A MUSICAL EDUCATION
I wasn’t the most focused child at school. It’s not like I was a bad kid, but I just couldn’t be bothered to turn up or do my homework. I worked very hard whenever I wanted to learn a new song, though. I would smash it out in a day and get it perfect. When I rest heard Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’, I thought, ‘I have to learn it.’ The picky guitar part is very dif cult to do and I spent hours and 27 hours going over it. I wouldn’t stop until I could play it.
My dad saw that I wasn’t exactly stimulated by trigonometry and science and all the stuff at school, but I loved playing and watching music. It was something that I was actually passionate about and worked hard for. So, he took me to shows as often as he could, from when I was very young. I suppose that was my education – Eric Clapton at the Albert Hall, Paul McCartney in Birmingham, and then Bob Dylan, Damien Rice, Richard Thompson, Foy Vance and, later, Nizlopi. We went to hundreds of gigs.
If you really listen to lyrics, you learn so much. One of my favourite lyrics ever is from ‘North Country Blues’, a Bob Dylan song on The Times They Are A-Changin’ album. It’s about a girl who grows up in a mining town. Her dad dies in the mine. Her brother dies in the mine. Then she marries a miner who b*****s off, leaving her with a bunch of kids and no money. Towards the end, the lyric goes, ‘And the sad, silent song made the hour twice as long/As I waited for the sun to go sinking.’ It’s brilliant writing.
My first gig was when I was eleven. I played ‘Layla’ in the school concert, accompanied by a friend on piano. I often think that if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m not saying I was great, but I had a good reaction. It made me want to get up and do it again.