Goodbye, Bert

The mothership has closed following tfd’s announcement of the sad demise of Bert Jansch. I, for one, would have appreciated the chance to say how sad it is to lose yet another great talent. I bought the record he made with John Renbourn, from which this track comes, when it first appeared. This, and their work with Pentangle, blew me away.  I’m sure several of you have memories of Bert you’d like to share. Go ahead.

15 thoughts on “Goodbye, Bert

  1. I first saw Bert live in the 1990s with Pentangle, having heard his music, on record or played on the acoustic guitar by my Dad for as long as I can remember. There are few musicians who have appealed to me as much or for as long as Bert, all of his solo albums I have heard have had outstanding songs on them.

    I didn’t know he was unwell and I’m very upset by the news of his demise. He was a great musician, a generous collaborator and I’m sure I’m not alone in missing him.

    The obvious song to remember him by for me is Angie which I have mentioned before or Needle of Death which is beautifully written but a bit too sad for today.

    I loved his singing voice and his songwriting, so I am choosing this Pentangle track, I can’t usually listen to it without a tear falling, even more so now. Travelling Song

    Thanks for posting this thread, Chris.

  2. I remember buying the album with Needle of Death on it when I was all of 13 or 14 …. he seemed so old, weary, wise; it was quite a shock today to find out that he was but 10 years older than me. In some ways that seems important; it’s as if his music was always there, had always been there, unchanging, had just emerged from the mists rather than been created. Of course it wasn’t – as anyone who’s read Rob Young’s excellent Electric Eden will know – but that’s what it seemed to me at the time.

    LIke everyone, I guess, I felt obliged to pretend I could play Angie (but never in public!) and I acknowledged others’ versions of his songs in various dingy pubs and folk clubs in central Manchester. I’m sure that I’m one of many who owe a debt to him for leading me towards Charles Mingus (a great choice, Chris) …..

    From memory I only saw him once, with Pentangle in their heyday, a gig which I treasured. Strangely only yesterday I was googling to see if he had any gigs coming up … ah well, not in this here and now …..

  3. Jansch’s 60s and 70s stuff is probably definitive, but I admired the way that in recent years he embraced the modern-, nu-, wyrd-, whatever-folk movements… and they embraced him back.

    Here’s the great man collaborating timelessly with heavy friends Beth Orton and Devendra Banhart:

    Recommendations: (1) early, defining album: “Bert Jansch”; (2) proper folk album: “Rosemary Lane”; (3) off-the-wall album: “Avocet” (a series of instrumentals about birds, and about 20 times better than the concept would suggest); (4) latter-day reset of the boundaries: “The Black Swan”. If you like wild cards, you could take a punt on the very arranged and part-orchestrated “Nicola”, which seems to have been an attempt to angle Bert to the Donovan market. I like it.

    If I can be unbelievably crass, the Fopp chain has been selling much of Jansch (+ Pentangle + Renbourn)’s back catalogue at £3 a pop. The royalties must have been non-existent, but if you ever wanted to accumulate a Bert backlog, now’s the time.

    Once more:

    . Tune…

  4. THREE Bert Jansch songs came up on the ‘Pod during my 45-minute journey to work this morning, and this was one

    I bought his first two albums and then I ran away from home and left all my records behind. So my sister appropriated them and I had great difficulty wresting them from her grasp once I was reunited with my family. She probably still resents it…

  5. Seeing Pentangle at Newcastle City Hall was the first live concert I ever attended – probably in 1970. My mum died a month ago and I was going through the house contents when I found the programme from the concert, autographed by the whole band. Unable to keep my old Pentangle albums, I kept the programme and brought it back home with me. Now I read of Bert’s death. Here’s one of my favourites.

  6. Bad day at Blackwaterside fer sure.

    Never saw Pentangle but back in the ’90s saw Bert a few times at The 12 Bar Club in London . . . . but not the night that resulted in the rather good ‘official’ bootleg pretty obviously called “Live At The 12 Bar Club”; one man and one guitar, a great introduction for those that haven’t heard too much.

    Otherwise, saw him once or twice outside Argos in Kilburn as he lived just up the road from me.

    • As a man in middle-age (57) with relatively young kids, one of whom (11) has the potential to be a decent guitarist, I find it quite hard to find a way to explain why some music is just, well, too good to ignore, no matter that it’s played by ‘old men’ …. This moving piece and the beautiful clip of Black Waterside does that very well (and more successfully than taking her to see John Renbourn and Robin Williamson earlier in the year!).

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