A Refusal To Sell Out

Jonathan Morrish
Let it Rock #27
A Refusal To Sell Out

Even though John Martyn has been around for some time now, there's still a boyishness in his laughter and a distinct lack of Rock-Star-Cool in his behaviour. His new album -his eighth- has an appropriate title, Sunday's Child.

It has been his awareness of situations and what has been best for his music that's kept him going over the years. Simply a refusal to sell out. "I want to be my part of the music industry – I don't see myself in any of the cliched positions. If you governed yourself by what went down well, you'd become Elton John and the worst thing any musician can do is to play what other people want to hear. If I wanted to stop playing, the last thing to tell me not to stop playing would be 'You've got to go out and play for the kids man'."

Not that John is ungrateful towards his audiences – rather the exudes a warmth and friendliness at his gigs that is striking. At the moment he's on tour, playing with Danny Thompson and John Stevens (certain advantages in having a band as such mean that he's no longer confused with the roadies) before he returns to America, where for various reasons -one because he's being chased by the taxmen- he's anxious to live. Another is his music and when I suggested that the move might affect him adversely he disagreed.

"If you are being honest about your music then it's a direct reflection of what you feel about the situation you're in. But you gain a different perspective the longer you stay somewhere. You start to look on the cultural mannerisms and the mores and see them in perspective. Moving to America doesn't necessarily mean you're going to start becoming a nasty American. There's good and bad everywhere. The only time I've been scared of moving anywhere was when I was a kid leaving home. But when you look back on it you're scared of losing your roots but your roots are in your own mind anyway. You're still there as long as you've got what makes you happy."

Jonathan Morrish

muffnote:
Material kindly provided by John Neil Munro.