her a kiss and waved her goodbye
I’ll see you tomorrow I said, I promise I’ll try
I’ll see you tomorrow I said
Then I cried.
Enough of the sentimentality I guess what I’m saying we lost some great artists this year Gavin Clark being one of them.