55 songs in 55 days - one for every year of my life...so far.
My Cousin and I, both only children, grew up in the same house in Walthamstow from her birth in 1963 until the mid-1970's, her family lived upstairs and mine downstairs. Over the intervening years we've remained as close as brother and sister. Since the late 1980's she's lived in New York where she and her husband now have three fantastic kids of their own.
Our local, when we're in New York.
Each Summer the New York contingent of the family come over for a couple of weeks to visit my Cousin's Mother, who's now in her mid-80's. In 2009 they spent a week of their stay at Centre Parcs and invited my Mum along to share their holiday. Mum had a great time, still in relatively good health and was clearly invigorated by spending time with the kids.
Road trip. Driving out over Brooklyn Bridge.
In October of 2009 Mrs S and I took ourselves off to New York once again, to catch up with the family on their own patch. I'd finally cleared all of my record shop debt over the previous couple of years and our belts weren't quite so tight. The pressure for continued financial growth at work was immense though. The company expanded at an alarming rate, results were everything - and needed to be achieved by whatever means necessary. I could do the job and do it quite well, but I was increasingly uncomfortable in the corporate world.
Manhattan from the road.
While in New York, Mrs S and I caught several concerts, but were frustrated to note that Vic Chesnutt was playing the Bowery Ballroom on October 26th, the night we were due to fly home. We'd seen Vic live a couple of times on previous visits, though this time he was touring on the back of his new LP, 'At the Cut', with a fine band comprising members of Thee Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I hoped for snow so that our departure might be delayed and allow us to attend, but we flew out, as planned, on a mild clear evening. Maybe we'll catch him again next time, I thought.
'At the Cut' is an intense piece of work, dark and raw, nowhere more so than on 'Flirted with You All My Life', a song only matched by Nick Drake's 'Black Eyed Dog' in terms of its utter bleakness. Tragically, there would be no next time to see Vic Chesnutt. He took his own life two months later, on Christmas Day 2009.