Thursday, 6 October 2011

Bert Jansch, RIP

FolkCast co-presenter and musician Ken Nicol pays a personal tribute to Bert Jansch, who has died at the age of 67.

I’ve been thinking of who had the biggest impact on my guitar playing - my sister, Brenda, or Bert Jansch.

It was the mid sixties and, although Brenda never did play the guitar, she’d arrive back ‘up north’ on occasion from her studies in London armed with vinyl, the likes of which would not otherwise have found its way to Lancashire so soon. She was my bearer of inspiration, and never had I been more inspired than when introduced to the 1965 debut album, Bert Jansch.

Bert’s style fascinated me from the word go, and there seemed something particularly individual and deeper within that set him apart from all the lighter, smiley, everybody-sing-along type of folk music out there. I’m sure some thought the subject matter of his songs to be at least “grey”, maybe even depressing, but that suited my mood of the time. 

'Needle Of Death', 'Rambling’s Gonna Be The Death Of Me', 'Running From Home' ... songs soaked with understatement and beautiful introspection.

Bert Jansch: 3rd Nov 1943 - 5th Oct 2011 
The other thing was this guitar playing technique of his, it wasn’t logical at times, but I knew I needed to figure it out so I would spend my evenings next to the gramophone player, lifting the arm back time-and-time again to the same location of a track in order to work out the precise notes of a passage. And how many of us toiled for hours to play Bert’s version of Angie? 

Bert Jansch was not just a huge influence on my early guitar playing days, he’s in there somewhere, a part of what I am now. A modest and unassuming soul, I believe he’d struggle to grasp the influence he had on so many of us.

Bert Jansch website
Ken Nicol website

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