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Gavin Clark reminds us we’re all just Spinning Round the Sun

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Gavin Clark reminds us of our own futility with his statement “We’re all just spinning round the sun”. However, we’ve more besides. Firstly, Tobin has the bookend for the show with The Devil Makes Three. Secondly, we have a well-worn original 1959 vinyl spin live in the studio from Chuck Berry. It’s a brilliant song. Finally, we try to silence Tobin’s statement:

the US doesn’t really do Indie very well

Shutting this down completely will happen in a few weeks time when I unleash a MONSTER on Tobin. Stay tuned to find out what is my all time favourite US Indie record. I am going to bookend the show with 4, yes 4, tracks from the LP. All played on vinyl live in the studio. Can’t wait! Let us know what your favourite song of all time is here and we’ll do our best to play it.

Track Listing

  1. Nobody’s Dirty Business The Devil Makes Three
  2. To My Dearest Wife Lucero
  3. Let It Rock Chuck Berry (Original 1959 vinyl played in the studio)
  4. No More Tears Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer
  5. Silence Kid Pavement
  6. Spinning Round the Sun Gavin Clark
  7. Native Son The Devil Makes Three 

So what did we learn today?

  • My wife has come out better after 60 years than my Chuck Berry vinyl 45rpm 7″
  • Pavement have gone a long way to silence Tobin’s argument (no pun intended)
  • The Devil Makes Three absolutely rock
  • We miss Gavin Clark

Gavin Clark – an obituary

We have left the final words about this wonderful man to John Niven. John wrote this obituary for the Daily Record in 2015. We think it’s perfectly fitting for Gavin.

This is an obituary for a man many of you will never have heard of – I just wish you had

A singer who sold just a handful of records in his lifetime and who was never much on the radio or TV died last week. Aged just 46.

Please bear with me while I write an obituary for a man many of you will never have heard of.

How we met

Gavin Clark was a member of Sunhouse. A band I worked with back in the late 90s in my previous life as a record company A&R man.

His voice was a beautiful thing, fragile and careworn – an angel drunk on whisky. His lyrics were full of despair and hope and love and fear and death.

The album I worked with him on way back when was called Crazy on the Weekend. We released it in 1998. It was in the wake of things such as Be Here Now by Oasis and Urban Hymns by The Verve. It was the apogee of Britpop, just as the bubble was bursting.

Right away it got a five-star review in Uncut. It, where it was exalted as one of the records of the decade. Gavin’s songwriting was compared to Elvis Costello and Gram Parsons.

I remember dancing around my office, feeling like we’d shot the moon. And then…

And then nothing. The record didn’t sell. It was out of step with its time and the band split up not long after its release.

In the music industry, you have to be talented and lucky and ambitious and determined.

Sunhouse – Crazy on the Weekend

I remember a meeting with Gavin not long after the split, to discuss his next record. He was hurt, confused and angry.

Gavin had a bottle in his pocket. In many ways, he was too thin-skinned. Everything was close to the surface – all the nerve endings were exposed.

He had that terrible burden many songwriters suffer from. The confidence and ego required to compose and perform coupled with a crippling shyness and insecurity.

I remember Sunhouse’s first TV appearance back in the 90s. Gavin scrunching his face into the microphone, screwing his eyes shut. Hiding from view with his mop of hair, trying to disappear.

There’s also an incredible moment in Shane Meadows’ documentary about Gavin, The Living Room. Filmed in 2007, it records his first attempt to play solo to 15 people in his front room. He tries to play a new song but his throat is dry and cracked. His fingers tremble over the guitar strings and he just can’t do it.

Gavin went on to front folk-acoustic trio Clayhill. Later he also collaborated with UNKLE as well as providing music for many of Shane Meadows’ films. These included a beautiful version of The SmithsPlease Please Please Let Me Get What I Want for This Is England.

Life before the internet

Back in 1998, all of this was ahead of him. I despaired as I wondered if this brilliant record the band had made would ever reach an audience.

Of course, back in 1998 we didn’t really have the internet.

I have spent much of this week online. I’ve read message boards and marvelling at how many people had been touched by Gavin’s music.

There were comments from people all over the world. People saying that it had helped them through the darkest of times. They had played it at their weddings.

Who said what about Gavin Clark?

There were messages from celebrity fans, such as former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, DJ Edith Bowman and producer James Lavelle. They were saying how much they had loved his work and how keenly they felt his loss. (Of course, no one will feel this loss more keenly than the wife and four children he leaves behind.)

The core thing many artists want to know is simply this – you were good. You mattered. You connected with people and said things they needed to hear.

Well – you did all that Gavin Clark. Like many of the greats from Gram Parsons to Nick Drake, it’s just taking a little more time than we’d have liked for people to get it. But what a grand time we had making that record in the summer of 97, didn’t we? We were young and London was our playground. We stayed up all night, working largely at producer John Reynolds’ house in Notting Hill.

John had worked with Sinead O’Connor. He knew a thing or two about getting the best out of mercurial talent.

It was a long process taking the songs from acoustic sketches to a finished album. People are still talking about the record today. It was, by some distance, the most fulfilling experience I had in all my time in the music industry.

Final thoughts…

I always thought I’d have the chance to see you again one day and tell you that. And to thank you for all those wonderful songs, songs I still listen to today.

Songs such as Spinning Round the Sun. It contained that brilliant lyric about life and time and the ceaseless wonder and meaningless of it all:

I said you know that this planet we’re on is just rolling round in space, and until our time is come, we’ll just keep spinning round the sun

And I thought that one day we’d meet each other again at a bar somewhere. We’d have a few drinks and I’d say something like, “I never got the chance to tell you this, but…”

Well, that’ll all have to wait now.

See you down the road, Gavin.

© Daily Record 2015

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