19 January 2010

Kate McGarrigle

Cover of first album
It's less than a year since the death of John Martyn, now another of my musical heroes has died. Kate and Anna McGarrigle's first two albums were maybe the first time I realised that the best music comes from people who personally embody a meeting-place of different cultures. They put together a basically celtic folk background with unavoidable elements of pop, which wasn't that unusual, but then they added the influence of Quebecois folk and French chanson, which made a sound like no-one had ever made before.

I remember seeing them at the Albany in Deptford. They were utterly entrancing. When they introduced the song "Une excursion à Venise", Kate explained that it wasn't as glamorous as it sounded. "Venise is just a fairly tatty suburb", she said, and paused, then added, "Quite a bit like Deptford, really". I fell completely in love with her, and my girlfriend at the time accepted this without jealousy as an irresistible, and of course meaningless, natural phenomenon.

Probably my favourite song of theirs is "Kiss and say goodbye", and I'd like to listen to it right now, but it would make me cry.

1 comment :

Brian said...

Postscript to this: as I was driving to Charlton last night, Radio 3 paid tribute to Kate by playing "Heart like a wheel". At first I was all, "excuse me, I think you'll find this is one of Anna's songs", but by the end of the song, as I came to Blackheath, I was a weeping traffic hazard.