I know I bang on about Leonard Cohen a lot, but in my youth this guy was almost as important to me: Al Stewart’s songs kept me company right through my teens and twenties. From ‘Bedsitter Images’ his first album featuring the song ‘You Should Have Listened to Al’ to the bittersweet ‘Orange’, and culminating in what most people consider his apogee, ‘Past, Present and Future’, Stewart always has something to say, and his lyrics are at least as important as the music. I guess that’s what I look for in a singer: the authenticity of personal experience. My all-time favourite track of Al Stewart is the lament for lost love, ‘The News from Spain’ which always makes me cry:
It has some of the most beautiful and heartbreaking guitar-strings I’ve ever heard. Al also has a keen interest in history and a lot of his songs feature historical figures:
I have to say, though, he’s not as good live as Cohen is. Cohen always gives 11o%, but Al can sometimes seem lackadaisical, almost unbothered. The last time I saw him he did a very short set, and the tickets were not cheap.
So there you are. I’m trying to think of something witty to say to finish today’s post. Meanwhile here is some light music: