So, I’ve heard that love is a cruel mistress, something that bends you out of shape; something that gives you sleepless nights, and if you do manage to succumb to slumber, it’s the first thing on your mind in the morning. Even the cleverest of people can be affected, be lost; simultaneously transported to places they’ve never even imagined; gain perspective, lose themselves.
Years ago I’d been to Phoenix, stayed on a dude ranch, broke my arm when a horse got rattled by a snake and held not too fond memories of the place. Later; back in the UK my obsession to the unsung heroism of the wonderful Victoria Williams had led me to her ‘Sweet Relief’ charity album which became one of my favourite places to unwind especially on Giant Sand’s cover of ‘Big Fish’. I knew little of the Sand but soon cottoned on to ‘Glum’ which arrived and evaporated as their record label of the day, Imago, shriveled up and died on its release.
You know when something gets under your skin? The words, the music, the range. The variety, the imagery on the sleeve. It was love as soon as the laser hit the disc (not as romantic as needle to vinyl, but it was the ‘90s). A bootleg KCRW session proved that it wasn’t just rambling nonsense. Everything was in its place, Howe Gelb meant it, man. And, I was in love, obsessed as had happened before with numerous albums or songs, or even just choruses or a guitar break. I wore the disc out and when Howe came to London for a solo show, I went along with two friends who were flummoxed at the man’s laissez faire decomposure.
In the meantime I’d launched a magazine called Happenstance named after one of the tracks on the album. In my day job I was dealing with people like Phil Spector, Ian Dury, Mick Jagger, Lydon, Oasis, Patti Smith but meeting Howe with my copy of ‘Glum’, seeking an autograph (something I’ve done only one other time – Kevin Rowland, long story) was more nerve wracking than trying to get Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards to sit in the right seats. But, he was a gent, of course and he even took requests, turning in a perfectly deranged version of ‘Glum’s opening cut ‘Yer Ropes’.
Was it really 20 years ago that I first met Howe Gelb? Wow, and they say that love doesn’t last.
Dave Henderson, Editor-In-Chief Fire Records